Chart for stowaways – 16 April 2016

Here are this week’s singles:

  1. Pet Shop Boys – The Pop Kids
  2. Jean-Michel Jarre – Remix EP (II)
  3. Massive Attack – Ritual Spirit EP
  4. Pet Shop Boys – Twenty-Something
  5. Pet Shop Boys – Inner Sanctum
  6. New Order feat. Elly Jackson – Tutti Frutti
  7. Pet Shop Boys – Sad Robot World
  8. Jean-Michel Jarre & Little Boots – If..!
  9. Goldfrapp – Stranger
  10. Front 242 – Lovely Day / Take One
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Artist of the Week – Moby

The scheduling must have shifted a bit at some point, as this one is listed as the first artist of the week, but was definitely broadcast first, around 4.20am (!) on the third week of the radio show Music for the Masses, back in late 2004.

As before, apologies in advance for any inaccuracies, errors, hyperbole, or plagiarism in this piece – it was written twelve years ago and intended to be read out loud…

I want to kick off by explaining a little bit about [Moby‘s] musical career. He first picked up the name Moby as a child, being the great great grand-nephew (or something) of the Moby Dick author Herman Melville. During his relatively troubled childhood, he became passionate about music, particularly punk and John Lydon‘s Public Image Limited, among others.

Whilst at college, he formed several punk bands, none of which saw any great success, but in the late 1980s he moved to New York, and started DJing and making music for small underground record labels. In particular, he came up with a number of pseudonyms to become the driving force behind Instinct Records, who would go on to release several compilations of his early material.

After several underground successes, he first became known in the UK with his phenomenal hit Go, which drew heavily on Angelo Badalamenti‘s score for the David Lynch TV series Twin Peaks. After a few false starts, the single reached number 6 in the UK, and was a huge hit across the world.

During the early 1990s he would remix countless major acts, including Michael JacksonPet Shop BoysBrian EnoDepeche  ModeErasureThe B-52s, and Orbital, and in 1993 he was signed to the London-based label Mute Records.

His first proper album Everything is Wrong would explore and thoroughly question the different aspects of dance music, and would yield single after single in the UK, all of which were substantial hits. The follow-up though, 1996’s Animal Rights would throw dance out of the window, and turn to hard rock instead.

In 1997, following his fantastic reworking of the James Bond theme, he released a compilation of film tracks, entitled I Like to Score, and following this, he would see his greatest success ever, even if it took rather a long time to grip the world’s consciousness.

The first single from Play was Honey, and was released in mid-1998. At this time the album was already completed, but was delayed as he didn’t have a US record company. On its original release in the UK, it peaked at number 33 and in the US it only scraped the top 100. However, after prostituting every single album track, b-side, and remix onto films and adverts, he finally had his first US hit, and climbed his way up to the top of the UK charts. The album would eventually become so successful that no fewer than eight singles were released in the UK.

The follow-up, 2001’s 18 was seen by many as a disappointment, perhaps simply because it wasn’t adventurous enough. It’s a beautiful album though, and still yielded several hit singles and topped the charts again in the UK. After seeing underground success with his Voodoo Child side-project, his next proper album is due in the spring.

Eurovision 2016 – Part 2

In yesterday’s post, we looked at the two semi-finals, but what exactly happened in the final this year? This was the one you watched, and as you got ever more and more intoxicated, the entries seemed to become more and more bizarre.

The new voting system, which we touched on yesterday, upset viewers so much that apparently a third of a million of them have signed a petition asking for a recount. The EBU, guilty of bring us the song contest every year, apparently think they have done enough already.

What changed this year was that every country got two lots of votes: a jury vote, and a televote. Most of the voting went entirely as you might expect: the further east you travel the more everyone likes Russia; the former Yugoslav countries all get along very nicely; and only Malta likes the UK. Everything is entirely as usual, except for the bizarre inclusion of an Australian entry, which the juries loved a lot more than the televoters.

So why even bother with the jury vote, especially given the apparently questionable behaviour of one of the juries? Well, let’s allow the EBU to figure that out. Ultimately, neither the juries nor the public had their way, and neither Australia nor Russia won.

