Hello! Bonjour! Other greetings in foreign languages! Welcome to the rejigged, remastered and rebooted Hitsville U.K. Previously a humble music blog, it is now evolving into an all-round pop culture blog; film, tv, games, art, fashion, sport and, yes, more music. We aim to provide a source for, to put it simply, the best things around at the minute, as well as reviews, discussion, opinion. Disagree with something on here? Write a reply, blog your thoughts on your own blog or submit your own argument. We welcome submissions and articles from anyone, as long as they’re well-written and fit the criteria of pop-culture, so feel free to drop us a line in our ask box if you want. The more the merrier! If there’s something you feel we missed out on, let us know so we can check it out. Don’t want to miss out on a good thin, right? Basically enjoy, discuss, contribute. It’s what we’re here for!
Hello! Bonjour! Other greetings in foreign languages! Welcome to the rejigged, remastered and rebooted Hitsville U.K. Previously a humble music blog, it is now evolving into an all-round pop culture blog; film, tv, games, art, fashion, sport and, yes, more music. We aim to provide a source for, to put it simply, the best things around at the minute, as well as reviews, discussion, opinion. Disagree with something on here? Write a reply, blog your thoughts on your own blog or submit your own argument. We welcome submissions and articles from anyone, as long as they’re well-written and fit the criteria of pop-culture, so feel free to drop us a line in our ask box if you want. The more the merrier! If there’s something you feel we missed out on, let us know so we can check it out. Don’t want to miss out on a good thin, right?
Basically enjoy, discuss, contribute. It’s what we’re here for!
Nicola Roberts, a.k.a the best one out of Girls Aloud, threw her debut single into the melting pot of the pop world this Monday, and I’m not being hyperbolic in saying that it is probably the best pop song of the year. With production from Diplo (prodcuer for Kid Cudi, Rolo Tomassi, M.I.A. as well as one half of Major Lazer), relying on that familiar Pon De Floor sample that found its way onto Beyonce’s last single, “Beat Of My Drum” is a slice of technicolour, hyperactive electrothat grabs your attention and does what every great pop single should do; get you dancing and make everything seem great for the length of its running time. It’s a million miles away from the trashy, boring “in the club” fare that a certain Ms Cole will be hocking until GA regroup, and all the better for it. Whilst “Beat Of My Drum” may be a little too “out there” for some palletes, but in a sane world, this would be shooting to Number One right now.
Thanks to… well, reasons unknown, the best of contemporary American sitcoms have yet to find their way onto British telly. While we’re stuck with Two Pints Of Lager and the devil incarnate, Michael McIntyre, our American cousins get Community, 30 Rock and Modern Family. It’s like having a shit sandwich when you could be having peanut butter. That’s not to say that British TV comedy is in a sorry state right now (The Thick Of It, Psychoville, Campus and Peep Show put paid to that notion), it’s just that the Yanks are currently outstripping us in comedic quality. Anyway here’s the best from across the pond that you should be feasting your funny bones on:
Similar to the classic Arrested Development, Modern Family revolves around an increasingly insane and dysfunctional extended family; patriarch Jay with his Colombian trophy wife Gloria and her son Manny, a forty year old ladies man in a ten year olds body; Jay’s daughter Claire, married to manchild Phil Dunphy with their three bratty kids, and Mitchell, Jay’s gay son, and his partner Cameron and their adopted baby, Lily. The comedy is slightly toned down from that of Arrested Development, giving the show a wider appeal, but this isn’t to say it’s bland and boring. Poignant, witty and very true to life, there’s good reason for Modern Family being America’s third biggest sitcom.
- Claire: Women in their thirties on the Internet, they’re like ninjas. They get in their little black outfits and try to sneak their way into your marriage.
- Jay: Manny thinks his dad is like Superman. The truth? He’s a total flake. In fact, the only way he’s like Superman… is that they both landed in this country illegally.
