Why Britain blocking Pornography is a bad thing…

…and not just because of freedom of speech.

Although not my standard discussion, I want to quickly discuss this topic that’s being floated around Britain at the moment.

Several people in the country, including MP’s, are discussing the idea of forcing ISP’s (Internet Service Providers) to block internet pornography in the UK.  Another option is for pornography and related adult websites to be available to only those that request such access on purchase of their internet connection (undoubtedly for a fee).

There are so many problems with this that it seems laughable that people would even consider going along with it. Yet the ideas have large amount of support, from leading politicians, to some toe rag in the Evening Standard (Richard Godwin, claiming that pornography is “traumatic” to men watching it). ISP’s have laughed at the idea of being able to police such a famously uncontrollable force, but you can bet that if this idea even gets within spitting distance of being made law, you can tell exactly what side they’ll be rooting for, and not just because of the money involved.

See, currently ISPs have little control of the internet. They slow speed down over certain things, like large (probably illegal) downloads, as well as over peak times. This “herding” is done for several reasons, but it’s mostly harmless to the user. However, give them laws to restrict or control the content of the internet, and suddenly they have a huge monopoly on their hands. Rather like television, they could sell access to sites in “packages”. Not unlike a sports television package, ISP’s could (and almost certainly would) package together sites of a similar nature, charging for access. Social network sites like Facebook, Myspace and Twitter would almost certainly become a premium package (as the market is huge), while user defined content sites, such as Wikipedia, would fall into other categories, etc. These sets, and more, would be available for an additional charge, and here’s the real bitch-none of that money would go to the creators of the original content. Wikipedia doesn’t make money as it is, because it is a not for profit organisation. By charging for selective access to this, youtube, and more, you are taking away freedom, and profiting from other sources intellectual property.  Ironic, considering the backlash that there has been against illegal downloading.

There are other issues as well. The definition of “pornography” is pretty vague, and has changed dramatically over time. Instead of a pornography restriction, an “offensive content” restriction may take its place, and that would be catastrophic for all forums celebrating free speech, religious and/or atheist websites, lgbt websites, as well as many forms of subculture, especially sexual sites, such as the Bizarre Magazine or Torture Gardens website. These are already the victims of prejudice on social networking platforms, but in effectively removing them from easy access on the internet, you drive these subcultures underground again, where seeking information can be hard, and potentially dangerous. The lack of education about said subcultures is also a dangerous possibility, with the internet being a rich source of information for interested or ignorant people.

The internet isn’t like a book. In a book you can edit out unnecessary words or paragraphs, without noticeably changing the storyline. Rather, it is more like a library, and when you start removing books and whole categories from the library, it becomes limited, specialist and useless to many people. As one of our finest tools, one of our greatest technological advances in communication, it should not be restricted in such a way. We don’t restrict the information given in a phone call, or in a letter, regardless of what people may think of the content. While the information on the internet could be deemed “harmful” (and I would argue that point) that’s what parental controls were created for, which brings me to my final bugbear about the whole thing.

Restrictions for “harmful” websites already exist. Parental Controls, while already very good, are constantly improving and reinventing themselves to be as absolute as possible. And why not, it’s a valuable market, one which is profited upon by software developers, and not ISPs. Many homes that experience children being exposed to pornography and suchlike either do not possess Parental Controls, or they don’t use them properly. If ignorance is not an excuse for accidently breaking the law, then it certainly isn’t for bad parenting. If parents want to learn more about these controls, they can type their questions directly into google to find a result. They’d better do so soon, however, otherwise the page with the desired information may only be available under the “home and lifestyle” package.

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Communication Breakdown

My views, both on here and the web in general, often provoke anger and furious retorts. I assume this is because my opinions are poorly thought out, badly researched and most of all, designed to do so. There is something nice and predictable about people getting angry and furious out of instinct or indignation, which is generally the basis for any comments or opinions that I make in the first place. It’s amazing how two angry people, barely thinking through the red haze in front of their short sighted eyes, can argue and insult under the guise of “debate” to the point where they end up arguing about something only vaguely related to the original point. Some may say that, in these situations no one wins, but I am swift to point out that it isn’t a competition, and if no one wins, then no one looses, and winning defines the looser, and not the other way around, and why are you poking your face into my discussion you cunt?

