Chart for stowaways – 20 January 2018

Here are the week’s top ten singles:

  1. Sparks – Edith Piaf (Said It Better Than Me)
  2. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – What Have We Done
  3. Yazoo – Only You
  4. Saint Etienne – Dive
  5. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – As We Open, So We Close
  6. Sparks – I Wish You Were Fun
  7. Fever Ray – To the Moon and Back
  8. David Bowie – Beauty and the Beast
  9. Pet Shop Boys – Reunion
  10. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – The Punishment of Luxury
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Grammy Awards 2018

I never really have enough patience to look into the Grammy Awards in too much detail – there are just way too many of them. But it’s always worth a quick skim, particularly this year it seems. So here are some headlines.

Best Dance Recording went to LCD Soundsystem this year for the irritatingly-spelt Tonite, beating Gorillaz‘s Andromeda, and both were also nominated for Best Alternative Music Album for American Dream and Humanz respectively, but lost out to The National.

One of my favourite awards, Best New Age Album this year overlooked a strong nominee for Brian Eno with Reflection and went with Peter Kater instead for Dancing on WaterBest Dance/Electronic Album surprisingly went to Kraftwerk for the sublime box set 3-D The Catalogue over Bonobo‘s Migration.

In a pleasant surprise, Dennis White won Best Remixed Recording for his Latroit Remix of Depeche Mode‘s You Move. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds got a couple of nominations, one in the Best Music Film category for One More Time with Feeling, and once in the Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package category for the work of the art direction on their singles compilation Lovely Creatures, but failed to win in the end. Roger Waters suffered the same fate for Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical.

That’s all I’ve got. There’s a more comprehensive list of winners and nominees on the Billboard website.

The Beloved – Conscience

Most people have probably forgotten The Beloved by now – after all, they only had a couple of hit singles, and they were a long time ago. But hidden, somewhere back in the 1990s, are several extremely good albums, and one of them, Conscience, celebrates its twenty-fifth birthday this week.

Conscience was actually The Beloved‘s third album, following the largely ignored Where it Is (1987) and the hugely successful Happiness (1990). But this was their biggest hit, peaking at number 2 in the UK in early 1993.

The album opens with Spirit, a pleasant but relatively forgettable track with a bit of a gospel feel, which seems to be largely about the trials and tribulations of recording a comeback album. It includes what I think might be The Beloved‘s only example of a key change in the chorus, which maybe wasn’t their wisest move ever.

It didn’t need to be – the top ten hit Sweet Harmony is next. I think indisputably The Beloved‘s finest moment, this was of course the primary reason why this album was so successful. The world had waited a little over two years for their comeback, and then they reappeared with one of the catchiest pop songs of the decade. You can even forgive a extended saxophone solo when the song is this good.

There were actually three singles from Conscience in the UK, plus a couple of overseas and promo releases, and Outerspace Girl was the third of these. A minor summer hit, it easily has all the qualities that it needs, and despite a couple of slightly daft lyrics (“whizzing onwards at warp factor nine”) it’s really rather good.

Lose Yourself in Me is the moment where The Beloved decide to channel Depeche Mode, and while it may not be entirely successful in that regard, it’s still one of the best tracks on here, helped to stand out by the unique sound and mood.

The first weak moment on this album is the longer part-instrumental Paradise Found. I suspect the intention here was to try to recapture some of the mood of their brilliant 1990 remix album Blissed Out, but it doesn’t quite manage it unfortunately, and instead drags a little for its seven minute duration.

The second single was a double a-side of the middle two tracks on the album, led by the beautiful, semi-acoustic song You’ve Got Me Thinking, and backed with the deeper house Celebrate Your Life. Both are fantastic, as is the US-only single Rock to the Rhythm of Love that follows.

Let the Music Take You is a bit questionable, but it’s only the lyrics that are the problem, which are a little on the meaningless side. The general pop-house feel of most of the album continues, and actually it continues to come together rather well.

“Today I woke up smiling,” is the opening lyric on 1000 Years from Today, and it’s very fitting – there’s a glorious early-morning feel to the gentle house beats and rippling piano sounds. It might seem a little dated now, 25 years from its original release, but it still sounds extremely good.

The dreamy feeling continues with the fantastic Dream On, the six and a half minute ethereal piece that closes the album. It’s broad and huge, and a truly wonderful closing track for what really is a great and long-forgotten album.

Conscience is, ironically, one of The Beloved‘s weaker moments for me, and the fact that it’s overflowing with great songs is proof of just how good they were during the decade or so that they were on the charts. For me, a couple of decades on, I still really miss them.

You can find Conscience at all major retailers.

