Fletch

I just read the news and felt I had to break my silence on this blog for this – but I hope you’re not reading it here for the first time. Depeche Mode‘s Andrew Fletcher, or “Fletch” as everyone seems to have known him, died today, much too young. Here’s some coverage thanks to The Guardian and the BBC.

Obviously, this is a sad loss for all fans of electronic music, who were already reeling after the loss of Vangelis just a few days ago. As was often the case, Fletch hides in the background of this video, but the song seems appropriate. Goodnight Lovers.

2022

Well, I’ve been away for a while. Obviously not really, but I haven’t been posting here, mainly because I’ve been busy with home life and other personal projects. I had intended that I would start posting again when my commute started once this whole pandemic thing died down a bit, but I still haven’t commuted for nearly two years, and while I’ve still got plenty to say for myself, I’ve run out of backlogged posts. So anyway, things will still remain pretty quiet, I’m afraid.

Did you miss me? No, I didn’t think so…

I thought I would pop my head around the door with a couple of recent discoveries. First up, thanks to Adam Buxton‘s podcast I discovered this beautiful work from Laurie Anderson, which most of you had probably heard before, but for some reason (maybe because I wasn’t entirely sentient when it came out) I never had.

It’s fascinating to listen to, because there’s obviously an element of this where Anderson is just messing around with a sampler and a vocoder. I’ve got tapes with these kinds of experiments too, but they’re nowhere near this evocative. Excuse the superlatives, but it’s rare these days that I hear something quite this exciting.

Then there’s this. Bad dance cover versions were all the rage in the nineties (that might be an unintentional pun actually, because it was Rage who recorded this passable cover of Bryan Adams‘s Run to You in 1992, complete with house piano (good) and unnecessary rap section (bad):

But then there’s this. The Connells’74-’75 is a decent pop-rock song, which apparently some people called Hands of Belli and a singer called Nanci Edwards decided needed turning into this monstrosity:

And that, I’m sure you’ll agree, is quite enough of that for now. Bye.

Pause

If you’re reading this, it means this blog is paused for some reason. Perhaps I fell under a bus on the way to the circus. Maybe I’m tied up rescuing evil old ladies from lovely little kittens. Or I could have just forgotten to write any more posts.

Whatever the reasons, Music for stowaways will be back with you as soon as possible. In the meantime, please enjoy the archives!

Chart for stowaways – May 2021

May saw some reissues piling into the album chart – here’s the chart for 22 May:

  1. Erasure – Chorus
  2. The Human League – Octopus
  3. The Future Sound of London – Cascade 2020
  4. New Order – Education Entertainment Recreation
  5. Pet Shop Boys – Discovery
  6. Air – Le Voyage Dans La Lune
  7. Air – Love 2
  8. Pet Shop Boys – Concrete
  9. Erasure – Tomorrow’s World
  10. Voodoo Child – The End of Everything

Nine years of stowaways

Firstly: happy ninth birthday to this blog!

Secondly: sorry that you find us in the middle of a quiet period! Trying to continue blogging through a pandemic and with a growing family turned out to be chaotic, to say the least. You’ve still seen about 140 posts since the first lockdown hit this part of the world, and some of those even have some interesting content, so we’ve done OK.

I’m working on a number of projects at the moment, and unfortunately the blog isn’t quite getting the attention it deserves. That will start to change over the next couple of months, so we’ll be back soon – with actual content, as well, such as reviews! But for now, please be patient, and continue to…

Chart for stowaways – April 2021

Some very old oldies clogged up the chart in April – here are the singles from midway through the month:

  1. Tiësto – The Business
  2. Riton/Nightcrawlers/Mufasa – Friday
  3. Pet Shop Boys – West End Girls
  4. Morrissey & David Bowie – Cosmic Dancer
  5. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – Enola Gay
  6. William Orbit – Barber’s Adagio for Strings
  7. Alesso & Armin Van Buuren – Leave A Little Love
  8. White Town – Wanted
  9. New Order – Blue Monday
  10. Moby – Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?