Recently (yesterday) I was accosted on Facebook, over a comment that I had made about the band System Of A Down. The standard barrage of message subsequently flew across cyber space with accusations of racism and suchlike (although as with every debate, the first person to mention Hitler or Nazis automatically forfeits the discussion, or loses, to the competitively minded), until at the end, it transpired that we had openly misunderstood each other, and it was his poor (lack) of grammar, and poor sentence construction that had confused me. It was my ability to use sentences, full stops and spell check function on my browser that had confused him. He was actually a decent fella with many of the same political beliefs as I have.

Obviously the internet is a horrible place to communicate, what with our physically and emotionally expressive communication stripped down to its most basic and two dimensional form, coupled with most people suffering from an online disinhibition effect, causing them to be bigger arseholes than they are allowed to be in their real, meaningless, pointless lives. Yes I get the irony there. Anyway, this lack of decent communication got me thinking about the recent student protest(s) in London.

There is not a single news story, or documentation of this event that is not biased in some way. That is obvious and elementary. One thing you can’t argue with, is that most of the protesting students are from middle class backgrounds. The majority of the working class (the real working class) don’t go to university. In fact, the statistics of working class people who attend university are likely to be horribly skewed as most middle class houses consider themselves working class, when clearly they are not.

Why does the social class of the protesters matter? Because it undermines the point they are trying to make. They claim that the increase in fees will help split the social divide further, yet they themselves split it further when they are protesting like fucking morons in the name of someone else. United, the students collect to become the largest, and possibly most formidable legal team, political team, media team and journalistic team in the country. There are THOUSANDS of the grotty bastards, all of whom are now ramming home the stereotype that students are lazy and don’t think before they act. Indeed, if we are to judge them by their behaviour, they deserve everything they are getting. In fact, if the students protesting really were the ones being cut out of higher education by the new bill (which they aren’t), many could take the view that they aren’t the type of students we actually want. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot. I always say, the best way to validate “the man” is to act like a child. Well, I said it once.

The age of protest is over. I read somewhere (I think it was David Mitchell) saying that had the students not protested violently, then perhaps the media would have omitted the protest completely, making the peaceful protests, as seen in Scotland, effectively worthless. This is very true, although I personally doubt that this is the sort of exposure students need, especially when they should be trying to gain support from the public. Ultimately though, I feel this was more an excuse for privileged children from across the country to be unruly and to have a political excuse when mummy starts disapproving. Really, protest achieves nothing. We live in a day and age of limited interest, and tiny attention spans. I’m impressed by how there was more than one protest, but unlike protest of the past, these students will get bored and go home. It’s not like the 80’s where people were losing their jobs. Students today can’t get jobs to begin with.

Obviously, somewhere, there are some smarter students in the machine, probably by accident, and they have teamed up with the Students Union to make a political protest through the correct channels and authorities. I don’t know if I’m the only one who would have been more amused had all of the student bodies attempted this independently of each other. You know, just to fuck with the lawyers and parliament, perhaps showing them just how important the issue is to many people. Like real life however (something these students will soon have to experience), there aren’t enough clever people to go around. A point ruthlessly hammered in by the fact that none of these students even seem to know what the proposed changes to the system actually are. No, they heard the number £9000 being bandied around by some pathetic media source, desperate for that sell in order to feed its crap spewing habit, and they decide that suddenly everyone will have to pay this extortionate cost. That is not what the changes are. The changes will be that you pay back as much as you required to on a sliding scale defined by your average income, meaning if you earn the average wage in this country, you’ll end up paying less than you do already. No one really cares about the particulars though; let’s throw a fucking fire extinguisher at a police man

Film Review: Toy Story 3

Foreword

For my first review, I’m taking on the controversial Toy Story 3. No the film itself isn’t controversial, but reviewing it is.

Toy Story 1 and 2 enjoyed incredible success on film rankings website Rotten Tomatoes, both achieving a 100% success rate, with Toy Story 2 being the top rated film on the whole site last time I awoke from my booze fuelled slumber and checked. Toy Story 3 was set to join them, and so be the first trilogy in RT history that had achieved 100% for the whole shebang.

History rarely works out that way, and Armond White, the New York Press’ fairly famous critic slammed it, for reasons I shall myself explore later. Not long after, fantastic critic Cole Smithy followed suit and more recently Jeremy Heilman from Movie Martyr also didn’t like it.

For those who are reading this and not sure of the significance, allow me to  explain. Rotten Tomatoes ranks its scores by accumulating respected critics own opinions into one overall grade, not unlike those insurance comparison websites. In order to achieve 100%, no viable critic (and by viable I mean people who get paid, unlike me) can openly dislike it. Therefore, there are some great films with 100%. How do they differentiate between these high ranking films? They rate them next by quantity of reviews. Therefore if Toy Story 2 got more reviews than the Godfather, even though they both achieved a 100% score, Toy Story 2 would rank higher, as though it was more 100% than the Godfathers 100%.

