Friday, September 29, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth

Give us a little while longer, and the whole planet will either be dead or refugees of our own making.

Such is the message of Al Gore's 'An Inconvenient Truth'.

Yes, the 'little while longer' is more in the vein of fifty years, but to summarise Gore, a lot of things can happen very suddenly, and if we don't do something now, there'll be no way to stop these sudden events further into the future.

Following former presidential candidate Al Gore's compaign to inform the world of the damage that's being done to the earth through global warming, Gore's message is rather one of optimism than despair. The graphs and images he uses to set up the problem are frightening rather than lecture-hall tedium, and as he deconstructs the myths about our effect on the environment, a true story begins to emerge. Yes, we can make a difference - and the revelation is somewhere between frightening and uplifting.

The personal anecdotes are symbolic rather than soppy, and rather than get overly angry and irritating (a la Michael Moore), Gore's commentary is heartfelt, bold, and consistent.

Bugger The Omen - THIS is the most frightening film you'll see all year.

In Bed With Westlife!

New Woman

Danielle Hine discovers the dark side of the squeaky-clean lads of pop. Seriously.

Honestly, I tried and failed to hate Westlife when I met them. I concentrated really hard on it, but, dammit, they made me laugh far too much. A lot of people might think they’re about as cool as a Leo Sayer comeback, but when you’re jumping around on a bed with four cheeky chappy Irishmen with knicker-melting accents who are, shall we say, aesthetically pleasing to say the least, I deft any woman to give a shit about whether they’re hip or not. But you can imagine my joy when we gave them a ‘rock’n’roll makeover’ – helped by super stylist and Kylie’s pal, William Baker – with smudged eyeliner, messy hair, and a telly to kick in. But they’re far too polite, un-starry and no-bullshit to give it too much attitude á la Babyshambles. And they don’t need to. They’ve sold 35 million albums – and counting. And like all good boybands, there’s one to suit everyone.

Nicky (27, married to Irish prime minister’s daughter Georgina) is a sweetie and the outgoing. Shane (27, married to Gillian and father to one-year-old Nicole) is the most mature and sensible, and Kian (26, going our with ex-Hollyoaks starlet Jodi Albert) is the cheekiest. Then there’s Mark, 26, who was slightly perturbed at how keen I was for him to become my new Gay Best Friend…

Boys – Franz Ferdinand said they make music for girls to dance to. What do Westlife want girls to do to their music?

Your new album is called The Love Album!
(they all laugh)
Nicky: “We should be called The Shagsters really”
Kian: “It should probably be called The Shag Album”
Nicky: “Yeah, we’re probably the best shags around!”

Any fave tunes for making lurve?
Nicky (to Shane): “What’s that song I always hear coming out of your room?”
Shane (perplexed): “What?”
Kian (dryly): “It’s Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick, isn’t it?”
Nicky: “I thought it was Take My Breath Away!”
Shane: (resigned to the piss-taking) “Yeah, that’s it, man.”

The new album is all love song covers but have you ever waned to cover something cooler, like a Razorlight song?

Shane: “I haven’t got a clue who they are!”
Kian: “I don’t know any of the new rock bands because I’ve always listened to the old rock bands.”
Nicky: “I know they’re not a rock band but we did do a version of the Pussycat Doll’s Don’t Cha on tour. We turned it into ‘don’t you wish your boyfriend was hot like us’ with a sexy dance routine and lots of this…” (moves his crotch up and down)

Liking the sound of that! What’s the most rock’n’roll thing Westlife have ever done?
“Jesus, we’ve had plenty of parties. We like to christen each country we go to.”

Talk me through the christening process
Mark: “We just get really drunk and dance and have a laugh.”

Westlife get shitfaced?
“We do like a drink – but the problem is that people like to leave the party before the bill is paid. So one of us always gets stung at the end.”
Shane: “If we go out on, say, a normal Saturday night we’ll probably spend about £1500 on drink. In clubs, especially in London, a bottle of vodka can be £200 and that’s the cheapest!”

Ever embarrassed yourselves at a really swanky celeb party?
Nicky: “The most embarrassing thing was the suits we wore to the World Music Awards in 2004 in America.” (the others nod) “We were in our Rat Pack phase and were wearing these 60s-style suits. They were brilliant but we did feel a bit stupid…”
Shane: “We got our picture taken with Usher and one of the papers said “It’s Usher and his accountants.” We really laughed at that. But when we went out that night we had thought we were looking the dog’s bollocks!”

