Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Power ballads - With Or Without You, U2

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, U2 were a great band. None greater. And in the 80s they made one of my favourite albums of all time, The Joshua Tree. Many may argue with my definition of With Or Without You as a power ballad but I maintain it absolutely is. And there is nothing wrong with being a power ballad.

This is a desert island song for me. I can forgive Bono quite a bit just by listening to this. The terrible sunglasses, the pomposity, the really bad songs that U2 have lazily made, the whole martyr, worthy, listen to me I am God schtick. I can go some way to forgiving most of it because oh my word, he was sexy.

Quite simply, if you don't like this song, what is wrong with you? Do you have a soul? Answers on a postcard or leave a comment.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Muriel's Wedding

Back in the 90s Australian cinema exploded with Strictly Ballroom, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and this, my personal favourite, Muriel's Wedding. Bill Hunter was in all three and he died this week so let's just take a moment to remember Bill. I was going to do a tribute post but after Jeff's yesterday, I felt we'd mourned enough.

We'll miss you Bill.

So, Muriel's Wedding. A film that starts off on familiar territory and you feel like you're in typical rom com world and then it suddenly u-turns and the best friend is in a wheelchair? The first time I saw this, I was flummoxed. It's truly a great movie; touching, funny and I've never been so happy for any characters when Muriel and Rhonda get the hell out of Porpoise Spit.

Muriel's parents are almost painful to watch. Her poor mum taking the shoes in the supermarket as her feet are so sore. The dad constantly running into the woman he is sleeping with and humiliating his family. It's sad and yet real. For a while back in the 90s it felt like only Australians could do real emotion in film. Great performances from everyone in this too.

I love all the music and when she walks down the aisle to I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, it makes me giggle every time. This is my favourite moment, when she realises that there are people she can be friends with and who will mime to Abba with her. I'd be friends with Muriel, wouldn't you?

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Pulp Fiction

Some films come along and hit you right between the eyes and change our perception of film. Pulp Fiction was one of those films for me. I remember going to the cinema to see this having little idea of what it was about and being blown away. I am a real wimp when it comes to violence in movies and although you don't see much actual violence in this, the threat is always there and there are still some scenes I find hard to watch. But no matter, I still watch it again and again.

It's a film that seems to burn on to your retinas and stay there. Every scene is lovingly lit and the cast are dressed iconically. None more so than Uma Thurman as Mia who made us all want to wear white shirt and black trousers and look as cool as her. We wish.

I loved John Travolta since Grease and it always used to annoy me that the 80s weren't good for him. He made some terrible choices (never, ever watch The Experts) and was relegated to Look Who's Talking. It never felt right. But god bless Tarantino who knew there were people like me who were dying to see him make a good film again. He is so fabulous in this - this is the film when everyone said 'oh, he's a good actor' and yet again I sat smiling smugly on the sidelines.

Bruce Willis is also a revelation in this, the first film in which I found him rather fanciable. It has some of the best dialogue committed to celluloid and a great soundtrack. It's in my top 10 films. My favourite scene is, of course, the dance scene. Nothing could be more perfect. I can watch it endlessly.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Jeff Conaway - a tribute

It's a sad day at PT Towers as I woke up with the news that Jeff Conaway has died.

Kenickie was one of my very first crushes. I loved Danny (we all loved Danny) but Kenickie was the sexy one. Jeff played him perfectly. Being a Grease obsessive I can tell you than Jeff had played Danny on the stage and was disappointed to not play him in the movie. To add insult to injury, they took Kenickie's song (Greased Lightning) and gave it to Danny. Monumentally unfair. It's obviously a song that Kenickie should sing but I am not going to complain as Travolta did us proud.

Another piece of trivia I can tell you is that Jeff insisted on giving Stockard the hickie (from Kenickie) for real. What a legend.

RIP Jeff. The world is a slightly smaller place without you in it.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Summer songs - All Night Long, Lionel Richie

As far as I am concerned Lionel Richie is God. I'm prepared to overlook Nicole and the terrible Hello video because he is a genius.

Nothing sums up his talent quite like All Night Long (All Night). It's a song that makes you want to dance in the streets and kiss strangers. I love it and it sums up summer for me. It's also the perfect wedding song - everyone dances to this.

So, kick back, get a Freeze popsicle out and remember the 80s. I'll be back with a wider Lionel appreciation post soon.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Tell Me On A Sunday

Certain albums form the backbone of my childhood: Tubular Bells, Spirits Have Flown (Bee Gees), Grease, Saturday Night Fever, Chic and Tell Me On A Sunday.

It's a fabulous musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber about a young London girl living in Manhattan. Since it was written in the 70s, it's basically all about her disastrous love-life. It's a bit much to call it a musical which makes you think of a cast of hundreds and dancing. The whole thing is just her singing, no duets, no other people. It has some wonderful lyrics. If you've never heard it, I can recommend it. But you must listen to the whole thing from beginning to end so it all makes sense.