The flaws in this system are multiple and obvious. Firstly, there are multiple variables. It’s a safe assumption that we all did science in school, and the first thing you learn is that a real experiment only has one variable. There are two major variables at play here- The quality of reviews and the quantity of reviews. There is also an intrinsic unfairness to this system as there are many websites/magazines/television shows that are not dedicated to film, yet nevertheless do film reviews that are suitable for the target audience; the main one being of course children and parent aimed media. It’s a safe bet that a children’s site would not review the Godfather, but would be likely to review Toy Story.

Then there is my favourite bug bear, the fact that the films are rated on their inoffensiveness. Take a brilliant film like Oldboy. This film will never get 100%, or even a great score, despite being a great film. It has to battle controversy, it has to battle the inevitable xenophobia of the west, and it has to battle its limited release in countries such as the USA. Then, those special websites come along again, and slam a film like this for being gory, or non-Christian. These fucktards rate films on how detrimental to society they are, regardless of artistic content, or evidence to the contrary. Indeed, only films that really make the top of the list are:

  • Inoffensive
  • Aimed at children, but appeal to adults
  • Recognised by the “Industry” as masterpieces
  • Historical classics

So why is this an issue? People take a lot of cues from Rotten Tomatoes, and consider it a good indication of what is a good film, rarely actually reading many of the reviews. Sure you can’t just come onto a blog like this and make your mind up about films, as I could have just started this for free to piss on your favourite title. People should read this, and a professional, conflicting review, and then make up their own mind by actually watching the fucking film, but then when would they have time to spend, sitting with their thumb up their arse?

For their negative reviews of Toy Story 3, Smithy and White both received hate mail or hate email, although the latter sounds like a letter sent from an earthquake struck Caribbean country.  My review isn’t positive, so if you feel the need to send me an abusive email or comment, be prepared for me to print it off, wallpaper my house with it, and toss off all over your user name

Review

It has been 11 years since the unnecessary Toy Story sequel, and due to some unwritten law somewhere, everything must come in threes. Maybe it’s a biblical attitude that brings so many trilogies to our tables? After all 3 is the recurring number in the bible, dotted all over the place like an explosion in a fridge magnet factory. The religious theme incidentally carries on throughout the film, but more on that later.

There are plenty of sequels coming out now to Disney/Pixar films and they will continue to do so, as they are cheap money magnets. There is nothing new about this. Aladdin, for example, was another trilogy. The main difference nowadays, is that the sequels to computer generated films can be of better quality as the really hard work, the modelling, has already been done. You can take the models from the previous film, reanimate them, and you have a sequel to the same exact quality (image wise at least) of the original.

This attitude to remaking, however, cannot, and should not be applied to the flagship film that launched your company into the really big time. Toy Story was a heart-warming and funny story of rejection and redemption, and it warmed the hearts of the world. 15 years on, and we would expect to see a massive graphics upgrade… and… we don’t really. Of course we don’t. The original was designed specifically to make the most of the technology of the time, and things have moved on faaaar since then. Therefore Toy Story 3 has to showcase this advance in smaller ways, probably to cut negative comparisons between themselves, and their previous Pixar film, the fantastic Up!

In order to showcase this advance in quality, the intro scene is a fantasy land where the toys are being played in. I have to say, it looks fantastic. A monkey bomb (don’t ask) is released, and as someone who has tried (and failed) digital animation, I can say it must have taken ages to do. It’s just a shame that the writing for this sequence is so piss-fucking-poor. Fans of the series will instantly recognise many of the lines and dialogue in this sequence from previous Toy Story instalments, mainly the second one. These are shown to be obvious references to the previous films, and they quite successfully set you up for the rest of the film-one big rip off of Toy Story 2

Yes, we’ve been here before, only some things have changed. Mainly Andy, who is now a teenage brat about to go to “College” as the colonies call University, except he’s not a brat, he’s the same wooden half wit as he was in the other films. The boy has thrown away most of his toys, including most of the soldiers, but not apparently Mr AND Mrs Potato Head (surely one is enough? Maybe he relates to them?), and now only has a small collection of his main toys, who incidentally are all of the main characters from the other two films. Convenient that. A jumbled mess ensues as he is given the option to throw them out, put them in the attic or donate them to day care. Some random, extremely predictable, yet somehow very unlikely turn of events occurs, and the toys end up on the street to be thrown away, despite Andy’s intentions. Only Woody is free from this as Andy has decided to take him to College, like all 17 year old boys do. The other toys, angry at rejection, stow away in a car to go to day care, where they will be immortal and played with forever.

