The Nail in the Coffin?

Tonight we learnt that HMV, a mainstay of the UK high street has gone into administration. I am not someone who usually takes an interest in business, and I try as much as possible to steer clear of economics, because I know very little on the subject. This one has actually filled me with sorrow and raised my blood pressure in the process.

I am sad partly because it means I cannot just browse the shelves and pick up a CD, DVD or video game on a whim anymore. Remember that feeling you used to get after buying something new and the anguish of having to wait half an hour before you could get home, rip off the cellophane, get a whiff of that ‘new thing’ smell and stick in in the appropriate device? The next generation will never have that if HMV goes under.

I’ll even miss these little bastards.

Whilst I recognise that HMV led to the downfall of the independent record store, the fact that it is now on the brink itself represents a far bigger tragedy. The internet has finally succeeded in ruining music. In recent years, the lack of interest in physical copies of records has helped destroy the concept of the ‘album’. This has been enforced by the internet’s constant reminder that music should come in 3 minute, instantly downloaded, 79p (or free if you know where to look), streaming, easily digestible chunks. People only release albums so that they can later re-release it with 3 extra tracks tacked on the back of it, each featuring Nicki Minaj, Kanye West or Skrillex remixes. We live in a world obsessed with fast food, and whoever calls the shots in the music business has decided that music needs to go the way of the hamburger. When was the last time somebody released a concept album, or an album that contained 4 tracks, each clocking in at ten minutes long? If you did that now iTunes would laugh at you all the way to the bank as they paid you about 90p.

It’ll never work…

The internet was the death knell for the record store, where people could discover something new or something old and obscure without having it forced down their throats. I understand that HMV didn’t exactly help, but the fall of HMV marks the end of the final stand of the high street record store, and that is a very sad thing indeed. The internet is the only option.

We are now hapless to the designs of Apple, Amazon and the other faceless online conglomerates. Before you accuse me of being anti-capitalist or anti-consumerist; I have no qualms with these companies making money. I have a problem with the way they devalue art. People forget that music is an art form. Commercialisation of music has got progressively worse since the 1950s, but we’ve always had the option of ignoring the promotions thrust before our eyes of who they want us to buy, and just picking up a record and saying ‘cool, only David Byrne would think of putting that on an album cover’.

If you do one thing today, listen to this.

Of course, people still have a choice. Independent artists actually have a lot more exposure due to things like Soundcloud and Youtube. There is potential there. The problem is, the executives know this too. That’s why they’ve bought out these sites.That’s why the biggest videos on there are childish showers of faecal matter like ‘Gangnam Style’ and ‘Baby’ by the iTunes poster-child, Justin Bieber. They’ve found ways to manipulate everything.

I love pop music. I’m not afraid to say that I am a sucker for a catchy hook as much as the next person. I don’t only own albums of one genre or one era, or only listen to music that failed to reach the top 40. There has always been commercial pop music. But now, it is not even written for the passion of music. It is written purely as a means to an end; the almighty dollar. It speaks volumes that the biggest paid ‘musician’ of 2012 was Dr Dre. How did he make his money? I don’t remember him finally dropping the follow-up to ‘2001’. He made his money by endorsing headphones. Where is the real music? It’s out there, but it’s becoming harder and harder to find.

Sure, we have social media for people to use to promote their bands but all the internet has really done is make it easy to steal people’s work. Why should artists bust a gut to make a great piece of music when it just gets put on a torrent site somewhere or buried under all the crap that Apple wants us to buy?

People may call me old-fashioned, but it is no coincidence that album and single sales have deteriorated rapidly since the advent of the online music retailer. The online music retailer that only cares to line its own pockets, rather than promote or pay the artist. Tonight, the music industry was dealt a massive blow. I don’t propose to know the solution, but somebody is going to have to rethink the way music is distributed digitally if we are ever going to restore some pride to the lost art of music.

I’m off to smell some vinyl.

Advertisements

‘F**k Factor’ – A Guest Blog by Carl Parmenter

The English language is a wonderful thing. The way in which certain words have multiple meanings to add confusion to a piece of text is remarkable, and typically British. There are some words which we use as part of our day to day language which can also be used in an inflammatory way. For example, we can smoke a ‘fag’ or eat a ‘faggot’, but we can also use those words as terms for a homosexual male. These are the words I will be talking about today, the so called ‘naughty words’ (if you’re 5).

As this post is all about swearing I feel I should ease you in, after all some of you don’t know me and I don’t want to get off on the wrong fucking foot. So let’s start with the sort of words you’ve probably referred to kids as. No, I don’t mean words like ‘sexy’ (although I have heard people refer to their kids as sexy, which scares me beyond belief), I’m talking about those curse words you use when your kids are simply pissing you off. Words like ‘sod’ or ‘bugger’ are very nice words to use around your children except for the fact you’re calling your children ass fuckers. Don’t believe me, well do a bit of research into the act of buggery (I’m sure there will be some interesting videos online) or the exploits of those buggered souls at Sodom in the Old Testament. Yep, both of those words refer quite bluntly to the act of anal fornication, yet for some reason they’re suddenly accepted for this use as well.