On to saucier stuff – do your adult female fans wave filthy signs at your concerts?
Shane: “Of course they do!”
Nicky: “It’s stuff like “Come On My Tits, Nicky”; “Nicky Show Us Your Dicky”; “Give Us A Quicky Nicky”.”
Shane: “Quite often you’ll see “Let Me Taste Your Irish Cream”.”
Kian: “Or “I’ll Be Your Horse So You Can Ride Me”.”
Nicky: “And of course, “I’ll Raise You Up”.”

Do they proposition you in person?
Kian: “About six years ago a girl handed me a letter – she must have been no more than 16. It basically said: “do you fancy having sex with me, this is my number, call me”. It was awful being put on the spot by, bless her, this ugly little ginger.”

Mark, you can out last year. How did your fans react?
Mark: “To this day there’s been nothing negative – only support. And I’ve been with my partner Kevin for a year and a half. I’d spent so long wishing I was in this situation and that I had somebody but for loads of different reasons it wasn’t feasible. Then, finally I found someone. So since coming out, it’s been the best year of my life. Ever. I don’t mean to sound soppy but it’s true.”

Myself and Tanita on the NW art desk both want to be your fag hags. How can we achieve this?
(The boys snigger)
Mark: (looking a bit disturbed by my suggestion) “You have to be able to drink.”
Kian: “And be late all the time.”
Shane: “You have to be fabulous to be his fag hag.”
Nicky: “What does fag hag mean – just that you want to hang out with him all the time?”

Yep. Every girl needs a gay best friend. Anyway, what have you guys learnt about women over the years?
“Never ask a woman if she’s pregnant unless you physically see the baby’s head sticking out!”
Kian: “Just: Let. It. Go. Don’t bother arguing back. It makes life easier. Men just want to sit there, watch the TV and relax.”
Nicky: “And fart and scratch…”
Shane: “Women are very rarely wrong. I mean, they might be wrong but I’ve learnt to just go along with it and let them find out for themselves if they’re right or not!”

Lad’s, you obviously know the score.

Right, that’s us won over!

Westlife’s new single is out this month and the Love Album is out next month.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Lady In The Water

True fairytales don't seem to be particularly high demand recently. It's either woefully shallow Disney-Pixar CGI, or some crap about a guy shooting a bunch of other guys over... I dunno... terrorism or something.

So when a truly magical film like this comes along, it's not wonder its box-office representation is not the best. And that's a shame, because when a truly magical film comes along, it should be mandatory viewing.

M Night Shyamalan's 'Lady In The Water' is a magical little story, the embodiment of the word 'fairytale' yet somehow pure Shyamalan. While there is no twist, there is an understanding that somehow everything is connected, that the story of the manager of a small apartment complex (Paul Giamatti) finding a water nymph in the complex swimming pool can somehow reflect the shortcomings of man, and the way a simple event can ripple outward to affect the world.

The film rests heavily on the shoulders of its cast, and the players provide the simple tale with deep affection and resonance. There are twists and turns - we'd expect nothing less from our director - but it's more about actions and their effects than any cheap reveals. Paul Giamatti is heartbreakingly believable as the manager-with-a-secret Cleveland Heep, and Bryce Dallas Howard (The Village) as the aptly-named Story could be a nymph herself, her features are so beautifully expressive and ethereal. The supporting cast, as well, are stunning, and the dog-like 'scrunt' creatures are frighteningly realistic.

It's everything that should be expected of a fairytale. A few scares, an occasional laugh, a compelling mystery, and the feeling that you'e witnessed a transformation.

And as with all fairytales, the ending doesn't matter, just that the ride has been amazing.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Excuse Me While I Vomit

Yep, the tracklist for Westlife's 'The Love Album' is now available, and while we thought the title was unispired and... well... a bit crap, the songs that are going to appear on it are even more vomit-inducing. Of course, we won't know anything until the album comes out, but here are my picks for the best, the worst, and the downright blasphemous.

1. You Light Up My Life (Debbie Boone) - one of the most sickly, revolting ballads of all time. Prepare for a snoozer, and probably Shane and Mark on lead.

