parkrun touristing: Whitley Bay

Another week of the fair on the Town Moor meant another week of no Newcastle parkrun, so Geth and I took ourselves off to the coast for Whitley Bay parkrun this morning.

I’d done Whitley Bay once before, last summer, on a morning where it was pouring with rain (and of course we arrived forty minutes early and had to shelter against the wall of a tiny hut near the start).  Geth had just come along for support on that occasion, as he was recovering from a broken toe, so today was his first parkrun at Whitley Bay.  For me, meanwhile, while it was my second run there, the course this summer is so different that it was like running it for the first time again.

This is largely because last summer, the front at Whitley Bay was mostly taken up with works, and so large parts of it were closed off.  As such, the finish funnel is now in a completely different place, and you get a straight sprint finish along the front – unfortunately, if you’re not familiar with the course, it’s difficult to time when you should start sprinting!  I’ll know better next time.  Hopefully they won’t move the finish again.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #80

Day 80 brings us to Now! #80, which came out on 21st November 2011.

November 2011
This is how the world looked in November 2011 (actually October). This was a pub somewhere near Southampton, but I have no idea exactly where. I’m actually wearing that hoodie right now, but it is getting a bit worse for wear.

Let’s see what was soundtracking my first few months living in Southampton.

Now! That's What I Call Music #80
Track 1: Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera – Moves Like Jagger

This one reminds me of unpacking all the stuff in our new flat when we first moved to Southampton.  I’ve always really liked this one – great tune, and the theme is awesome.

Track 2: Rihanna and Calvin Harris – We Found Love

Nice tune, but it’s a bit repetitive.

Track 3: One Direction – What Makes You Beautiful

Revoltingly saccharine!  Everything about this track is just irritating.

Track 4: Bruno Mars – Marry You

It’s a bit cheesy, but I quite like the tune.

Track 5: JLS – Take A Chance On Me

I like the piano at the start, but again, the song in general is too saccharine for me.

Track 6: Christina Perri – Jar Of Hearts

It would be a good song if she could actually sing.  Seriously, it’s so off-key!  Why was this even allowed to be released?

Track 7: Kelly Clarkson – Mr Know It All

Highly irritating tune, and I’m not keen on the theme.

Track 8: Olly Murs and Rizzle Kicks – Heart Skips A Beat

Great track – I love this one!  Upbeat, feelgood, awesome tune.

Track 9: The Wanted – Lightning

I like the instrumentals, but the vocals are kind of annoying.

Track 10: Pixie Lott – All About Tonight

Good solid danceable pop, and lyrical references to shoes are always a winner with me.

Track 11: The Saturdays – All Fired Up

Fairly generic dance track, but the tune’s okay, and it’s quite danceable.

Track 12: Lady Gaga – The Edge Of Glory

Great pop tune!  Love the sax solo too, obviously.

Track 13: Will Young – Jealousy

Irritatingly whiny and insipid.

Track 14: James Morrison – I Won’t Let You Go

Painfully boring and depressing ballad.

Track 15: Ed Sheeran – You Need Me, I Don’t Need You

Great upbeat track, and I’m sorry, but I still find the elevator lyric hilarious.

Track 16: Damien Rice – Cannonball

Too slow and earnest for me.

Track 17: Lana Del Rey – Video Games

Gorgeous tune!  An all-time favourite.

Track 18: Charlene Soraia – Wherever You Will Go

Slow, dull ‘TV advert’ cover of the Calling song.  It’s a good tune, but the original beats this hands down.

Track 19: Goo Goo Dolls – Iris

Absolutely beautiful tune – a classic rock track from the ’90s, back in the charts due to somebody performing it on Britain’s Got Talent.

Track 20: Matt Cardle – Run For Your Life

Achingly boring.

Track 21: Westlife – Lighthouse

Jarring lines, saccharine vocals.  Not a fan of this one.

Track 22: Adele – Set Fire To The Rain

Gorgeous tune – love the atmosphere on this.

Track 23: Professor Green and Emeli Sandé – Read All About It

I find this one a bit depressing.

Track 24: Gym Class Heroes and Adam Levine – Stereo Hearts

The tune’s okay, but the rap’s really uninspired.

Track 25: Labrinth and Tinie Tempah – Earthquake

Great, danceable track – really like this one!  That monastic bit is wild.

Track 26: Jason Derulo – It Girl

Cheesy and forgettable.  Not a great song.

Track 27: Dappy – No Regrets

Again, there’s something very depressing about the tune on this one.

Track 28: David Guetta and Usher – Without You

Boring tune, uninspired lines.

Track 29: Calvin Harris – Feel So Close

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Calvin Harris on track 2.

I find this tune pretty dull.

Track 30: Leona Lewis and Avicii – Collide

I remember there was a bit of upset at the time, according to the Radio 1 DJs, because Avicii hadn’t originally been credited despite the fact that it was his track and Leona Lewis was just singing over the top.  Anyway, the tune’s a bit repetitive and bland.

Track 31: Example – Stay Awake

Slightly awkward theme, but the vocals are good.

Track 32: Sean Kingston – Party All Night (Sleep All Day)

Daft theme, but it’s a pleasant enough tune, if a bit bland.