So far, it’s a complete reverse of Toy Story 2. In TS2, Woody gets taken by a collector, but then learns to love where he is, and in this the other toys choose to go to day care, only to learn to hate it. Throughout all of this, Woody is the only one who ever seems to be right, which makes you wonder is he is named after the big one he must have gained from his ego. Other aspects of the story are also the same as TS2. For starters there is a dominating male toy that plays the bad guy, with his own sob story which isn’t that sympathetic. This time, instead of a prospector, he’s being played by a bear that’s an actual toy in America, but nowhere else, giving the yanks a joke that the rest of the world doesn’t get. Similarly, there’s space age Buzz again this time it’s because he’s been reset by the evil toys. The film pulls an extra trick out of his hat by later resetting him to “Spanish Buzz”, throwing out every stereotype of Spanish people, short of throwing bananas at black footballers. This isn’t that funny, and as ridiculous as it sounds in a film about talking toys, it isn’t believable! I don’t know about the US, but our toys over here don’t reset languages by the click of a button! It is gimmicky to provide a cheap laugh, and a hollow one at that. Especially with the new additions to the toys, and the removal of select other toys, you can see what this film is really about, and it is illustrated vibrantly by its most dislikeable aspect yet.

The whole film puts a massive focus on Barbie and Ken. Barbie was supposed to appear in the first film, yet didn’t as Mattel refused to allow her likeness to be used. When Toy Story went supernova, and became a marketing hit, someone at Mattel probably got fired, and they got on the phone to discuss Toy Story 2.After all, advertising like Toy Story doesn’t come along every day. I don’t know the details, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Mattel paid for her to be included, and the gentle piss taking of Barbie and what it stands for was a very small price to pay for the exposure.

This time round, however, Barbie is thrust into our faces unashamedly, and Ken is introduced. Cue more piss taking, which is funny, BUT the amount of emphasis on them is disconcerting. It becomes very clear that this film is a huge product placement, and I for one don’t appreciate that. There are other characters that aren’t being used, who already have had their personality defined, but are either ignored or removed completely from the film. Why? They won’t sell. Bo Peep and Wheezy? Gone. Bullseye? Ignored almost completely. The aliens, although they provide a pivotal moment in the film barely have any screen time, and the soldiers bugger off in the first 5 minutes. They don’t make for great sales, while the teddy bears, octopusses and Ken dolls DO make for good sales, hence their inclusion, and that’s what is intrinsically wrong with this film. It’s an extended advert, one shoved in our faces packaged as a film, but with minimal effort involved. Toy Story 2 managed to be different to Toy Story, while Toy Story 3 seems just to be an invert of Toy Story2!

You could go on to say how this film is about life and death. There is certainly the air of Buddhism around it, with reincarnation and karma playing a massive part of the storyline. That, however, is the easiest story to tell, and it’s disappointing that this film improved so little in 11 years, when Toy Story 2 managed so well after only 6. Other complaints are a simplistic dialogue, and sacrificing storytelling for nostalgia. The writers clearly don’t know what to do with Jessie, but are too scared just to cut her from the film. Seriously, watch her throughout the film; she just stands there, barely animated, with no decent lines, just coming off as a massive bitch. It’s like a limb that you can’t use, and don’t need, that keeps getting in the way, and caught in things.

It’s easy to watch a well produced film like this and rate it highly, when you compare it to the mass amount of contemptuous shite that leaks out of Hollywood’s asshole. Indeed, James Cameron is currently swimming in money Scrooge McDuck style because of this attitude. Good visuals and sound quality, however, don’t make for a great film, and if both Avatar and Toy Story 3 have proved anything, it’s that you can polish a turd, and people will like it, but won’t be able to shake that smell from under their noses. Fuck 3D. Fuck gimmicks. Write a decent film, like I know you can! At least Jessie didn’t fucking sing this time.


5 Awesome Live Albums

I had written this post already just as my browser crashed, thus destroying around an hour and half of typing. Needless to say, I am one angry bastard, but I’m also stubborn, and so am rewriting it, hopefully slightly faster as I have written it before. Not used to this site, I was oblivious to the huge “Save Draft” button on the screen, one which I am clicking with furious repetition.

