Sunday, February 28, 2016

Have Music Awards Lost Their Appeal?

I think the quickest answer to the title question is: Yes! Music award ceremonies have lost their appeal and their spark. I remember a couple of years ago watching the Grammy Awards and seeing Imagine Dragons perform. It was the first time I'd ever heard them and I was blown away. Now that's a performance. But everything this year seemed so stale and boring and obvious. It was more about lighting and effects than what was being done musically. I mean, why the hell wasn't Florence and the Machine on stage at the Brits performing, doing what she does best? She was in the audience and nominated for two awards. She should have been performing and she would have brought the house down I'm sure. Doesn't help that I love her.

 Perhaps it's an age thing, but music awards used to be something to get excited about. There used to be performances from all styles and genres, not just the biggest selling tracks of the year once again forced down your throat in huge indigestible chunks. There used to be some major rock outs. There used to be more than the same ten acts paraded around like good little puppies. And there used to be some controversy and an exciting incident or two. Now they seem to be stale, repetitive and completely forced. The links are awkward and in no way amusing. And it just seems to be a lot of faff for not much result.

The Grammy Awards last week were particularly disappointing. Once again, so much cut out of the UK broadcast, and just nothing spectacular, though Kendrick Lamar's political performance did ring out as the best/most interesting performance of the night. There was a distinct lack of rock, as the band picking up best rock performance admitted that they don't even see themselves as a rock group. And the collaborations seemed completely forced. These people in no way arranged the collaborations themselves and they did the best they could, but really Ellie Golding singing with Andra Day who has a voice thrice as strong as hers. I mean, that's just cruel. And don't get me started on Tributes. Every other act was a tribute. It was like cover band night or something. And Gaga tried but I think I got whiplash from the song changes. Pick a couple of songs, sure, but trying to cram his entire back catalogue into a few minute's slot felt rushed and a tad overwhelming.

I was having a lot of trouble ordering my thoughts around this blog. I'd started writing it on Thursday and abandoned it for complete lack of direction/the splurge of wordy vomit coming out of me. But, inspired by an article I read entitled 8 Things We Loved About the Brit Awards, I realised the best way to order my thoughts:

8 Things I Disliked About The Brit Awards

  1. Ant and Dec. When will people realise that Ant and Dec are over? Not funny! And not the nations favourite people. They are also condescending and pretty stupid. No one was laughing and surely everyone there was drunk and/or high. If they aren't laughing do you really think the people at home are? Oh, I know let's dress Ant up in a dress. *fake laughter* It's so pantomime, it's sickening. Pantomime belongs in theatres at Christmas time only. We all know that. They kept talking about 'Upping their game from last year,' well Brits you failed. Though you could have had a drinking game and every time they said, 'Upping their game,' you take a shot. You'd have been more pissed than the guests. Really though, next year, time for a shake up in the hosts I think.
  2. Justin Bieber. That's all fairly self-explanatory. Saw him at the Grammys, why did I have to suffer him at the Brits too?
  3. Bowie Tribute (Part 1). Okay, so the Brits Bowie Tribute has to be mentioned for the sheer bizarreness of the whole thing. Can you say intense? Annie Lennox and her pauses were terrifying everyone. I don't think people were actually listening to her - presumably - kind words, as they were too scared off by the eyes and the look on her face. It was so severe. And to be fair there was just a bit too much talking. You could have summed all that up in a couple of songs. Or at least something a little less like a lecture at the University of Severity and Timed Pauses. And they even talked about how funny David was and how he tried not to take anything too seriously. They should have taken his advice.
  4. Being Taken From Behind. Rihanna performing in front of lined paper, graph paper and many lines of barcode was impressively stationary. They were trying to distract us from the none-song. And it almost worked, but then I remembered I actually like lyrics and melody and a song that actually goes somewhere. Still, you can't beat a bit of Drake taking her from behind, which by the way is fine to show and not censor in any way, but Adele can't say fucking hell I'm excited I've won. There is something wrong with this world.
  5. Black Magic. Little Mix started off all, Dumstrang-have-just-arrived-at-Hogwarts-for-the-Triwizard-tournament, and then quickly dissolved into the cheesy pop stylings of circa 1996. Come on, did you seriously think you could pull off cool magic and men with masks and sticks? Just because you're wearing the colour black doesn't mean you're doing dark magic. I mean, they were only wearing knickers for pickles sake. I don't think Dumbledore would be too pleased. Private boarding schools tend to have a rather strict dress code and I'm pretty sure high -waist black knickers with zips at the back are not part of it. Unless that's what Hermione's got under her cloak the whole time. Lucky Victor Krum eh? But really, stick to the cheesy outfits and don't try to Durmstrang it up, if you can't follow through. 
  6. Hello on Repeat. The amount of times Adele was nominated for stuff meant that we were treated to the snippet of Hello about sixty thousand times. So you can't help but make up alternative lyrics. It'd be rude not to. E.g. I've heard this clip three thousand times. I'm slowly going out my mind. (There's more than one song on the album, just pick a few other clips so we don't go doolally and end up singing that clip the whole night.) 
  7. Lack of Varied Performances. More of the nominees should have been invited to perform and not just the ones they presumed would win. In fact they were mostly solo artists, the only actual band playing was Coldplay who performed first. It seems 2015/2016 was not about bands and people who play instruments (with the exception of James Bay), it was about solo artists and lighting effects and visuals and still about manufactured pop. A sad state of affairs. 
  8. Where's the Camera? No one knew where to look when accepting awards. A small thing, which slowly became annoying. They were stood on a circular plinth in the middle of a massive, oval arena. How the hell were they to know where to look? The people presenting the awards were a bit flumoxed too - probably shit faced - and half the time were caught chinwagging whilst the nominees were being announced. 