Track 33: Tinchy Stryder, Calvin Harris and Matthew Burns – Off The Record

Repeated artist mega alert!  We’ve already had Calvin Harris on both track 2 and track 29.

Boring electro hook, generic rap.  Not a fan.

Track 34: Sak Noel – Loca People

Another daft theme, and the track itself is pretty repetitive and dull.

Track 35: Rizzle Kicks – Down With The Trumpets

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Rizzle Kicks on track 8.

This song is great though – wonderful atmosphere.  I absolutely love the vocal style, and the lyrics are brilliant.

Track 36: Cher Lloyd and Mike Posner – With Ur Love

Extremely generic and forgettable.

Track 37: Jessie J – Who’s Laughing Now

Very irritating hooks and vocals, and I’m not keen on the theme.

Track 38: Rihanna – Cheers (Drink To That)

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Rihanna on track 2.

Nice feelgood tune, quite like this one.

Track 39: Sean Paul and Alexis Jordan – Got 2 Luv U

Good beat, and I quite like the vocal hook.

Track 40: Emeli Sandé – Heaven

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Emeli Sandé on track 23.

This track’s awesome, though – very Massive Attack-esque.

Track 41: Maverick Sabre – I Need

Boring, forgettable tune.

Track 42: Wretch 32 and Josh Kumra – Don’t Go

Gorgeous tune, even if it is a little depressing.

Track 43: The Collective – Teardrop

Too many artists to mention collaborating on the Children In Need single for 2011 – a cover of Massive Attack’s Teardrop.  There’s a lot of misplaced rap; it’s not horrible but it’s pretty uninspired.

Stuff I like about my parents’ house #4: bookshelf full of classics

As I’ve been in a bookshelf place this week, what with getting my own ones back up and running, I thought I’d share my favourite of Mum and Dad’s many bookshelves: the one in the dining room that used to be an escape of mine when I was a kid.

Bookshelf
I feel cosy just looking at it!

This is where Mum keeps all her old childhood books from the ’50s.  I was a voracious reader when I was little, and I would scour the whole house for new books to read (there are a lot), but this was one of my favourite spots to spend a Sunday afternoon. I’d pick out something that sounded interesting, and nine times out of ten it would be a jolly-hockey-sticks romp about maverick English boarding school girls in the ’50s.  It was a world that was completely far removed from my own, but I found it fascinating, and those books later inspired one of my own characters in one of my ongoing novel series.  I would settle down in the chair next to the bookshelf, so that once I was done with one book, I could immediately grab another.

Other books on the shelf included the entire Little Women series (published as four books in the UK – Little Women, Good Wives, Little Men and Jo’s Boys – I must have read them twenty or thirty times), Alice In Wonderland/Through The Looking Glass, and the entire What Katy Did series.  Some real classics there, and I still borrow them from time to time.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #79

Day 79 equals Now! #79, which came out on 25th July 2011.

July 2011
This is how the world looked in July 2011. That summer, Geth and I were living with Mum and Dad, as we’d had to give up our flat in May when Geth’s last University of Edinburgh fellowship salary came to an end, and we wouldn’t be moving for him to start his new job in Southampton until September. When I wasn’t doing my volunteer shop job at Oxfam or attending the many weddings we were invited to that year, I spent most of the summer (which was characterised by a lot of thunderstorms) on my old childhood bed with my laptop. Geth did the same on the spare bed with his laptop, which meant we were often visited by José – like most cats, he loved laptops, as they were cosy and warm to lie on. We kept having to move him off. If I’d known he would only live for a couple more months, I’d have let him lie on my laptop for as long as he liked 🙁

The thunderstorms weren’t really conducive to summer songs, but from what I remember there were an awful lot of them that year.  Let’s have a listen.

Now! That's What I Call Music #79
Track 1: Adele – Someone Like You

Beautiful tune, but I’m not really into slow ballads.

Track 2: Aloe Blacc – I Need A Dollar

Great track!  Love the atmosphere on this one.

Track 3: Bruno Mars – The Lazy Song

A welcome break from Bruno Mars’ saccharine ballads.  This one’s very funny, and the video is great.

Track 4: Jason Derulo – Don’t Wanna Go Home

It’s the one with the sample of Show Me Love that I mentioned in my Now! #24 review.  Good beat, happily nodding along here.

Track 5: Lady Gaga – Born This Way

Great beat, very danceable.

Track 6: Jennifer Lopez and Pitbull – On The Floor

Another great dance track – really like this one.  The Lambada sample is immense!

Track 7: Alexandra Stan – Mr Saxobeat

An all-time favourite!  I love this track, especially the jaunty saxophone hooks throughout.

Track 8: Katy Perry – Last Friday Night (TGIF)

The song’s a solid pop track, but it’s the hilarious video that really makes this one (Hanson!  Rebecca Black!  Just Dance!).  Also, I REALLY appreciate the sax solo, ’cause you hardly ever hear them in 2010s pop.

Track 9: The Wanted – Glad You Came

Great summer dance track – this was another favourite of mine that year.

Track 10: Nicole Scherzinger – Don’t Hold Your Breath

Gorgeous tune – yet another favourite!

