Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Jennifer Lopez romcoms

First of all, I want her earrings! JLo romcoms, it takes a committed sort granted but that's me. Committed to the cause of watching crap romcoms.

I've not seen all JLo's ouevre but I've seen enough to warrant a blog post about them.

Maid in Manhattan

This is the strangest film. What is Ralph Fiennes doing in a romcom? He is far too serious and dour to pull it off. And so it proves. This is not a good film in any way except a) Manhattan looks beautiful and b) so does JLo. Seriously, I think JLo is gorgeous in a way that few film stars are. Teenager rating: 6/10.

Shall We Dance?

On the one hand, I can't stand Richard Gere. On the other, Susan Sarandon and Stanley Tucci! It has dancing in it which is always good. Stanley is wonderful as he always is. It's entertaining enough. Teenager rating: 8/10.


I was on a plane, ok? And you know what? This isn't bad. It's never going to win any awards but I can always watch Jane Fonda and it's quite entertaining. Teenager rating: 7/10.

The Back-Up Plan

In all seriousness I enjoyed this. It's funny in places and quite sweet. The premise is fairly ludicrous but no more than many other romcoms. Teenager rating: 8/10.

No, even I didn't watch Gigli.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Christmas songs - Frankie Goes To Hollywood, The Power of Love

I was just decorating one of my two Christmas cakes (not for me, I am not that much of a pig) with the radio on and this was played. Oh my word, I've not listened to this for a long time. I whacked up the volume to 11 and sung along as I rolled my marzipan. It has struck me that this is the perfect song and I don't know why I've neglected it or, for that matter, not posted about FGTH who I used to worship. We'll save them for another day.

This song is so wonderful and I love how emotional it is. I am transported back to the 80s when I hear it as it was such a huge hit.

Merry Christmas fellow teens. I hope Santa brings you all your dreams.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

The worst Christmas songs ever, ever, EVER

It pains me to do this post and introduce Cliff Richard to my otherwise flawless blog. But it has to be done because there are some truly dire Christmas songs out there. I was reminded of Cliff's effort the other week as I walked home and the local Rotary Club was doing that annual Christmas wagon thing where they drive around bellowing our atrocious music and people in silly hats shake buckets at you. They were playing Mistletoe and Wine. Had they been playing Last Christmas I may have dug deep, as it was I sniffed haughtily and walked past them. Their own fault, I don't feel guilty.

I bring you my list of worst Christmas songs, in no particular order.

Mel Smith and Kim Wilde - Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree

I almost have no words. This is terrible. I will never understand the appeal of Kim Wilde, I can sing better than her. And I despise novelty records. It's also a stupid tune.

Wizzard - I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day

Oh my god. Firstly, Christmas every day would be horrendous. Secondly, shut up. Thirdly, the children, the freaky children. Make it stop.

Slade - Merry Christmas Everybody

I loathe this song. I loathe Noddy and I loathe its ubiquitousness. It makes me want to hurl things around and bemoan the humanity.

Mariah Carey - All I Want For Christmas

Why does anyone like this? Mariah caterwauling, running around in a stupid santa outfit singing something so patently untrue since she is so materialistic. It's offensive.

Paul McCartney - Wonderful Christmas Time

The man who gave us Yesterday. Yes, it makes me weep too (and not in a good way).

Shakin' Stevens - Merry Christmas Everyone

What was the point of Shaky? Anyone worth their salt just listened to Elvis and wept for the fact they weren't American and cool. Jesus this is terrible.

I'm too depressed to do anymore. I am not delving into the fact that Ronan Keating covered The Fairytale of New York. I am not posting a link to Mistletoe and Wine because then I have to listen to a snippet of it. And I am not going near The Darkness.

Normal service will be resumed tomorrow with a great Christmas song...

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Christmas songs - Pink Martini

Pink Martini's Christmas album was my purchase in Christmas 2010, back when it was all trees round here. It's an absolute delight and I've been listening to it this year as well. It has the most divine cover and is full of gems. I love the version of Little Drummer Boy, I much prefer it to Bing and Bowie's. There I've said it. I consider B&B's version to be over-rated.

This is the perfect album to play if you are having a few cocktails for Christmas with your cool cat friends. Slip on an ironic santa hat, play this and watch your party gently rock.

My favourite song on it is Shchedryk (Ukranian Bell Carol) as it's Christmassy without being cloying. You may think you don't know this but trust me, you do. It depresses me that this has less than a thousand views on YouTube and we have to suffer Mariah Carey and Justin Bieber. There truly is no justice in the world.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Christmas songs - Eartha Kitt, Santa Baby

The absolute best version of this is by Eartha Kitt. She sings it with such relish. I love this, it has wonderful lyrics. "Just slip a sable under the tree!" A girl after my own heart.