It was just all a bit underwhelming. Shame really. But don't get me wrong, there were a few good bits:
  • Bowie Tribute (Part 2). Now I thought Lordes was a strange choice to sing the tribute, but after the twenty second snippets from each song by the band, she settled in and sang Life on Mars, and it was beautiful. Really heart felt and you could see it meant a lot to her. This was a refreshing surprise and well done to her. A big feat to put on anyone's shoulders. 
  • Charity Shout Out. Best moment of the night when they mentioned Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy Charity, which is my charity. Whoop! Check out their fantastic work at the website. 
  • 2 Missing. Only two of One Direction were there. Whoop! I didn't have to deal with them all at once. Going to prove that they clearly have more then one direction. (Oh no, I'm making up my own shitty jokes now that could be used at a future music award shows. NOOOOOOOO. Stop me.)
  • Adele and the F Word. It was after the water shed. Let her swear for fucks sake. She's a global superstar! She's sold millions and millions of albums. She's the most successful female singer songwriter ever. I'm not exactly a huge fan, but if I had to choose between Rihanna being taken from behind on stage, or a few F's and Geoff's from Adele, I know what I would pick every day of the week. Besides, this was actually the most exciting thing that happened the whole night, don't take it away from us. 
  • Random Presenters of Awards. Including: Craig David (Bo Selecta flashbacks); Gary Oldman (ledge!); Simon Pegg (dude); and Tim Peake from the International Space Station. 

So, music award arrangers, you need to rethink next year. We need big, bold, brave performances. We need total rock outs and collaborations that actually work. We need to sack Ant and Dec and perhaps try someone who is naturally funny, or we could just adopt Rebel Wilson as an ambidextrous award show host, because if you saw her at the BAFTAs announcing an award, you will have seen how she stole the show from Stephen Fry. We need to make them fun again. It all needs to be a little less forced and given a little more heart and soul.  

Thank you.


Thursday, February 18, 2016

Barclaycard Ball Ache!

Argh! So you know when it's time for your credit card to be renewed - a dreaded time because you have to start dealing with committing new numbers to memory and changing all your online payment cards, which you inevitably forget on at least two websites and it takes a good few months to get it all sorted, but then at least you have three years on the same card?

My new card is due to start in March. I've had it a month already, sitting waiting until the 29th Feb, when I'll have to change my card on Paypal and Amazon and blah, blah, blah and TFL - very important. And I've been told I've upgraded to Barclaycard Platinum, whatever the feckles that means. But it was no extra charge, so as usual I shrug and get on with it.

But then a few days ago I received a letter from Barclaycard and I forgot to open it until this morning. It reads that Barclaycard Platinum is now becoming obsolete. (Er, I haven't even changed over to it yet. That starts in March.) And from April I will be upgraded further - not sure what I've done to deserve all these upgrades - to a Barclaycard Platinum Visa. (So basically they've partnered up with Visa and have just shoved that on the end of the title.) Okay, but not only that, I'll be issued a 'new-new card' - a month after my 'new card' starts - and I'll have a new card number. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I've had the same card number for so long. I can ream it off at speed. Don't take it away from me. (After three years I still haven't learnt my latest Debit card number off by heart.) I don't like change!

So now, not only will I have to do the stupid change all the card numbers and all the websites and register the new card with TFL and blah, shitting blah blah, but then I'll have to it all over again about a month later. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

WHY? This is the ultimate fuck around and it seems that the only thing different is a £30 limit on contactless payments, instead of a £20 limit. Which means if someone nicks off with my card at any point, they can use it at contactless points and spend more of my money. Yay!

WTF? So my new card that is supposed to be issued until 2019, will actually be used for one month only, and then I'll have to do the whole stupid palaver all over again. And it will no longer be Mastercard, it'll be Visa. BOOOOOOOO! You suck.

And what makes it worse is that my Debit card also needs renewing in April. I'm gonna go doolally.

Fookin' ball ache.