I had begun by announcing that as a new member to this site, I would calm the over-critical bile that festers within, as a way a introducing myself gently. As you can imagine, that temperament is quickly changing, so I’m going to try to finish this as quickly as possible. The following reviews will be pretty abridged, but I daresay you people reading this will be pleased of that, won’t you, you judgmental pricks?

Ahem.

The live album is a peculiar thing. Some love it, as a way of showcasing an artist’s talent, while others hate it, as an unreasonable representation of a bands’ live ability, or as a grossly overpriced greatest hits album, that misses out on the “greatest hits” (openly opting for filler tracks to appeal to the hardcore fan), while also fulfilling contractual obligations to the record label, concerning the quantity of the artists’ recorded output. They’re both wrong.

Or rather, they are both right. You see the cynics are right (as we usually are), and that pretty much sums up the mass majority of the live albums that are produced. However, the supporters aren’t wrong either. A good live album makes an impact far greater than a greatest hits album. A good live album has tracks that rank highly next to the studio album, and also document the natural changes in a bands evolution. With this in mind, here are 5 of the best.

1: Scorpions ft Berliner Philharmoniker : Moment of Glory : 2000

Being released in the shadow of one of the most successful live albums of all time, Metallica’s S&M, can’t be easy, especially when your album bears a striking resemblance to the premise of it. Yes, Moment of Glory is a rock/symphony collaboration, released only one year after the Metallica offering (although 3 years before Kiss would cash in on similar territory with Kiss Symphony: Alive IV). There is a notable difference in the production of the two albums though. While S&M had world famous Michael Kamen at the helm, Moment had Christian Kolonovits. No I don’t know who he is either. Then there was the set list and length. The Scorpions output is a relatively short 60 minutes long, compared to the two disk 133 minute extravaganza by Metallica.

So why choose Moment of Glory over S&M? Simple. Moment of Glory is ridiculous from the outset, preposterously rebranding their rock anthem hit Rock You Like a Hurricane into a trendier (sic) Hurricane 2000, as an opening track, while at times seemingly allowing the orchestra to run riot. It’s over the top, uncontrollable and wild, and I love it. Stadium rock has always sold itself on being bigger, sillier and more epic than everyone else. This is what you get when you mix such an attitude with a full orchestra, and, considering it toured around the Baltic States and Russia, I’d imagine a fair amount of vodka thrown in to boot.

The album is by no means perfect though. Apart from Hurricane 2000 and Wind of Change there are no real big hitters on this album. If you don’t like the sound of an orchestra, this really isn’t for you, as it takes S&M’s atmospheric sound, and turns its into a full blown symphony, with some guitars stuck on as somewhat of an afterthought. That eccentricity is what the Scorpions are however; a glance at their album covers will confirm it for you. In that respect, this is one of the most honest live albums ever produced.

2: Pink Floyd : Pulse : 1995

A potentially controversial decision here, Pulse was almost universally slammed on release, and the reasons for this weren’t unreasonable. Some considered that the album, which was recorded over 20 different shows, wasn’t a “true” live album; some criticised Pink Floyd for having taken a large crew on tour with them in order to record this album; some criticised the fact that the stage show was so elaborate, it didn’t allow for any improvisation on stage, or any jamming; some criticised the fact that only 7 years and 1 album prior to its release, Pink Floyd had released another live album, one which they claimed would be their last. Some even complained that the crowd track wasn’t equalised properly, and that the crowd are louder in some parts of the album than others. None of these criticisms are wrong.

Regardless, the album reached number one in multiple countries, including the UK albums chart. To be fair, Pink Floyd could have released anything, and it would reach number one. So why this disaster of an album? Because it sounds damn good, that’s why. If an album is a showcase of what a band is like live, this is as constructed and false as Liberal Democrat election manifesto (topical humour, har har), but damn is it an attractive package. Firstly it contains a large amount of the hits, including the Dark Side of the Moon album in its entirety, as well as a rare performance of Astronomy Domine. It also contains the classic Pink Floyd hits that no live album of theirs should be without, including a rendition of Comfortably Numb like no other, surpassing even the studio version of the song. The album is dark, brooding and atmospheric, as you would imagine, and is a perfect album to lie back to and just listen.

I own the original copy of this album, the one with the led light packaging, and it is eccentricities like this that cast doubt over Pink Floyd for some people. Another of these would be that for this tour, Volkswagen released a special edition car.  That’s right, a fucking car. These were the 90’s however, and this is Pink Floyd we are talking about. The album itself remains a tribute to the beauty of their songs, performed beautifully, and is an incredible listen.

