Posts Tagged ‘Glasvegas’

Shockwaves NME Awards 2009

March 2, 2009

If it was the Brits last week, it must be The Brats tonight, right? ‘The Brats’ being the name they used to call the NME Awards before they became so similar that the differentiation seemed a bit silly. They’d be better off calling it the NME Smash Hits Poll Winners’ Party, what with the awards having silly bozo-names like ‘Best Dancefloor Filler’. I sat through this one making notes, as I did with The Brits, in the name of balance. Here are my real-time mitherings.

First up, our hosts. Mark Watson is an affable comedian and will be hosting on the grown up stage. Taking care of the Fearne Cotton, backstage side of things, strictly for telly, is that bloke who did Big Brother’s Little Brother – the one with the self-consciously irritating hair. Jack Whitehall

No?

Anyone?

Admittedly, I had to google him hard to get the name.

Is it possible for a person to have a ‘hateful face’? You hear the term bandied about a fair bit, and it seems to be a little unfair. You should judge someone on their actions and not the way their facial protrusions are arranged, no matter how runtish their upturned nose makes them seem and no matter how weak their chin. But if they top their noggin with an annoying, Mr Whippy, latterday-indie construction, the face beneath is always going to come off badly. Anyway – Jack Whitehall isn’t very good at his job.

In an echo of days gone by, Steve Lamacq is employed to take care of the voiceovers while Watson helms the stage, with jokes slagging off Johnny Borrell. It seems slightly hypocritical of the NME to have passed those gags, what with it being about 63% their fault that Razorlight got to the stage where they could release Slipway Fires on an unsuspecting audience unchallenged.

Grace Jones arrives to present Best Live Act! So we’ve kicked off, and the first award goes to the band which is considered best at grinding out music which is too bloody noisy and badly mixed whilst in front of a room full of teenage idiots, all of whom are clambering over each other to look the coolest, dropping beer in each others’ faces and singing along with the lines of the songs, obscuring the music in the process and allowing themselves to believe that they gain some measure of kudos from memorising badly-rendered poetry. Yay!

Muse beat Kings of Leon, Oasis, Radiohead and Killers. Their drummer accepts the award, which is the coward’s way out.

‘Still to come’ says Steve Lamacq – and some adverts come on.

Next up – Best DVD. This one throws me. Best DVD isn’t very rock n roll, is it? All the live DVDs I’ve seen have only ever served to demonstrate that gigs aren’t the revolutionary gatherings of energy they’re made out to be and shows them in the more realistic light of artists deluding themselves they’re gods while an audience deludes itself that it’s having fun.

Arctic Monkeys beat Foo Fighters, Kaiser Chiefs, Rolling Stones and Muse. Dean Learner accepts the award.

Here are the Skins – those children from the kid’s drama serial (for infants). The one that shouldn’t be watched by adults because it’s for kids. They’re here to present the Best New Band award. Up for the award are tedious Sting-thieves, Vampire Weekend, those Jesus & Mary Chains for losers, Glasvegas, the criminally insane Late of the Pier, offspring of the Flaming Lips – MGMT and a band called White Lies who I’ve never heard of.

MGMT win, predictably enough, and their self-consciously kooky acceptance speech (‘it’s a jelly spider!’) doesn’t do much for me.

Presumably it’s not fashionable to refer to ‘singles’ any more, what with iTunes and the internets, so they appear to have replaced that category with ‘Dancefloor Filler’. It’s a silly name for an award for two reasons. Firstly, indie people can’t dance and, secondly, it precludes any release that has a slow tempo. It suggests frenetic indie pop, so anything vaguely leftfield or undanceable gets left on the sidelines like a fat kid at football.

Beating Crystal Castles, Friendly Fires, Bloc Party and Late of the Pier, Dizzee Rascal wins for the witless dirge he made with Calvin Harris that has the cheapest video in the history of hip hop.

Let’s have some music to cheer us up!

La Roux (me neither) and Franz Ferdinand pile onstage to kick the living shit out of Blondie’s Call Me. Jaime Winstone is dancing! Ooooh, I wanna dance with Jaime Winstone! Alex Kapranos does a grand job of flattening the entire vocal melody but blood isn’t truly drawn from the flailing carcass of the tune until La Roux pitches in with a whine last heard in a slaughterhouse. They create the second worst cover version of all time. Lucky for us, the first worst comes later on in the evening. At least Estelle and the Tings had the courtest to murder their own tunes at The Brits…

Best Album Award now – with everyone’s least favourite comedian Keith Lemon, presenter of ITV2’s woeful Celebrity Juice, actively molesting Alexa Chung as they present. Kings of Leon beat The Dancers, Glasvegas, Oasis and Bloc Party, with a recorded speech which appears to tell everyone in the audience that they hate them. Possibly the only rock n roll moment of the evening.