2. Easy (the Commodores) - this one will be a duet with Lionel Richie, apparently. Well they definitely won't let Nicky or Kian sing on this one, if they already have to share out the lyrics. A strange little choice, and it's that which actually might allow them to pull this off.

3. All Out Of Love (Air Supply) - the fact that it's a duet with Mrs Delta McGoodrem is a warning sign right away. Add that to the fact that it's been covered a million billion other times, and by other boybands (Mercury 4, Human Nature), and you can expect this to be uninspired tripe.

4. Total Eclipse Of The Heart (Bonnie Tyler) - BLASPHEMY! They might actually get through on sheer nerve with this one, considering it's practically a death sentence to attempt such a phenomenally 80s song as this. They might actually let Nicky and Kian sing on this, but I wouldn't hold my breath. It'll be mostly Mark.

5. All Or Nothing - don't know it, will update once I find out. Google tells me it could be either a Cher song, or an O-Town song. I'm more inclined to assume Cher, but you never know.

6. You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' (Elvis Presley) - Bonnie Tyler AND The King? On the upside, this sounds like a Kian/Nicky song, and another that they might actually pull off based on sheer nerve. Still, it's a bit naff by today's standards. It'll be perversely interesting to see what they do with it.

7. The Rose (Bette Midler) - This is one that I've actually got high hopes for. While the original is a bit... eh... boring, with a bit of fancy production it's got the potential to be another Westlife mega-ballad, in the same vein as Mandy or You Raise Me Up. There'll be no Nicky or Kian, then.

8. Have You Ever Been In Love (Celine Dion) - Chances are they'll actually pull this one off. It's the right kind of Westlifey ballad, and likely could have been written solely for them. It's got all the right parts, and will probably work really really well, especially when they (ie. Mark) hit the bridge.

9. Hard To Say I'm Sorry (Chicago) - Oh boys, even if you're doing covers, you can do something original. Seeing as Az Yet already did a mega-smash version circa 1998, it's a pretty ambitious choice to try it yourselves. If you pull it off, there will be chocolates for all of you. Which is more than likely, seeing as their trademark harmonies will probably sound amazing.

10. Love Can Build A Bridge (The Judds) - Ooh a bit of country flavour! Despite having already been done for Comic Relief in 1995, this could actually be very good. And I do like my boys doing country. A really nice, easy ballad, which has the potential to be a massive hit as a single... assuming everyone's forgotten the CR version.

11. You Are So Beautiful (Joe Cocker) - the puddle of vomit in the corner is spreading, and it's not difficult to see why - it's physically impossible to have picked a more sickly-sweet, karaoke whiner than this. And I have no more to say on the subject.

12. The Dance (Garth Brooks) - They've already guaranteed us musical gold with this one, after performing it on this years tour. The new arrangement is absolutely beautiful, though my one quibble is that Nicky would have sounded a lot better on the second verse than Mark does - it's very his kind of song.

The album is released in the UK on the 20th of November

Monday, September 25, 2006


As a long-time fan of Anthony Horowitz's Alex Rider series, I was always going to approach this with mixed feelings. Excitement, certainly, but also trepidation. Because if anybody destroys my Alex, I swear to god I'll...


It comes as a relief that director Geoffrey Sax (the interminable 'White Noise') manages his material quite well. He lays the necessary groundwork (and there is a LOT of it, being the first book) in a way that is exciting instead of tedious and perfunctory, and he sticks enough quality action sequences in to drive the plot along, even though there is the occasional sense that we're stuck in a gyroscope after eating four hotdogs and milkshake, the camera moves are so erratic and vertiginous.

The script is reasonable enough, though Anthony Horowitz is a better author than he is a screenwriter. On the upside, it adds a bit of a personal touch, and calms down the rabidity that could result when fans realise just how much the story has been butchered. Whole scenes have been taken out or transformed, and even some of the character names are different (villian Herod Sayle becomes Darrius Sayle, and is American instead of Lebanese). Still, Alex's (Alex Pettyfer) adolescent spy stuff is believable and heartfelt, just what we'd expect from a boy who discovers his uncle is a spy and has been killed (a brilliant opening sequence starring Ewan McGregor), not to mention that he himself has been secretly trained all his life to take over the job.

