I’m Spinning Around… If Your Singing Is Good Enough: Is Kylie on The Voice a good thing?

If you hadn’t heard by now, The Voice UK is coming back to our screens in January, just as soon as we thought we were safe for a while with X Factoover. This time, Danny from The Script and Juh Juh Jessie J aren’t returning alongside Sir Tom Jones and (sigh) will.i.am. But the rumours have been confirmed, Goddess of Pop Kylie Minogue will!

Those folks over at Digital Spy did a survey about whether this is a good choice and 90.9% of people who voted said YES. But with this being the internet there have been a few complaints, ones I’d like to address here.

Who even is Kylie anyway? Isn’t she that backing singer on Taio Cruz’s ‘Higher’?

Luckily I’ve not seen this one as an actual complaint. As astonishing as I find some ‘young people’s’ lack of musical knowledge (how can you not know who Hooverphonic are?? I mean, for real real), I think everyone AT LEAST knows ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’.

She’s old, and doesn’t know what’s relevant.

I’m not a violent person but I would slap anyone who says this near me in person. First of all, Sir Tom Jones is a lot older than Kylie and he’s probably the best coach on the show. So come back to me when you are her age and see if you look this good:

Secondly, like the Welsh legend, you don’t last that long in music without knowing what works and what doesn’t. And especially in Kylie’s case, when something doesn’t work (cough*Body Language*cough) you re-invent yourself and make that work. Kylie’s got a great business head on her, she may not always write her own songs (but she has, go listen to Impossible Princess and then tell me she has no indie cred) but she is FAR from a puppet. And that’s what The Voice is all about right? Finding a winner who will be an ‘artist’, not a product.

But Dannii was rubbish on X Factor.

Incorrect.

Why should she judge/coach a singing competition? She can’t sing.

This one seems to have come up a fair bit as well. A lot of people are saying Kylie can’t sing based on her squeaky voice in the eighties, where she was a soap star going into music and not a professionally trained singer. Like the business side of her career, Kylie has improved on her voice greatly and knows exactly what she is and isn’t capable of. Despite what X Factor would have you believe, you don’t need to be a massive belter like Adele or Beyonce to be a good singer. Listen to last year’s ‘The Abbey Road Sessions’ or the below clip to see (hear) her strengths; sexy, vulnerable, perfect higher register coos, just… EMOTION!!

She’s boring.

Once again… OH NO YOU DIDN’T! I think in today’s bitchy celebrity society, being genuinely nice is seen as being dull as dishwater. I disagree there, Danny from The Script didn’t seem that polite in the way Kylie is yet he was like drying paint. Kylie’s got a wicked sense of humour I think will fit well with the other coaches, and hopefully she can bring some warmth, self-depreciation, glamour and… a fair bit of camp.

Now prepare for the best 3 minutes ever, made even more hilarious in hindsight due to this casting announcement.

The show is boring.

OK yes I will definitely give you that one. As a format The Voice UK loses its way after the spinning chair auditions round, and all the added quirks in series two just made it all the more confusing. The selling point is the show is without gimmicks, and overlooking the fact blind auditions are the biggest gimmick of all, all the rules about stealing contestants and battles are overcomplicated. The show takes itself far too seriously and Kylie alone can’t change that. We need to care about the contestants too. The producers need to work out the formula before January and stick to it, the judging panel revamp and getting KYLIE BLOODY MINOGUE is the best chance they have of turning the show around. Don’t screw it up.

Oh and did you know, Kylie singed with Roc NationJay-Z‘s record/management label and has a new album (her 12th studio one!) coming out next year. If The Voice UK series 3 fails as a show overall, it’ll still be a major platform for her to promote her newest tunes.

“And while you’re selling dope, we’re gonna keep selling hope” The Electric Lady by Janelle Monáe

Janelle Monae (I’m not going to keep doing the accented a, its effort) is the epitome of ‘critics favourite’. A lot of the reviews for her new album ‘The Electric Lady’ talk about her OCD music making, her being on the cusp of mainstream breakthrough and her science-fiction alter ago, an android from a totalitarian future being an allegory for equal rights of black people, women and gays – and how she may be all three of those things.

Since I’m not that kind of blogger (although sometimes I think I’d like to be) and the majority of people who do read my posts are Facebook and Twitter friends (I love you dearly for reading!) I’m going to focus on one simple aspect: Does the music sound any good?

In short, very much yes.