- Mitchell: [reading from the Mommy Forum to figure out what to do about Lily’s biting] Well, this one says “when my daughter bit her brother, I put a pinch of pepper in her mouth. She cried and cried but she never bit again. Smiley face.”
Cameron: Oh, well the smiley face makes it okay. I water-boarded our toddler. LOL.
Tina Fey, creator, writer & producer of 30 Rock, is pretty much a comedic goddess in the States. From being a member of Saturday Night Live’s cast to this Family Guy shout out, she can do little wrong (we’ll ignore Date Night). 30 Rock is based on Fey’s SNL experiences, but turned up to 11. Tracy Morgan, Alec Baldwin and Jane Krakowski offer stellar support to Fey (playing Liz Lemon) as a madcap cast and crew of TGS (the thinly veiled SNL-type show-within-a-show), and that’s without mentioning the numerous cameos; Matt Damon, Al Gore, Michael Sheen, James Franco, Jon Bon Jovi, Robert De Niro, Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer, (just to mention more than a few.)
- This. Tracy Jordan’s finest moment.
- Liz: If I can’t poop in the street, why should my tax dollars pay for someone else to?
- Tracy: I’m whipped! Angie got me up at 7:30 today. Did you know that in the morning, they have food, TV, almost everything. It’s pretty good.
- Liz: I got rid of all my Colin Firth movies in case they consider them erotica.
Jack: That man can wear a sweater.
Without a shadow of a doubt the funniest thing on television at this minute. And that ain’t hyperbole. Whilst it started slowly as a simple “fish-out-of-water” set up - a cocky, charismatic lawyer (Joel McHale) goes to community college to re-earn his licence, whilst trying to avoid making ties with a group of misfits - Community has slowly grown into something of an heir to Spaced; with film & tv reference and homages flying in from every angle along with razor sharp gags every episode. The growing cast of characters is also superb, featuring comedy legend Chevy Chase, Ken Jeong (better known as The Hangover’s Mr Chow), Mad Men’s Alison Brie and Childish Gambino himself, Donald Glover. It has its fair share of starry cameos too (Hilary Duff, Josh Holloway, Jack Black), but America has yet to take Community to its heart.The only place to see it over here is late night on Viva, the channel for those who’ve lost the remote or are too drunk to turn over. But I urge you to torrent the first two seasons right now, you will fall in love.
- Jeff: Batman. Are you staying for the party?
Abed: [in Batman costume] If I stay, there can be no party. I must be out there in the night, staying vigilant. Wherever a party needs to be saved, I’m there. Wherever there are masks, wherever there’s tomfoolery and joy, I’m there. But sometimes I’m not cause I’m out in the night, staying vigilant. Watching. Lurking. Running. Jumping. Hurtling. Sleeping. No, I can’t sleep. You sleep. I’m awake. I don’t sleep. I don’t blink. Am I bird? No. I’m a bat. I am Batman. Or am I? Yes, I am Batman. Happy Halloween.
- Shirley: [excitedly] Guys, guys, do you know I actually have a civil case against that bitch that stole my husband?
Jeff: Shirley, don’t sue a stripper.
Shirley: Why not?
Jeff: She’s a stripper: life sued her, and she lost.
- Abed: I used to think all Jesus did was walk on water and tell people not to get abortions, but now I see he’s so much more than that. He’s like E.T., Edward Scissorhands, and Marty McFly combined.
- Jeff: I’m saying, you’re a football player. It’s in your blood!
Troy: That’s racist.
Jeff: Your soul.
Troy: That’s racist.
Jeff: Your eyes?
Troy: That’s gay?
Jeff: That’s homophobic.
Troy: That’s black.
Jeff: That’s racist.
You probably don’t know any of his songs, but watching a 60-something former hobo rocking out with some of the most badass guitars whilst knocking back a few drinks on a hot summer afternoon? Who could say no to that?
