Wednesday, April 27, 2005

We ended up watching “Playing It Straight” more out of apathy more than anything. The premise sounded vaguely offensive, the show is full of filler and the musical interludes and kitschy transition scenes are toe curlingly awful. Even worse, it is presented by Queen of Shoutiness June Sarpong. However, after three weeks we are completely hooked and even set the video for it when we went out last Friday night.

The basic premise is that a girl (personality lite PA Zoë) is put in a Mexican Hacienda with ten “rippling” “hunks”. Every week she evicts two of them and then picks one as her favourite in the end. The twist is that five of the men are gay, and if she picks a gayer as her favourite he keeps all the prize money for himself (one hundred thousand pounds!! that’s a lot of Diesel tops and ketamine!!). If she picks a straight boy, they split the money between them. So far, so ordinary. The genius however lies in the casting as all the blokes selected could very easily be gay. Any lingering irritation at the format (gay men win by lying and cheating, straight men win by being manly and honest) is banished by the way the program dispels stereotypes and shows how hard it is to really tell. There is wider range of gay men on this program than in the rest of the year’s TV output to date.

In the first week, Poor dim Zoë managed to evict two straight boys (a super camp, bronzed and moisturised Versace sales assistant and another lad who owned hair straighteners). In the second week she managed to identify one gay but evicted another straight bloke (on the grounds that he had a pierced nipple and some pastel coloured t-shirts. More to the point, she didn’t particularly fancy him). In week three, two more hunks arrived, one of whom was gay and one of whom was straight. She evicted one of the newcomers (who never actually revealed which team he batted for) and another gay – a cute, super obvious South African bloke who found the whole experience so moving that he cried when he was packing his bags. There are six boys left now of which two (or possibly three – see below) are straight. I’m going to try and guess the identity of the remaining straights and then everyone can look back and laugh at how rubbish I am when all is finally revealed.

In the same way that Versace Bloke was so queeny that he just had to be straight. Ben is so butch and straight acting that he just has to be gay. He is a tanned, overgelled east end builder with a hairy chest and tattoos. He always talks about beating people up and getting into fights and so on. Get you, Mary. Etc. Seriously, lads like him are ten a penny in Benjys (the East End nightclub, not the sandwich bar, London readers). He totally puts the “trade” in “tradesman”. Zoë does not seem to have twigged that the producers are messing with her head and is bound to keep him til the last minute because he is cheeky and she fancies him for some reason.

Verdict: Gay Gay Gay as Gay can Gay.

Blonde Danny
Danny is a skinny, very young (he looks like he’s about twelve) model with long blonde hair. As with Lee, I think they have put him to confuse Zoë’s fragile tiny mind and make her think he is gay on account of his modelling and girly appearance – he is quite straight acting though and seems to act naturally with Zoë, so I am thinking he is one of the remaining straights. Zoë quite likes him so she has a chance if she keeps him around.

Verdict: Straight

Dark Danny
This Danny is tanned and lean with short dark hair and big brown eyes. He is hot hot hot, until you notice his surly demeanor and dead, cold eyes. Oh, who am I kidding, I would still give him one. Zoë completely fancies his ass and is bound to keep him around unless she actually catches him in bed, naked, with another man. With his big arms, wide range of sleeveless tops and generally suspicious attitude, I am guessing that he is gay. After winning some kind of task, he got to spend the night in Zoe’s tent and the editing etc seemed to imply that some saucy shenanigans had occurred. “How far would a gay man go for £100,000?” said June, suspiciously. “All the way!” shouted everyone at home, knowingly.

Verdict: Gay. Should be gay even if he is straight, on account of smouldering hotness. If he says he is straight he is totally fooling himself, etc

Alex and Johnny:
Alex is a riddle wrapped in a conundrum, marinated in an enigma. He is vaguely Italian looking, has got long greasy hair and a big Desperate Dan style chin. My boyfriend thinks he is quite nice looking but I think he is dogville. Johnny is kind of average looking, with very short hair. I am considering these two in one paragraph as they are the most boring and also the most enigmatic. At first glance I would say that Johnny is the gay, just on account of his short hair and the way he dresses, but yet again the sneaky producers could have found a super straight acting gay bloke (Alex) and another vaguely camp straight bloke (Johnny). It’s a mystery, as Toyah once sang.

Verdict: Alex is straight, unless Johnny turns out to be straight, in which case Alex is gay – it’s like Schrodingers Cat, but sexxxyyyy!

