Thursday, 19 April 2018

Radio Ga Ga

Let me get straight to the point I really don’t like Heart FM.  I’ve always disliked local radio and whenever I have the choice then its Radio 6music for me every single time.  I have never tuned into Heart by choice but have at times been assaulted by it in the workplace where it’s been out of my hands.  I was listening at its inception in 2009 and despite the rebrand it was still the same old shit; safe, non-challenging pop/rock music that will offend no one, presented by affable idiots who are just too Smashy & Nicey to ever knowingly upset anyone. I totally believe that rock music should challenge and offend by definition.  Like any radio station the music is a mixture; a few songs I loathe, a few I like and sometimes one or two that I love but most just washes over me.  The maddening thing with Heart FM is they repeat the same thing over and over and over, forever and ever.

In 2009 Heart FM was playing, apart from whatever was in the charts at the time, music by Take That, Brittney Spears, Rhianna, Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga, Pink, Black Eyed Peas, Beyonce, Katie Perry, ‘Low’ by Flo rida was on all the time and two songs by Kings of Leon, either ‘Use Somebody’ or ‘Sex on Fire’.  With the exception of Take That and Brittney I like the rest of those artists and Kings of Leon are great but the constant repetition drove everyone mad.  After much debate the workplace radio was tuned into something else and we left Heart FM behind.

Now having changed employer I am forced to listen to Heart FM again and it’s as if I’ve been taken back in time.  Every day I listen to music by Take That, Brittney Spears, Rhianna, Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga, Pink, Black Eyed Peas, Beyonce, Katie Perry, ‘Low’ by Flo rida is still on regularly and still two songs by Kings of Leon, want to guess which ones?  Ed Sheeran is massive so of course they are going to play him and I actually quite like him.  Apart from being a seriously good song writer (‘Castle on the Hill’ is a cracking tune) he’s a fellow ginger lad from my home county of Suffolk, what’s not to like?  Today Ed was played seven times between 0800 and 1630; admittedly it was four different tunes but seriously seven times?  Likewise the cute US pop/rock star known as ‘Pink’; great voice and decent tunes, two of which were played three times each today.  This repetition will not make me rush out to buy the music, if anything it will have the opposite effect.  I don’t want to dislike these people but I’m getting seriously bored of hearing it.

If anything it’s gotten worse because they keep playing the fucking Spice Girls.  The fucking Spice Girls!!  Now if I’m honest back in the nineties I didn’t mind the Spice Girls, the music was crap but they looked like five slappers from the pub and you told yourself you could have pulled one of them, yes they were that rough.  Ginger Spice said the immortal words and all the little girls, whose brothers were playing Power Rangers, latched onto “Girl Power”, on the bandwagon rolled and rolled, they made billions and believed their own hype.  Now twenty years later the music is beyond crap, it is bland corporate earwax that offends me.  I feel like flushing my own head down the toilet just to drown out the sound.  Posh Spice can’t sing and of the others only Mel C is anything other than average.  But Heart FM still plays it?  Why?  Nostalgia I suppose, the kind of person that tunes to Heart FM has no taste and very little between the ears.

This is taking me off at a tangent, Heart FM keeps insisting on playing older songs that are fucking terrible, anything by ‘Ace of Bass’ for example (Yes Heart still play them!) but worryingly I remember liking some of this stuff at the time (not Ace of bass).  A prime example is Wyclef Jean.  Now ‘The Fugees’ made a brilliant album with ‘The Score’ and I didn’t mind Wyclef’s solo stuff but hearing it now, Jesus Christ its garbage!  The bloke can’t actually sing a note and the songs sound like they were written in a primary school class in a ‘write a bad poem’ competition.  ‘Perfect Gentleman’ is complete and utter garbage.