Friendly Fires play a song. It’s the first time I’ve seen this lot, and there won’t be a second. There are some terrible dance moves over a tune that sounds like, and forgive me for putting the idea in your mind, U2 crossed with The Klaxons, and then some Brazilian dancers come on for a booty-shake. This momentarily makes notions of suicide drift away with an idea clearly nicked off Basement Jaxx. Fill the stage with bright colours and dancing, and you might get away with it.

Best British Band! Kasabian present. The singer asks if everyone there is ‘c*nted’ – which I think is a bit rude. Cut to a shot of Muse who are visibly not c*nted, but might be very slightly stoned on crap hash. Oasis beat some other bands who have already appeared in other categories (it all begins to blur). The crowd begins to boo. It overwhelms Mark Watson. Strange, I think, that a band who kept the paper afloat whilst the (superior) likes of Melody Maker and Select magazine folded are now being booed by the crowd. The acceptance speech is amusing, pairing up Russell Brand and Gallagher, N for the first time since the former was rude on an old man’s phone.

It’s never going to end.

The child who partners Steve Coogan on Saxondale comes onstage with Steve Lamcq and they give the Outstanding Contribution award to Elbow, which seems startlingly pre-emptive. Are they writing them off the minute they hit their peak? That’s the NME all over, is that.

Best TV Show? Eh? This is a music paper!

Here’s Charlie Brooker, aka Preacherman, offering out a sitcom award at a music award show – which seems idiosyncratic to say the least. But then, when you think about it, indie kids generally spend their days sitting around at home recording sitcoms. I know I did.

Brooker says the word ‘c*nt’ and smashes the status quo. Boosh win.

We’re nearly there. Don’t fall asleep, because… …it’s time for the Worst Cover Version of All Time (see video link at the top of the age). Florence and the Who? work in unison with humourless Scotch combo Glasvegas to trample Elvis’s decomposing spine with a one chord rendering of Suspicious Minds. What results is so laughably awful, it looks like a sexual assault blooper. The Glasvegas singer begins to grope Florence with his face and soon, to distract from the musical mess they’ve made, they are hitting each other and running offstage.

We limp on to Best International Act, if anyone cares, and Killers win. Last Shadow Puppets win Best Video. The audience are now so drunk they don’t understand what’s happening and are talking amongst themselves. ‘Why are Girls Aloud here?’ they appear to be asking, quite reasonably.

Now for the promised big moment – Graham and Damon Blur reform to do a song together. With the best will in the world – it sounds a bloody mess. Albarn’s use of an out-of-tune foghorn-organ was possibly a mistake, as the one note he issues throughout three quarters of the song drowns Coxon’s guitar in a farty wash. A missed opportunity, perhaps.

Solo Artist – Pete Doherty. A token award, one feels, seeing as the man hasn’t released any solo material yet. Bridge-building from the kid from Saxondale, who clearly realises Petie D makes covers and sells papers.

At least we end on something of a high, with The Cure getting some late recognition. They play the oldies after receiving an award from Tim Burton and the audience, all far too good-looking and well-dressed to be what used to be the indie I knew, dance along.

Except, you can’t actually dance to indie. Its structure simply doesn’t allow it. They simply do that thing where you jiggle from side to side, pulling a poseur face and faking the sensation of being taken over by music. The credits roll as we watch people trying to dance to indie, safe in the knowledge that indie is best listened to on a walkman, uncelebrated at industry bashes, away from fashion victims and sponsored awards ceremonies. I’m not in love with the modern world.

Never Mind The Buzzcocks

November 14, 2008

Ever since a loose collective of Metallica fans in Boston ripped the culture industry a new arsehole, we’ve been promised a new dawn in music.

The internet was talked about in the early part of the decade as a cross between the Russian Revolution and the second coming of Christ. Papers foretold a world in which the oppressed music fandom proletariat would rise against the industry, behead our evil corporate overlords and instigate a new world order where bands could reach fans while leaving out the coke-addled suit in the middle.

Instead, what we got was a world of Sandy Thom. Nowadays, it’s completely normal for a music label to reach a four figure settlement with a teenager who downloaded nursery rhymes. 

