Posts Tagged With: music

Hello

Important: today’s video had particular viewing restrictions, most of them mobile / tablet related. If you’re unable to see the embed above, I’ve uploaded it to Vimeo.

Let’s get this out of the way: the Eleventh Doctor is a big fat stalker, and we all know it.

I can quite understand wanting to know more about Clara. She’s an anomaly wrapped up in a miniskirt. Her appearances in ‘Asylum of the Daleks’ and ‘The Snowman’ make no sense, unless you’re prepared to attribute it to an eerily precise preservation of lineage and a genetic love of souffle. Rule one, Doctor: when someone is following you around the space-time continuum leaving cryptic messages, it’s usually a trap. This particular arc dealt with the consequences of that trap, of course, rather than the trap itself, but it still counts.

The problem is that the Doctor’s never watched his own show and is thus blissfully ignorant of all this. Everyone the other side of the fourth wall knows that this is one of Steven Moffat’s Big Ideas and that it’ll be sorted out by the time the Doctor regenerates, but there’s no telling him that. For someone who boasts a PhD in self-awareness he really is mind-numbingly obtuse. What we’re left with is a series of creepy stakeouts where the Doctor actively spies on a single family as their daughter grows up, even going so far as to watch her while she’s grieving for her dead mother. The funny thing about all this is just how quickly we’re prepared to forgive the Doctor, although our forgiveness is tied up with Clara, who’s also strikingly willing to let it go (and you didn’t read that, you sang it). Perhaps it’s because it’s so drastically out of character. I suspect that had Peter Capaldi been the one hiding behind the gravestones we’d be willing to describe it as ‘typical Twelfth Doctor’, just as Clara’s sense of hurt and betrayal would have lingered for far longer than the twenty seconds it takes to dissipate on screen.

Doc-Sherlock

I wonder if casual stalking was on the minds of the creative team behind the ‘Hello’ video. You remember ‘Hello’, don’t you? And no, I don’t mean that song by Adele, although from what I can gather, mashups of the two are endemic. No, ‘Hello’ was a 1984 number one for Lionel Richie – a sweet, piano-driven tale of seemingly unrequited love. It’s thoughtfully composed, decently structured and nicely produced. It was a surefire number one. Then Bob Giraldi (the chap set fire to Michael Jackson’s hair) got his sticky hands on it and turned it into the dark and frankly sinister tale of a college professor seeking an inappropriate relationship with one of his pupils.

It’s funny that of all the possible objections you could have to this setup, it’s the pupil / teacher thing that seems to rankle people the most. Maybe I’m just getting old, but back when I was at university (which really wasn’t so long ago) the scenario of students jumping into bed with their lecturers really wasn’t so uncommon, nor was it particularly frowned upon. It depends on the lecturer and the student – I can think of a couple of hookups that made my flesh crawl a little – but on the other hand both are consenting adults, and it seems churlish to criticise it in one breath and then, with the next, laugh at the narrative arc in Friends that explored the very same concept.

friends-s6e18-800x450

No, what’s creepy about this is Lionel’s looks of predatory longing as he watches Laura sunning herself in the cafe, improvise drama in the lecture theatre and fall into the arms of a dance partner in a workshop. It’s the way he follows her down the corridor. The heavy breathing down the phone when he rings her up in the middle of the night (and why, Lionel, are you holding the receiver to your crotch while you’re singing to Laura?). And, of course, the infamous monkey head scene, in which Laura sculpts a bust of Lionel that looks absolutely nothing like him, prompting the befuddled lecturer to draw in his breath and exclaim “Oh, it’s…wonderful…”

It would be comparatively easy to take footage from Doctor Who and mix it up with Lionel’s ballad. Actually, it’s already been done. But can you – and this was the question I found myself asking – can you find enough footage to actually tell some sort of story? Can you recreate the beginning and the end? Can you, in effect, create some sort of love triangle? And can you effectively turn the Doctor into a sap?

It turns out you can. And if you wanted a compare-and-contrast, here’s the Lionel version.

Personally, I think I got it pretty close…

 

Categories: Videos | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hello Docklands

Out Run.