If you listen to the lyrical content, all the different sounds and genres neatly blending in together in-depth, you’ll realise this album is pretty layered. But to  break it down to its simplest, I’m going to pop up the music videos for the two singles off the album so far:

I think that gives a pretty good taste of what to expect from the album: classy R&B/soul jams with guests vocalists such as Erykah BaduSolange Knowles and The Artists At This Current Moment In Time Still Known As Prince stacked up against upbeat numbers throwing jazz, rock, rap and everything else in to the pot. There are two instrumentals called ‘Overtures’ on the album too, dividing her science-fiction storyline into ‘Suites’, the first of them – and opening track – is a pretty fantastic argument for letting Janelle do a James Bond theme and FINALLY getting the exposure she deserves. Also peppered throughout are a few fictional radio phone-ins, to reinforce the futuristic concept ideas, and to give listeners a breather.

Overall I’ve given ‘The Electric Lady’ a few listens and judging by my iTunes star ratings, I REALLY enjoy it. The thing is, whilst I’ve got on I can remember how it all goes really easily, as soon as I stop I struggle to remember how even some of my favourite tracks off the album go. It’s like when I read Game Of Thrones; absorbed and able to remember everything as soon as you engage with it, disappears as soon as you do something else. That’s not really a criticism, I think the album is designed that way, rather than the stuff you hear on the radio with sledgehammers their hooks into your face until you soon want to forget them. This is an album designed to have you spend time with it, by which even the songs that don’t grab you right away (I’m looking at the most straightforward R&B ballad, ‘Primetime’ featuring Miguel here) will have revealed their charms.

Seriously, go and get it. This is one (electric) lady who should be on the same level as Katy Perry, Gaga and Beyonce. She’s definitely got the talent and the music.

So, August…

So August came and went in a bit of a blur, so much so I barely blogged at all (sorry!). So I thought I’d do a reflective post on Things I’ve Been Doing. Admittedly I’ve not done anything as exciting as gone to the MTV VMAs and got everyone talking about my foam finger (I could write an entire essay about Miley Cyrus but in short: she’s not doing anything worse than I’ve seen on many nights out, but she is trying too hard and getting on my goat a bit) but I’m sure I will spice things up with a few pictures and (attempts at) puns.

Most of my time this month has been spent commuting to and from Cardiff for work. I’ve got an enjoyable job and its digging me out of my student debt but obviously it’s not where I want to be in my life. And as graduates know, very few leave Uni and walk into a career. The media especially requires you to know the right people, be in the right place at the right time and/or get shed loads of experience.

Luckily for me and a few of my fellow graduates, this weekend we have gotten some of the latter and it’s been invaluable.

L-R: Leah Coombs, Gwyneth Jane Humphreys, Laura Emily Harris, myself, Jack Perry and Alex Tisley.

We’ve all spent the last few days at Snetterton Race Course up in Norwich for the Citroen 24 Hour 2CV Race. As you can tell by our funky uniforms we were the official media team for the whole race. For us this meant we had to man the Twitter, set up and fix the cameras around the race course as well as vision mix and maintain the online live stream. With the race being 24 hours we each got a chance to try our hand at everything multiple times, and get a few hours sleep. Except for Jack and Leah, who endured the full 24 hours with less pit stops than the cars themselves.

Our office for the race. Surprisingly at the point this photo was taken only one tube of Pringles was open.

Our office for the race. Surprisingly at the point this photo was taken only one tube of Pringles was open.

The event wasn’t as intricate or large as Formula 1, but the experience is very similar (I’d imagine).  Carrying around the roaming camera in the pits we had to be totally aware of our surroundings: what cars were in the pits, who was about come in or leave and where you shouldn’t walk unless you want to get run over. As the audio was handled separately by the radio team and their commentators, we had to try and catch the action on the camera as it was being spoken about. We had walkie-talkies to communicate with the director/vision mixer and at the start found it difficult to communicate, with all the noise of the vehicles and other people around. We learned as we went on to communicate direction using short and to-the-point phrases and assume the camera we were carrying was live all the time.

An example of some of the tweets I made whilst manning the official social media page

An example of some of the tweets I made whilst manning the official social media page

Once we worked out this system, and worked out the rhythm of vision mixing the process ran pretty smoothly. Sure, every now and then one of the cameras would decide to not work (it wouldn’t be a proper live broadcast unless something technological failed) and the amount of sugar and snacks I’ve consumed is disgraceful but it was a fantastic experience and, as the first piece of media work I’ve done since University, I’ve been reminded just why I want to be in this industry. It’s a thrill. And the race was pretty exciting too!