Chart for stowaways – 13 January 2018

Here are the week’s top albums:

  1. Sparks – Hippopotamus
  2. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – The Punishment of Luxury
  3. Liza Minnelli – Results
  4. Fever Ray – Plunge
  5. David Bowie – Legacy
  6. Tears For Fears – Rule The World – The Greatest Hits
  7. Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon
  8. Saint Etienne – Home Counties
  9. LCD Soundsystem – American Dream
  10. Madness – Full House – The Very Best Of

NME Awards 2018 – Nominations

You may remember the explorations we did late last year into the winners of the NME Poll, variably an awards ceremony and a list of winners, which ran from the 1950s until the 1990s. We’ll pick that up again later this year with a similar investigation into the BRAT Awards in 1994 and the various NME Awards ceremonies that have followed.

For the meantime, though, here are the nominees for the 2018 awards!

Best International Band

  • Haim
  • The National
  • Foo Fighters
  • The Killers
  • Paramore
  • Migos

Best British Solo Artist

  • Dua Lipa
  • Liam Gallagher
  • Ed Sheeran
  • Stormzy
  • Loyle Carner
  • Charli XCX

Best International Solo Artist

  • Kendrick Lamar
  • Taylor Swift
  • Lorde
  • Lana Del Rey
  • St Vincent
  • Father John Misty

Best Live Artist

  • Kasabian
  • Lorde
  • Liam Gallagher
  • Stormzy
  • LCD Soundsystem
  • Royal Blood

Best Album

  • Lorde – Melodrama
  • J Hus – Common Sense
  • Wolf Alice – Visions of a Life
  • Gorillaz – Humanz’
  • Loyle Carner – Yesterday’s Gone
  • The National – Sleep Well Beast

Best New Artist

  • Stefflon Don
  • Sigrid
  • SZA
  • Shame
  • J Hus
  • The Magic Gang

Best Track

  • Kasabian – God Bless This Acid House
  • Kendrick Lamar – Humble
  • Lorde – Green Light
  • The Horrors – Something to Remember Me By
  • Dua Lipa – New Rules
  • Charli XCX – Boys

Best Mixtape

  • Charli XCX – Pop 2
  • Drake – More Life
  • Krept & Konan – 7 Nights / 7 Days
  • Rex Orange County – Apricot Princess
  • Dave – Game Over
  • Avelino – No Bullshit

Best Video

  • The Big Moon – Sucker
  • Charli XCX – Boys
  • St Vincent – Los Ageless
  • Taylor Swift – Look What You Made Me Do
  • Dua Lipa – New Rules
  • Pale Waves – Television Romance

Best Collaboration

  • Craig David & Bastille – I Know You
  • Stefflon Don & Skepta – Ding-a-Ling
  • Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile – Lotta See Lice
  • Gorillaz & Jehnny Beth – We Got the Power
  • Lily Allen & Giggs – Trigger Bang
  • Yungen & Yxng Bane – Bestie

Best Festival

  • Glastonbury
  • Reading & Leeds
  • Download
  • Parklife
  • TRNSMT
  • Bestival

Best Small Festival

  • Festival Number 6
  • Boardmasters
  • Wilderness
  • Field Day
  • End of the Road
  • Kendal Calling

Best Festival Headliner

  • Muse
  • Boy Better Know
  • Ed Sheeran
  • Foo Fighters
  • The 1975
  • Noel Gallagher

Music Moment of the Year

  • Grime4Corbyn
  • Lady Gaga at the Superbowl
  • One Love Manchester
  • The Killers‘ surprise set at Glastonbury
  • Linkin Park‘s Chester Bennington tribute concert
  • Noel Gallagher plays Don’t Look Back in Anger at Manchester Arena

Best Film

  • T2
  • Bladerunner 2049
  • Baby Driver
  • The Disaster Artist
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  • It

Best TV Series

  • Stranger Things 2
  • Game of Thrones
  • Westworld
  • Rick & Morty
  • Glow
  • Peaky Blinders

Best Music Film

  • Lady Gaga – Five Foot Two
  • L7 – Pretend We’re Dead
  • Sleaford Mods – Bunch of Kunst
  • George Michael – Freedom
  • England is Mine
  • Whitney Houston – Can I Be Me

Best Re-Issue

  • Radiohead – OK NOT OK
  • Prince – Purple Rain
  • The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
  • R.E.M. – Automatic for the People
  • The Smiths – The Queen is Dead
  • Super Furry Animals – Radiator

Best Book

  • Wiley – Eskiboy
  • Action Bronson – Fuck, That’s Delicious
  • Dylan Jones – David Bowie: A Life
  • Allan Jones – Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down
  • Lizzy Goodman – Meet Me In The Bathroom
  • The KLF – 2023: A Trilogy

Hero of the Year

  • Ariana Grande
  • Rose McGowan
  • Jeremy Corbyn
  • Ellie Rowsell
  • Big Shaq
  • David Attenborough

Villain of the Year

  • Donald Trump
  • Theresa May
  • Katie Hopkins
  • Piers Morgan
  • Kim Jong-Un
  • Jeremy Hunt

All worthy villains. The ceremony is on February 13th this year.