After a few weeks I rebelled and retuned, the first clear signal I received was Radio One which would never be my first choice but believe me it was like a tune wafting from heaven after weeks of Heart FM.  I haven’t been a Radio One listener for well over a decade, it wasn’t the music that turned me off but the arse hole DJ’s.  At breakfast time there was the odious, opinionated gob shite Chris Moyles, don’t get me started…  That fat ball of lard was followed by Mrs Ego Jo Wiley.  Nowadays the DJ’s seem a bit more low key, with the possible exception of Scott Mills with his annoying habit of … being Scott Mills.  Get “Off of” it you tit.  Honestly I could have put up with any DJ waffle because there was a good mix of music of all styles and types.   Once or twice a day I’d find myself yelling “Tune!!” as something truly great came through the speakers;  Massive Attack, Rage against the Machine, Panic! At the Disco, Bob Marley!!!

It didn’t last, someone noticed and retuned the radio to Bland FM and I spent today hearing stuff like ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ by Coolio, which was released in 1995 but has been played about once a day for the last two months.  Why not play the original classic ‘Passtime paradise’ by Stevie Wonder. Likewise ‘Miami’ by Will Smith which was released in 1997, was crap then and is certainly not worth trawling out of any record archive today.  Not to mention all the usual safe, non-challenging pop/rock music that will offend no one…  Except me.  I’m offended by the bland, sterile, safe nice ness of it all!  I want to drive to Norwich, break into the studio and start smashing things…

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Groundhog day

Despite dominating the second test, once again England could not take the twenty wickets necessary to win a test match.  New Zealand batted the final day out on a flat pitch and hung on for the draw.  It's no disgrace to lose in New Zealand, they have a decent test team nowadays and there is no such thing as an easy match away from home.  However, England have enough world class players to be a match for anyone, there is the spine of a world champion team but for the last four years our selectors haven't been able to fill the line up around Cook, Root, Stokes, Bairstow, Broad and Anderson.

At the moment Stoneman and Malan should retain their places in the side but both need to show a bit more and that still leaves a space in the batting line up.  Of those that have been tried in the last few years Ballance has by far the best record but doesn't look like a test player when facing the very best opposition.  James Vince is currently the man in position and had a decent last match but he isn't a long term test batsman. The brightest prospect is Hasseb Hameed who was very impressive against India last year but injury and poor form means he hasn't featured since.  It's only a matter of time before he does and could be a likely player to bat at 3 next season. 

Moeen Ali had a great home summer with both bat and ball but has had an equally awful winter.  He is a very good all rounder and could probably walk into any test team as a number 6 but we have Ben Stokes filling that role.  As a spinner Moeen is decent and threatens on home soil but every time he's toured he's been found wanting.  England must start looking for a genuinely world class spinner and Jack Leach done okay on debut so should hold onto this place for now.  Moeen could and should find himself in the squad for tours of the sub continent and may yet stake a claim as an out and out batsman.

England have no shortage of seamers that can run up and do a good job on home soil but what we need is a genuinely quick bowler who can make things happen on the flat pitches we often encounter overseas.  Mark Wood done okay in this match and has mostly performed well when selected but fitness is an issue.  Then there is Liam Plunkett who is probably our best ODI bowler but hasn't featured in a test for some time.  After those two players, well I don't know but I'd be happy to tour the county grounds for a look this summer.  Come to think of it, don't the ECB employ people to do this already?

The current head of selectors is James Whittaker who took over the role in 2013 and has given debuts to twenty three players in this time.  Of those only Moeen Ali has become a mainstay of the team but to be fair Wood, Malan, Leach and Hameed could yet earn a more permanent place in the side.  So if I'm generous and credit Whittaker with five hits that still leaves eighteen misses.  Those figure speak for themselves.

As bad as we have been in test cricket it's fair to credit the selectors with the ODI squads they have selected because after hard away series wins against both Australia and New Zealand, England are probably the best one day side in the world at the moment.

So a couple of months away from the next test series this selector would pick this XI;

Cook, Stoneman, Hameed, Root, Malan, Stokes, Bairstow, Broad, Wood, Leach, Anderson