That’s how it started. The ZX Spectrum port of Out Run. When you grow up with an eight-bit home computer you learn to make concessions, particularly where racing games are concerned. In the arcades, Out Run was a slick, fast-paced (and, it must be said, somewhat repetitive) racing experience, all sun-kissed beaches, billowing palm trees and beautiful girls. It was the American coast bursting onto a CRT in all its glory, and for a young boy living in suburban Reading this was as glamorous and exotic as it gets.

The Spectrum port, on the other hand, is like driving through treacle.

(And that’s the 128 version. Some of us didn’t even have in-game music.)

As if to concede the crushing sense of disappointment that would-be racers must have felt upon getting to that wretched bridge sequence and then having to pause the tape again so the multi-load could find the right block, the distributors saw fit to include a cassette of the soundtrack for your listening pleasure: extracts from ‘Passing Breeze’, ‘Splash Wave’ and ‘Magical Sound Shower’. Original versions and mods and remixes are all over YouTube and I will not link to them here: if you’ve played them, you will right now be humming your favourites. Those of us with a particularly glossy setup could cue a separate tape player next to our TV and arrange to have the music playing in the background, determinedly fast-forwarding to your particular favourites when you get to stage three. I couldn’t work out how they got the sounds, whether that guitar was real (it wasn’t) and why the constant ocean samples didn’t annoy me, but thus it was that my love affair with digital music was born.

Fast forward two years: it’s 1989 and I’m watching Black Box perform ‘Ride on Time’ on Top of the Pops. ‘Perform’ may be stretching it a bit. A more accurate description is that Davoli, Limoni and Semplici are gyrating awkwardly round their keyboards, bashing out something that almost syncs to the backing track, even if they’re jumping up and down octaves like Fry and Laurie performing ‘Hey Jude’, while Katrin Quinol is waving her arms and trying to make it look like her vocal track was actually recorded rather than heavily stitched. The cut-and-paste job is one I will grow to admire, despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that my eleven-year-old self is thoroughly oblivious to it. My eyes are on the Roland that’s being used to bash out that famous piano riff. “Do you wish you could play the keyboard like that, James?” my mother asks. One day I will, although I will never play Black Box.

Fast forward. It’s December 1989. I’m listening to a cassette that Sinclair User gave away with their November issue. It contains music from Silkworm, Gemini Wing, Continental Circus, Double Dragon II, Shinobi and Ninja Warriors. I am thrilled beyond belief as I go to press tonight to find this on YouTube. I remember listening to the cassette that evening and having a furious argument with my mother halfway through the Double Dragon theme about why I’m not listening to it on my Walkman, which leads to accusations that the Walkman is missing. It is not, but she refuses to believe me. These days, shortly after my eldest has lost his mobile and will not admit it, I understand why she was so angry. Next time (and every time) I listen to the tape, I skip Double Dragon.

Fast forward. It’s 1990. I wander into the music department one lunchtime – my not-quite friend Ewan is playing ‘Magical Sound Shower’ on a Casio and HE DOESN’T HAVE MUSIC. He’s playing it brilliantly and he has a samba rhythm going and HE DOESN’T HAVE MUSIC. I make a vow that I will learn to play it in the same way. I annoy him by doing this remarkably quickly. It turns out that picking things up by ear is one of the few things I can do really well. Ewan is cross with me and then we get along. It’s the start of a friendship that spans over twenty years.

Fast forward. It’s 1991. Ewan has got me listening to a synthesizer outfit called Project D. My favourite songs on there are the Jarre ones, and also one called ‘Autobahn’. Years later I will listen to the original and wonder at how stripped down it is in comparison, but eventually learn to appreciate it. I hear songs for the first time that I will eventually discover in their inceptive forms, which is what happens to everyone when they are growing up, and I do not judge them for it.

Fast forward. It’s 1991 and as far as we are concerned. KLF is the biggest thing on the planet. Ewan has me listening to American hip hop and Californian rock and to Jean-Michel Jarre. I am taken aback by the orchestrations in ‘Rendezvous II’ and bored stiff by ‘Waiting For Cousteau’: I am an impatient thirteen-year-old yet to discover Brian Eno. Revolutions is my favourite album, with its industrial clanking and bleeping and general eclecticism.