The film falls flat, though, when it tries to be a little too cool for its own good. It comes off as a little too contemprary and disposable - hardly a work that will endure for years to come - rather something that'll keep fourteen year old boys entertained for a few hours. The use of music by the Gorillaz and Kaiser Chiefs may make the audience exclaim 'hey! I know that song!' but it feels too commercial and brings down the quite serious and dark tone of the story. The cast of Britain's finest (Bill Nighy, Robbie Coltrane, Andy Serkis, et al) lift it up where it falters and their delivery of the snappy, clever lines is a delight.

A good film, but not quite satisfying, though it'll keep its target audience captivated for a little while. And it's a shame because while what's there is a great night out at the movies, it could have been so much more.

Chart Position For This Week


Westlife are out of the charts. I repeat: Westlife are out of the charts.

Oh well.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Number Ones Tour

This may be quite a short review. I've only watched this DVD all the way through twice since I bought it over a year ago, and the reason is quite obvious.

It's boring as shit.

Now now, you may say, that's quite a blunt way of putting it. Surely it must have some redeeming features?

Well yes, folks, it does. The medley, for one, is a cracker. Footloose is completely ripper, as is Pretty Woman (rock on Kian and Nicky!), Mark's falsetto on Disco Inferno and Don't Stop Til You Get Enough is divine, and the Beatles homage in I Feel Fine is absolutely genius. In fact, it's equally as good as any medley they've ever done. The singing is incredible, the dancing is lively and exciting, and the cheeky grins on their faces are to die for.

It's really too bad the rest of the concert is a complete downer.

Sure, the Rat Pack section is quite amusing, but it's less to do with the singing and performances that with the whole vibe. The lads play off each other, making cheeky (if scripted) comments and Nicky and Kian waltzing together has to be a slash-girl's dream! But the songs are a little boring, and if it wasn't for all the giggles, you'd avoid it completely.

The rest of the concert doesn't even have the giggles to get by on. It's one tired, 'greatest hits'-style song after another, sung in voices that sound almost completely bored. The dancing is actually too polished so it's got a sense of complete sterility about it. There are no new songs (this being the year of the Rat Pack album), so really, what was the point? Unless they're trying to prove both how bored and how boring they can be.

Even the extras have barely anything new, unless you count a section which allows you to choose between 'best' performances from previous concerts as something new and exciting. Which very few people do. And the documentary is barely long enough to raise interest - but that's okay, you have to buy the dualdisc of the album to get the whole doco anyway.

Give it a miss, and watch the Turnaround DVD again.

Friday, September 22, 2006

GO, Brian! GO!

The Mirror
September 22, 2006
Friday Eire Edition

BRIAN McFadden is on course to crack America after TV bosses picked one of his songs as the new Lost soundtrack.

The cult telly drama has a global audience of tens of millions and being linked to it could save former Westlife singer's sinking career.

Producers fell in love with the lyrics and tune of the track Demons, from the 26-year-old's album Irish Son.

The words are perfect for the RTE 2 show, which follows the surreal experiences of 48 air crash survivors.

The passengers must learn to fend for themselves amid the bizarre happenings on a deserted island.

It stars Matthew Fox as Dr Jack Sheppard and Evangeline Lilly as Kate Austin, pictured below.

And in Demons Brian sings: "Have you ever been lost in a different world, where everything you knew is gone?

"And you find yourself powerless? With everything that exists, you're numb. Will I ever break free?"

Speaking on ITV's This Morning show yesterday Brian said: "We got a video the other day where they have combined my music video with some action scenes from Lost. "And they're going to release it in America, which is great."

Brian has had more publicity recently for this relationship with his estranged wife Kerry Katona than for his music.

The pair, who have two daughters Molly, five, and three-year-old Lilly Sue, have had countless public spats.

Last week Kerry, also 26, hit back at Brian after he claimed she cheated on him with dancer Dan Corsi during their marriage.

But speaking yesterday, Brian spoke only of his happiness with new love Delta Goodrem. He said: "I've never been happier. We are madly in love, and she's my best friend too."