The UK this year managed 62 points, which sounds impressive until you realise that only put them in 24th place out of 26 entries, and they have only performed worse on four occasions.

Australia, having broadcast the contest annually since 1983, and having participated many times by sending their artists via other countries, made their debut last year, and inexplicably returned this year. Not only that, but they ended up doing so well that they actually won the jury’s vote, with nine countries picking them for the magical douze points.

But ultimately, loved by pretty much everybody, this year’s winner was the Ukranian entry, so next year will take us further easy again.

 Eurovision 2016 – Part 1

One of the most exciting/camp/pointless (delete as appropriate) events of the year took place just a couple of days ago, and yielded a rather unexpected winner. But the Eurovision Song Contest is so big these days that just one contest is nowhere enough – we need three: the final, but also two semi-finals.

This year’s contest was in Sweden, and included a surprise entry from Australia, who were entered into one of the semi-finals, while Portugal and Romania decided not to waste their money this time around.

The first semi-final, last Tuesday, saw several hundred points being awarded to each of Hungary, Croatia, Netherlands, Armenia, Russia, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Austria, Azerbaijan, and Malta. Then the second brought success for Latvia, Poland, Israel, Serbia, Lithuania, Australia, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Georgia, and Belgium.

Let’s take a detailed look at the finals tomorrow, where a new scoring system led to a Danish jury member getting pretty confused, and apparently actually meant that Australia missed out on the win, which would have made for some interesting logistics if the rules hadn’t been changed. And of course Russia ended up very upset indeed.

More tomorrow!

Chart for stowaways – 9 April 2016

Here are this week’s top ten albums:

  1. New Order – Music Complete
  2. Jean-Michel Jarre – Electronica 1: The Time Machine
  3. Conjure One – Holoscenic
  4. Pet Shop Boys – Super
  5. Róisín Murphy – Hairless Toys
  6. Little Boots – Working Girl
  7. David Bowie – Best of Bowie
  8. David Bowie – Blackstar
  9. David Bowie – Nothing Has Changed
  10. Leftfield – Alternative Light Source

Artist of the Week – Jean-Michel Jarre

Let’s have another artist of the week from my old radio show Music for the Masses now. My apologies for any unintentional plagiarism, hyperbole, or errors that may follow.

Jean-Michel Jarre was born in 1948, son of the classic film musician Maurice Jarre, who was responsible for the soundtracks to Dr. Zhivago and Lawrence of Arabia, among others. Jean-Michel played in various jazz groups until studying at the prestigious Conservatoire de Paris in the mid-1960s.

It was in 1968, however, that he discovered, and practically invented, electronic music. After several successful musical experiments and soundtracks in the early 1970s, 1976 saw the release of the groundbreaking classic Oxygène, which would become a huge success across the world.

The follow-up Équinoxe was released in 1978, and album after followed, and over the next three decades he would be responsible for completely new styles of music and would popularise new musical techniques: for instance his 1981 album Magnetic Fields was one of the first to use sampling, something he would really explore on 1984’s Zoolook.

However, in the 1980s, he became less well known for his albums, but almost infamous for his live concerts. After playing to over a million people at the Place de la Concorde in 1979, he became the first Western musician to be allowed into China in 1981. In 1986 he set the skies of Houston and Lyon alight with the first of his impressive laser shows, repeating the spectacle in London in 1988 and Paris in 1990.

After 1991’s memorable greatest hits album Images and his 1993 studio album Chronologie, he performed his first proper tour, across Europe and also later in Hong Kong, to huge success and acclaim.

In 1997, he celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the release of Oxygène with “volume two”, Oxygène 7-13. Similar in style to the original, it was extremely successful, and he followed this up with his biggest tour to date.

Further live extravaganzas followed, as he celebrated the coming of the new millennium at the Pyramids in Giza, following this with the Acropolis in June 2001, and a Danish wind farm at the end of 2002.

Most recently [in 2004], to celebrate the release of his latest greatest hits album, which is still riding high on the charts, he’s just returned to Beijing for another concert extravaganza.

So, [blank space which was never filled in] albums on, with 55 million copies sold worldwide, what next? Well, legend has it he’s gone into even darker dance, and is currently working with Underworld on new material [this is an interesting statement, for which I can see no evidence].