Fast forward. It’s later in 1991 and War of the Worlds is my latest discovery. Ewan has the idea of writing a sequel. We team up with a few others and vow to keep it a secret until it’s done. I spill the beans to some of my friends. Ewan does not speak to me for days.

Fast forward. It’s 1995. Blur are huge. Oasis are even bigger. I start listening to stuff with guitars. Ewan is in Chichester but we still talk. I fall in love, out, in, out again. I discover jazz; Ewan is by and large disgusted. I discover Eels; he concedes they’re quite good.

Fast forward again. It’s 2002 and I’m re-listening to The Concerts in China. I am taken aback by the difference in tone between the muted applause of Beijing and the cheering in Shanghai. I ask Ewan about it. He says “They hadn’t had any western musician playing there in decades. That concert was all ageing politicians and rich businessmen. They didn’t know what to make of him. What the fuck did you expect?”

Fast forward. It’s 2011. For some reason or another, I stop speaking to Ewan.

Fast forward. It’s 2012. On a cold winter’s evening I listen to Autobahn. It leads to a surge of interest in Kraftwerk. I do a little downloading. In January 2013 I have the idea of mixing up ‘Showroom Dummies’ with ‘Rose’. It just about works.

Fast forward. It’s 2013. I extend a couple of half-hearted olive branches to Ewan. I get nowhere and concede that’s probably it.

Fast forward. It’s early 2016 and I find this.

Fast forward. It’s June. I am playing through Grand Theft Auto V. I am enjoying the soundtrack – unintrusive ambient electronic music with a distinctive eighties vibe, as befits the listening tastes of one of the game’s protagonists. I make a note to research Tangerine Dream. I discover their back catalogue consists of over a hundred albums. I decide not to swim in this particular pool at the moment.

Fast forward. It’s August this year. I’m at a festival in Northamptonshire. We are hanging around in the kids’ area; Lego spills out of the nearby tents, the nursery gazebo resembles a Little Tikes showroom, and junk modelling festoons the lawn. We’re early for the family talent show and they’re prepping the venue. The chap on the desk is doing his sound check: it’s the Revolutions album. I have not heard it in almost a decade. But today I hear Hank Marvin playing the guitar solo on ‘London Kid’ and I nearly burst into tears.

Fast forward. I come home. I rationalise that a marriage between ‘Revolution, Revolutions’ and Doctor Who will probably work quite well. I listen to it again and remember the fun I used to have with my friend, translating the lyrics into French: “SEX….PAS DE – PAS DE – PAS DE SEX!”. I go through twelve years of Who. And, eventually, I make the video you see at the top.

It’s for Ewan. And he’ll probably never know.

 

Categories: Videos | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Doctor Who: The Day Before You Came

(If you’re reading this on a phone or tablet there is a chance that the embedded video may be unavailable to you. If that’s the case, I’ve left another version at Vimeo; that one should work.)

You say ABBA, you think ‘Dancing Queen’. You think Eurovision and ‘Waterloo’. You think Meryl Streep crying on a hill. You think Pierce Brosnan belting out ‘S.O.S.’ in the manner of someone having a prostate exam off camera (not my joke). You think flashy costumes and a certain joie de vivre.

Because no one likes to remember how utterly miserable they were by the time they disbanded. ABBA were a group who bore their hearts on their sleeves, or at least that’s the way it looked to the rest of us, whether it’s the raw emotion of ‘The Winner Takes It All’, the slightly manipulative but no less heartfelt sadness of ‘Slipping Through My Fingers’, the parenting anthem to end all parenting anthems (with the possible exception of ‘The Living Years’)…even something as outwardly upbeat as ‘When All Is Said And Done’ is amicably miserable (though it does include the line ‘not too old for sex’, so every cloud). I’m not saying we ignore the miserable bits, more that we tend to give more airspace to something like ‘Fernando’ than something like ‘One Of Us’. (I’ve never much cared for that song, although that’s the point at which Agnetha permed her hair and I stopped fancying her, so maybe that had something to do with it.)

