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Sue Sylvester, We Love You April 14, 2010

Posted by Patrick in Muzak, Televisual.
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If you do one thing today, make sure it’s watching the hilarious Jane Lynch as Glee‘s Sue Sylvester doing her best Madonna impression (above) in her shot-for-shot remake of Madonna’s Vogue, which aired last night in the US. Next week’s Madonna-themed episode of Glee airs here next Wednesday on TV3 at 8pm, and will likely include a hefty chunk of this music video. Also featured are Amber Riley and Chris Colfer, Glee‘s Mercedes and Kurt, playing the role of Sue’s backing singers.

My personal highlight has to be Sue’s take on Madonna’s ‘rap’ near the end of the song, inserting her own name and a jibe at her nemesis from the show, Mr. Schuester.

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What mood is my stereo in today? April 10, 2010

Posted by Paula in Muzak, Webshite.
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Every time I’ve used the Shuffle setting on my iPod lately, every third song has either been a) awful or b) a track from the Leaving Cert French Oral CD that I stupidly added to my iTunes in sixth year. An iTunes library spring clean will commence shortly but until then, I will be letting Stereomood choose my songs for me.

Stereomood is a free online radio site with hundreds of playlists, categorised by emotions and activities.  The playlist titles range from broad categories like ‘Optimistic’, ‘Sexy’  and ‘Melancholy’, to more specific ones like ‘Traffic Jam’, ‘Dinner With Friends’, ‘Driving Route 66’, ‘Foreplay’, and even ‘Feel Like Crying’. Hopefully you won’t be needing those last two playlists in quick succession, but  you never know.

The playlists are regularly updated (the songs are  taken from a large list of music blogs and tagged by mood), so that today’s ‘It’s Raining’ songs won’t be the same as tomorrow’s. The list of blogs checked is much smaller than on Hype Machine or similar, meaning some songs do crop up on more than one playlist (Sade seems to feature a bit more than is normal), but it’s still a great way of finding something new to listen to.

Fairtrade Freebies February 23, 2010

Posted by Paula in Muzak.
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An old manager of mine, in one of the many part-time jobs I’ve had in this lifetime, claimed that reggae music increased customers’ desire to purchase. She piped it out constantly over the shop’s speakers. Since then, I’ve had an aversion to any kind of…shall we say…afro-beats.

Cadbury’s Big Swap Songs album, released as part of their 2010 Fairtrade campaign, is a collection of covers by Ghanian group The Big Ghana Band. And it’s definitely grown on me.

Paolo Nutini collaborated with The Big Ghana Band for the album’s opening song, a reggae’d up version of his new single, A Pencil Full of Lead. I think I like it better than the original. The album also features covers (some dodgy, but most quite good) of Girls Aloud, Goldfrapp and Elbow to name but a few. Big Swap Songs is available for download on the Cadbury’s site. It’s free (and legal…), so why wouldn’t you?

Vampire Weekend Make a Racquet February 19, 2010

Posted by Patrick in Muzak.
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Not only have Vampire Weekend decided to release my favourite song from new album Contra, Giving Up the Gun as their second single, but its accompanying video is the best thing I’ve seen all week. Everyone’s dressed in tennis gear and some ginger girl comes out and starts playing against a load of random opponents.

First up is Wu-Tang Clan member RZA as a line judge, swiftly followed by Joe Jonas and Jake Gyllenhaal, who each play the girl and are both beaten. Jake Gyllenhaal even brings a naggin on to the court with him.

Lil Jon even shows up near the end as the girl’s tennis coach. Along the way she also takes on a giant woman, two helmeted people, a samurai and herself. And also herself three times. Then she pours a load of milk over herself.

Ezra Koenig, the band’s lead singer shed some light on the bizarre video in an interview with Spinner magazine:

“I was stressed out one night worrying about the video and an image popped into my head of our friend Jenny (who’s also in the ‘Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa’ video) playing tennis against a samurai. It grew from there,” Koenig tells Spinner.

“We always thought RZA would be perfect. We’d been in touch with Lil Jon since the first album. He heard the reference on ‘Oxford Comma’ and sent us some cases of Crunk Juice. Joe Jonas and Jake Gyllenhaal were both excellent — lot of improvisation and some surprisingly powerful serves.”

“‘Giving Up the Gun’ just means turning your back on aggression and selfishness,” Koenig explains of the song’s concept. “The heroine of the video isn’t an amazing tennis player, but she has heart. She stays calm despite the unfairness of it all.”

Ah sure, no one said it had to make sense. Watch it below.

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Avril in Wonderland February 18, 2010

Posted by Patrick in Cinematics, Muzak.
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As excitement for the brand spanking new Alice in Wonderland 3D live action spectacular builds to a fever pitch, Avril Lavigne drops the video for her song from the soundtrack, Alice.