(It’s worth noting at this point that yet another computer cock up occurred, and another large section was lost, which may explain the briefness of that last paragraph. I shall persevere)

3:Bad Religion : 30 Years Live : 2010

At time of writing, this album has only been out for about 3 months, and I should also tell you that they sent it to me, for free. Obviously this has biased my view towards the album, but I am sure I would have included it anyway.

Bad Religion are the most famous band you don’t know. As the title of this live album suggests, they’ve been around for 30 years, and have become an incredible driving force and influence behind American punk rock post the 1980’s. Their music, style, or imagery has been used in over 25 films or mainstream television shows, and their music features on over 10 mainstream video game soundtracks. They are cited as influences by nearly every single major punk band that hails from America since 1980, and guitarist Brett Gurewitz owns and manages the Epitaph record label, home to a massive amount of US talent.

Bad Religion themselves have never fared amazingly successfully over here in the UK however. Maybe it’s the angry competition that exists between the UK and US punk scenes being extended, but for such a celebrated band to be so largely ignored is crazy.

Bad Religion have always stuck to their roots, and doing what their best at, which is political, high energy punk, never shying away from using an extended vocabulary, never scared of being perceived as over intelligent, and they are fantastic. Like many other artists of similar genre, Bad Religion use simplistic technique and song construction to convey complicated and sometimes radical ideals, and never suffer because of it. 30 Years Live is different to many live albums, in that a fair few of the bands major hits are missing from it, in place of newer songs, which is odd when you consider the name of the album. This doesn’t affect the quality of the album, as it is still a ferocious and unforgiving experience. Punk doesn’t usually translate well in this way, but 30 Years Live is a great effort, and would easily convert many who are unsure about Bad Religion as a band.

Unlike the previous 2 albums I have discussed, 30 Years Live is not smooth and polished, nor would it sound good that way. 30 Years is raw, proving that those newer tracks are just as powerful as the old ones, and that you don’t need to constantly replay your big guns just to produce something worth listening to. And I got it for free.

4:Iron Maiden : Flight 666 : 2009

Is this cheating? Who knows! I watched the film at the cinema, curious as to how Maiden toured, being one of the most famous touring bands in the world (and a personal favourite). I was blown away by the sound quality of it all, and how perfect the songs were performed. Like any decent cash in, a soundtrack is available, so I think I’m safe including this.

Unlike 30 Years Live, which proves that the band are very much alive and fresh, Flight 666 proves that the classic songs and band themselves are fresh. There isn’t a dud track, and it is set listed to near perfection. It doesn’t pretend that you are at one gig; instead it exploits the fact that it was performed over an entire tour, and as such it is a pleasure to listen to.

The dark side to all of this is of course Maidens history of live albums. I have no internet access at the moment to research just how many of them there actually are, but suffice to say that there are lots, and all are varying degrees of poor, some nothing short of abysmal (and that’s not including bootlegs of tours). Arguably the best before this was their Rock In Rio live album/dvd, but even that had its flaws. Flight 666 makes it on this list by being a shining exception to the rather depressing rule.

5: Various : Radio 1’s Live Lounge Vol.2 : 2007

This one IS cheating, but I couldn’t give less of a shit. Radio 1’s Live Lounge is a distressingly successful series of albums that are compiled of songs that are performed on BBC Radio 1. Being mostly made up of pop and indie artists, there is usually no way to successfully cover your song on air without the necessary backing track and suchlike, so many of these artists opt to perform acoustically, which can (and often does) result in a startlingly different take on a song that you are probably bored to tears of hearing played on the radio. Some of these artists choose to cover a different popular song of a completely different style, which leads to some interesting and fascinating results.

The reason that this album is on my list, is that it’s approach to music helps redefine the qualities of a song, the aspects of the original song which made it popular, and helps you to rediscover parts of a song that made it great or attractive. Collision Course by Linkin Park and Jay Z did exactly the same thing extremely well, although I omitted their album as it isn’t actually live (although the two artists did tour the album).

I have chosen this particular volume of Radio 1’s Live Lounge as, bar from one track (the second one), all of the songs sounds great and are very listenable to. Some of the highlights of it are Corinne Bailey Rae singing Sexyback, Biffy Clyro singing Umbrella, and Avril Lavigne singing The Scientist. The finest moment on it, perhaps, is Robyn’s haunting piano version of her own hit With Every Heartbeat. All of them are peaceful and beautiful. What more could you ask?