The starkness plays out in that final album. The Visitors is possibly the best thing they ever did, tapping new and uncharted musical territory – an almost industrial technopop that was years ahead of its time and which Andersson and Ulvaeus would see come to fruition of a sort when they finished Chess, even though that’s still fairly theatrical. But it’s those two non-album singles – ‘Under Attack’ and ‘The Day Before You Came’ – that make the playlists, despite an initially lukewarm reaction from an audience that wasn’t ready for anything like this and had in any case more or less lost interest. Years later the latter regularly tops fan polls. I wonder if in years to come we’ll view ‘Fear Her’ with such retrospective acclaim.

FearHer1

…No, I don’t think so either.

The Wikipedia entry for ‘The Day Before You Came’ is worth reading, but I’ll summarise the best bits –

– Despite the minimal backing track, what really stands out is Agnetha’s voice, which is by and large sung in her native Swedish accent, rather than the twang she would adopt for other recordings

– The song’s meaning is the subject of intense scrutiny and debate – is this a song to a boyfriend? An ex-boyfriend? A murderer? Did her mundane life change for the better when this mysterious figure arrived, or did it in fact get worse? (The video goes some way to explaining this, although if you need a video to explain a song, the song’s a failure, so I prefer to think of the video as an afterthought)

– She left at 8 am and was at work by 9:15; conversely she left at 5 pm and didn’t get home for three hours. I know the woman stopped to pick up a Chinese but even allowing for rush hour traffic there is something going on here.

– Myself, I’ve always liked the image of Agnetha alone in the studio, completing the final recording with the lights out, as a musical union that’s outlasted two marriages limps along to its final, scrappy conclusion. Roll credits.

Anyway. Why the hell hasn’t anyone done something with Doctor Who? When you consider the new series’ focus on companions and the way their lives are changed by the arrival (and eventual departure) of the Doctor, isn’t it an obvious fit? The Doctor has a habit of blustering in, acting as a catalyst for revolution and reform and then making a quiet exit so someone else can clean up the mess. Doesn’t he have a tendency to treat people the same way?

What annoyed me intensely was that all those departure / regeneration scenes I found myself mocking when I watched the episodes that contained them took on a sudden emotional resonance when I looked at them again. I mean, I was crying at the Doctor / Verity Newman scene in ‘The End of Time’. That scene is faintly ridiculous and here I am wiping my eyes clean. Then I was crying at Rose. Dammit, I’m one of the ones that smirks whenever this sort of thing shows up on the Tumblr feeds. WHY IS THIS UPSETTING ME? I’M SUPPOSED TO BE DEAD INSIDE!

tumblr_lto5heeBOb1qchax1o5_250

That’s a roundabout way of saying that I made this last week, feeling sad and not really knowing why. Perhaps I knew, on one level or another, that this week would be the way it was. And I do feel sad this week, more than I can tell you. The world seems to have no real sense of self, just a collection of squabbling factions and misunderstandings and hatred and bile. I feel as if we’ve broken something we’re not going to be able to fix in a hurry, and rather than actually sitting down and working out how it broke and what we can do to piece it back together, we’re just kicking the fragments round the playground like angry schoolchildren.

And I don’t know the answer. I don’t. But I know that’s no way to run a planet.

Postscript: episodes used, in order of first appearance – 

Rose
The Zygon Inversion
Smith and Jones
Partners in Crime
Last Christmas
The End of Time
Listen
Parting of the Ways
Day of the Doctor
The Bells of Saint John
The Wedding of River Song
Journey’s End
The Angels Take Manhattan
Doomsday
The God Complex
The Fires of Pompeii
Army of Ghosts
Hell Bent
Last of the Time Lords
Death in Heaven
The Eleventh Hour
Turn Left
The Name of the Doctor
Face the Raven
Fear Her

Categories: Videos | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Walk the Dinopaw

At some point, I’ll write about the second half of our London trip, the as-yet unidentified companion, and a bunch of other stuff I’ve been thinking about. Funny how having no series of Doctor Who to look forward to keeps you busy.