Although the song also has the task of launching one of the film’s soundtracks, Almost Alice, it’s also Avril Lavigne’s chance to prove herself after the relative failure of her last album and tour. The Best Damn Album and Tour they weren’t. It’s hard to gauge what Tim Burton was thinking, or indeed smoking, when he plonked the most important piece of the soundtrack in the Canadian sk8er girl’s hands.

Visually, the video is gorgeous, with Avril prancing around wonderland with freaky blue eyes, seemingly playing the role of Alice. She sits at the table with Johnny Depp’s Mad Hatter for nearly a minute of the song, perhaps placed there so some dimwit could say “I can’t believe they got Johnny Depp to appear in an Avril Lavigne video!”

That aside, the movie scenes are mostly spliced in quite well, until the part when she opens a random door and they bung a load of clips in to take up some of the running time.

The song itself is a bit of a grower. The first time I heard it I thought it was god-awful, but it becomes more listenable over time. Lavigne’s vocal completely overpowers the song, with a so-so verse contrasted by an actually-quite-catchy-and-good chorus.

I shudder to think of Lavigne performing this live, because unless you’re into shout-singing that chorus is not going to be pretty. Check out the video below.

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Back In Business February 4, 2010

Posted by Paula in Muzak.
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Mark Ronson will collaborate with Scissor Sisters, Santigold and Miike Snow among others on his new album In Business. Speaking to NME, Ronson promised that the album, released this summer, will all be original work.

There’s no covers, and no horns. It’s written with some of the people that actually wrote the songs I covered on the last album and that I didn’t actually even know at the time. It’s quite interesting to write songs from scratch with those people.

Given that Ronson’s 2007 album Version was an album of covers, it’ll be interesting to see how this new effort pans out. Other collaborators will include Nick Hodgson of Kaiser Chiefs and US rapper Pill. But I’ve saved the best for last. Ronson will also work with 90s pop/dance artist Cathy Dennis. Dennis was responsible for such masterpieces as Just Another Dream and Touch Me (All Night Long). She also wrote Kylie Minogue’s Can’t Get You Outta My Head, and has co-written songs for various American Idol winners. Let’s see what she comes up with for Ronson.

Let Me Go Home February 4, 2010

Posted by Patrick in Muzak.
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Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros have been around since 2007, but only last summer released their debut album Up From Below.

I’ve only just discovered them, thanks to a tip-off from my sister. Since then, I’ve become slightly obsessed with their song Home. They sound a little bit like a mix between Jefferson Airplane and a less manic Polyphonic Spree, although this group are made up of slightly less members – thirteen to be exact (if we’re counting three ‘additional members’).

And Edward Sharpe isn’t actually part of the group – he’s actually a fictional “messianic figure” who “was sent down to Earth to kinda heal and save mankind, but he kept getting distracted by girls and falling in love.” That’s according to the group’s founder Alex Ebert, who does double duty as lead singer of Ima Robot.

While you digest all that, have a listen to Home below. There’s even a great talky bit about three minutes in – but I’ll let you hear it for yourself.

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – Home (download)

[MP3 hosted at Factory Made Future, Image via iTunes]

Five Girls, One Musical February 3, 2010

Posted by Paula in Muzak.
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Plans for a Spice Girls musical were finally confirmed last week. The musical’s working title is Viva Forever, and will hit the West End sometime in the next two years. The Spice Girls are said to be “very excited” about the plans. Who wouldn’t be?

The word on the street is that Geri Halliwell will co-produce the project, but that has yet be confirmed. Fingers crossed. For now though, Mamma Mia! creator, Judy Craymer will be at the musical’s helm, in partnership with former Spice Girls manager Simon Fuller.

Whether the musical will be about the Spice Girls’ rise to stardom, or whether it will follow a Mamma Mia!-esque structure, which just uses the band’s music, remains to be seen. I’m hoping for the former.

She & Him pump up the Volume February 2, 2010

Posted by Patrick in Muzak.
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The first single from She & Him’s (Zooey Deschanel being She, and M. Ward being Him) sophomore album, Volume Two, has been released online for free (how nice of them!) and thankfully, it doesn’t disappoint.

Nothing about In the Sun indicates a massive shift from the sunny, folksy upbeat tracks of Volume One, but it’s catchy and has a bit of a group singalong bit in the chorus which is always alright with me.

The summery sounds of this song may not match the weather outside right now, but between this and my copy of (500) Days of Summer, June doesn’t seem entirely out of reach.

Volume Two is released on 23rd March in the US, and 5th April in the UK

She & Him – In the Sun (download)

Come out of your cave walking on your hands January 29, 2010

Posted by Patrick in Muzak.
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Mumford & Sons have released the video for their latest single, The Cave (out 28th February), from their debut album Sigh No More.

The video features the band giving their instruments and such to what look like a lost Indian marching band, and then jetting off on motorbikes around the Indian countryside. Next thing you know, everyone’s having a great big lipsync to the song. And it’s great.

Every time I pick a favourite off the band’s album, it changes the next week. For the moment though, The Cave is definitely it. Check out the video below.