Category Archives: Music

Music To Go

Earlier (technically last night) I signed up to Audioscrobbler to submit my musical listening habits (at least from my machine at home) to the system. So, now you all get to see my appalling music tastes and have a good old laugh – although I recommend you sign up as it’s fascinating.

Meanwhile, I posted a comment over at Nick Bradbury’s site about digital music players and, while not the best expressed point ever I would content it holds true:

IMHO, the biggest problem Microsoft have with WMP is the lack of a Microsoft audio player and that’s Apple’s big advantage. I’ve had four or five players and none of them integrates well: playlists, ratings and recently played are not transferred. The iPod has all of this spot on: musical tastes need to be able to move between devices. In addition, WMA-compatible music stores have moved the goal posts so some of my previously purchased music is now not able to be played on my player.

I’ve used WMP for a while and encoded most of my music in their WMA format – it wouldn’t be impossible to switch but it would be a pain but I swear that it’s very, very tempting. It’s not just the iTunes software and it’s not just the iPod – it’s the combination they’ve got right.

Then Nick points out that the WMA conversion is all handled in iTunes and the whole thing becomes even more tempting. So, if you are a Windows user with iTunes and an iPod is it as good as it’s cracked up to be?

UPDATE: After posting this I realised the ‘On This Day‘ link is to a previous time I wrote about Digital Music players. I still have the Rio Riot and use it occasionally. It’s still a decent music player but suffers because they don’t update the software anymore and it wo’t play all my rights-managed WMA files. an iPod user from two years agao would have no such trouble would they?

On this day…

2003: Here Comes Christmas
2002: Rip Away

Forgotten Projects?

So yesterday’s on this day link took me off on a memorable journey to the Forgotten Project of the ultimate boyband CD – which, as a side diversion, for the stress of my working life at the moment I have decided to invest some time in.

For those of you late to the party here was the aim two years ago: construct a CDs worth of music from boybands of any decade that will go attempt to show that there is some longevity in the product. If you will, it’s an attempt to show that it is possible to have classic tunes that come from the manufactured world of boyband pop. This is what we had last time:

  1. N’Sync – Pop
  2. Take That – Relight My Fire
  3. Take That – Could It Be Magic
  4. F5ive – If Ya Gettin’ Down
  5. Backstreet Boys – Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)
  6. A1 – Same Old Brand New You
  7. A1 – Caught In The Middle
  8. Blue – All Rise

And you are – most definitely not allowed to call me shallow!

On this day…

2003: Return of the King
2002: Donnie Darko

Digital No 1

I’ve noted the online music charts several times. I didn’t hear the chart last night (current chart is here) but Westlife’s old hit Flying Without Wings from 1999 topped first official download chart yesterday. Now, I find Westlife pretty harmless but a song from 1999 topping the first of the digital download chart? Some predict this is good. I am not one of them. Listen to the chart at the BBC.

In related news, as they say, I hadn’t realised that MSN US didn’t have a digital download site. Their UK service does (powered by OD2). MSN has their new US version in beta and it looks OK but isn’t earth-shattering. What do you think?

On this day…

2002: I Keep Buying Books

Another Chart

So, the new battle could really be for the digital download charts. I see Virgin Radio will launch a digital download top 20 before the BBC chart that I previously mentioned. I imagine this could really start encouraging more people to buy music in digital form. It could be quite an interesting few months.

On this day…

2005: Gay Music Stars Still Stir Headline Writers
2004: Technology Gets The Better Of Me
2004: Celebrity Justice?
2002: A Haddock is A Wet Fish


my ticket to see madonna at earl's court

Madonna, Earl’s Court, 2004

So I went to see Madonna at Earls Court.

That statement does not make me a huge Madonna fan – although I am partial to many of her hits and, unlike some of my friends, I think American Life is a great album (then again I also like some of Blue’s material so who am I to judge musical tastes?) and she is most certainly a performer.

So, when commenting on a Madonna concert what should you say? Earls Court is a huge venue. For those of you who haven’t been you should be aware that it’s very stadium-like. We sat in the back left corner so it was like she was at the opposite goal post. And it’s in that context that you will understand why I didn’t think it was that good.

Madonna can put on a show. She is the undisputed queen of showmanship. And therein lies the problem. She performs a West End show of the variety that you need to be able to see. And she performs them at West End prices but to stadium-sized audiences. The audio is show-like and you doubt that she’s singing live the whole time – although I suspect a lot of it is live. It’s just very well produced and sounds like her CDs and, for me, that isn’t the point of going to see live music: somehow you need to believe that they are performing live. Add to that the fact that you can’t see the spectacular and you have a fun but, ultimately, a disappointing evening.

On this day…

2005: Run London – Here I Come
2003: Helsinki Re-Visited
2002: The **** Of All Snacks

Digital Download Chart

A year ago I wrote about ringtones and the large amounts of money to be made from them (as well as one of the current boyband stars of the time) and asked when we would see the first ringtone only hit? Well, maybe not ringtones but the music download industry in the UK is taking a step towards being able to produce download only hits when Radio 1 introduces the download chart from the start of next month. I think this is fantastic news and I will be interested to see how the record companies react.