In the meantime: this is one of the tightest (and most unified) things I’ve ever done. It was semi-commissioned by Alan Gilbey, who sort of asked for it after he saw the ‘Uptown Funk’ video. And it’s not as if we need an excuse to listen to ‘Walk The Dinosaur’.

Anyway, it gives you a good idea of what Gwen, Bob and Tony get up to when they’re not prepping for Towel Day. Enjoy your Sunday, won’t you?

Dinopaws_21

Categories: Videos | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Loving the alien

bowie

“Planet Earth is blue, and there’s nothing I can do…”

My A-level philosophy teacher was only seven years older than me. He had a long overcoat, a hatred of Blur and Friends and a great fondness for Quentin Tarantino, back when such a thing was acceptable. When I went to Leeds University – his old haunt – he pointed me in the direction of the best record shops and clubs, advising me to eschew “overrated, beery clubbing” for the underground scene – something I tried to do, with only limited success. He also loved David Bowie, which at first glance seems disappointingly mainstream. Didn’t everyone?

Yes and no. There were, in 1995, two Bowie albums in my collection. One was The Singles Collection, which took us all the way from ‘Space Oddity’ to ‘ Day In Day Out’, some twenty years later. I played it regularly, skipping tracks I didn’t like. ‘Space Oddity’ was a play-to-yourself-in-your-room song, the sort of late night opus reserved for those times when I was truly miserable, of which there were plenty (unrequited love will do that to you). My first encounter with ‘Changes’ had occurred some months previously when it turned up in a music exam. I’d never heard anything like it: the chromaticism, the unorthodox piano and string combination (was there ever a song so singularly influential on the musical direction of ELO?) and that pulsing, throbbing voice, singing and not singing, like an eroticised Rex Harrison.

The other album was 1.Outside, the first in an incomplete series of concept albums intended to chart the final five years of the millennium. 1.Outside was sprawling, vast and borderline incomprehensible. It told the story of Baby Grace, victim of an ‘art murder’ investigated by Detective Nathan Adler. Bowie intersects songs with spoken segues, assuming a variety of voices and characters, as was his wont. The world he depicted was dark and dystopian and simultaneously familiar. The songs ranged from industrial to grandiose to downright noisy, the pounding thud of ‘Hallo Spaceboy’ hinting at the musical direction he would later take with Earthling. It baffled many (“It would be good,” I remember reading in one magazine review, “to have him back down on Earth again”) but as someone who’d recently discovered Blade Runner I devoured it, determined to solve the mystery, devising anagrams for character names, looking for clues that probably weren’t there at all. It was just so coherent. Only the inclusion of ‘Strangers When We Meet’ – itself a leftover from The Buddha of Suburbia – seems somehow incongruous, although that doesn’t stop it being a darn good song in its own right.

That was – more or less – my introduction to David Bowie. Oh, I’d seen Labyrinth. We all had. My memory of that first time is a little sullied: Labyrinth was, at the age of ten, the video the class elected to watch as an end-of-term treat, winning by a landslide, while my own offering (a movie-of-the-week I’d taped from ITV) barely registered a single vote. That’s the sort of thing that can taint your enjoyment, but the truth is I watched and loved it along with the rest of the class, adoring Bowie’s costume and the colourful Muppet characters – and the songs, although I wouldn’t come to appreciate them until years later, largely thanks to an old friend who would occasionally rap the beginning of ‘Magic Dance’ in the office on those tedious Friday afternoons. Such exchanges also work very well on Facebook, except when this happens.

Me: You remind me of the babe.

Owen: What babe?

Donna-Marie: Labrynth!! ;D

Me: The babe with the power.

Donna-Marie: That’s the power of the babe!

Me: Arrrgh! Stop messing it up!

As an actor, Bowie was variable. On the one hand, Pontius Pilate. On the other hand, this.

I mean, Twin Peaks had its fair share of dreadful acting (James Marshall? I’m looking at you) but this is appalling. I know he’s supposed to be tortured and damaged but there’s no need to leave the audience in the same state. He looks like he’s just listened to both Tin Machine albums back to back. It would be tempting to mark this as a downward spiral, but it occurs some years before Basquiat, in which his portrayal of Andy Warhol lights up the screen. Yin and Yang.