Track 11: The Black Eyed Peas – Just Can’t Get Enough

Thankfully/sadly (?) not a cover of the Depeche Mode song.  I’m not really a fan of songs copying classic song titles unless they’ve got some link to the original – it causes confusion apart from anything else.

It’s a nice tune though – quite like this one.

Track 12: Take That – Love Love

Nice feelgood tune – quite like this track.  Love that bassline!

Track 13: Jessie J – Nobody’s Perfect

Irritating tune, and I’m not keen on the theme.

Track 14: The Saturdays – Notorious

Another track that borrows a classic title (see track 11 above).  Not a cover of the Duran Duran song.

I actually really like this track, though – I just wish they’d used a more original title!

Track 15: Rihanna – California King Bed

It’s the kind of ballad that would normally be too slow for me, but the tune’s so gorgeous that I really like it.  Also, that rock guitar solo is retro and epic!

Track 16: Scouting For Girls – Love How It Hurts

Too saccharine for me.

Track 17: Coldplay – Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall

I find this tune a bit irritating.

Track 18: Cee Lo Green – I Want You (Hold Onto Love)

Nice retro disco feel, but the tune’s a bit forgettable.

Track 19: Yasmin – Finish Line

Dull and uninspired, and that As sample is just ill-fitting.

Track 20: Ed Sheeran – The A Team

Lovely tune, but I find the theme a bit on-the-nose.

Track 21: Birdy – Skinny Love

Highly irritating whiny ballad.  Not a fan.

Track 22: Templecloud – One Big Family

I like the vocals, and it’s a good atmosphere, but it’s too slow for my liking.

Track 23: Pitbull, Ne-Yo, Afrojack and Nayer – Give Me Everything

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Pitbull on track 6.

This is a great track though – I love the tune on the chorus.

Track 24: LMFAO, Lauren Bennett and GoonRock – Party Rock Anthem

I’ve always really liked this daft dance track – it was played at every wedding I went to in 2011 (and there were a lot of them!)

Track 25: DJ Fresh and Sian Evans – Louder

’90s-tinged dubstep, which was a big thing at the time and which I had kind of forgotten about until now.  Good beat, but the tune’s a bit generic.

Track 26: Example – Changed The Way You Kiss Me

An absolute classic!  Wonderful track – love the tune, the way it builds, everything.

Track 27: David Guetta, Flo Rida and Nicki Minaj – Where Them Girls At

I like that chant-along chorus, and I’ve always had a soft spot for the video.

Track 28: Chris Brown and Benny Benassi – Beautiful People

Annoying chorus, and the rest of the tune’s just uninspired.

Track 29: Calvin Harris and Kelis – Bounce

Great feelgood dance tune!  Gorgeous stuff.

Track 30: Loick Essien and Tanya Lacey – How We Roll

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).

Great atmosphere, good beat.  Quite like this one.

Track 31: Nicki Minaj – Super Bass

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Nicki Minaj on track 27.

This tune’s okay, but it’s a bit generic.

Track 32: Tinchy Stryder and Dappy – Spaceship

Daft track that always makes me laugh with its ridiculous lyrics.  I’m not sure if that was intentional or not.

Track 33: Wretch 32 and Example – Unorthodox

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Example on track 26.

This is another great track though – love that chorus.  The Fools’ Gold sample is awesome too.

Track 34: Vato Gonzalez and Foreign Beggars – Badman Riddim (Jump)

Some good lines on this dance track, but it’s a little messy.

Track 35: Snoop Dogg and David Guetta – Sweat

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had David Guetta on track 27.

Good beat, good atmosphere – very danceable.

Track 36: Swedish House Mafia and John Martin – Save The World

Repetitive, irritating tune, and in general I just find this one a bit bland.

Track 37: Dev, The Cataracs and Tinie Tempah – Bass Down Low

Daft theme, but I really like this one!

Track 38: Mann and 50 Cent – Buzzin’

Another pleasingly daft song, but I find the tune a bit annoying.

Track 39: Chase & Status and Tinie Tempah – Hitz

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Tinie Tempah on track 37.

This one’s too messy for my liking, although Tinie Tempah’s whimsical rapping is always appreciated.

Track 40: Katy B – Broken Record

I find the tune very irritating, but the beat’s okay.

Track 41: Nero – Guilt

This one’s pretty boring, but I quite like the dubstep bass once it gets going.

Track 42: Alex Gaudino and Kelly Rowland – What A Feeling

The tune’s too cheesy for me, but it’s got a good beat.

Track 43: Wynter Gordon – Dirty Talk

Another solid pop track – really like this one.

Track 44: Inna – Sun Is Up

The tune’s a bit dull, but it’s fairly danceable.

Phone Box Thursday: Call Lane, Leeds

We move on this week to a series of red phone boxes around Leeds town centre.

Red phone box
Red phone box, Call Lane, Leeds, 23rd July 2016.

Um, ignore the banana skin.

I like to see phone boxes that have been turned into cash machines – it means they’re still useful in the 21st century and councils are less likely to get rid of them!

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #78

Day 78 takes us to Now! #78, which was released on 11th April 2011.