The Turnaround Tour

Live from the Globe in Stockholm, this gem was the band's first tour outing with only four members and, it has to be said, it's as if Bryan never existed. The lad's are completely exumberant, every note is top-notch, and not one foot is put wrong even though these dances are among some of the most complex they've ever had to undertake. There's a renewed sense of energy, as though all four of them are charged up to their fullest power.

The show starts with a wonderfully clever montage of Westlife - as cartoons - broken by Kian's wolf-whistle. The storm into the title track - Turnaround - and the energy doesn't let up for a second, even though the tempo might. It's a little disconcerting, at first, to hear Nicky, Kian and Mark fill the space Bryan's voice has left, but they don't put a foot wrong with it, from Nicky's 'My Love' to Kian's 'When You're Looking Like That' to Mark's 'Tonight'.

As far as the songs go, there's a surprise inclusion of My Girl (which hasn't been heard since the first tour), and the new songs 'Turnaroud', 'Mandy, 'Obvious' and 'On My Shoulder' are beautifully sung, the latter two makign up part of the usual 'flying above the audience' section, though this time they don't so much fly as strut, on a suspended walkway stretching out into the centre of the arena.

The 'breakdown' section is a particular stunning addition. Easily some of the best performances of the show, the lads present stripped down performances of some of their biggest hits with only a piano and saxophone for accompaniment, as well as Kian's frenetic guitar skills, of course. Their voices are pure and clear, and a way to take a quick breather after all the exhausting vigour of the opening set, though it's far from boring.

But the standout of the night has to be the medley. While the medleys of past years have been exciting little insertions into the grand scheme of the show, this one easily outstrips them all. It's bursting with crazed exhilaration, the four lads stomping, spinning and cheering to 'Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go', 'That's The Way (I Like It), 'Help!', 'I'll Be There For You', and 'Everybody Needs Somebody To Love'. But rather than divide the songs between the boys as they did the previous year, this one feels like a real team effort, all of them playing off each other and laughing. And bloody hell, they do well singing too.

If you can only get one Westlife DVD... it's gotta be this one. An unmissible addition to any collection.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Greatest Hits Tour

Filmed in Manchester, the GH tour was the third Westlife had undertaken. 'WHAT?!' I hear you say. "Are you being a lazy bugger and SKIPPING a DVD or something?" Nay, I am not. Because instead of releasing the second tour (World Of Our Own) on DVD, the powers-that-be opted to release a Greatest Hits DVD with video clips and whatnot, to coincide with the Unbreakable release.

So, after a year's wait, we got this, the second of the concert DVDs. Of the third tour. Are you with me so far?

Anyway, this DVD, as said before, was filmed in Manchester. Though when I say 'filmed', I mean 'recorded on camera so some MTV dickweed could mess with it'. The camera work is distracting, using irritating freeze-frames and fancy blurring and whatnot, which serves more to conceal the actual concert than to highlight it. And the concert is such a corker it should be acrime to mess with it this much.

The two-years difference between this and the Where Dreams Come True concert highlights how much the boys have improved and matured since their first outing. The whole thing is built on a kind of 50s/casino/pop-art kind of theme. All five of them play it up, both the dancing and singing executed with obvious glee. The dancing is much more polished and less naff, and everything feels fresh instead of contrived.

The acoustic section, especially, is an utter treat. Kian and Bryan get their guitars out, a couple of musicians come on with the basest of instruments - a pair of bongosn and a bass, and the lads rip into it. If there was such a thing as guitar liberationists, they'd be dragging Kian off stage under fire from a can of mace to avoid him raping his instrument, he looks like he's so violently enamoured of it. Though that's all forgotten when Nicky, a proud smile on his face, screams out his lines of 'To Be With You', his voice a joy.

The medley storms onto stage, each of the boys finally allowed equal microphone time. Nicky's 'I Get Around' is a delight, a is Kian's 'Great Balls Of Fire' and Mark's 'Kiss'. But it's Bryan that really steals the show, with a hip-swivelling version of The Contours' 'Do You Love Me' that should come with a warning for younger audience members, and those less disposed to cheekiness. He belts out every note with a raw, raspy talent that the others can never live up to. It's a great swan-song too, as this was his last concert.