Yesterday James Moran said “I love how we all found Bowie at different times, and all met a different person. He was a Time Lord, and we were briefly his companions.” Certainly Capaldi wanted him on board for series nine, and I have no doubt that he’d have been marvellous as an enigmatic villain. There is, somewhere, a parallel universe where Bowie was cast as the Sixth or Eighth Doctor, and the series was never cancelled. If Everett’s many-worlds interpretation rings true, there is equally another universe in which the show didn’t make it past ‘The Twin Dilemma’. Yin and Yang.

Perhaps that’s the thing. Perhaps we all have ‘our’ Bowies and then enjoy those others he became, in much the same way that we cling to different Doctors. “I like early Bowie,” said Gareth, when I asked him, “but then I’m generally much more of a fan of 70s sorts of things than more recent stuff: early Bowie, early Queen, Genesis with Gabriel, etc. I have his later albums, but I rarely listen to any of them except sometimes the Labyrinth soundtrack. It’s probably a testament to his constant reinventing that he produced things I think are great and also things I thought were terrible.”

I wish I could tell a story about my love of Bowie that actually resonates on some level – how his music helped me come to terms with my sexuality (I’m straight) or helped me deal with the bullies (it didn’t) or how I recognised something of a kindred spirit within him (I don’t). But that wouldn’t be true. Not for me the pithy epitaph that goes viral. He was always a musician first and foremost – I do not and have never worn eyeliner – and while I marvelled at the chord changes in ‘Motel’ or the piano solo in ‘Aladdin Sane’ I never tried to emulate them.

On the other hand, I own most of his studio albums and I have followed and admired him for years. On the other hand, Monday was a black day. I cancelled my morning commitments and wrote a little something for Metro: I do not pretend that it is authoritative, or all-encompassing, or balanced – but it is how I remember him. I look back on my life and realise how present he was, even though he never quite seemed to be one of us. I cried when Freddie Mercury left: months later, Bowie was singing at his memorial concert. I was miserable at university; Bowie was in his drum-and-bass phase. Come the millennium, teenage angst had given way to navel-gazing introspection, with ‘Hours…’ playing on a loop. When I was miserable throughout most of 2002, ‘Heroes’ kept me company. And when Sam Tyler jumped from his roof, he was accompanied one of my favourite songs. Through it all, Bowie is a constant, a dark angel, overseeing my life, and your life – someone who we assumed would be making music until he was ninety or beyond. He was edgy and dark and brilliant and sang and did things that defined us and would never have occurred to the rest of us – we could relate to him, and we never could, and that was his appeal. At the Brit Awards 1999 he burst forth onto the stage like a man who has fallen into the fountain of youth, showing the kids how it’s done while simultaneously becoming one of them.

We’ll go out as we came in. It’s 1995, and one of my favourite musicians duets with one of my favourite pop bands. The single mix is not exactly Bowie, at least in terms of how it sounds, but it’s a testament to his chameleonic tendencies that it works so well. And the video…well, it’s David Mallet, rather than Bowie, but I look at this, and I look at my own work, and I wonder if there was some influence there after all. Either way, we’ll have the music. We always will.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Uptown Funk: The CBeebies Edition

Do. Do-DO-Do, Do-DO-Do, Do-Do. You’re humming it now, aren’t you? Oh, it’s catchy. It’s one of the most cynically manipulative records since ‘The Living Years’, a cocktail of old sounds under a modern groove, several records ripped off (amateurs borrow, experts steal) in order to make a song that teenagers play loudly through their phones in those evening alcopop sessions in the park, even as their parents dance badly to it at the office disco. It is masterfully produced, expertly performed and I love it. Say what you like about the state of contemporary music; Mark Ronson’s a genius.

I first encountered ‘Uptown Funk’ at Butlins, in February last year, where it featured in the finale of Diversity‘s street dance act. They were tight, they were effortlessly entertaining and I was humming that song for weeks. Winter turned into spring and someone did a lipdub featuring hundreds of classic movies. Then someone else did a montage using dance sequences. Then someone else did the same thing with the Golden Age of Hollywood. I have not linked to any of these because chances are you’ve seen them, and because my own meagre offering – proud of it as I am – does tend to pale into insignificance. But that’s OK. “Always,” said Max Ehrmann, “there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.”