April 2011
This is how the world looked in April 2011. Geth and I would have been midway through one of our walks along the Union Canal, which was our favourite thing to do on a sunny day in Edinburgh.

Let’s see what I would have been listening to during the last few months in our Tollcross flat.

Now! That's What I Call Music #78
Track 1: Bruno Mars – Grenade

Too saccharine for me, but the tune’s okay.

Track 2: Adele – Rolling In The Deep

Great atmosphere – love the chorus on this one.

Track 3: Jessie J – Do It Like A Dude

The theme’s a bit daft, but there are some nice instrumental lines here.

Track 4: Rihanna – S&M

Great piece of electropop – really like this tune.

Track 5: Kesha – We R Who We R

Irritating tune, very uninspired.

Track 6: The Wanted – Gold Forever

Released as the official Comic Relief single for 2011.  Sadly the song’s really bland.

Track 7: Matt Cardle – When We Collide

What was it I was saying three days ago?

Right on schedule, here’s X Factor winner Matt Cardle’s pointless cover of Biffy Clyro’s Many Of Horror.  Rather offensively, they changed the title of the song, because it clearly wasn’t bland enough for the kind of people who buy X Factor winners’ singles.  What’s hilarious is that the cover is SO pointless that on occasion, Cardle even apes Simon Neil’s Scottish accent.

Track 8: Take That – The Flood

Yay!  Take That are no longer Fake That!  Well, for one album at least.  Robbie Williams returned for the Progress album, and all was finally right with the world again.  This song is a gorgeous, epic, atmospheric tune – lovely stuff.

Track 9: Ellie Goulding – Your Song

Interesting folky cover of the Elton John classic (which was performed by Ellie Goulding for the first dance of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at their wedding reception, fact fans).  The operatic Moulin Rouge! version from 2001 had cast a long shadow over the ’00s in terms of other people copying that take on the song when they did cover versions, so it was refreshing that this cover was so different again.

Track 10: JLS and Tinie Tempah – Eyes Wide Shut

Far too cheesy for my tastes, and the electro line sounds the same as every other dance track of this era.

Track 11: David Guetta and Rihanna – Who’s That Chick?

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Rihanna on track 4.

This is a great piece of bouncy pop, though – awesome tune.

Track 12: Taio Cruz and Travie McCoy – Higher

Taio Cruz did two versions of this song, one with Travie McCoy and one with Kylie Minogue.  I prefer the Kylie version, I have to say.  It’s still a good tune though.

Track 13: Chris Brown – Yeah 3x

Another dance track where the instrumentals sound the same as every other dance track released around this time.

Track 14: Britney Spears – Hold It Against Me

Daft theme, as the lyrics are based around that terrible pun of a pick-up line, but the tune’s okay.

Track 15: Alexis Jordan – Happiness

I’ve always quite liked the video for this one.  Do you remember how in the late ’00s/early ’10s, women’s fashion shoes were all ludicrously high six-inch-stiletto affairs with round covered platforms?  (As with most things, I only got rid of (most of) mine in my cull earlier this year.)  Like every other female pop artist of the era, Alexis Jordan wears them in the video here, but there’s a weird bit that makes it look like she can’t walk in them.

Anyway, the song’s kind of forgettable, but it’s got a nice feelgood atmosphere.

Track 16: Parade – Louder

Good beat, but the chorus is annoying.

Track 17: Olly Murs – Thinking Of Me

Nice jaunty track, quite like this tune.

Track 18: Avril Lavigne – What The Hell

Great bit of pop-rock – love that singalong chorus.

Track 19: McFly and Taio Cruz – Shine A Light

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Taio Cruz on track 12.

I’ve always found this tune pretty irritating.

Track 20: Noah & The Whale – L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.

Great folk-rock track – awesome lyrics, lovely tune.

Track 21: Susan Boyle and Geraldine McQueen – I Know Him So Well

Cover (complete with hilarious parody video) of the classic ’80s duet by Elaine Paige and Barbara Dickson.  It’s the kind of cover I would normally decry as pointless, but the point here is comedy, and they absolutely nailed it.  The charity fundraising for Comic Relief doesn’t hurt either.

Track 22: Jessie J and B.o.B – Price Tag

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Jessie J on track 3.

This is a very nice feelgood tune though – good stuff.

Track 23: Chipmunk and Chris Brown – Champion

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Chris Brown on track 13.

I like the intro – lovely piano, nice choral bit, great atmosphere.  The tune on the chorus is nice as well.

Track 24: Wiz Khalifa – Black And Yellow

Great tune, awesome atmosphere.

Track 25: Rihanna and Drake – What’s My Name?

Repeated artist mega alert!  We’ve already had Rihanna on both track 4 and track 11!  I am not impressed, Now! compilers.

This one’s an okay tune, but it’s a little repetitive.

Track 26: The Black Eyed Peas – The Time (Dirty Bit)

Messy cover of ’80s classic (I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life, with lots of…well…dirty bits (i.e. squeaky, tuneless feedback).  I shouldn’t like it, but it’s actually very danceable.

Track 27: Nicole Scherzinger – Poison

Nice solid pop track, really like this tune.

Track 28: Enrique Iglesias, Ludacris and DJ Frank E – Tonight (I’m Lovin’ You)

Daft theme (don’t get me started on the explicit version), but it’s got a good beat.