Next stop, the Marmite factory.

Next stop, the Marmite factory.

Ass fucker is a pretty strong term which is why we use these supposedly nicer words, but surely there are better terms we can use for our brats. Well, sticking with this area of the body, would it be nicer to call your child a vagina? Well, yeah, after all ‘vagina’ is the official word for female genitalia, and scientific words are in no way swear words (see Uranus for proof – stop giggling at the back). The alternative words for vagina aren’t as acceptable though. For some reason it’s not right to call children ‘cunts’, or so I found out when I fired from my job as a children’s TV presenter (apparently they prefer it if we do those things out of working hours). So what does that leave us with? Pussy? That only really applies if they are somehow catlike, and I feel picking the right swearword is the least of your concerns if your child has a tail and whiskers.

Seeing as I just touched on vaginas I feel it’s only right that I touch on penises too (oo-er). So, why is it that we use terms like ‘prick’, ‘dick’ and ‘cock’ to describe male genitalia quite openly, yet words like ‘pussy’, ‘twat’ and ‘cunt’ are still taboo? When you think about there’s no real difference, they’re just slang terms for genitalia, the only difference is that one is for a male, the other for a female. This is one of those things that has always amazed me about the English language by the way. How do we actually dictate which words become socially acceptable and which will make you a social pariah if you utter them in public? I’m not 100% certain on this but I get the feeling Simon Cowell is to blame. There’s just something about the talentless wanker that makes me think he was bullied a lot in school, and as a result he took all the terms that were flung his way and made them inappropriate (side note – the shit he churns out on X Factor is retaliation for all the shit that was flung at him in school as well).

Sometimes pictures say everything.

Sometimes pictures say everything.

The list of curse words and their ridiculous meanings just keeps growing. We use the word ‘fuck’ or its derivatives as filler words, just because we have nothing better to say. We refer to daily tasks in as offensive a way as possible. We are a nation of people with undiagnosed tourettes and we try our hardest to find ways to justify our swearing. How long until Saturday nights are filled with F*** Factor, a show in which potty mouthed judges (along with Mr. Cowell) pick the words we can’t say in the following year? Well, based on the way we’re going it’d be a great idea and a money spinner for ITV (your welcome, cunts). So, to prevent ITV from doing this I suggest we all stop complaining about curse words and accept them into the English language, after all they are just words. If you don’t want to do that, fuck you.

*

Carl Parmenter is a cunning linguist and expert swearer who rates Rachel Riley and Susie Dent in his Top 10 women to spend a weekend with (for different reasons). Read his blog here.

Infinite Insanity

To kick off 2013, I have collaborated with Carl Parmenter of Insane Thoughts of a Sane Mind. Head over there now to see what I really think about health and fitness in my guest post

The 2012 Whitell Awards

side_oscar

Well here we are, the 2012 Whitell Awards. The night with all the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, but without the people attending. Winning a ‘Whitell’ is seen by some as the most coveted of awards, akin to winning an Oscar, having your first child, or discovering that there are in fact sixteen mini kievs in your traditionally fifteen-full bag.

2012 has been an eventful year for yours truly. The ending of a long term relationship was one of the low points of the year, but I really think I’ve learnt a lot about myself. It was not as good as 2010 (my favourite ever year) or even last year, but it was action-packed, eventful and emotional.  I am writing this earlier than I anticipated, as I wanted to make sure you get the chance to read it just in case the four horsemen arrive this Friday. More on that later. On with the awards.

Discovery of the Year:

Jacket Potatoes – 2012 was the year I finally discovered the value of the jacket potato. In previous years I have considered Jacket to be the older, uglier sister of the potato family. Nothing compared to the consistently beautiful Mash, and not a patch on the filthy, dirty, little slut that is Roast. Even Hash Brown, the fried cousin has enjoyed many a romp with my tastebuds. But not Jacket. So this year I decided to get drunk and experiment with the shy, frumpy one in the family. I was not disappointed. Cover her in cheese, massage oil into her skin and she’ll purr like a motherfucker. Jacket potato, I salute you.

Moment of the Year:

Surviving a Quad Biking Accident – Back in March I went to the sunny land of Egypt and became a hit with foreign children. Not in a Jimmy Savile way. In a ‘Mutter, who ist das Englisch man with the white trousers and cornrows who knows all the dance routines’ kind of way. During this holiday, I decided to be adventurous and go quad biking. I’m not a man who can drive, or a man who has even attempted to learn how to do so. After an hour of quad biking, I decided I was getting the hang of it. Then I realised that I was going too fast and didn’t have any instinct for braking. So I flipped the entire quad bike over after crashing into the bike in front. I actually thought I was going to die. The quad bike landed on top of me, and all I could think of is ‘shit, those are designer prescription sunglasses’ and emerged from the crash to rescue my visual aids. They were fine. At that point I realised I still had all my limbs and that I should never be in charge of a vehicle again. I then walked away like a badass with only minor injuries. And cornrows. Did I mention the cornrows?