Wild cards! Lee and Marco
These are the two new boys who were introduced in the third week. Marco is a very well groomed anglo-italian and Lee is a blond who has tried to disguise his totally gay haircut by not shaving for a few days. Marco was soon discovered to have a manicure kit but I think he is straight on account of how is an arrogant cockfarmer, arrogant in a very straight way. Lee was quieter but let himself down when he said he goes to the gym a lot but isn’t a muscle mary – would a straight boy even know that expression? Zoë evicted him but he said he couldn’t reveal his sexuality so as to keep Marco’s a secret. Zoë was gutted. Doh!

Verdict: Zoë made the right choice – Marco is the straight.

I’ll be revisiting this program in the coming weeks to see how I did. Let’s hope I have more of a clue than Zoë!

Friday, April 15, 2005

It's Round Two of the Scariest Comeback Show on Earth and tonight they appear to have given the audience free Pepsi Max and ditched the dancers (maybe Cat Deeley wanted them back for Stars in Their Eyes).

Vernon's love bites seem to have healed and tonight he is rocking the 80s with the Shiny Basildon Building Society Clerk suit. It's like a glitter ball on legs!

It's Vic Reeves! I swear! "Shakey" performs "This Ole House" rather flat and forgets the words, but it doesn't matter because the air is shrill with the singalong shrieks of over-excited ladies of a certain age. Chris de Burgh appears to be playing left-handed guitar. Someone throws knickers.

Since he was last famous, Shakey has spent his time looking for the perfect black hair dye, starring in Peter Kay/Tony Christie hit vids, talking to "Kid" Jensen and re-editing his old videos.

For his modern song, he takes on Pink very noisily and very messily. Polite applause.

VERDICT: Kill me now. Actually no, kill him first.

Oh THAT Jaki Graham! Dressed in a rather scary leather mini and jacket, she's off before the backing tape has started rolling. Proper belter of a voice, this one.Well, she's got a new project on the go, and her daughter is now her manager - beats working I suppose.

Daughter chose "Your Game" for the modern song, and Jaki shows what happens to an OK pop song when a proper singer gets hold of it. I didn't even mind the dancers dressed as a gospel choir waving their arms in the background.

VERDICT: OK, she's from Birmingham, not Croydon. But I like her.

All I can think of her performance is that she decided to pretend that she was French and sing flat. Can she hear herself? Anyway, she's filled out nicely, and we reckon she's had work done on her face.

After her smash hit career, Belinda retired to France and is a French history buff, it says here. She's very happy and doesn't want to be famous again or something like that...

The modern song is "The Scientist". It takes a lot to make me feel sorry for Chris Martin. Poor sod.

VERDICT: Sur le prochaine Eurostar chez elle, je reckon.

Only vaguely remembered him in the 90s, and only vaguely remember his performance this morning. He stayed in tune and was a bit creepy.

Apparently lives in Germany and he's a voiceover artist for cartoons and stuff. Brr!

"Toxic". Messy. And not half as sinister as Britters' version. My god, there's a woman in the audience with major 80s hair.

VERDICT: Please no.

My god they're even worse than I remember. Somebody who looks like Keith Flint's less talented brother does a Grim Reaper visual gag. Not laughing.

Somebody allowed Dr to impregnate her at least four times. He lives with his mutant family in Wales. Apparently they get around 90 gigs a year. That's at least 30 more than Chesney...

Then they do "Let Me Entertain You". Keith just prances around for this one and Dr wears a Union Jack frock coat, which excites the audience. Not entertained.

VERDICT: The studio audience liked them, but I put that down to too many sugary drinks and the promise of free Viagra.

And the winner is...SHAKEY! Fear the power of the Lady-in-Davros-chair vote!

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Welcome to Lite Entertainment Hell! Listless studio audience? Check!Vernon Kay dressed in a polo neck and mohair suit, prancing aroundlike Austin Powers' idiot nephew? Check! Garish set (with "HiT Me BaByOnE MoRe TiMe" written in vari-sized letters around the stage)? Check!

Annoying "dun dun dun dun" type music that is played whenever anyone talks, to try and give the illusion of excitement? Check!

The UN Appointed Queen of Disco is first. She comes on stage to sing"I Will Survive", wearing a monochrome poncho-dress combo and withFarrah-esque hair. She looks pretty good. Hmm, the song is, of course, classic but Gloria's voice is missing a certain something so it is all a bit below par.