Track 29: Cee Lo Green and Wiz Khalifa – Bright Lights Bigger City

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Wiz Khalifa on track 24.

This one’s a bit slow for my liking, but it’s got a great atmosphere.

Track 30: Katy Perry and Kanye West – ET

Awesome epic atmosphere, lovely tune, and the video is beautiful.

Track 31: Pink – Perfect

I find the theme of this one a bit awkward and the tune a bit dull.  Not a fan.

Track 32: Tinie Tempah and Ellie Goulding – Wonderman

Double repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Tinie Tempah on track 10 and Ellie Goulding on track 9.

This song is lovely, though – that chorus is just gorgeous.

Track 33: Willow Smith – Whip My Hair

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).

The theme is a little cheesy, but then she was about nine at the time.  Good song otherwise.

Track 34: Katy B and Ms Dynamite – Lights On

I’m not hugely keen on the tune, but it’s got a good beat.

Track 35: Martin Solveig and Dragonette – Hello

Great dance track!  Really like this feelgood tune.

Track 36: Flo Rida and Akon – Who Dat Girl

Dull tune, boring rap.  Not keen.

Track 37: Far East Movement, The Cataracs and Dev – Like A G6

Daft lyrics, but it’s a good head-nodder.

Track 38: Wretch 32 and L Marshall – Traktor

Great beat – happily chair-dancing here.  Awesome lyrics too.

Track 39: Aggro Santos and Kimberley Walsh – Like U Like

Love this tune, and the verses have an awesome rhythm.

Track 40: Devlin and Yasmin – Runaway

This one’s a bit generic – nothing special here.

Track 41: Tinchy Stryder and Melanie Fiona – Let It Rain

Boring and forgettable.

Track 42: Chase & Status and Liam Bailey – Blind Faith

I like the ’90s tinge, but on the whole the track’s far too messy for my liking.

Bookshelves…part two

The bookshelves I put up on Monday now have books on them…

Bookshelves
The piles of extra books on top are only temporary.

…which took a lot longer than it should have done today.  I also still have a lot more books to put away elsewhere in the house once I have done enough Tetrising to get more bookshelves in place, so we’re not done by a long shot.

What it has done is given me a bit more room to get on with the study project next week.  Which is not nearly as pretty as putting books on shelves, but I really do need to get on with it.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #77

Day 77 means Now! #77, which came out on 22nd November 2010.

November 2010
This is the way the world looked in November 2010. I was hoping when going back through these photos that we’d have the ‘newly engaged couple’ sparkle, but in all honesty, we both look awful – in those days our diet was a lot worse and neither of us did any exercise. I don’t think my scraped-back hair or Geth’s unshaven face are doing this picture any favours either. I do feel really happy that we’ve been able to get healthier and fitter together through running, even if that engagement ring is far too big for me now and I have to be extra careful it doesn’t slip off my finger.

Let’s have a listen to the Christmas party tunes of 2010.

Now! That's What I Call Music #77
Track 1: Rihanna – Only Girl (In The World)

Great piece of pop, awesomely danceable tune.

Track 2: Katy Perry – Firework

I appreciate the epic nature of this song, but I’ve always found the tune irritating.

Track 3: Cheryl – Promise This

Another danceable pop track with some great vocal hooks.

Track 4: Flo Rida and David Guetta – Club Can’t Handle Me

Pleasant enough, but the tune’s a bit forgettable.

Track 5: Cee Lo Green – Forget You

Great, powerful track with an awesome mid-century retro feel.  This song was everywhere in 2010.

Track 6: Taio Cruz – Dynamite

Brilliantly danceable tune with a great singalong chorus.

Track 7: Tinie Tempah and Eric Turner – Written In The Stars

I do like this tune – some lovely lines going on.

Track 8: Mike Posner – Cooler Than Me

Great rhythm, really interesting song.  Strangely, after this hit, Mike Posner disappeared from the charts for six years before showing up again in 2016 with the number one smash I Took A Pill In Ibiza (or just In Ibiza, if you’re listening to daytime radio).

Track 9: Enrique Iglesias and Nicole Scherzinger – Heartbeat

I like the piano bit, but the tune’s really boring.

Track 10: Usher and Pitbull – DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love

Good beat, and there’s a nice singalong chorus.  The verse is pretty generic though.

Track 11: The Wanted – All Time Low

Great tune, really like this one.

Track 12: Olly Murs – Please Don’t Let Me Go

Nice retro-sounding tune, but it’s a little saccharine for my liking.

Track 13: Eliza Doolittle – Pack Up

Great feelgood retro-tinged pop track.  Quite like this tune.

Track 14: Michael Bublé – Hollywood

Nice epic tune, great feelgood pop song.  Great track.

Track 15: Kylie Minogue – Get Outta My Way

Lovely tune, but the vocal line is a bit bland.

Track 16: The Saturdays and Flo Rida – Higher

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Flo Rida on track 4.

This is quite a good tune, though – nice and upbeat.

Track 17: Roll Deep – Green Light

Good dance beat, great bassline, interesting rap, but the tune on the sung vocals is pretty bland.