BRIT Awards 2021

The 2020 BRIT Awards snuck in just before that pandemic thing, and so it was only a fifteen month wait between awards. Famed as the first indoor music event in the UK in over a year, Jack Whitehall presented the ceremony at the O2 Arena in London on 11 May.

Male Solo Artist

Nominees:

  • AJ Tracey
  • Headie One
  • J Hus
  • Joel Corry
  • Yungblud

Winner: J Hus

Female Solo Artist

Nominees:

  • Arlo Parks
  • Celeste
  • Dua Lipa
  • Jessie Ware
  • Lianne La Havas

Winner: Dua Lipa

British Group

Nominees:

  • Bicep
  • Biffy Clyro
  • Little Mix
  • The 1975
  • Young T & Bugsey

Winner: Little Mix

British Single with Mastercard

Nominees:

  • 220 Kid & GRACEY – Don’t Need Love
  • Aitch & AJ Tracey feat. Tay Keith – Rain
  • Dua Lipa – Physical
  • Harry Styles – Watermelon Sugar
  • Headie One feat. AJ Tracey and Stormzy – Ain’t It Different
  • Joel Corry feat. MNEK – Head & Heart
  • Nathan Dawe feat. KSI – Lighter
  • Regard & RAYE – Secrets
  • S1MBA feat. DTG – Rover
  • Young T & Bugsey feat. Headie One – Don’t Rush

Winner: Harry Styles

Breakthrough Artist

Winner:

  • Arlo Parks
  • Bicep
  • Celeste
  • Joel Corry
  • Young T & Bugsey

Winner: Arlo Parks

International Female Solo Artist

Nominees:

  • Ariana Grande
  • Billie Eilish
  • Cardi B
  • Miley Cyrus
  • Taylor Swift

Winner: Billie Eilish

International Male Solo Artist

Nominees:

  • Bruce Springsteen
  • Burna Boy
  • Childish Gambino
  • Tame Impala
  • The Weeknd

Winner: The Weeknd

International Group

Nominees:

  • BTS
  • Fontaines D.C.
  • Foo Fighters
  • Haim
  • Run The Jewels

Winner: Haim

Global Icon

Winner: Taylor Swift

Mastercard Album

Nominees:

  • Arlo Parks – Collapsed in Sunbeams
  • Celeste – Not Your Muse
  • Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia
  • J Hus – Big Conspiracy
  • Jessie Ware – What’s Your Pleasure?

Winner: Dua Lipa

BRITs Rising Star

Nominees:

  • Griff
  • Pa Salieu
  • Rina Sawayama

Winner: Griff

Performances included Coldplay, Olivia Rodrigo, Elton John with Years & Years (performing It’s a Sin, which was apparently also supposed to include Pet Shop Boys but they turned out to be unable to join for rights reasons), Pink, and many others.

There was also some rumbling controversy this year due to Sam Smith identifying as non-binary, and so not fitting any of the common “male”, “female”, or “group” categories. It will be interesting to see how this comes to be addressed in future years, as the categories are as old as the ceremony itself.

You can see the official list of winners here.

Stowaway World Cup – Week 4

Well, what a week that was. If you cared, which you probably didn’t.

Throughout May, we’ve been playing the Stowaways World Cup, an entirely pointless contest in which we pitted 32 of the most-mentioned artists on this blog against one another, based on a mixture of randomness and their past credentials, with a very unhealthy dose of biased refereeing.

There were disappointments right from the start – Sparks could have easily progressed to the latter stages, but never managed to win a single game. The Beloved repeatedly lost their only player due to fouls (that was, in retrospect, a little unfair, so the rules were changed for later rounds). Even Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark failed to progress beyond the group stages due to performing slightly less well than Röyksopp.