The super-gay looking Hit Me Baby Dance Troupe are in ecstasy to be dancing with their Disco Heroine.

Before she comes back, they tell us what she has been doing since shewas last famous - shopping for shoes and discovering God, all whilst wearing a fantastic leather coat (imagine Pat Butcher meets the Matrix).

She doesn't sing a Kylie song, as I had been led to believe, (perhaps they realised that Kylie songs are designed for people who can't sing very well) and instead sings a disco version of Xtina Aguilera's "Beautiful". Halfway through, the dancers start doing all these weird balletic moves. What's that all about? You aren't auditioning for Flashdance! It is certainly better than Xtina's "fifteen notes per syllable" version but again her voice could be better. Oh well.

VERDICT: Strangely disappointing but I love her anyway.

Howard spent the 80's sporting various dodgy spiky hair/dorky hat combos. He comes on stage with short bleached hair and "trendy social worker" style threads to sing "What is Lo-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-ove Anyway?" He has a bizarre synth/guitar type thing strapped to him, which can't be a good sign, and jams away at a Jean-Michelle Jarre style Huge Bank of Synthesisers for a bit before having a cockfighting axe war with his guitarist in the instrumental break.

There's no excuse for that shit! The bassist bloke is wearing a black pleather A-line kilt and knee high bootees. Nice.

Inexcusably there is no mime artist/interpretive dancer! How the hell am I supposed to know what the song is about without someone to interpret it for me!

For his modern song he sings "White Flag" by Dido. Way to make everyone hate you, Howard. He sits at a grand piano like he is in Vegas, singing through his nose whilst squinting and making constipated faces.

VERDICT: No dancing gimp = no love from me.

The Honeyz were apparently a successful R'n'B girl group who were once nominated for a Brit award. I bet The Supremes are quaking in their go go boots to hear that. I can't remember any of their songs but my boyfriend says he does.

One of the girls is either called "Heavenly" or "Beverley"?? Learn to speak properly, Vernon!

They come on in matching nighty type dresses to sing their biggest hit. Nope, still can't remember them.

For their modern hit they sing that Nickelback song. Honeyz + Nickelback? Does not compute! It is a brave choice but their version is lame anyway, with strings and pianos as well as "rocking" guitars. Not a great combination.

VERDICT: Honeyz? Who?-neyz more like.

Let's face it, Limahl only ever had two successful singles, hence Vernon spends most of the time asking him about his wack hair. Limahl's hair is still wack but toned down somewhat and he is very leathery looking and sun damaged. Maybe he could front a public information campaign about the dangers of over tanning.

Oh dear. His voice is very weak. For some reason there are two lady podium dancers in the crowd, one of whom appears to be wearing a Laura Ashley mini dress. "Hey Girl, come a little closer!" croaks Limahl repeatedly, even though he is clearly gay

.He seems to have spent his time since he was famous sitting in his back garden and taking his cycling proficiency test. He says he likes not being famous anymore. Shyeah right.

For his modern number he sings the first Maroon 5 single. See Howard Jones re not covering songs that make me instantly hate you. His voice is better on this one but is still no great shakes. When they give out the phone/text numbers he mimes the very acts of phoning or texting. Tool.

VERDICT: Too shite shite, hush hush, bye buh bye.

The flashbacks to Tiffany's fame are a dizzying blur of big hair, distressed denim and huge blouson style jackets. Tiffany actually looks younger now than she did when she was 15, possibly because she has had herself laminated in the meantime.

She wears a blue Buffy-style strappy top, jeans and horrid silver boots to sing her immortal hit "I Think We're Alone Now". I am glad to see they have kept the echoey bits but Tiffany sadly doesn't do her crazy, hand jive, dance moves. Her voice is very good - definitely the best of the evening - and the audience love her.

After she stopped being famous, Tiffany went to the gym a lot and married a man with unfortunate hair. For her modern number she sings "Love Machine" and does a nifty cowboy version of it. Tiffany's voice is good but she struggles fitting in the lyrics in the super fast bits. The song is really designed to be sung by a group, I suppose. The HMB Dancers bust some mad hoe-down type moves but then start doing those weird ballet lifts again. Stop that!

VERDICT: Clear winner. The audience and "Voting Public" agree and Tiffany is the first through to the final. Go Tiffany!!