Check out the video. Fab-u-lous.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Christmas songs - Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

It's very hard to pick a definitive version of these old songs to post about. This is such a classic Christmas song and I love it in all its guises but I think my favourite is Tony Bennett's. I adore Tony, such a great voice. I am not a Judy Garland fan at all and never have been, I know it's sacrilege to say however I don't think she is anything particularly special.

So here is my favourite version of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. Take it away Tony.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Christmas songs - Fairytale of New York

This is the Christmas song that people who claim to hate Christmas love. It's utterly wonderful of course and I never tire of hearing it. It has a fantastic video with Matt Dillon in it!

Kirsty MacColl had a beautiful voice, nobody sounds like her.  It has a beautiful opening that gives me goosebumps and then her voice comes in. Oh, it's heaven and I defy anyone not to sing along with a tear in their eye. Emmy and Tim covered this the other night and we all swayed along and sung. It was magical.

When I hear this, all my belly-aching about the commercialism of Christmas flies out of the window and I want to drink red wine, eat a mince pie and hug a friend. And that's what a good Christmas song should make you feel like.

RIP Kirsty, we still miss you.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Christmas songs - Emmy the Great & Tim Wheeler

Last night I went to a gig which is not something I do often but this was special. I confess now that Emmy is my cousin and so I am biased but I think she is fabulous. She has made a Christmas album with Tim Wheeler (from Ash) and last night was a one-off gig of Christmas magic.

I really do think that you should listen to this album as it's great fun. I am obliged to buy Emmy's records but can honestly say (and you know I wouldn't lie) that I do enjoy them but somehow I've enjoyed this one the most. It must be my innate love of kitsch because this is so cheesy. Jesus the Reindeer is brilliant and was my highlight last night. That and having Last Christmas dedicated to ME! I can die happy now I've had a song from the stage dedicated to me.

The single from the album is Home for the Holidays and I should warn you it's an earworm. It has the cutest video that makes you feel quite nostalgic for Christmasses past. Plus Emmy has an awesome jacket that I want. It's the free single of the week on iTunes this week too.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Band Aid vs USA For Africa

Which is better? It depends if you want Brit cool or American glitz. Although nobody could ever call Marilyn cool. Or Status Quo.

I love Band Aid as much as the next girl. I had the poster on my wall and thought the whole thing was amazing. On the other hand, USA For Africa had Michael Jackson.

I feel a pro and con list coming on...

Band Aid pros:

  • The sheer pastiness of them all and how they had obviously rolled out of bed and rocked up. You'd never get that now.
  • George Michael
  • Fab Macca Thumbs Aloft
  • Duran Duran and special mention to Simon Le Bon's hair.
  • Bono's line. I can forgive Bono a lot for the way he sings that line.
  • Every single person's hair.
  • Jon Moss and his maracas.
  • Paula Yates and her baby. Makes me feel sad and old.
  • The innocence of it - so English and lovely.

Band Aid cons:

  • Why the hell was Paul Young allowed to open it? He was never any good. Then he gets more lines. WHY?
  • The sheer state of Boy George. Rough.
  • Bananarama. USA For Africa give us Bette Midler and we get sodding Bananarama.

USA for Africa pros:

  • It was written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie and produced by Quincy Jones. Sorry Midge Ure but you didn't stand a chance.
  • The cast list. This is a song that opens with Lionel and Stevie Wonder and then goes to Paul Simon. Not Paul Young.
  • Then Kenny Rogers! KENNY ROGERS!
  • Tina Turner actually pushes James Ingram out of the way to sing her line. Love it. Tina Turner by the way - not Bananarama.
  • Billy Joel.
  • Michael Jackson's wardrobe. He looks like a pop star for goodness sake. He's wearing a white sparkly glove.
  • Dionne Warwick. Yes. Indeed.
  • Bruce Springsteen. He bellows it out as only Brucie can.
  • Kenny Loggins. I'm all about the Kennys.
  • The way Cyndi Lauper sings her line - proper laugh out loud.
  • I hate Bob Dylan but nobody can deny he is a legend.
  • Ray Charles. Ray Charles.
  • The only song where you get a duet between Stevie Wonder and Bruce Springsteen. And it works.

USA For Africa cons:

  • OK, we get the superstars but there are some duds too. Huey Lewis? Al Jarreau? Fair enough they were stars at the time but Bette Midler doesn't get a solo line and they do?
  • No Madonna.
  • The lyrics are far too preachy and religious for me.
  • It's a bit over indulgent and goes on for too long.