My favourite song is Capped Teeth and Caesar Salad. It's such a ridiculous name for a song. Our heroine goes to LA with her latest movie producer boyfriend and it's a song about the madness of la la land. Still very relevant now.

I have to share this one with you though. Take That Look Off Your Face; "lots of young guys wear corduroy pants."

Check out the boiler suit! I am going to have to listen to the whole album now.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Summer songs - Rapture, Blondie

The epitome of cool with an amazing talent to boot, I almost hate Debbie Harry as I am so envious of her. She was so gorgeous (still is actually) and effortlessly cool. Everyone wanted to be Blondie. With my New York obsession, I still want to be her. I never outgrew this. My arrested development is really a theme on this blog.

What a band. No matter what my mood is, I can always listen to some Blondie and bounce around my flat.

Rapture is my desert island Blondie song. It has the most perfect opening.  And she raps. Credibly. The video is great too - I love the guy at the beginning. Basically it's Debbie's world and we live in it.

Monday, 23 May 2011

The Carpenters

It's a Monday and Mondays deserve a little Carpenters to soothe our fevered brows. Nobody sings quite like Karen Carpenter, she had a voice like pure honey. Is there anyone who doesn't have a little corner of their heart tucked away for The Carpenters? I defy anyone not to secretly love them although lord knows why you would hide a love for such well crafted pop music sung so sublimely. People are odd.

Even my husband is open in his love for The Carpenters and this is the man who loves Motorhead and other non-perennial teenage music. We regularly listen to Karen and Richard in the car as we don't agree on much music. It's pretty much these guys and Aerosmith.

Every time Goodbye for Love comes on he tells me it's the saddest song ever written. He may well be right: "Loneliness and empty days will be my only friend". Tragic.

If you're having a bad day, then just listen to Yesterday Once More and feel better. Karen could sing the Yellow Pages and I'd be spellbound. The fact she sings such perfection is almost too much to bear. God bless her for bringing us such joy. Remember, no matter how bad your day is, Karen and Richard clearly had worse ones: "There are no tomorrows for this heart of mine."

Like I say, it is Monday so there is only one choice today. Kick back my friends. Relax. We'll always have this gem.

Sunday, 22 May 2011


What a feeling! Flashdance is the very definition of a Bad Movie We Love. It's soooooo bad but yet so deliciously good. I am reminded of it because I am currently watching Chicago Code with Jennifer Beals. Who'd have thought she'd have a career with legs but god bless her, she's actually pretty good.

Back to Flashdance. A movie about a beautiful welder who wants to be a dancer. And that folks is all you need to know. She welds by day, she dances racily by night (along with her friends) and she dreams of getting into a proper classy dance school and living her dream. Along the way she sleeps with her boss, memorably takes ber bra off under her top and has a bit of angst.

I've seen this film many times but I can't think of any scene apart from the bra scene, the dinner scene and the final dance scene. Everything else all blurs into one dance and music fest. It truly is a film of style over substance.

Geri Halliwell should be punished severely for her It's Raining Men video (and don't even get me started on her covering that song either). The original dance scene in Flashdance is fabulous and here it is - I can't believe the judges are smoking. Sing it Irene!

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Opening credits - The Waltons

Some themes make you feel all will be right in the world despite the fact it's meant to end today. If it does, let's leave it while listening to the aural equivalent of a comfort blanket: The Waltons.

Sunday mornings were not complete without watching The Waltons. I loved it. They may have been poor but they had each other. It was always marvellously wholesome entertainment on Walton Mountain. This is one of the great TV themes of our time as it beautifully sums up the show.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Summer songs - Club Tropicana, Wham!

Club Tropicana is the definitive summer song. Fun and sunshine, there's enough for everyone! It's the perfect marriage of song and video too, who doesn't want to be on that lilo in the pool sipping pink drinks (personally I wouldn't pour it in the pool but hey ho, whatevs George).

This is Wham at their joyous best. When this song came out, I was obsessed. Obsessed I tell you. I listened to it over and over. It was the theme for all the 13 year old parties at the time. We all wanted to be Pepsi or Shirley. Some of us still do. Happy days.

It's a Friday treat for us all. Enjoy!

Monday, 16 May 2011

Maniac - Michael Sembello

We've not talked about Flashdance yet but we will. Soon, promise.

In the meantime, let's enjoy this classic 80s tune. I have started running and obviously my running playlist is mainly 80s. I put this on it and it popped up tonight and oh my word. It's the perfect running song! Plus I was giggling like an idiot and no doubt scaring everyone approaching me.

It's so 80s isn't it? Everything about it. Love it and it's a perfect tonic for a Monday night. Oh and what a freaky cover, eh?