Track 18: Ne-Yo – Beautiful Monster

Not keen on the theme, but the tune’s okay.

Track 19: Duck Sauce – Barbra Streisand

I’ve always had a soft spot for this daft dance track – Geth used to play it when we were doing Electrolicious Sundays at Mr Modos.

Track 20: Swedish House Mafia and Tinie Tempah – Miami 2 Ibiza

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Tinie Tempah on track 7.

Great beat, and I love the rap on this.  Good track.

Track 21: Tinchy Stryder – In My System

Messy and dull – not keen on this one.

Track 22: Diana Vickers – My Wicked Heart

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).

Quite an interesting track – like Florence & The Machine except exciting.  The tune could be a bit more pleasant, though.

Track 23: Bruno Mars – Just The Way You Are

Super saccharine, as was standard for Bruno Mars during this era.  The tune’s nice, but it’s just too cheesy for me.

Track 24: B.o.B and Hayley Williams – Airplanes

Gorgeous atmosphere, really nice tune.

Track 25: The Script – For The First Time

Nauseatingly cheesy soft-rock – not my kind of thing at all.

Track 26: Robbie Williams and Gary Barlow – Shame

Daft duet to celebrate the former Take That bandmates being friends again after years of rivalry.  The Brokeback Mountain-esque video is also hilarious.

Track 27: Adele – Make You Feel My Love

Cover of the Bob Dylan song.  The vocals are gorgeous, but it’s just far too slow for my liking.

Track 28: Rumer – Slow

It certainly is slow.  Slow and impossibly dull.

Track 29: Shontelle – Impossible

I appreciate the power ballad stylings, but the tune is super annoying.

Track 30: Nelly – Just A Dream

Lovely guitar on the intro, and it’s got a good rhythm.  Quite like this one.

Track 31: Labrinth – Let The Sun Shine

Very pretty tune – great track.

Track 32: Travie McCoy and Bruno Mars – Billionaire

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Bruno Mars on track 23.

Nice jaunty song to which we can all relate.  Good stuff.

Track 33: Alesha Dixon – Drummer Boy

As you might guess from the title, the drums on this are great.  The theme is a bit daft, though.

Track 34: Mark Ronson and The Business Intl – Bang Bang Bang

Good head-nodder, pleasant tune, though it’s a little repetitive.

Track 35: Brandon Flowers – Crossfire

Nice tune, but a bit slow for my liking.

Track 36: Mumford & Sons – The Cave

This one’s a bit too acoustic-y for my current tastes.

Track 37: Plan B – Prayin’

Good beat, good atmosphere.

Track 38: Jay Sean and Nicki Minaj – 2012 (It Ain’t The End)

Annoying, cheesy tune, and the theme is pretty daft (and will get more and more dated – who’s even going to remember the 2012 apocalypse prophecy in a couple of decades’ time?).

Track 39: N-Dubz – Best Behaviour

I find the tune a little too cheesy for my tastes, but I do like the bassline once the track gets going.

Track 40: Jason Derulo – What If

On hearing the first notes of the piano intro just now, I was like ‘whoa!  It’s Alone by Heart!’  Apparently this is not coincidental.  Other than that bit of interest, the song’s a bit boring.

Track 41: Pixie Lott – Broken Arrow

Too ballad-y for me, like most of the stuff off Pixie Lott’s first album.

Track 42: Joe McElderry – Ambitions

The vocals are too high-pitched and irritating for me, and the tune’s pretty uninspired.  It’s got quite a good beat though.

Track 43: McFly – Party Girl

Very messy track!  Far too much going on here, very jarring sound.

Track 44: Katy B – Katy On A Mission

Good danceable track – happily nodding along here.

TV Review: Now! That’s What I Call The ’80s music channel

So, on Saturday while Geth was away in Lancashire, I did my weekly setting of TV recordings.  I do this every week because, other than music channels, I never watch TV live – Geth and I are both just too busy to commit to (and remember) the timeslot when things we might want to watch are on, and even if we did remember, it would inevitably be the case that when the timeslot actually arrived, one of us would be NOT AT ALL in the mood for watching that particular show, and would want to do something else.  Probably me.

This is one of the few areas in life where I am not a 20th century throwback, although, to be fair, it was definitely easier to remember TV timeslots when there were only four channels and no internet to distract you.

As such, I do a weekly setting of recordings, which looks something like this:

    1. Scan this week’s issue of the Radio Times for running TV (road races, triathlons and athletics) among the sports coverage.
    2. Use the digibox to set recordings for all of the above (unless it’s something that I know is going to be available on BBC iPlayer for a good month and the box is running out of space).
    3. Use the digibox guide to go through the entire schedule for BBC Four for the week.  BBC Four shows a lot of compilations of music performances by 20th century musicians, documentaries about 20th century musicians, and old episodes of Top of the Pops.
    4. Set recordings for all of the above.
    5. Worry about the box getting full and make a concerted resolution to catch up with lots of TV this week.
    6. Realise that what will actually happen is that, five nights out of seven, Geth will want to watch YouTube channels about boardgames and Star Wars on the XBOX 360, and I will want to read random blogs online.
    7. Go through the digibox history and try and find some old stuff to delete in order to make room.
    8. Delete some old athletics from a year ago, and some Christmas films we recorded a year and a half ago.
    9. Make mental note to add the Christmas films to my Amazon wishlist.  (Spoiler: this will not happen.)
    10. Use the digibox guide to go through the entire schedule for Vintage TV for the week.  Vintage TV shows a lot of interestingly-themed playlists of 20th century music, modern-day concerts by musicians who were big in the 20th century, My Vintage shows with musicians talking about their favourite songs, and My Mixtape shows with non-musician celebrities talking about their favourite songs.
    11. Set recordings for anything that looks interesting.  Resist setting recordings for every single ’80s playlist.  (I did actually use to record these, and it meant we NEVER had any space on the box and I was spending my whole life with Vintage TV recordings on in the background.)

