Monday, March 24, 2014

100 Movie Parodies #1: Brief Encounter featuring Victoria Wood

Here is the first in a new series of one hundred parodies of famous films. To begin I've chosen one by Victoria Wood; one of television's greatest comedic actresses and writers and her parody of David Lean's 1945 film Brief Encounter. The sketch first appeared in Victoria's television Christmas special All The Trimmings in December 2000. It features Victoria playing the character that Celia Johnson portrayed in Lean's original film and her chance encounter with a doctor that in the film leads to the only kind of affair that cinema could portray in the 1940's. The supporting actors in the parody are all superb especially Celia Imrie who appeared in so many of Victoria's greatest comedy sketches. There is also a cameo by another well known television personality.

As with all the parodies that I will feature here you are best not to know any of what happens in advance. There is no need to have seen the original film before viewing the parodies but knowing the plot of the original films does add to recognizing what the sketches draw on and reference. All I will say is that in the video clip below the 'speck in the eye' moment is pure Victoria Wood brilliance and there is also a conclusion that was years ahead of it's time.  

Friday, August 9, 2013

100 '80's Songs #21: Hey Little Girl - Icehouse

There are certain songs that were first released during the 1980's that perfectly capture a sense of time and place. They transport us back to a time when we first here them while still sounding so new and original when we listen to them today. One of those songs is Hey Little Girl by the Australian band Icehouse which was released in 1982 and was a top 20 hit here in Ireland, in the UK and countries around the world.. It was written by Iva Davies who co-produced it with Keith Forsey. It featured on Icehouse's second studio album Primitive Man. Listening back to Hey Little Girl now it reminds me of elements of Roxy Music and Japan but it is Icehouse's song, their great song of that decade. The music video was directed by Russell Mulcahy who directed so many iconic music videos of the 1980's including many by Duran Duran. I think back then in 1982 the combination of the song and the imagery of the video stayed in my mind and made me realise the power of great pop music. 

100 '80's Songs #20: Blasphemous Rumours - Depeche Mode

In October 1984 Depeche Mode released their double A sided single Blasphemous Rumours / Somebody. Both songs were written by Martin L. Gore and they featured on their fourth studio album Some Great Reward which also featured the great Depeche Mode singles People are People and Master and Servant. 
Depeche Mode are one of those bands of whom I could feature several favourite songs on my 100 80's Songs list. Their songs were a perfect combination of pure pop and the gothic. You always knew a Depeche Mode song. Part of that was always because of Dave Gahan's wonderful voice. You heard every word he sang. Blasphemous Rumours is an amazing hybrid song that contains a dark, tragic story within the framework of a pop song. Each time I hear this song it always makes me think. The girl and her mother in the song becomes real. They are not given names and in that way I think the song became universal. The lyrics; 'I don't want to start any blasphemous rumours but I think that God's got a sick sense of humour' always stood out, especially growing up in 1980's Ireland and hearing lyrics that powerful on the radio.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Billy Eichner in the Air with P!nk.

Billy On The Street is one of the funniest on line shows that I have seen in recent years. In the short episodes Billy Eichner interviews both celebrities and complete strangers on the streets of New York. Guests have included Will Ferrell, Hank Azaria and Debra Messing. Many of Billy's best interviews have been with New Yorkers of every age and it is the madness and spontaneity of the whole premise that makes the videos work so well. 
One of the funniest and most entertaining interviews that Billy did recently was with P!nk whom he interviewed with them both suspended by harnesses 30 feet in the air in a warehouse. As you do! P!nk's fabulous personality completely shines through and it's clear that the interview was great fun for them both.

This video clip is posted for my friend Orla who is also my most favourite P!nk fan. 

Billy On The Street Youtube channel is here.

Best I Ever Had - Gavin DeGraw

In 2004 Gavin DeGraw had a top ten Billboard Hot 100 singles chart hit with his debut single I Don't Want To Be. It was also a top 30 here in Ireland and also in the U.K., Australia, Sweden and other counties. In 2011 he had his second U.S. Top 20 Billboard Hot 100 hit single when Not Over You reached number 18 in that chart and was also a number one on the U.S. Adult chart.

Gavin's new single is Best I Ever Had and he had just recently released the music video for it. Music in 2013 has definitely been a mixture of genres all combined in the same song. Best I Ever Had is a wonderfully manic mixture of folk, country, pop and dance. As ever there are certain songs that I can imagine being hits here in Ireland and this is one of them. The single version sounds like a remix of an original version but nowadays every genre competes against dance for radio play especially in the U.S.