The Joy Formidable
Slowly but surely, The Joy Formidable have been growing into one of the most exciting rock prospects to come from Britain in a long time. A sonic mix of Nirvana, the Manics and My Bloody Valentine, if you haven’t heard of them, you are undoubtedly missing out. Blending grungy dynamics with stadium rock riffs and a dynamo frontwoman in Ritzy Bryan, the Welsh noiseniks look set to blast the cobwebs away opening the Main Stage on Sunday.
Two words; Baggy Trousers. Another three words; House Of Fun. It’s probably worth missing Everything Everything and Glassjaw just to see the Nutty Boys on Sunday.
A double selection here. Dananananaykroyd are a perfect opening band, their unrestrained enthusiasm and wholly upbeat pop-punk ideal for a Friday lunchtime slot, whilst their Wall of Cuddles (as opposed to a Wall of Death) idea will make a welcome change from the crowd shoving and kicking ten kinds of shite out of each other. Fucked Up on the other hand fall more towards hardcore punk than the pop-punk of Dana… So get ready for a angry, overweight, possibly naked Canadian named Pink Eyes to bellowing from the NME Tent, backed by raucous guitars and crushing drums. Not to be missed.
The only Alternative Stage act on the list, Henry Rollins is an idol to many (including me). As singer of the legendary Black Flag, Rollins helped blaze a trail through the American punk scene in the 80s, influencing a whole host of future acts. Nowadays however, Rollins is known for his spoken word and stand-up which is hilarious as it is thought-provoking. Without a doubt, he’ll be the funniest thing on the site the whole weekend… after seeing girls on lads shoulders getting hit by clying cups of piss. Rollins clashes with My Chemical Romance and 30 Seconds To Mars on the Main Stage Saturday night. I know who I’d rather see.
I’ve gone from despising The Horrors to being completely in love with them. Their first album had its many, many detractors (myself being one of them) and it’s still not very good, but returning with something as brilliant as Primary Colours made them the darlings of the indie world. With their third album Skying set to be released in July (The track “Still Life” from the album can be heard below) the Festival Repbulic Stage is sure to be packed out when the Southend five-piece headline on Saturday, and with good reason
I’ll let Jarvis do the talking for this.
Despite still being seen by some as a mature Coldplay, Elbow are one of the finest British bands for at least a decade. They’ve got musicianship, sublime lyrics and the big big anthems to fit the Main Stage. Of course, the younger Reading & Leeds audience will probably trundle off to see The Streets or Pete Doherty but those who stay are in for one of the best live bands I’ve seen.
Two instant classic albums within three years, Friendly Fires are making their way up the top, no doubt about it. A set packed with euphoric dance hits will surely win over any sceptics and get even the most stone-hipped doubter tapping their wellies. Quite why they’re playing before miserablists Interpol is baffling. It’ll be like watching Barcelona then going to a Stoke game.
Naturally, they’ve got to be on here. All it takes is watching one Youtube video to see how exciting and dangerous an Odd Future show is. There’s a punk rock feel to the group and their live act which is sure to be a wake-up call and be a talking point no matter what happens. Get there early though, the NME Tent is likely to be packed out by fans, hipsters and those seeing what the hype is all about.