So yeah.  That’s what I was doing on Saturday night.  Before I did that, though, I had to scroll through the guide in order to change the channel from Radio 4 to Vintage TV.  Geth listens to Radio 4 every morning to catch the news headlines (he used to watch the BBC News channel before they started doing that godawful Victoria Derbyshire programme in the mornings), and so he always leaves the digibox on the Radio 4 channel.  I, on the other hand, can’t stand listening to the news in the current awful climate in which we live, so while I’m doing my setting of recordings I like to have Vintage TV on in the background.

As I scrolled between Radio 4 (channel 704) and Vintage TV (channel 82), my eye was caught by what appeared to be a brand new channel on channel 88.

A brand new music channel.

A brand new music channel, dedicated to the ’80s.

A brand new music channel, dedicated to the ’80s, run by the people behind the Now! That’s What I Call Music compilations.

Welcome to Now! That’s What I Call ’80s, a music channel that they kindly invented just for me.

Well, that’s not quite true.  According to Wikipedia, this channel has actually been running since 2013 as Now! That’s What I Call Music (they changed it to a dedicated ’80s channel in 2016, and added a ’90s version in 2017), but it’s never been part of the BT/Freeview channel lineup until now, so I’ve never come across it.

Obviously, I’ve spent the last few days with it constantly on in the background.

It’s been nice to have another retro music channel to enjoy.  Vintage TV is great, but it only has so many videos available, so it gets a bit samey after a while.  Now! That’s What I Call ’80s plays lots of videos that I’ve never seen on Vintage TV, and the kind of playlists it does are the kind of thing I’ve always dreamt of seeing on a music channel – Official UK Top 40 of the ’80s, for example, which is heaven for a chart geek like me.  Most of the shows are narrated by Radio 1 DJs from the ’80s and ’90s – Mark Goodier, Simon Bates, Bruno Brookes – and there was one presented by a couple of the actors from Grange Hill, which is the kind of modern-music-channel fun nonsense that I miss on the more grown-up Vintage TV.

In short, I love it, and I’m so glad to have an extra music channel to watch.

I’ve got a feeling that an extra stage has also been added to my weekly setting of recordings.  Similarly to Vintage TV, the trick will be restraining myself from recording EVERYTHING.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #76

Day 76, and Now! #76, which was released on 19th July 2010.

July 2010
This is how the world looked in July 2010. Night-time beer gardens were a big part of my world that summer! I’ve recently rediscovered that necklace and wear it daily at the moment. The purple hoodie, meanwhile, has become my post-run hoodie; I’ve had it since 1999 so I may have mentioned that before.

Time for the first summer hits of the new decade!

Now! That's What I Call Music #76
Track 1: Katy Perry and Snoop Dogg – California Gurls

Great piece of pop, awesome party tune.

Track 2: Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull – I Like It

Great beat, highly danceable, fun tune.  Quite like this track!  We used to dance to this one at my Zumba class in Southampton, as my instructor Hayley was a big Pitbull fan.

Track 3: JLS – The Club Is Alive

Daft take on The Sound Of Music.  It’s a bit less cheesy than their usual stuff, so I actually find this one okay.

Track 4: Usher and will.i.am – OMG

Great tune!  Love the interesting vocals on this one.

Track 5: David Guetta, Chris Willis, Fergie and LMFAO – Gettin’ Over You

Great upbeat dance track – happily chair-dancing away here.

Track 6: Kylie Minogue – All The Lovers

Solid pop track, really like those instrumentals.

Track 7: Professor Green and Lily Allen – Just Be Good To Green

Fairly pointless cover of Beats International’s Dub Be Good To Me with added rapping.  It’s okay, but the original is better.

Track 8: B.o.B and Bruno Mars – Nothin’ On You

I’ve always found this one a bit too saccharine.

Track 9: Lady Gaga – Alejandro

Great, atmospheric electropop.  When we were doing Electrolicious Sundays at Mr Modos, Geth would always mix this one into La Isla Bonita by Madonna, ’cause the melodies are so similar.

Track 10: Cheryl – Parachute

The atmosphere’s nice, but the tune’s a bit dull.

Track 11: Rihanna – Te Amo

Quite like the vocal hook on this one, and the electro line is gorgeous.  Nice Latin tinge too.

Track 12: Roll Deep and Jodie Connor – Good Times

Good dance beat, but the tune’s very generic.