Here’s a reflection on parenting. When you’re faced with the prospect of bad behaviour, you can sometimes circumvent it by simply upstaging it. One evening in August I had to entertain four tired, slightly fractious children – and a very well-behaved dog – in the van in a Lidl car park while Emily shopped. I did this by turning up the radio, and singing along to ‘Uptown Funk’ at the top of my voice, accompanied by with the sort of extravagant, flamboyant Dad dancing that would make Carlton Banks raise an eyebrow. In doing so I attracted the attention of several passers-by, as well as the cashiers in Lidl, who stared in bemusement while Emily pretended she didn’t know who I was.

When we were done, Thomas said “Dad, that was really embarrassing.”

I said “You think that was embarrassing? You just wait and see what I’ve got planned for your teenage years.”

oBaf2lv

Fast forward to October, and the video you saw at the beginning. I won’t go into the details, except to say that I restricted myself to HD clips only, which is why certain programmes aren’t featured (I’d have loved to have included Big Cook, Little Cook, but the surviving footage on YouTube really is rather grainy). In a way, that sort of self-imposed limitation made things easier, because otherwise you find yourself floundering under the weight of serious choice fatigue. There are so many CBeebies programmes (past and present) in which dancing features. Several shows are featured more than once, partly because they fit but partly because I was exhausted and just wanted to finish the thing. This was as painstakingly down-to-the-frame as anything I’ve ever done, and hopefully it shows, at least in the decent parts.

The first person I showed it to was Alan Gilbey. “It’s good,” he said, “but it needs more Dinopaws!”. Which gave me another idea, but that’s still in the works, so you can’t see it yet. In the meantime, this went on YouTube and round the houses (I’ve been informed, anecdotally, that several people who are in it saw it and liked it) and there it now sits, drawing in a steady stream of visitors. Certainly the hit count – 105,000 as we go to press – is gratifying, and as close to ‘viral’ as I am ever likely to get.

Just in case you’re interested, here’s a list of all the shows featured, in order of first appearance:

Rastamouse
Show Me Show Me
Twirlywoos
Balamory
Let’s Play
Zingzillas
Brum
Boj
Dinopaws
Gigglebiz
The Elves and the Shoemaker
Number Raps
The Lingo Show
LazyTown
The Tweenies
Dinosaur Raps
CBeebies Pantos: Strictly Cinderella
Something Special: We’re All Friends
My Story
The Three Little Pigs
Numtums
Tilly and Friends
Charlie and Lola
Furchester Hotel
Peter Rabbit
Tree Fu Tom
Make Way For Noddy
Kerwhizz
Teletubbies
Justin’s House
Sarah and Duck
Mr Bloom: Get Set Grow
Alphablocks
Waybuloo
Pingu
Small Potatoes
Grandpa in my Pocket
Wussywat the Clumsy Cat
Let’s Celebrate
Baby Jake
Hey Duggee
Lunchtime Song
Same Smile
Mister Maker Round The World
Old Jack’s Boat
Katie Morag
Swashbuckle
Carrie and David’s Pop Shop
Swashbuckle does ‘Happy’
CBeebies Prom
In The Night Garden
The Let’s Go Club

Would I do it differently now? Probably. There are vague synchronicity issues I’d like to fix, mostly near the beginning (I swear the original is correct; I think it happened during the YouTube encoding). On the other hand it mostly works. A couple of scenes still make me wince. But I am pleased, in particular, with the way it unfolds in the last minute. Don’t believe me? Just watch.

(Yeah, you knew that was coming.)

Categories: Videos | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Also seen in

It’s Monday evening, and Gareth Roberts is tweeting.

And this.

And this.

“You’d never know I was a bit bored,” he added.

Which is too much fun to leave there, so I have done a few of my own. Here’s Twisted Sister, 1987.

p01xs2zv

 

Pink Floyd, 1983.