Music hasn’t got better, only more prolific. There are more bands, singers, songwriters and dancers. More record labels, industry types, music blogs and music fans. 

Everybody is a critic, and the word ‘critic’ has been diluted so much that no music critic ever dares to criticise music. From that irritating, snivelling fan-boy Zane Lowe, who churns out superlatives like a thesaurus on a crack binge, to the cretinous scenester twunts at the NME, the music industry regularly pops out a vertebra, bends over backwards and fellates itself silly. 

The music industry seems to have survived a major assassination attempt.   

Which is why it’s still a godsend that we have a programme like Never Mind the Buzzcocks. For the last 22 series, NMTB has gathered an assortment of artists, musicians, singers, industry types, actors and dancers and torn apart their dignity with the elation and precision of a sadistic dentist. 

It has insulted national treasures, pretentious artistes, nihilistic rock stars and desperate round-eyed pop singers. As the series has progressed, with new hosts, team captains, rounds and guests, this is the one thing that has remained stable, and will remain the reason that audiences tune in. People often criticise the comedy-quiz genre for a lack of spontaneity and originality, confused as to why people still tune in.

However, while you still have a preposterous and self-congratulating music industry, you will still have people that want these musicians taken down a peg, and you will still have Buzzcocks. The producers signalled as much by hiring Amstell. 

A good host is the cornerstone of a good comedy quiz show. Mark Lamarr, in this department, was a tonic. Part comedian and part music nerd, he acted as the ill-tempered guardian of respectable music. He had a weighty yardstick with which he would bash his guests over the head by. Namely: contribution to music. 

If you were in a well-respected band he might let you off lightly, while if you were a leech on pop’s anus he would tear you down with manic glee. As the series progressed he got increasingly cynical until he called it a day, retiring to a radio career where he plays obscure sixties songs.  

Amstell, however, is not Lemarr 2.0. He entered the music industry as an apathetic presenter of a by-the-numbers pop music show. It eventually became a cult hit due to his presenting style, which included insulting about 90% pop stars doing the rounds. While other pop presenters were grinning from ear-to-ear, congratulating McFly on their latest single, suggesting it is their favourite so far and generally patronising the viewer senseless, Amstell was coming on to notoriously homophobic dancehall star Beanie Man, saying Katie Melua’s first album was ‘so bad it made me want to puke my guts out’ and making Britney cry.

And here lies the main difference between Lamarr and Amstell. Lemarr might simply insult you because your band is the flavour of the week. His increasing cynicism towards the role made you suspect he still believed that somewhere there was a molecule of respect in the music industry which his show was failing to represent. He seemed to believe it was an industry worth saving. 

Amstell, who has admitted before he has ‘doesn’t know anything’ about music, sees it as a doomed industry ripe for the picking. On Buzzcocks, Amstell doesn’t so much as mock rubbish music as perform character assassinations. On any day he can be as cruel and as witty as Lemarr, his twee fuddling presenter shtick forces guests to let their guard down before he sticks the knife in. While Lamarr might have mocked Preston from The Ordinary Boys for being a pretentious arse, Amstell caused him to walk off by quoting choice bits from his wife’s biography. He sees the façade of celebrity and brings the contestants back down to earth. 

Anybody who saw the recent episode with James from Glasvegas will realise he’s steadily gaining confidence in the role. The official NEXTBESTBANDINTHEWORLD according to the self appointed indie bible, the NME, he seemed content to do the dark and broody thing until Amstell mentioned a song he wrote about his father. 

Annoyed, James decides to insult Amstell’s gaudy cardigan. ‘Oh, as if you could see this thing with those deeply pretentious sunglasses on’ returned Amstell. James shut up, confused.

James will probably appear on the chat shows and have Jonathan Ross explain how much of a fan he is. He’ll get put on the NME’s cool list.  He’ll do interviews with Zane Lowe, who will call him the best guitarist in the last 25 years – something he says about six people per week. He’ll do stadium tours, get a coke addiction and release a second album, by which time nobody will care. He’ll probably realise that the one person he talked to in his walk towards fame who said what he and other people actually thought about him was Amstell. 

That’s why people keep tuning in. With the music industry showing little sign of falling as predicted and with Amstell hitting his stride, it’s hard to see an end to Never Mind the Buzzcocks.

So long as there’re pop stars, rock stars, singers, dancers, producers, guitarists and icons, there will be bored people on a Thursday evening who want to watch them get taken down a notch.