Weighing it up, I have to say I prefer We Are The World. It's simply a better song with bigger stars and proper show business razz. If I could only take one with me to a desert island, I'd pick that one. Having said that, I do still love Do They Know It's Christmas because I have such fond memories of it and reading Smash Hits avidly.

We really did know how to do this sort of thing in the 80s.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Christmas songs - Elvis, Blue Christmas

To cleanse the palette, I bring you Elvis. Sublime. He just makes everything cool. When all else fails in life, when you've got 100 presents to wrap and can't be bothered, then listen to this and all will be well in the world.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Christmas songs - Wham! Last Christmas

We come to simply one of my favourite songs ever. The innocence! Look at that cover. Hearing this always transports me back to 1984 and it was a very good year so I am happy to take the journey.

This is one of the most brilliant Christmas songs and it has it all: cheesy lyrics, almost breathy singing from George, one of the best videos ever made by any band ever. I know it has its haters (yes, my sister loathes this) but I cannot understand how anyone could not love this. It was kept off the number one spot by Band Aid and Wham donated all profits to charity. They are such heroes.

To the video. The enthusiastic waving when they arrive! The jumping around in the snow! The decorating of the tree! George looking moody in that ridiculous furry hood! Andrew's truly terrible white outfit! I love every single frame of it. I know every single frame of it.

Yet again we are indebted to the genius of George Michael.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Christmas songs - Karen Carpenter, I'll Be Home For Christmas

This is a song to glide around your kitchen to while wearing a long silk dressing gown and fluffy mules and clutching a snowball (the drink, not actual snow).

I've always loved this, it's sublime. And my go-to version was Barbra Streisand's obviously. No explanation necessary. However, I came across this gem from the much-missed Karen Carpenter. Nobody had a voice quite like Karen. I've just discovered The Carpenters did a Christmas album. Unrelenting joy!

Friday, 9 December 2011

Christmas films - Elf

I came late to Elf, I only watched it last Christmas but I blame everyone I know for not telling me how fabulous it is. If you've not seen this, then please do. Assuming you like Will Ferrell because if you don't then you're in trouble since he is in almost every scene if I recall.

I love Will Ferrell, just looking at his face makes me laugh. I do have a fairly infantile sense of humour and this story of an overgrown elf who ends up in Manhattan tickles my funny bone. My favourite line in the whole film is when he hears that Santa is coming to town.

I just laughed out loud watching it again. 

Before you scoff and claim to be too intellectual for such nonsense, let me tell you that the script is very witty, it has James Caan in it and Bob Newhart. Legend. If you are a Zooey fan, she's in it too and she isn't annoying.

So watch out for Elf this Christmas, it will be on at some point and you can thank me later.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Christmas songs - Wayne Newton, Jingle Bell Rock

Someone else who I had no idea about. Wayne Newton looks like a young Liberace doesn't he?  Ahhh, I love this song, it's so swinging. It's a proper earworm though so be warned before you click on the video. This song always makes me think of Mean Girls and that's no bad thing.

It's a classic for a cocktail party and I am delighted to see it forms a compilation of Christmas Cocktails. I am off to see what else is on that.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Christmas songs - Perry Como, It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

I never knew what Perry Como looked like until just now. A bit like a young George W Bush, no? Let's not be put off, I love this little ditty. As you will see, I love old school Christmas songs, you won't find any Mariah Carey here.

I was out Christmas shopping yesterday admiring the London lights and this song popped into my head as it is indeed, beginning to look a lot like Christmas out there.

Perry sings this with the Fontaine Sisters but I couldn't fit that in the title.  Let's skip along.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Christmas songs - Dean Martin, Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

The chirpiest Christmas song ever. How could you be in a bad mood listening to this? In the course of looking for the right picture to go with this post, I discovered that Deano died on Christmas Day. How apt.

This is a song to jig around your kitchen to while you whip up a hot chocolate and watch snowflakes fall. It's also featured so beautifully in Die Hard which makes it the perfect song. Let it roll.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Christmas songs - Ray Charles, Winter Wonderland

Hooray! It's December and I can start my series on favourite Christmas songs. Nothing makes me happier than listening to Christmas songs while looking at a Christmas tree, wrapping presents, making mince pies, opening presents or staring into a crackling fire. Unleash the Christmas magic!

We start with possibly my all-time fave, Winter Wonderland. I pretty much love any cover of this but none are as sublime as Ray Charles. The little bells at the beginning, the way he sounds like he's just got up and knocked it out. That, my friends, is effortless. It's the version used in When Harry Met Sally too so it's all good.

It makes me want to don a cosy hat and walk in Central Park. Any park will do though. We'll frolic and play, the eskimo way...

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