Doctor_Who_50th_anniversary__why_hasn_t_the_BBC_shown_more_classic_episodes_

 

Peter, Paul and Mary, 1965.

Doctor-Who-and-daleks-1965-movie-Peter-Cushing-Roy-Castle

 

Japan, 1986.

Doctor Who

 

And the Pet Shop Boys, 1968.

Quark_and_master

 

I think we may have taken this to its logical conclusion, don’t you?

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Gospel of John: the Elbow version

It’s been a busy week, all told. Thomas’s party (improbably Lemony Snicket-themed) is next Wednesday and we are still up to our ears in cake plans, brainstorming sessions for games and the sheer rigmarole of chasing people for RSVPs. (Dealing with a few ambiguous or non-existent responses is comparatively easy if you’ve invited thirty or forty children: worst case scenario, you wind up overcatering. When you’ve only invited seven or eight, that’s half the party.)

I am also leading worship on Sunday, and this led to the thing you see above. I wanted to depict the resurrection (the subject of this week’s service) in montage form, rather than just playing a couple of clips.  The first problem was finding suitable source material, and The Gospel of John – from the Visual Bible series – turned out to be a second choice. Son of God, which reuses footage from the 2014 Bible TV series and combines it with new material, has more striking visuals, owing in part to its larger budget. Sadly, there just wasn’t enough – the resurrection and ascension are dealt with in about four minutes flat, so it’s gone on the back burner for another time. (There is also the 1999 Jesus mini-series, but it’s so horribly Americanised I really didn’t want to touch it.)

What strikes me throughout this was the ambiguous mood. I’d anticipated a gradual buildup to the reveal of Christ (that first clear shot, in the Garden of Gethsemane, is quite deliberately placed) and then a jubilant release for the coda, with multiple shots of smiling, overjoyed disciples. In the end, you make do with what you have, and that turned out to be a sea of troubled faces. But that works, largely because I can’t help thinking my own reaction to a resurrected Jesus would be one of similar ambivalence – elation at seeing him again, coupled with shame and despair that I’d let him down a couple of days back.

The song choice was never up for debate. I’ve been wanting an excuse to assemble something to ‘One Day Like This’ ever since discovering Elbow a few years back. While not quite their creative peak (Build A Rocket Boys is a better album) there are few anthems by them – by any band, come to that – which carry such a sense of euphoric triumph. The song’s about waking up next to someone and realising that you love them, but it seems to fit the mood. And as much as I live in fear that it’s set to become our generation’s ‘Hey Jude’ – with a wrinkled, balding Guy Garvey hoisted out onto the stage in thirty years’ time to lead the Olympic crowd in a grand singalong of a tune that’s been played to death – I’m glad I finally got to use it.

My brother-in-law, incidentally, does not share my fears about the fate of ‘One Day Like This’, stating that he “can’t see Guy Garvey allowing that to happen”. And he’s probably right. Elbow can fill an arena in ten minutes, but when it comes to creative choices, I really can’t see them selling out.

Elbow

Well, probably not.

Categories: Videos | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Time to Key

I’m not just a freelance writer, you know. I have another sideline, but one I’m keen to advertise. But there are lots of peripatetic music teachers in our neck of the woods, and I had to find something that set me apart. Thanks to Emily, I now have a gimmick.

All shares and reblogs welcome, if only to plug the Facebook page.

 

Keyboard_Time

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Doctor Who does Kraftwerk

Picture the scene. The corridor was only painted an hour ago, but Edward is currently running up and down the same bit of it over and over again. His somewhat prodigious older brother is trying to solve a mathematical puzzle, while the others run away from poorly rendered monsters and I contend with a dangerous predator that unfortunately resembles a cute furry animal. Our house is basically a 1981 Doctor Who set.

In the meantime, for no reason other than their current omnipresence on my iPod playlists (plus this), here are some hastily assembled Doctor Who / Kraftwerk mashups. Some are better than others, but all are mine.

(I really didn’t intend for that last one to show the regeneration cycle from the War Doctor through to the Eleventh, but it just sort of happened that way. Happy accident.)

 

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: