Troubled Twat, or My Boyfriend Is A Diva.

I once received a very pleasant and thoughtful e-mail from a passing stranger, which critiqued this site to a comfortable level of detail (just enough to show that he had been paying attention; not so much as to raise my Stalker Alarm), and in agreeably favourable terms (i.e. at a suitable mid-point between dutifully polite and queasily sycophantic). Then, right at the end of the e-mail, he revealed that he had stumbled across my site by typing “tony parsons is a twat” into Google.

Never having used this phrase – such brutally derogatory invective not being my usual stock in trade – I was initially a little taken aback by this. (Besides which, my views on Tony Parsons are not a matter of public record.) However, since the phrase “is a twat” occurs on every one of my archive pages, I could hardly be too surprised for too long. Sometimes, you get the Google traffic you deserve.

All of which is a very roundabout way of letting you know that I’m currently guest-blogging on Zoe’s site, along with fellow guests anna, vitriolica and auntymarianne. One can only guess at the sort of Google-trade she has to contend with – but I bet it ain’t pretty. Anyway, HELLO BELGIUM! Your Top Ten’s rubbish, your Eurovision entry was worse, but who cares! Luvyatabits anyways!

Land of Too Many Effing Drums: Stylus Does Eurovision 2005, Part One.

Still suffering from Eurovision withdrawal symptoms? If so, then here’s a chance to relive the glories of Saturday May 21st all over again, as Stylus magazine’s panel of observers (including myself) offer a blow-by-blow “as live” commentary. Part Two Three follows tomorrow.

Also on Stylus today: this week’s UK Singles Jukebox, in which you’ll find my comments on new releases from Faithless (brutal desecration of lovely old album track), MC Lars (clever-clever music biz satire), Groove Coverage (I *heart* crappy low-rent Euro-dance cover versions!) and Ben Adams (former boybander strives for “maturity”).

Because I abhor waste: here’s a fifth review, which didn’t make the final cut.

Blue Orchid – White Stripes [8]

The yardstick against which this must be judged is, of course, “Seven Nation Army”. Does it have the Big Riff? Oh yes. Is the riff big enough? Potentially – but with its arena-filling potential as yet untested, it is difficult to say for certain. That aside, the familiar Jack/Meg dynamic is as engrossing as ever, and the overt Led Zep-isms (with Jack cast as a screeching Page/Plant hydra) are pulled off with aplomb.

The most linked UK weblogs, May 2005.

In May 2004, I compiled a Top 50 chart of the most linked UK weblogs, using data culled from Technorati. A year later, I’ve decided to do the same thing again, with the list expanded to a Top 60.

As you’ll see, there has been a lot of movement, with 19 new entries in the Top 50 and some significant climbers. Inevitably, the bar for inclusion has also been raised. A year ago, the #50 blog only needed 114 links to qualify; this year, it needs 218. As a result, all of the blogs which have dropped down the chart have actually gained significant numbers of new links.

The usual caveats apply. Links are only counted if they come from other weblogs, so there is little indication of popularity in the outside world. A high number of links does not necessarily mean a high amount of traffic, and vice versa. As “political” weblogs tend to have much longer blogrolls than other weblogs, the chart is therefore weighted in their favour to a certain degree. Blogs which have changed their URLs in the last year lose all their old links, and have to start again from zero. (Like this one, in fact.) Blogs with two completely different URLs suffer, as I can only include one of them. (If I added the two figures together, then there would be too many duplicates.) And – most importantly of all – there is not necessarily any meaningful correlation between popularity and quality. So no tears before bedtime, OK?

My definition of a “UK weblog” – which might well differ from yours – is that its author should be currently resident in the UK. If it’s a group weblog, then the majority of its authors should be living in the UK. Actual British citizenship doesn’t come into it; residency is all that’s required. This also means that I’ve excluded weblogs written by ex-pat Brits who are living abroad.

As always, there are bound to be some omissions. If you know of a blog which should be included, then please let me know.

(This was partially inspired by a new site called Blogebrity, which has attempted to codify the whole A-list / B-list / C-list thing for real, but which – so far as I can detect – has only included two UK weblogs on its lists. Apparently, there’s also a glossy “blog celebrity” magazine in the pipeline. Yes, that’s what I thought.)

Continue reading “The most linked UK weblogs, May 2005.”

“Bored now. Next craze please.”

No sooner do I say this, than Timothy pops up in my comments box to tell me what it is: namely, a web-based project entitled 40 artists, 40 days.

This blatant, blatant hijacking of my pioneering and celebrated 40 In 40 Days Project is a wheeze cooked up by The Tate Gallery, in support of London’s 2012 Olympics bid. Working rather like an Advent Calendar, a brand new artwork will be revealed on the Tate website each day, from today until July 6th. (There’s more information here.) Today’s first work is a portrait by Sam Taylor-Wood, with future contributors including Antony Gormley, Mario Testino and Norman Foster. My kind of thing, if you ignore all that sporting nonsense.

Oh, that goes in there. Then that goes in there. And then it’s over.

Two weeks ago, I was still struggling with them. Some would end up in the bin, scrunched into cross little balls, messed up beyond redemption. The others would go to a proud little trophy pile at the edge of the desk, too perfect to chuck.

About twenty minutes of concentrated graft would generally do it – providing I swapped to “large” before printing, as I had a strict, sequential system which necessitated a lot of minuscule scribblings and crossings out along the way.

Today, faced with a supposedly hard one, I found myself abandoning the system for a looser, more holistic methodology. In not much more than ten easy minutes, it was done; tossed onto the pile with a triumphant flick of the wrist. Hard my arse.

The lesson – that an experientally acquired holistic approach will beat a painstakingly applied sequential approach, once the necessary leap of faith is made – is one I could do with bearing in mind, linear thinker that I am. But enlightenment has its price. Today, that flick was triumphant. Tomorrow it will be casual. Soon it will be indifferent. And then my fun will be over.

Bored now. Next craze please.

Umlauts: we like the Europop and we’re not afraid to say it.

Umlauts is the new music-blogging venture from Edward O, who was responsible for last year’s widely admired Enthusiastic but Mediocre. As before, Edward will be running a regular feature: The Cross-Europe Chart Challenge of Death, in which fifteen different European countries have their singles charts evaluated by a panel of pundits.

Ever eager to trot out a pithy capsule review or two, I have now joined the panel, whose verdicts on the current Top 10 singles in Belgium are now available for inspection. Having spent the last few days immersed in Belgian pop (when I’ve not been immersed in Eurovision), all I can say is that I will never complain about the UK singles charts again. Take it from me, kids: we just don’t know how lucky we are.

Having said that, I can wholeheartedly recommend a wonderful piece of Schlager-pop by Laura Lynn, called Je Hebt Me 1000 Maal Belogen. How reassuring to know that stuff like this, which I thought had died out years ago, is still being produced and enjoyed. Interested? Then take a good look at the end of the article.

Continue reading “Umlauts: we like the Europop and we’re not afraid to say it.”

Eurovision 2005: I don’t really do post-match reports…

…previews being my particular speciality, but I’d be interested to know what you lot made of last night’s contest. But while I’m here, some quick-fire observations:

1. The best songs on the night were mostly placed at the start of the draw, which made for a spectacular opening salvo. Indeed, several members of last night’s gang in front of the telly swiftly declared it to be the best contest ever.

2. However, there was a distinct tail-off in quality after the bangin’ granny of Moldova, followed by a dramatic slump after Serbia. This could only spell good news for Greece, whose entry shone out from the herd by comparison.

3. Although the level of chat in the room drowned out most of Wogan’s commentary, I did catch his lament that many of this year’s songs sounded indistinguishable from another. That would be the BOWEI (Blend Of Western & Eastern Influences) factor, then. It’s an Issue, isn’t it? And honestly, if I ever clap eyes on one more Big Sodding Drum, I’ll… I’ll… well, I don’t know what I’ll do. But it won’t be pretty.

4. The voting went on far, far too long. It was fine in the old days, when only the couple of dozen participating countries on the night voted – but come on, thirty-nine separate juries? Something needs to be done. Watching numbers float about on a screen for the thick end of an hour and a half is not many people’s idea of good prime time entertainment. Two of our lot fell fast asleep. Hell, even I started wilting a little.

5. I’m a bit worried about the potential fall-out from the “big four” countries (UK, Germany, France, Spain), who customarily stump up most of the dosh in return for automatic entry to the finals, finishing in the last four positions. Will they get the hump and start withdrawing their funding? Because the alternative – corporate sponsorship – would be a grisly prospect indeed. As I’ve said before: the day the event turns into the Pepsi Max Eurovision, hosted by Beyoncé, is the day I’ll lose interest.

6. There is, however, an obvious solution to the UK’s continuing dismal record in the voting. (All together now: POOR Javine!) And that is… devolution! If we adopted the football approach, fielding separate entries for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, then we could all block-vote for each other, and everyone would be happy. And why not throw in Lundy, Rockall and the Isle Of Man for good measure? Ker-ching! Sorted!

7. Nevertheless, and despite all the above grumbles, my ardour for Eurovision remains resolutely undimmed. So much so, that after two years of watching the contest on the telly, I find myself ready and eager to re-enter the fray. So, Athens 2006, then? I am like so there already. Try keeping me away.

Still hungry for more? Than why not gorge yourselves upon Anna Pickard’s live running commentary for Guardian Unlimited? (I’m involved in something similar, which will be appearing on Another Web Site in the fullness of time.)

Alternatively, you could check last night’s results on the official scoreboard – where you’ll notice that the UK’s only votes came from Ireland (English speaking), Malta (ditto), Cyprus (army bases) and Turkey (where Touch My Fire has been a hit).

I am now officially Eurovisionned out. Is there still a world out there? Maybe it’s time to step outside and smell the flowers.

(P.S. I am rubbish at making predictions. Worse than last year, in fact. See below for proof. Eight out of twenty-four? And I try to pass myself off as an expert? Pathetic.)