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Summer songs - Streetlife, Randy Crawford

This song ticks so many boxes. It's my New York City soundtrack (come on, everyone has a NYC soundtrack) but it only really works properly in the summer. Summer strolling the city of Manhattan, this song pops into my head. It's a great walking song. In fact, it's just a fantastic song. It also ticks the disco box as a bonus. It was used to great effect in Jackie Brown.

I love Randy's voice. The instrumental bit goes on for ages but never outstays its welcome.  It is such a happy song. It's coming to my desert island.

Who is coming to NYC with me so we can stroll around to it in flares and platforms and swing our bouncy hair?

Power Ballads - November Rain, Guns 'n' Roses

In many ways, this is the pinnacle of power ballad achievement. It really has it all: piano tinkly bits, a ridiculous video featuring a supermodel, meaningless lyrics and best of all, Slash with a guitar and a wind machine. I think this video is the one that cemented my crush on Slash.

It's by no means the best GNR song but it is unique in its overblown madness and for that reason, I adore it. I have two comments: one, what does she die of in the video? Too much rain?! It's not made clear. And two, nearly 40 million people have watched this video on YouTube. Awesome.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Lady Gaga

How has it taken me five months to discuss Gaga? She is surely the patron saint of this blog after all. Needless to say, I am a fan. In fact, I've yet to meet anyone who doesn't like at least one Gaga song. She writes perfect pop.

There is an interview in today's Guardian and she comes across as loopy but in quite an endearing way. I was lucky enough to see her live last year and she really is born to perform. I was impressed. Her voice is fantastic and she belts out those songs while dancing like a demon. I also liked how she talked to the audience, it was very natural. Fans were throwing all sorts of paraphernalia on the stage and she picked it up and talked about some of it. She's witty as well. In fact, I kind of love her. The more I think about her, the more I like her. I do like an old-fashioned pop star who makes a bit of an effort and understands image.

My favourite Gaga songs are Bad Romance and Poker Face. I think the Poker Face video is genius so here it is. And I thank the random fan at the O2 who wore the blue leotard, that is brave.

I can't resist posting Bad Romance as well. She closed the show with this and it was perfection.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Summer songs - We Used To Be Friends, The Dandy Warhols

I don't know why I associate this song with the summer but I do. I have a soft spot for The Dandy Warhols even if they did let one of their songs be used in a Vodafone advert. This is a great song and of course, was the theme to Veronica Mars.

I love how cool and hippy they are. Look at that photo. I want to be them. I hope this is them, I googled them and it came up with this!

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Madonna - 00s

Continuing my Madonna decades, we come to the 00s. I refuse to call them the noughties. Another storming decade for Madge, she started it with Music. How was that 11 years ago? I still love that song and the whole album. I really like Don't Tell Me - great video.

Then she gave us American Life which is a low point. I can't excuse the cover of American Pie. She squeezed in the Austin Powers song, Beautiful Stranger, which is quite fun. I was beginning to wonder if she had lost it in a fog of yoga, stringy arm muscles and a macrobiotic diet. Then, then she gave us Confessions On A Dance Floor which was such a storming return to form I was quite giddy. I adore this album - it's a dance album, a proper one. Madonna, why did it take you so long to give us such a delight? Hung Up is a fabulous song and yet another fantastic video. It almost rivals Vogue for me.

However since then, I've been underwhelmed. Hard Candy was forgettable. She snogged Britney and Christina. Come on Madge, you don't need to do that love. She did at least have the sense to get rid of Guy Ritchie.

Madonna is now 52 and I am very interested to see what she does next. It's hard to imagine where she will go. I wish she'd give up the film aspirations but I don't expect she will. She's not got the voice of the living legends like Barry and Neil. I've never wanted to see her live. Maybe she could start a talent show and be a judge. In fact, I'm amazed she's not appeared on The X Factor. Amazed but grateful to see she has some taste. I'd like to see her get back together with Sean Penn...

Monday, 9 May 2011

Power Ballads - Barry Manilow's opus

Last Friday was Barry Manilow night. Much anticipated and as usual he didn't disappoint although there was some concern with the opening - he didn't sound quite right and committed the ultimate sin of incorporating Looks Like We Made It into a medley. We were aghast. Luckily I think he sensed our disdain because he soon settled down and gave us the old hits, unadulterated and sorted his voice out.

It led to much discussion on the train home about Barry's power ballads and his genius at writing them. I know he's famous for Copacabana but it's not even in his top 10 best songs in my opinion. Nobody but nobody does a power ballad like Barry.

Looks Like We Made It - an Our Tune special
I Made it Through The Rain - ditto
Trying to Get The Feeling Again - some class lyrics
Ready To Take The Chance Again - oh yes
I Made It Through The Rain - such long song titles!
Mandy - you came and you gave without taking
One Voice - singing in the darkness

One Voice was a real highlight on Friday. At the beginning of the concert we were all given glowsticks. Only Barry would give you a glowstick and 20,000 of them were waved around frantically. He started One Voice acapella into a dark stadium (except for the glowsticks) and well, the crowd went wild.