I've discovered a passion for motor racing

I’ve discovered a passion for motor racing

Apart from that, there’s not really much to write about what I’ve got upto, so I might quickly whizz through some music and film reviewsopinions.

Music: apart from Miley Cyrus, August saw (and heard) the return of megastars Lady Gaga and Katy Perry with the lead singles from their third albums. Both are all right I guess, ‘Roar’ is probably the better song but ‘Applause’ is more interesting, if only for some of the lyrics and that accent on the verses. First singles are usually pretty safe, predictable options in today’s overly cautious Top 40 music scene, and I’m hoping there are some genuine classics to come from both. As we move into the last few months of the year, loads of albums are released hoping to be scooped up in the Christmas buying rush. The first one of those is obviously Janelle Monae, who has been pretty much on repeat in anticipation over the last month.

This has also come to my attention recently, and anyone who knows me is well are of my… gripes with the original.  (NSFW)

I’m not sure what’s better: this parody or the comments on the web from men who find watching this uncomfortable. So much irony here I could use it get rid of all the creases in my clothes forever.

Films: I’ve been TERRIBLE with going to the cinema this last month; literally only seeing two films. And no, neither of them were One Direction: This Is Us.

Both The Wolverine and Elysium were, in my opinion, strong solid 7 out of 10 movies. Great films wrapped up in good ones, with their potential just hindered by a few things. The Wolverine starts off as a slow, character piece with a gorgeous setting in Japan and a fantastic set-piece atop a bullet train with physics being thrown out the window. I was actually reminded of one of my favourite films of all time, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children; both have that Japanese sensibility, a mix of realism and stylisation, similar pacing and focus on lonely warriors afflicted with symptoms that cause them to collapse at inopportune moments. But whereas the over-the-top action felt in place in Advent Children, and the set-pieces outdid themselves each time, The Wolverine’s final third just descended into silliness for me, with a gigantic CGI samurai robot. There wasn’t much tension in that fight either, with shots of a character waking up from being knocked out and noticing a weapon they could thrown ruining any element of surprise. The teaser trailer has me very stoked for next year’s X-Men: Days Of Future Past, which is clearly 20th Century Fox‘s answer to Marvel’s The Avengers. Let’s hope its just as awesome but I’ve probably memorised every line of last year’s epic nerdfest and I’m insatiable for more.

(speaking of Insatiable, Queen Nadine Coyle annoucned she’s having a baby!)

Back to films and onto Elysium which, like the Pet Shop Boys album with the same title released last year, wrapped up some social commentary (the film about class divide and capitalism, the album about ageing and fame) in a package that’s easily enjoyable, but leaves you wanting more. I’m guessing that’s what you’d find if you looked up the word in the dictionary.

Oh.

Oh.

Unlike most people I’ve talked to, I had no problem with Jodie Foster at all. In fact, she was one of my favourite aspects of the film. My beef was with Sharlto Copley. He was one of the best things about the incredible District 9 but here, I can’t take him seriously as a villain. I can see what he was going for but I never found him creepy, or intimidating – just a large ham criminally out of place.

Continuing on the theme of enjoying things but finding them a bit disappointing (I am so middle aged…) I’ve been playing a lot of Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch which has sucked up a fair bit of my time. It’s got that irresistable JRPG hook of ‘just one more thing to do before I stop’  but like Level-5‘s previous games Dragon Quest: Journey of the Cursed King and Rogue Galaxy I find as the game goes on it gets too repetitive and its becoming a bit of a slog. The combat is frustrating at times with ridiculous AI and the story I’m not really into.

It is VERY pretty though. I’m a sucker for Studio Ghibli and being able to have a Totoro lookalike on the team is pretty awesome.

I will say though, I’ve pretty much not used a guide at all so far which I’ve purposefully tried to do after realising I’m potentially ruining gaming experiences but using them too much during my first playthrough. Sure there’s a great in-game encyclopaedia and a lot of hand-holding with very little thinking involved for a lot of puzzles, but I’m choosing my own monster team and one of their two final evolutions based on gut feeling, rather than guides and what other people online tell me to. I could go into a LOT more detail but I’m saving this for either a full blog post once I finish the game or get a YouTube channel with one of my friends off the ground.

Eyes on this space, guys. Eyes on this space.

For now, I’m going to sleep some more and recover from the weekend. Comments, likes, follows etc. are all greatly appreciated and have a lovely September. I promise to post more! Joe