The Dark Knight Rises - Released July 20, 2012
Christopher Nolan’s and Christian Bale’s last Batman film looks to be a big one to bow out on. After the genre-defining Dark Knight, Nolan has assembled a top-notch cast including Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard and Matthew Modine, along with the usual suspects. Plot details are sketchy, with Hardy’s Bane the only confirmed villain (Hathaway plays Seline Kyle but this is no firm indication that she’s playing her as Catwoman) and the only known scenes being flashbacks to a young Ra’s al Ghul, played by Liam Neeson in Batman Begins and Josh Pence in TDKR. Needless to say fanboys are salivating already, a year before release, and pretty much every film fan is eager to see how Nolan leaves the franchise (I’ve got my own theories, but that’s a story for another post)
Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes - Released August 5, 2011
Rise… earns its place on this list mainly because I’m intrigued to see how they can make this into a good film. Yes, it stars James Franco as a scientist and Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) as a redneck and yes, in the shots released so far, the titular apes look damn realistic, but then there’s the thing that hampers every prequel; we already know how it’ll end up thanks to Planet Of The Apes. The fact that this is meant to be the first of a series does not fill me with hope…
Cowboys & Aliens - Released July 29, 2011
Indiana Jones. Harrison Ford. Fighting aliens. In the old West. That premise is worth the entry fee alone
The Inbetweeners - Released August 19, 2011
I’ll admit, it took while for The Inbetweeners to win me over, but it’s clear now that it was one of the funniest homegrown series in a while. Whether or not that translates across to the silver screen remains to be seen, and even though its likely to just be an extended episode, it’ll still be funnier than pretty much every “comedy” chucked out by Hollywood this year.
Fright Night - Released August 19, 2011
A remake of an 80s classic apparently… nope, I’ve never seen the original either, but this stars Colin Farrell as a vampire, David Tennant playing a Russell Brand-ish TV host and Anton Yelchin (Star Trek) & Christopher Mintz-Plasse (McLovin in Superbad) as our suburban amateur vampire hunters). Typical vampy fare, but the cast is a good’un, so it’ll definitely be worth a watch
Men In Black 3 - Released May 25, 2012
If you were too young or too old for the previous two MIB films, you probably won’t be getting to hyped for this. But if, like me, you were the perfect age when MIB 1 and 2 were released, this should be getting you quite giddy. The cast list is sweet (Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones return as J & K, whilst Josh Brolin plays the young K and Jermaine Clement, yes, him off of Flight of The Conchords, plays the film’s villain, Boris) whilst a supposed time travel plot has a lot of potential. Come May 25th 2012, I doubt I’ll be the only one feeling like a kid again.
Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Killer/World War Z/The Curse of the Buxom Strumpet - Release dates TBC
Have you seen these titles? Do you know what they’re about? Vampires, zombies, American presidents, strumpets, Brad Pitt, apocalypse, Ian McKellen, Judi Dench, 1700s England, more zombies, more vampires. They’re like what would happen if you gave horror nerds million dollar budgets and a camera. Fun. Django Unchained It’s Tarantino, it’s a revenge film, it’s got Christoph Waltz in it again and it might star Will Smith. I dunno about you, but I’m buying my ticket now.
The Smurfs - Released August 19, 2011
Just to see how awful it is.
Tyler, The Creator. If you’ve been on the internet this year and you’re under the age of 30 and haven’t heard those three words, well, you must have one hell of a page blocker. For the uninitiated and just plain forgetful, Tyler is a 20 year old rapper and producer from LA, and leader of the Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All collective (OFWGKTA for short). The group have gained mountains of blog & press attention, and notoriety as of late, for a number of reasons; Tyler’s track Yonkers and its iconic video, their punk rock-esque live shows and, mostly, offending nearly everyone.
Subsequently, Tyler has become the figurehead of a rebellious youth. He is already iconic, not for his musical output, but for his style, his attitude, his “swag”. All you need is to do is browse Tumblr to see that he is as instantly iconic to today’s youth as Rotten, Strummer and Ramones were to disaffected and disillusioned kids in the late 70s. In a short few months in the spotlight, Odd Future lready have a mythology, an attitude, a look that is easily identifiable and easily affected. Hell, even I’ve found myself doodling their inverted cross logo on my college file and throwing “swag” into everday conversation. To do all this on the back of one or two songs (and it is mostly just one or two songs; the tracks “Yonkers” and “Sandwitches” providing an entrypoint for at least 80% of their current fanbase, including myself) is nothing short of outstanding.
