Leonard Nimoy inspired so many generations with his defining role as Mr Spock from in original 1960s series of Star Trek. That’s where I saw him for the first time; sitting on my sofa, as my father, my brother and I absorbed the adventures of the crew of the starship Enterprise.
Earlier this month, the genre-bending queen of pop for the discerning music fan, Janelle Monáe, revealed plans to unleash her Wondaland Art Society, the fellow artists and songwriters she’s collaborated with on her first two studio albums (which are among the finest records of the current decade), upon the Earth. Through a partnership with Epic, Wondaland Records is fostering and releasing music from Monáe’s close-knit inner circle. A compilation is due in May featuring music from all five of Wondaland’s current roster, including Monáe herself, who will debut ‘Yoga’.
Seeing a showcase of fledgling music acts the day after the Brit Awards puts the art of music-making in sharp relief. Because while it’s tough for anyone to sell music nowadays, for unknown and unsigned artists it’s a constant struggle just to be heard.
If any of the six acts at the February edition of Radar at Under the Bridge in London, organised by Music Week and MusicConnex, were frustrated with the noise levels, they did well to hide it. The boldest made animated efforts to connect with the audience of A&Rs, music press and invited industry guests, encouraging sing-alongs, rave-fuelled hip shaking and, in the case of Fifi Rong, aerobics, even though the air of post-work reluctance was there.
The six artists – Bella Figura*, Jungle Doctors, Princess Slayer, Geovarn, Fifi Rong and Naomi Scott – each had something different to offer on an evening of instant attractions and acquired tastes.
“Oh, Madonna. Did you learn NOTHING from the heroes who fell before you?” asked a quizzical tweet, attached with an image of The Incredibles’s eccentric fashion designer Edna Mode. Those who watched the 2015 Brit Awards live on ITV last night saw it – and then saw it again moments later on Twitter. Madonna, in an austere black suit, a long cloak draped behind her, yanked from her feet midway through her assent to the main stage.
The Twitter crowd had been restless for entirety of the show, but, thanks to the ill-fated timing of a backup dancer, the bait had been thrown and video snippets of Madonna’s tumble – quickly coined ‘#capegate’ – started circulating. The 56-year-old entertainer recovered quickly, carrying on as if it had been little more than a graze. But it was too late. The music had already been forgotten.
For those that don’t know, debates about video game review scores – their editorial honesty as well as their ability to influence readers and, by extension, game sales – has raged for as long as games magazines have existed.
This month, popular game news and review site, Eurogamer, announced that it is dropping review scores entirely. This caused ripples of celebration and consternation. It also prompted other specialist and trade media websites to respond with discussions, comment pieces about the nature of game critique today and cases for/against keeping review scores. Meanwhile, some scoff at the very idea of written reviews, arguing that Let’s Play videos, Twitch.tv and YouTube vloggers are the future.
The trouble is different meanings are inherently attached to review scores. This means they will always be a help to some and of negligible value to others. (It becomes even more complicated when you try to aggregate scores.)
As if news of Gorillaz return in 2016 wasn’t enough already. Yesterday, Blur announced their first new album as four-piece in 16 years. Should the rumoured The Good, the Bad & the Queen follow-up somehow be in the mix, I’ll be doing back flips down the street. Blur’s new album, titled The Magic Whip, started from jam sessions in the “claustrophobic and hot” confides of a Hong Kong studio, following a cancelled show in Japan. Guitarist Graham Coxon and long-time Blur producer Stephen Street developed these sessions until, as drummer Dave Rowntree put it, “we all realised we’d done something quite special there”.
They don’t always need to be comfortable or straightforward. In fact, they shouldn’t be. No matter what the medium, you expect the author to fulfil a sort of unwritten agreement that, at the end of it all, you will have gained something from taking the time to engage with their story. That could be as simple as learning something new (as the classic parables of old do) or it could be more personal (learning deep truths about the nature of life or society through the eyes of a character you identify with).
Endings and why some of them leave us dissatisfied have been on my mind recently, since finishing the finales to several video games and fiction series. Both mediums have presented me with examples of endings that livid up to my expectations and others that fell short.