The group of 16 saw surprises too, with two group winners and blog stalwarts being knocked out by group runners-up. By the last few matches, the finalists were increasingly closely matched. Erasure suffered a run of games ending with penalty shootouts, Pet Shop Boys, who had had a fairly clear run to the final, snuck an extra goal in at the end of extra time, and won the final, taking away the not-coveted Stowaway Cup. For the record, these were our final top four:

  1. Pet Shop Boys
  2. Erasure
  3. Depeche Mode
  4. New Order

Which is a pretty respectable result. We’ll take a short break on this blog now, but we’ll be back in a week or so with the regular schedule of posts.

Stowaway World Cup – The Final

So, we finally reach the final of this entirely pointless tournament, which sees Pet Shop Boys take on Erasure for the first and last title of Stowaways World Cup Champion. The road to this point has been unnecessarily long and arduous, and will hopefully never be something any of us has to live through again. But at the end of this post, we will find out who the winner is. So let’s begin, as always, with the first half.

  1. 2+3. An early attack! Goal for highest number of views of a post on this blog. Pet Shop Boys claim 780 views for the exploration of the Bobby O Demos, while Erasure have 315 views for the review of The Innocents. 1-0.
  2. 1+4. No goal.
  3. 3+3. No goal.
  4. 2+3. Foul. 1+2. That’s a penalty for Erasure, but they miss.
  5. 1+6. No goal.

At the halfway point, Pet Shop Boys lead by just one goal. But anything could happen in the next five dice rolls, so let’s see where the second half takes us.

  1. 6+2. Goal for best album. Tough. For me that’s probably between Behaviour and either Chorus or Erasure. Erasure equalise. 1-1.
  2. 6+4. Goal for worst performance in previous games. Neither has lost a single game before now. Erasure have scored slightly more, but there’s really nothing in it. No goal.
  3. 1+5. No goal.
  4. 1+5. No goal.
  5. 1+3. No goal.

So, after Erasure equalised at the start of the second half, there was no further goal action. That means we have to play extra time.

  1. 4+4. No goal.
  2. 4+1. Goal for most weeks on UK single chart. Pet Shop Boys have the edge, with about 40 weeks more. 2-1.
  3. 6+4. Foul. 4+5. Penalty for Erasure again, but another miss.
  4. 1+4. No goal.

That’s it! Full time! Pet Shop Boys scrape through to win the championship, with a 2-1 win. We’ll close this series out with some final commentary tomorrow. In the meantime, I hope you didn’t mind the slight diversion for a few weeks. If you did, there’s just one post of this nonsense left!

Stowaway World Cup – 3rd & 4th Place Runoff

Here we are at last, at the battle for third and fourth place, where Depeche Mode meet New Order. Both slipped out of the semi-finals by the narrowest of narrow margins, and both have a similar pedigree, so this could be anybody’s game. Let’s see how things look after the first half.

  1. 3+3. No goal.
  2. 5+1. No goal.
  3. 1+1. No goal.
  4. 5+2. No goal.
  5. 1+2. No goal.

Well, it seems there isn’t a lot of enthusiasm to go out and win this game – both teams are playing defensively. Hopefully the second half will give us a little more drama!

  1. 3+3. No goal.
  2. 1+2. No goal.
  3. 1+6. No goal.
  4. 3+3. No goal.
  5. 5+2. No goal.

Still nothing! We’ve only had a couple of goalless matches in the whole competition before now, so now we have to go to extra time.

  1. 3+1. No goal.
  2. 4+2. Finally! Goal for most single releases. Depeche Mode have 55, while New Order have 44, plus 5 EPs. Goal for DM. 1-0.
  3. 6+5. Things are hotting up. Goal for most impressive haircut. Easy goal for some of Depeche Mode‘s eighties looks. 2-0.
  4. 2+3. Goal for highest number of views of a post on this blog. That would be the Beginner’s guide to Depeche Mode, with over 600 views. 3-0.

So, finally, after extra time, an exhilarating 3-0 win for Depeche Mode. They take third place overall, pushing New Order into fourth.