As usual, there's the 'flying over the audience' section (this time on a flat circular platform), though this is probably the lowest point of the show. While the songs are great - 'Written In The Stars' especially - it feels a little too drawn out and boring. Maybe you just had to be in the audience to appreciate it. The other drawback is that it's at this point that Mark's voice begins to give out. Slightly warbily through the medley track, it turns to a full blown screech as he struggles to keep it audible. It's a shame, because he's doing so well until then. And as he says in the post-show behind-the-scenes clip "My fucking voice is gone!". Too right, lad. Mayb

So, while this concert does have the occasional drawback, the concert itself is truly one of the great Westlife accomplishments. It's fun, cheeky, fresh, original, and reminds you once and for all that those lads can really belt out a good tune.

Extras: Full to bursting. There's a multitude of Easter Eggs, some of which are brilliantly hilarious (Shane struggling to pronounce 'pianist' is a highlight). There's a documentary following the tour through the lad's hometowns of Dublin and Sligo which is wonderfully candid, four video clips, two games, and the post-show behind-the-scenes clip.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Where Dreams Come True

As many devoted and pissed off Australian Westlife fans will know, this week is the week Westlife would have been doing their Australian tour, starting on the Sunday just past in Perth. The Brisbane concert was scheduled for this Friday. So, in... erm... celebration of the concert that may still be, but possibly not, this week I'm gonna do a series of reviews. "What the HELL?!" you may say "Didn't you already review everything it was possible to review?!"

Nope. There's always more, with Westlife. Because of the tour, it will be the tour DVDs that are focused on - don't worry folks, there's only four of them. But if I'm sufficiently encouraged it's entirely possible that I'll do the non-tour DVDs. And by 'encouraged' I mean 'bored over the holidays'. Don't even get me started on individual performance. Believe me, I'll do it. And there are THOUSANDS.

So, let us start with this, Westlife's first tour.

Kicking off in 2001, the Where Dreams Come True tour was loosely called the 'No Stools' tour, in deference to the band parting ways with their tendency to sit on stools and wear black.

And, as promised, there's not a stool in sight. However, you've gotta wonder how many more ideas they couldn've come up with under the heading of 'things we can sit on that aren't stools'. Cars, large white blocks, metal towers... yep, it seems as though Westlife are simply not able to sing while standing up - maybe they don't have sufficient blood in their bodies to keep both their legs and vocal cords supplied at the same time. Who knows?

They obviously can't dance and sing at the same time, that much is obvious. Or should that be, simply, 'can't dance'? Certain members, in particular (I'm looking at you, MARK!) would put Peter Garrett to shame with their jerky, uncoordinated turkey-dancing. In fairness, Nicky and Bryan are dab hands, and Shane and Kian don't do too badly. Maybe it would help if they weren't trying to squish in every tiny molecule of BSB/Nsync into their performance that they can.

This is, in fact, the real drawback with the concert. It's their first concert, they're babies to the touring scene... what else can they do but try and copy everything everyone else has ever done? You can't tell me for a second those space-suits in the beginning are anything less than something nicked from the dumpster behind the Backstreet Boys' 'Larger Than Life' shoot? And if I had to get rid of any one thing, it'd be those irritating background dancers.

In fairness, though, they do a very good job, even though they look like they're not sure where they are half the time. Dancesteps are missed, certain people don't seem to have realised that vocal acrobatics are not the best thing ever (again... MARK!), the music director (Richard Taylor) hasn't injected anything close to life or originality into the well-known songs, but the concert is performed with such a sense of excitement and vitality that it's impossible not to sing and dance along. The lads have all their youthful enthusiasm (something we've not seen in quite a while) and look genuinely enraptured with the whole process. They play up to the crowd, mess about with each other, and close their eyes while singing in a way that is emotional instead of scripted.

But of course, we have to talk about the music. For the first and last time, the concert is packed with songs that are not singles. Rather than slip in a couple of new album tracks, the whole thing is chockas with fans' favourites instead of publicly accepted blandness. You Make Me Feel is a stunner, as is Dreams Come True, No No, and Somebody Needs You. The medley is a treat - Motown flavoured this year, with My Girl, Can't Get Next To You, What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted etc. Not to mention it's the introduction of the good old Westlife standard: flying over the audience. And this year they manage it on a metal frame (check out the pic) during the Flying Without Wings encore, which is quite simply stunning.