Monday, August 5, 2013

My Girl - The Other Tribe

One of the best dance tracks from 2012 was Skirts by the Bristol based band The Other Tribe. Their new single is called My Girl and it is instantly likeable. It is released in the U.K. on September 15th on Relentless Records and can be pre-ordered on Itunes here. There is a recent feature on My Girl here on

The music video for My Girl is wonderfully inventive and as ever it's great to see a dance music video with creativity and imagination.

The Other Tribe's Soundcloud page is here, their Facebook page is here and they are on Twitter at @TheOtherTribe

'Same Love' - Macklemore & Ryan Lewis with special guest stars Tegan & Sara at the Osheaga Music festival 2013.

To date the song Same Love by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Mary Lambert has reached number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles charts. In July it reached number 2 on the Rap charts in the U.S. Here in Ireland earlier this year in February Same Love had started selling as a separate non single download. I wrote a blog post about it here and the importance of  commercially successful music artists such as Macklemore and Ryan Lewis releasing a song whose lyrics centre on LGBT equality issues and why there has to be more songs like it.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis played at the Osheaga Music Festival in Montreal last weekend. The line up also included The Cure, Mumford & Sons, New Order, The Lumineers, Disclosure, Ellie Goulding and Imagine Dragons which is like almost all of the main Irish music festivals combined on one weekend.

Tegan and Sara were also music artists performing at this year's Osheaga music festival and they were the special guest stars when Macklemore & Ryan Lewis performed their song Same Love. Tegan and Sara are themselves great advocates of LGBT rights and the fact that Same Love was sung by them with Macklemore & Lewis is another example of how popular music can be used in a positive way as another step forward. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

100 '80's Songs #19: I'll Always Love You - Taylor Dayne

In 1988 Taylor Dayne released her debut album Tell It To My Heart. It featured four consecutive Billboard Hot 100 top ten singles. Taylor's first two singles were the dance pop hits Tell It To My Heart and Prove Your Love which both reached number 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts and were also international hit singles. Her third single was not another pop dance song but was the ballad I'll Always Love You which went to number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. It was written by Jimmy Green and produced by Ric Wake. Taylor's fourth single Don't Rush Me was also great pure pop and that song was her debut album's biggest hit when it got to number two on the Billboard Hot 100. 

While Taylor has had several hit singles since the release of Tell It To Your Heart her vocal was so powerhouse and memorable on her debut single that it has become the song she is most well known for singing but I'll Always Love You showed that she could sing ballads just as powerfully. Us pop fans love when female music stars can be both a pop dance music artist and also a ballad singer and Taylor was both of those aspects of being a pop star back in the 1980's and she still is today. 

Taylor's website is here which include her forthcoming concert dates and she is on Twitter @Taylor_Dayne

The Bear Truth: A short film by Anna Rodgers celebarates this year's GAZE Film Festival's opening film Animals

GAZE; Dublin's international LGBT film festival begins this evening Thursday 1st August at the Lighthouse Cinema here in Smithfield. There is a great variety of LGBT themed films including features, short films and documentaries as well as discussions and other associated events. There is lots of information on this year's festival here.

The festival's opening film is the Spanish film Animals and is a coming of age story which centres on the character of Pol and his relationships with his family and friends as well as Deerhoof who is an imaginary walking, talking teddy bear whom he turns to for support and friendship.

To highlight and celebrate the launch of the festival's opening night film the Irish film-maker Anna Rodgers has made a short film called The Bear Truth in which several people talk about the stories and importance of their own relationships with their teddy bears. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Kylie Minogue guest stars in Charlie Hides latest parody video.

Fans of Charlie Hides wonderful parody videos know that he has always been a huge fan of Kylie Minogue and that he has always hoped to work with her. How brilliant it is then that Kylie stars in Charlie's latest video which is entitled Kylie Whooo?. It features a phonecall conversation between Kylie and Charlie in character as Cher. It puts Cher's trademark phrase "Whooo!" at the centre of the video's narrative with Dannii also playing a central  key off camera role. 

Kim Wilde was also a recent guest star in one of Charlie's parody videos and it is a dream come true for Charlie that Kylie features in his latest video. She has always maintained her great sense of fun throughout her career and she proves it again in this comedy sketch. Charlie also plays Madonna in the video below and as always Cher has the last great retort.