Not pictured: Xzibit.

Night Out of the Year:

25th Birthday Icon Fancy Dress Pub Crawl – This night had it all. Fancy dress, an early start, appearances from all my favourite people, a moment where I fell asleep in Cuba only to find my second wind and carry on, and a massive cigar. All this, whilst covered in fake tan, wearing clip-on earrings and with a truly iconic T-Shirt. I would like to thank everyone who made it out on that night and allowed it be Night of the Year 2012, with no nights in the subsequent 11 months able to usurp it from its throne.

Choose Awesome.

Photo of the Year:

Featuring the hits ‘The Way You Make Me Feel Uncomfortable’ and ‘Leave Me Alone (Please)’

Self-explanatory really. In fact this leads me to…

Villain of the Year:

Thomas Stembridge – Fresh out of the studio having recorded the above abomination, Tom Stembridge made himself a recluse for 2012. Cooking, yes, cooking his phone on what must have been the only sunny day we have had this year, he made it his mission to become absolutely isolated from the world of social interaction. John Donne said ‘no man is an island’, but Donne clearly hadn’t met Tom. Tom is the human equivalent of Greenland. Remote, isolated and an autonomous region of Denmark. Worse still, when Stembridge does actually turn up, he wreaks havoc; introducing ridiculous topics from discussion, drinking until you can’t see your fingers and then disappears into nothingness, not to be heard from until his liver has recharged. Thomas Elizabeth Stembridge, as Villain of the Year I salute you, and I expect nothing less in 2013.


Rear of the Year:

Des Bennett – All I can say is if you had seen her on Saturday night you’d agree this was a pretty easy decision to make. Des, congratulations for managing to be so consistently gorgeous for the entirety of 2012, and long may it continue.

Picture unrelated.

Hero of the Year:

Martyn Ley: This was a tough one. There have been some true heroes in my life this year but in the end I’ve opted for the perennially understanding Martyn Ley. Whether it has been through music, a brief chat in the corridor at work, some sound advice through the medium of text messaging or any other interaction, Mart has been there. He’s had his own stuff to deal with, but he’s always made time for his friends, and that’s why he deserves this award. Plus, he has impeccable taste in fashion, a killer guitar solo and an interest in Gillian Anderson that led us into a very rum-filled evening. I’d like to personally thank Mart for his help in 2012, and wish him the best for 2013.

No caption necessary.

So there we have it, the 2012 Whitell Awards. Thanks for reading, and a big congratulations to the winners. I wish all of you the very best in 2013, but make sure you have too much fun over the festive period first. Stand by for a very special recorded apocalypse message from me, very soon…

Has Anyone Seen 2012?

Missing: A leap year that was supposed to follow 2011. Claims to be the bringer of doom.

Seriously, what happened to this year? Before I even got the chance to practise writing the date with a twelve at the end (we all practise this, right?) I look up and it’s November. The only reason I know this is because everyone has a moustache. If they didn’t it would just fade into the blurred obscurity of the other ten months we’ve had so far. Maybe that’s why Movember was invented. To preserve the identity of the eleventh month of the year. That’s right cancer, you’re just a cover story.

Nobody likes you, cancer.

I know that time is perceived to be quicker as we get older but this is god-damn ridiculous! When I’m 55 (I’ll never make it) I don’t want to turn around and say ‘Jesus Christ, that was a bloody good one night stand’ and be referring to a three month relationship. Sex is short enough as it is. When people in their 70s get busy, it must be about as meaningful as licking a stamp. No wonder they have problems with erections. I’m going to stop here.

Appropriate image break.

This has all left we wondering if we ever get our time back? When we die do we get a chance to revisit the moments in our lives that went by too quickly? Like some kind of kickass level select feature. I know where I’m going. I’ve written down important dates just in case. If you see me looking for a pen you know I’m having a good time. If I’m not, you should probably raise your game a bit, Tom Stembridge. It’s nice to think that there is something after death. The amount of chemical and electrical energy released by the brain at the point of death suggests something might happen. I don’t want to just think of me hanging there in my socks with only the Dyson for company for the rest of eternity. There must be something more. Wait, am I getting deep? On the internet? No, can’t be!

So, just to sum up, this year has gone by really quickly, and I am not an asphyxiophile. I’m off to listen to INXS. Here’s a picture of a horse!

“It’s nearly Grand National time already?! Fuck this shit. I wanna be a cow.”