All Barry's ballads build beautifully but none quite so well as one of my all time favourite songs: I Write The Songs. I have just learned that Barry did not write this song. I am absolutely staggered. It has all the Bazza trademarks. No matter, it's wonderful and he always sings it near the end. We sway along singing tunelessly, it's almost a religious experience.

Thank you Barry. See you in Vegas.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Opening credits - True Blood

Any excuse to post a picture of Eric...

True Blood is a rather strange programme and it took me a while to warm to it. It's super gory (for my delicate nature) and can be quite annoying (series two was awful) but when it's good it is great and I do enjoy a bit of southern drawling. And it has Eric...

It has the best opening credits I've seen on a show for ages and it is such a pleasure to see nice long credits - these ones go on for ages. A song that very much evokes Louisiana sexiness and sums up the show with some wonderful visuals. I never get tired of watching them.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Home & Away

Home & Away was the racy cousin of Neighbours. It gave us the Australia we wanted to see - ie, it had beach scenes. Curiously nobody seemed to wear sunglasses.

It doesn't have a stand out memorable few years like Scott & Charlene in Neighbours but early Home & Away was consistently quite good. For an Australian soap. It always dealt with more issues than Neighbours and was slightly grittier. Pippa and Tom were the foster parents and the show revolved around their foster kids and the other 'lost' children of Summer Bay who just needed a bit of love. None were as lost as Bobby (above) who turned out to be... Flathead's daughter! Scandal!

Great characters of H&A include Alf ("the flamin' mongrol"), Bobby, Emma (a young Danni Minogue), Marilyn, Flathead, Martin and Lance, Sally (so tragic) and my personal favourite - Morag.

It's also famed for its young lovers storylines. Angel and Shane were the first of these but I always found them utterly tedious. It launched the career of several actors and there must be something to those Aussie soaps because they really do turn out some stars. Isla Fisher (I always quite liked her), Vinnie (can't think of his name - him from True Blood), Danni Minogue (although they could have kept her) and I am sure loads more.

Check out these credits (sappiest theme song - ever, surely?) Look how young Sally is!

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Gonna Fly Now

I have started running. I know, I know. It's such a cliche. Especially where I live. I don't think anyone walks round here. Instead they are flying along the river looking like a Boden commercial.

I, on the other hand, lumber along. But I am new to this malarkey. You know what gets me going? Imagining I am Rocky. I have a personal trainer and we did boxing in our first session. You know what got me through that? Imagining I am Rocky.

I bear no resemblance to Sly Stallone (I hope) but was there ever a more inspirational sports hero? The answer is no. The Rocky theme has long been my personal theme. I sing it in my head as I walk to work when I have difficult meetings, I sing it as I head out to the shops. There is no occasion in life where the Rocky theme isn't entirely appropriate. I adore it. I even managed to fit it into a presentation at work once and everyone else loved it too.

I am aiming to get so good at running that I can run up steps like Rocky and punch the air. We all need goals.

What's your life theme? I don't mind if it's Rocky too. In fact, if it is, are we soulmates?

Monday, 2 May 2011

An Officer and A Gentleman

Considering I really dislike Richard Gere, it's amazing I can bear his films but what a film this one is. An Officer and a Gentleman. It ain't PC what with women being rescued but it's so romantic and swoonworthy. When he goes and picks Paula up in the factory and the other girls all applause. Way to go!

Top Gun owes a lot to this film but this really is so much better. Much as I love Top Gun, this is far more heart rending and properly written. It pains me to admit that Gere is very good in this as is Debra Winger who I've always liked.

And it has that song. Much parodied but still so listenable, it's a wonderful power ballad. Sing it Joe and Jennifer!

When Casey finally makes it over that wall, well, I'm not ashamed to admit I well up every time. I'd like to show you the final scene but I can't find it on YouTube so let's watch the trailer instead.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Power Ballads - Nobody Does it Better, Carly Simon

I could start yet another series featuring Bond themes but with Opening Credits, Summer Songs and Power Ballads, I think we have enough for now. I do enjoy a Bond theme and this one is in my top five. Depending on my mood, it might be my all-time favourite but it's hard to beat Shirley.

I love Carly Simon's voice and she sings this like honey and with such pining in her voice. I like a singer who can really convey the meaning of a song. If you didn't understand English, I think you'd get this. It's such a sexy song. "Why do you have to be so good?"

This song bursts onto the screen as James Bond's parachute opens to show us a Union Jack. It's perfection and I still get goosebumps every time I watch it. You can see it here.

And here is Carly singing it live. Lovely.

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