However, for every new fan won over by Tyler’s rhetoric, there’s at least one other person who’s morally outraged. Homophobia, sexism, misoginy and the n-bomb are all evident in modern rap, that’s a given. But Tyler takes it to an extreme level. Admittedly, out of OFWGKTA’s members, only Tyler and the currently AWOL Earl Sweatshirt delve into the darker realms with their lyrics; the nuermous others in the group provide far easier listening. Despite the graphic and disturbing nature of the lyrics (“Rape a pregnant bitch and tell my friends I had a threesome” being a choice one), Tyler constantly refutes the claim that he and the group are “horrorcore”, going as far to rally against the notion at the end of “Sandwitches”. Tyler has stated that he writes from a persona, called Wolf Haley as well as the perspective of a “serial killer from thirty years ago who was a white male” (quite who this killer is remains unknown); in his words he’s “not just talking about raping a bitch, it’s a storyline”. He has something of a point. In the same interview, Tyler defended his music, saying that the people complaining about him rapping about “socking some bitch in her uterus” ignore the horrors of the wars in the middle-east and ever-growing tally of death, both of civillians and soldiers. Whilst I don’t think they’re ignoring it as such, he’s kind of right, in that his opposers are choosing an easier target.
He just wants to piss people off. He’s a 20 year old black skate punk from LA, brought up in the George W Bush era, on MTV, with an absent father, surrounded a rising banal celebrity culture and living the internet, who’s been called whitey by his fellow black classmates for simply wearing a Slipknot hoodie. He’s lashing out. Lashing out at the shit and mediocrity, perhaps a little misguidedly, but at 20 years of age, he’s not going to be a fully formed popstar giving the media what it wants and say the right things. He’s taking the piss, as would most disaffected kids in the same situation. In response to an open letter from Sara (of Canadian pop duo Tegan & Sara), decrying the misogyny of his work, Tyler tweeted "If Tegan And Sara Need Some Hard Dick, Hit Me Up!". Yeah, it’s immature, childish, possibly offensive, considering T&S are lesbians, but I personally found it funny. Maybe it’s part of my odd sense of humour, but it raised a chuckle out of me, the same way that Frankie Boyle jokes do. You know you probably shouldn’t laugh, but it’s too late, you already have.
Yes, homophobia and misogyny are reprehensible things. Discrimination for something you can’t control or have no choice over is an awful thing, even if we’re all guilty of it to varying degrees. Both pop up often in Tyler’s music. There’s no real way to defend them, especially if you’re guilty of one or both. The words “gay” and “faggot” (the apparent virtues of the latter have been extolled by both Louis CK and Chris Rock) are used by kids all over the western world as both an insult and a term of endearment, as is the word “nigga” by kids who are whiter than white. In a world where you can see some extremely sick shit (sometimes literally) just by searching on Google or even going to the movies (see A Serbian Film, Antichrist et al), I guess calling someone homosexual or a bitch has lost a bit of its impact to the younger generation. I can neither condone nor defend Tyler on this since I, along with pretty much every young person I know has called someone gay in our relatively short lives. It’s the way things are. It’s not perfect, it’s not nice, but it happens.
To quote Tyler himself, “why when a black kid says it, it’s such a big fucking deal?” Not to start chucking accusations of racism at those who decry Odd Future, but there is some validity there. Black metal bands sing… well, not quite sing but shout about some dark shit, yet have a sizeable audience. Tarantino movies are shocking, exploitative and occasionally disturbing, yet he’s revered as a great director and his films are referred to (by some) as art. You just need to watch one interview with Tyler to see that he’s a clever lad. He understands how to push people’s buttons, how to work and wind people up, he knows what he’s doing and knows what he wants to do. This is simply all he’s doing in the media, pissing off as many people as possible. There are more than a few parallels with a certain Marshall Mathers a decade ago.
