Sunday, 16 August 2009

I Like... Holidays / "Where are we going?" "We're all going mad"

I'm going on "summer vacation", as Charlie Bucket would say in Tim Burton's Charlie & The Chocolate Factory (it really clangs, no?)

Pool side playlist:

Amazing Baby - Head Dress

The Beach Boys - Barbara Ann

The Big Pink - Dominos

The Hives - Walk Idiot Walk

The Jacksons - Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground)

Lady Gaga - Summerboy

Marvin Gaye - I Heard It Through The Grapevine

The Specials - Monkey Man

See you in two weeks.

I Like... Work Experience / Update

Last week I visited the good people of NME for my 5th work placement with them and had a brilliant time (as per usual.) My fellow workies were an absolute delight; there was Chris who’s already writing for them on a freelance basis in Newcastle so watch out for his reviews, there was John who I can only describe as an all-American beefcake as he resembled Action Man, came all the way from California for the placement and wore a clear retainer for certain hours of the day despite having perfect teeth. And making up the girls side was Katie (my new LDN BFF), who’s journalistic experience includes working with Sugar and interviewing Madonna at the tender age of 13 on Newsround, plus Bobby who literally fancied every man she came across in the work place.

We had the usual jobs of sorting and delivering insane amounts of post (apart from on Wednesday, thanks to the postal strike) and trawling for news stories. We also had to look for quotes from currently en vogue Stroke, Julian Casablancas, root around in the archives and research music's most lavish stage props. View the results:

Obviously transcribing usually takes up the majority of the week (John spent 4 days transcribing a Pearl Jam interview) and I was lucky enough to be handed their latest interview with Alex Tuner who struck me as awkward but articulate. But listening to an interview with The Hot Rats (Supergrass’ Danny Goffey, Gaz Coombes and Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich) trying to justify their decision to record an album of covers was not washing with me. They are supposedly fulfilling the full potential of some of their favourite songs that they feel the originals failed to reach. Yeah, right.

On Thursday night we ventured to Leathal Bizzle’s album launch at that hotel in Soho which is currently featured in the BBC series Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel. Sorry to spoil it for you but, yes, it manages to open in the end. It was all very weird: everyone was trying to network in a resplendent yet gaudy little room (I imagine it’s what the inside of Tim Westwood’s head looks like) with an open bar and celebrating Bizzle’s (did you know that ‘bizzle’ means ‘bitch’ in the US of A? Thanks John) third long player.

And Friday is always feedback day when you’re given a track, at random, to review. You’re given 100 words to impress an NME journo. I reviewed Bloc Party’s One More Chance and made my assigned critic ‘laugh out loud’ and said he would have changed one word and sent it straight to print. Shucks.

Every time I go to NME a fantastic experience is guaranteed; I always learn something new, gain more of a feel for the pace of a weekly publication and further insight of different routes into the institution of the New Musical Express. And more than anything else it drives my determination to succeed in my quest for music journalist excellence.

Monday, 10 August 2009

I Like... Work Experience / "All paid jobs absorb and degrade the mind"

I'm on work experience at NME this week.
Will report back at some point.
I won't say specifically when because I don't owe you anything.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

I Hate... This Feeling / 1st August – This Isn’t It

Today was meant to be the happiest day of my life. I am not exaggerating. This is not hyperbole. But I am feeling worse than ever, just thinking of what could and should have been. Instead I’m going to be a touch psychotic and try to emulate what tonight was intended to be; I’m going to purchase some Michael Jackson merchandise and then watch his ‘Live in Bucharest’ DVD.

I remember the day when Michael announced his O2 residency shows. I was on work experience at Grazia and had heard that the King of Pop himself was due to make an announcement that afternoon. I didn’t have access to a computer that day so had to find some other way of knowing what was going on, so I made sure my many, many trips to the post room coincided with BBC Radio News updates. But upon my final visit of the day nothing has happened but Michael Jackson being extremely late. Oh well, he is Michael Jackson so he can do that. He can do whatever the fuck he wants.

Whilst on my way home that night I saw a poster at Paddington station, “Michael Jackson – This Is It. 10 shows. July 09.” I just stopped.

I went all the way home with the biggest smile on my face (if you knew me, you would know what a that rarity that is). I sat hypnotised and bemused by footage of Michael’s appearance at the O2. “This is really going to happen,” I thought, “I have the chance to see my idol.” I watched the announcement on repeat on Sky News.

I managed to get one of the pre-sale ticket codes so was poised and ready on Ticketmaster at 6.30 am on the morning in question. But I just kept being greeted by the rotating doughnut of destiny (you know, “your wait time is 15 minutes.” That bastard.) A few hours and many curse words later and I had it. One ticket. 1st August. Row J.

Later that day my dad emailed me to say this:

“You have been considerably upgraded for the Jacko gig on Saturday the 1st. Details are below.

You are in row 4, seat 33, in the absolute centre block on the floor.

I do this because I understand the value and the sheer joy of witnessing your heroes "close up and personal" and of course because I love my children.

I'd do the same thing for Meg or Zoe [my sisters FYI] - but first off you have to have a hero, I won't do it just for any old artist.

There aren't many opportunities in life to make dreams come true, so I think it's always best to grab the chance when it comes along.

I hope the wait for the King of Pop is worth it and that the gig is all that you hope it to be.”

Yeah, my dad is the best, I know. He upgraded me to the Thriller VIP package because he knew just how much seeing Michael Jackson would mean to me. It all got me thinking about how it was that I came to be so enamoured with Michael in the first place. *Cue sentimental music suitable for a stroll down memory lane...*I came home one day from school, I must have been 12 at the time, and for some reason I was really into watching this programme on MTV called ‘The [insert artist’s name here] Story.’ It had a very basic format; they would play all the videos of one artist and scroll chronological, biographical facts about them across the bottom of the screen and it usually wasted thirty minutes of my life. But on this day it was ‘The Michael Jackson Story’ and it was a few hours long. “Bloody hell he must be interesting, I had better watch this,” I thought.

Three hours later and the impact had been made and I remember thinking exactly this, “I can’t believe a man so great and music so good exists.” Verbatim. I quickly collected all his albums and listened to them every day, read books about him during silent reading Englsih lessons and covered my school bag in MJ badges. Nobody else got it, kids would ask, “Why do you like him? Do you want him to abuse you or something?”

My obsession was just as strong on 25th June, which unfortunately was another I day I sat fixed on Sky News. I cried and felt sick. I didn’t and still don’t know what to do. The next morning I got up early after only a couple of hours sleep and tried to busy myself. I was washing glasses that were not even dirty and ‘One Day in Your Life’ came on the radio. That got me. I cried until it hurt.

So tonight will be the first time I sit down and listen to his music again since 25th June. I had listened to at least one MJ song a day since I was twelve but after he passed away I have just been too upset. I was ecstatic just at the thought of hearing ‘Will You Be There?’ live (it was the song that made me learn to play the piano), yet there I was but a few weeks ago hearing it being sang at his memorial service.

I love you Michael Jackson.