Also about a year ago, I wrote about my first experiences with downloading music from the MSN Music Club. Well, I can tell you that a year on I have bought, perhaps, ten tracks – mainly the odd chart hit jumps out at me. I’ve tried several services and find them all a little frustrating in one way or another.

Many download services don’t let you have the latest singles from an artist until they are falling down the regular charts. I assume to this is to ensure that those fans who want the track will actually buy it and contribute to a chart position before the downloads (which don’t contribute to a proper chart position). So, although I do think this chart is a superb step forward, digital music will only be legitimised when it’s included with the full chart.

Maybe in twelve months I’ll be writing about that.

On this day…

2007: Presentation Porn
2005: Memories Of The Walkman
2003: Silly Pop Stars
2003: Beep Beep To Profit
2002: When Love Comes To Town

Janet’s Malfunction

Janet Jackson Wardrobe MalfuncitonIs it just me or is most of the world laughing at America’s reaction to Janet Jackson’s ‘wardrobe malfunction’ at the Super Bowl? It really amazes me the way people can get so worked up about a little bit of flesh. Shouldn’t we be celebrating our bodies? It’s not as if Janet showed off a great deal. I would agree that people deserve better but not because I disagree with what what shown but because it’s such a cheap stunt.

One of my current favourite reads, The London News Review, has one of the best pieces written on the subject

By thunder, America is one fucked up country. With one eye it ogles the antics of Trousersnake and his bootilicious buddies, while the other eye is screwed shut in disgust.


Exactly. Calm down people and don’t buy the record. Of course, had it been the Trousersnake having a wardrobe malfunction it would all have been different.

On this day…

2005: On Microsoft And Windows Digital Media
2004: Colourful Pages
2004: Alcohol Free
2003: Online Advertising Technology Issues
2003: An Email From Space

Hi We’re Your Weather Girls

I have been recovering from my trip to the USA by spending a great deal of today asleep and generally caching up on the mail, the christmas cards, the washing and all the other things you need to do when you’ve been away for a week. It’s almost Saturday night and I am going supermarket shopping (you see, dear reader, I have a very exciting life).

While I managed to listen to the radio and some CDs I did, eventually, resort to music television so that there were some pictures to provide an alternative visual while I drank my tea (real tea, not a USA-style tea, is one of the greater comforters in my life).

The Hits is showing some so-called classics this afternoon. The video for It’s Raining Men (The Weather Girls) looked so dated that it made me wonder what those brought-up entirely on the sophistication of the modern day music video would make of these dated images.

Interestingly, it occurred to me to that it’s the video that looks a lot older than the music sounds. Allowing for the fact that It’s Raining Men is part of the soundtrack to my youth, I still think it’s the video technology that has made the noticeable leaps in the last 20 years.

And it’s 20 years next March since It’s Raining Men was a hit for The Weather Girls. Originally charting in the UK in August 1983 it eventually made number 2 in March 1984. It’s one of those songs that I would have sworn topped the charts but, apparently, not. I would imagine that a combination of Nena’s ‘99 Red Ballons‘, Lionel Richie’s ‘Hello‘ and Duran Duran’s ‘The Reflex‘ kept it from the number 1 slot.

On this day…

2003: Customer Service
2002: Is Bigger Really Better?
2002: End of a radio era

Pop TV

Apparently, Top of the Pops is getting another make-over tonight, this time master-minded by Andy Peters:

Long-running chart show Top of the Pops is relaunching on Friday in a bid to bring it up-to-date and boost its dwindling audience [BBC: Longer Top of the Pops goes live]

Now, like many in the UK I have a great affection for this programme but, I realised as I was reading the story, that I haven’t seen it for a very long time. Yet I watch Cat on CD:UK only last Saturday. I think Andy Peter’s problem with that show is about the timing not the content. Think about all of us thirty-somethings who’d watch it on a Saturday morning.

On this day…

2006: Our Masks
2005: All Change At Capital
2005: Civil Partnetship: Update From Scotland
2004: Oh the fun I’m having…
2004: Gary Lucy’s Birthday
2003: Linguistic Sensitivity

Coolest of 2003

iTunes Music Store is Time’s coolest invention of 2003 and I think this is a good thing – although I am finding it difficult to explain why. I’ve noted before that I really wanted record companies to embrace online music delivery and Steve Jobs and Apple have given them a way with mainstream credibility. Interestingly, I noted, that Jobs claimed not to be making too much from the service and it’s really all about selling iPods. I’m certainly wishing that there was a serious rival to the iPod. I’ve had several digital music players and none of them are still in production and, thus, support, upgrades and developments are limited. It’s also kept Apple well and truly in the consumer computing/electronics arena and that can not be a bad thing.

While on the subject of music, I have to note here that – at least on first listen – The Beautiful South’s new albumn, Gaze, is very good indeed.

On this day…

2005: Boxes Everywhere
2005: Civil Partnership: What's It All About?
2005: Civil Partnership: What’s It All About?
2004: links for 2004-11-25
2004: Celebrity T-Shirt Auction
2002: Stuck On Me