Maybe it’s just difference of opinion, or maybe it’s a generational gap. I know for sure that I couldn’t play anything by Tyler to my parents or the older generation of people I know. They’d be shocked and quite possibly appalled. But I could send a song or two to my peers without question (as I’m planning on doing, as I’m not watching OFWGKTA on my own at Leeds Festival in summer), knowing that the likelihood is they wouldn’t be offended or as offended as those of the previous generation. But despite his potential to offend, Tyler has repeatedly stated his desire for awards, recognition, the guy wants Grammies, he wants fame. I may be alone on this, but it’s refreshing to hear an artist say they want that level of success but stick to releasing what they want to release. In some ways, Tyler’s ideals are similar to those of the Manic Street Preachers in their early years; releasing fierce, polarising music but aiming as high as possible on the commerical scale. It’s refreshing to say the least, in comparison to weedy indie bands just “doing it for the music”.
Speaking of the music, I personally am undecided on Tyler’s musical output. I love Tyler the icon but, similarly to Nicki Minaj, Tyler is a better popstar than an actual artist. “Yonkers” is genius, an instant classic. “Sandwitches” is in a similar vein. Radicals is a furious, brilliant rhetoric (“KILL PEOPLE, BURN SHIT, FUCK SCHOOL/I’M FUCKIN’ RADICAL NIGGA, I’M FUCKIN’ RADICAL” goes the chorus. It ain’t getting on Radio One anytime soon) although it lacks something in its recorded version. “Bastard” is darkly brilliant, whilst the album of the same name is an alright collection of modern hip-hop at its most playful yet vitriolic. However its follow-up, “Goblin”, released this year, pales in comparison, with poor production, a lack of good beats and it’s just too long. It does contain some moments of brilliance, there’s no doubt about that. It’s just that those moments are a handful of diamonds in a whole load of rough.
In conclusion, it’s horses for courses, I guess. Cop out or what, eh? Either you enjoy Tyler and can block out the dark stuff Or even enjoy it (somehow) or you’re morally offended and are ready to fetch your pen of rage in order to write a furious missive to the Daily Mail. Regardless, Tyler, The Creator doesn’t give a fuck.
Here it is, the first of hopefully many Hitsville U.K. mixtapes to wrap your ears around. First compiled by me for Siobhain on her trip to Hong Kong (hence the title), it’s now up here for download. Go ahead, it’s brilliant. Do you like it? Do you hate it? Let us know either way!
- Alex Turner - Stuck On The Puzzle (Intro)
- Noah And The Whale - Paradise Stars
- Dog Is Dead - Young
- The Teardrop Explodes - Reward
- Editors - No Sound But The Wind (Live)
- David Lynch - Good Day Today
- Teen Daze - Let’s Fall Asleep Together
- Childish Gambino - Freaks & Geeks
- Toro Y Moi - Causers Of This
- jj - New Work
- Bob Dylan - Moonshiner
- Elbow - Jesus Is A Rochdale Girl
- Segal - Last Of My Kind
- Editors - No Sound But The Wind (Full Band Version)
- British Sea Power - Who’s In Control
- The National - Think You Can Wait
- Edwyn Collins - A Girl Like You
- Gold Panda - Same Dream China
- Spiritualized - Soul On Fire
- Childish Gambino - Bitch Look At Me Now (Two Weeks)
- Patrick Wolf - The City
- Woodpigeon - A Slight Return Home
- LCD Soundsystem - New York I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down (Live)
It’s great what iTunes Shuffle can do. There you are listening to James Blake, falling asleep and then this pops up. A long lost Nirvana classic, released eight years after the death of Kurt Cobain, I believe it’s the best song they ever wrote. Unpopular opinion, I know. From the eerie discordant intro to Cobain’s larynx-shredding vocals, “You Know You’re Right” is pure punk rock and a perfect epitaph for any band.
Easily one of the most eagerly awaited releases of the year, The Horrors’ third album marks another step in the evolution in the band, moving from shoegaze to a more synth-driven sound. Whilst Primary Colours was critically adored and loved by fans, Skying looks set to achieve an equal status, or perhaps even eclipsing their sophomore effort.
You can hear Still Life, the first track to appear from the album, below