Track 13: Kelly Rowland and David Guetta – Commander

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had David Guetta on track 5.

This is a great track though – very danceable.

Track 14: Dizzee Rascal – Dirtee Disco

Messy intro, but I really like the disco instrumentals (the sample is the Staple Singers track I’ll Take You There, from 1972).

Track 15: Yolanda Be Cool and DCUP – We No Speak Americano

Interesting, danceable track.  The sample is the 1956 song Tu Vuò Fà L’Americano by Renato Carosone, fact fans – it gives it an awesome mid-century feel.

Track 16: Inna – Hot

Good beat, but the vocals are pretty irritating.

Track 17: Edward Maya and Vika Jigulina – Stereo Love

I love the accordion on this one – it gives it a lovely Eastern European tinge.

Track 18: Sean Kingston and Justin Bieber – Eenie Meenie

Terrible theme, jarring lines, irritating vocals.  The chorus is okay, though.

Track 19: Miley Cyrus – Can’t Be Tamed

Great atmosphere, but the tune’s a bit uninspired.

Track 20: Pixie Lott – Turn It Up

Bit of a bland tune, but the chorus is okay.

Track 21: Justin Bieber and Ludacris – Baby

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Justin Bieber on track 18.

Horrendously saccharine and squeaky.  Teenage girls loved it, though, which just goes to prove that teenage girls’ taste is getting worse and worse as time goes on.  How did we get from the Beatles to Bieber?  You could write a whole book on that, and maybe one day I will.

Track 22: Iyaz – Solo

I quite like the piano, but in general the song’s a bit too cheesy for my liking.

Track 23: Timbaland and Justin Timberlake – Carry Out

Love the atmosphere on this one – great track.

Track 24: Plan B – She Said

Great tune, awesome classic jazz feel.

Track 25: Scouting For Girls – This Ain’t A Love Song

It’s a bit cheesy and soft-rock for me, and the vocals are kind of irritating.

Track 26: K’naan – Wavin’ Flag

Nice jaunty tune released to tie in with the World Cup 2010.  It’s funny to think that was two World Cups ago, and now we’re in the middle of another one (which I have been successfully avoiding).

Track 27: Jason Derulo – Ridin’ Solo

It’s an okay pop track, but the tune is a bit forgettable compared to most of Jason Derulo’s stuff.

Track 28: Alicia Keys – Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart

Gorgeous tune, beautiful atmosphere.

Track 29: Fyfe Dangerfield – She’s Always A Woman

Pointless cover of the Billy Joel track.  I adore the song whoever does it, but there’s nothing new about this version.

Track 30: Train – Hey Soul Sister

What this song consistently achieves for me is that I always wish it really were Mr Mister on the radio, instead of Train.  You have to give them credit for that.

Track 31: Scissor Sisters – Fire With Fire

I find this one a bit slow and dull.

Track 32: Diana Vickers – Once

Great pop tune – really like this one.  I also love the video with all her hundreds of different outfits!

Track 33: Example – Kickstarts

The lyrics are a bit cheesy, but it’s a good danceable tune.

Track 34: Swedish House Mafia and Pharrell Williams – One (Your Name)

Great electro hooks, nice atmosphere.

Track 35: The Black Eyed Peas – Rock That Body

Good beat, but the tune’s a bit dull.

Track 36: Alexandra Burke and Pitbull – All Night Long

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Pitbull on track 2.

I quite like the vocal hook on the chorus, but the rap over the intro is pretty jarring.

Track 37: Aggro Santos and Kimberly Wyatt – Candy

Great bassline, great atmosphere.  Good solid pop track.

Track 38: Taio Cruz and Kesha – Dirty Picture

Daft theme, and the tune is pretty forgettable.

Track 39: Chipmunk and Esmée Denters – Until You Were Gone

Generic and bland.

Track 40: Skepta – Rescue Me

I find the tune on this one a bit depressing.

Track 41: N-Dubz and Bodyrox – We Dance On

I like the Canon in D sample, but the rest of the track’s pretty forgettable.

Track 42: Robyn – Dancing On My Own

Boring tune – nothing redeeming about this one.

Track 43: Florence & The Machine and Dizzee Rascal – You’ve Got The Dirtee Love [Live At The Brit Awards 2010]

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Dizzee Rascal on track 14.

I remember watching this performance on the Brits at the time.  You wouldn’t think You’ve Got The Love would work with Dizzee Rascal rapping over the top, but it’s actually quite an interesting take.

However, I am contractually obliged to point out that in addition to the three instances of the Source and Candi Staton’s original version of the song on Now! #19, Now! #36, and Now! #63, we now have two instances of the Florence & The Machine version, on Now! #74 and on this one, making a total of FIVE instances!  I am almost certain that this makes it the most featured song in the history of Now! compilations, though I will have to check my stats at the end of the project.

Track 44: Kelis – Acapella

That title should be spelt ‘a cappella’, but I’m sure you all knew that.

I like the drums on the intro, and the vocal line is quite interesting.

Track 45: Tinie Tempah and Labrinth – Frisky

Great instrumentals, awesome atmosphere – very danceable.

Track 46: Pendulum – Watercolour

Lovely electro track – it builds beautifully, and the hooks are wonderful.