Not their greatest concert by a long shot, but certainly one of the most enjoyable, injected with an unavoidable vitality, making this a must-have for any fan's collection.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Chart Position For This Week

You Raise Me Up is at number 45 this week. I repeat: Westlife are still at number 45.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Just A Little More Complete

My Westlife collection, that is. Because it finally arrived today! This, folks, is my beautiful new copy of the American version of the 'Westlife' album. After many years of scrambling and heartbreak and running about CD shops, it is here. And it's mine.

It's basically the same as the UK version, except condensed into 13 songs instead of 17. There's a bonus track that didn't come with the UK version called My Private Movie, which sounds bloody kinky but is one of the poppiest, most hilariously fun pieces of music they've released in their careers. It's brilliantly cheesy, but it's so boppy it's addictive.

The album was released through Arista records, their US label, and has quite lovely sleeve art. There they are, all five of them (and isn't that a total time warp!), with their floppy hair, sitting in a hallway. It looks a little like the toilet block outside a couple of my uni classes, so it doesn't exactly make me think of sunshine and roses, but the lads look very gorgeous, especially Nicky, whose RARGH!-ness factor is off the charts. That boy should avert his gaze more often.

It's bizarrely symmetrical, though, if you have a gander at the way Nicky and Shane's knees line up, and the way Kian and Mark seem to have adopted almost identical poses. A little 'Village Of The Damned', really. Spooky. And Kian's hands are so deep in his pockets they look like parachute pants. Except cream. Not a good look, even if you are MC Hammer, and Kian is not.

You really have to wonder if Bryan's been chained to that radiator. He doesn't look too pleased, does he?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Chart Position For This Week

You Raise Me Up is at number 45 this week - we're still in the charts!

Also, on the 2nd of October, a special double-disc boxset of the Turnaround and self-titled albums will be released in Australia.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Clerks 2: Passion Of The Clerks

It was always going to a tough act to follow. A cult hit and a mandatory inclusion on most 'best of' lists, it was impossible not to be nervous coming up to the release of the follow-up of Kevin Smith's master work.

So breathe a sigh of relief, people, because Clerks 2 is beyond worthy.

Picking up ten years on from the original, Clerks 2 finds Dante (Brian O'Halloran) and Randall (Jeff Anderson) still stuck in their dead-end jobs, still having woman trouble, still abusing customers, and still finding time to debate Star Wars. After the unfortunate demise of the QuickStop (in a brilliantly self-referential opening scene), the site of mischief is now the Mooby's fast food chain. Dante is engaged to Emma (Jennifer Schwalbach) and is moving to Florida with her the next day, hoping to escape his loserhood. Of course things don't go smoothly.

Jay & Silent Bob are back, as hilariously funny and puerile as ever, but it's the new characters that really earn their salt. Jesus-freak virgin Elias (Trevor Fehrman) and Dante's other romantic interest Becky (Rosario Dawson) (And as Randall points out, how the hell does Dante manage to always have so many chicks willing to jump him?!) both play their roles with the glee required to lift this from basely immature into comedy gold. Sure, the occasional debate isn't so original (like, we know Frodo and Sam were hot for each other - it's not cutting edge to say so), but it's done with such obvious joy and spirit it still seems like the most clever, original thing ever to be said.

With all the shit that's churned out of Hollywood at the moment, it's nice to see a film that's still prepared to include human/donkey unholiness, but is chock-full of heart.

Snakes On A Plane

At its core, Snakes On A Plane is the usual, run-of-the-mill, clichéd airplane thriller. You’ve got your bad-ass cop, your plucky air-hostess. The passengers consist of a disgruntled Englishman, a slutty socialite, a woman with the baby, children travelling alone, and every other airplane stereotype you can think of. They’re all there, ready-made for screaming and jumping.

But did I mention the snakes?

You’ve really gotta hand it to this film. It doesn’t take itself remotely seriously, yet it manages to be one of the most thrilling, engaging and fun films in recent history. It swings between laughs and shocks so quickly you barely notice the shift. And if that’s not enough. It’s got SNAKES on a (motherfucking) PLANE!

I could wax lyrical about special effects and character development and all that other crap, but it’d detract from the pure awesomeness that are the snakes. So I won’t.

It’s got Snakes on a Plane, people! That should be enough for anyone.