NEXT WEEK: Haddaway! Belinda Carlisle! Shakey! The horror!

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Hit Me Baby One More Time - preamble for
Hmmm, this sounds like "Stars in my Eyes", except instead of "ordinary people" doing the songs it is "ordinary people who were briefly famous" doing the songs. They sing their best known song (which shouldn't be hard for some people to pick. Cough * Chesney Hawkes * cough) and a contemporary number, which has potential to be really embarrassing.

For a laugh, we decided to go through the list of contestants and see what we could remember about them, without looking them up on google or cheating in any way...

Mark: The name stirs faint recollections of a eurotrash version of MC Hammer, but maybe I am getting him mixed up with Colonel Abrahams (Is that even a real person?).

Sarah: Did he do that one where he whimpered "Baby don't hurt me" and did a strange pointy arms dance?

Not off to a great start.

Nathan Moore
Mark: I think he is the one from Brother Beyond. Recently had some "pimp my ride, no really" type trouble with the law for kerb crawling on his scooter. A scooter??? You're not going to be able to do much on the back seat of a scooter.

Sarah: I suppose you could do a standy-uppy on a scooter, but I'd be worried that it'd fall over.

Mica Paris
Mark: The Beverley Knight/Michelle Gayle/Jamelia of yesteryear. (ie had one good song then headed to dumpsville) I'm sure she has a nice voice but I can't remember any of her songs.

Sarah: Known "Friend of I'Anson". Last heard shouting at I'Anson when she got evicted from Sleb BB. She did have a nice voice, and she probably worked with Courtney Pine at some point during the 80s (they all did)

Mark: Basil Fawlty's wife? No idea.

Sarah:Mrs Fawlty? Oh sorry, Mark's already done that one. No idea.

Nick Heyward
Mark: Is this the one out of Haircut 100 or the one who sang "Forever Autumn"? I am thinking it is the former. I always thought Haircut 100 were really overrated so I have no interest in his solo mewlings.

Sarah: The only thing I remember about Nick Heyward was his strange shouty nerd voice and lack of chin. And that he was, inexplicably, fancied by half the girls in my sixth form.

Gloria Gaynor
Mark: Fantastic purveyor of gay disco anthems. Much too good to be on this programme. I even liked those songs when I was going through my humourless straight edge punk phase.

Sarah: What is she doing here? She's a goddess

Mark: The British Michael Jackson, if the Jackster was a one hit wonder who looked like someone off a building society advert.

Sarah: I suppose he has to do something now that Richard Blackwood's career has gone the way of all flesh.

Mark: A Blue Peter pet? No idea.

Sarah: Princess who? Is she the token posho?

Doctor & The Medics
Mark: Dreary hippy/goth novelty act. I hope they do that Evanescence song as their "contemporary number", just because it will make teenage Goths cry.

Sarah: The hair...the horror...

Jaki Graham
Mark: A rubbish version of Chaka Khan? I'm not sure.

Sarah: There's a Croydon spelling if ever I saw one.

Howard Jones
Mark: Anaemic 80s pop whiner who was briefly very popular in the early 80s. Now I get him mixed up in my head with Nik Kershaw. I am praying to God and the little baby Jesus that he brings his mime artist/interpretive dancer onto the programme with him.

Sarah: Another crap hair person. He's nowhere if he doesn't bring the gimp.

Mark: forgettable boy band, possibly made up entirely of "ugly ones"

Sarah: I must confess I did google this lot and found a poster of them in amongst the disaster memorabilia and Jeremy Clarkson car reviews. One of them looks a bit like Dec.

Belinda Carlisle
Mark: Left ace girl band The Go Gos and grew cheekbones to become somewhat dull solo pop singer. I like the idea of her more than I like listening to her songs but she was quite a good singer so Go Go Belinda!

Sarah; How many comebacks is this now?

Shakin' Stevens
Mark: The Welsh Elvis, whom I hate with the burning intensity of a thousand suns.

Sarah: According to Time Out, Shakey was once a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain. So he really should have been called "Shakin' Stalin". And had a big moustache.

Carol Decker
Mark: Over dramatic lead singer of T'Pau, whose mad staring eyes and mentalist spiral ginger perm make her the "Chrissie from Eastenders" of her generation.

Sarah: Oh. God. I hated T'Pau so much. She was a gymnastics champion, you know.

Mark: The Honeyz are to the 411 what Mica Paris is to Jamelia

Sarah: I think I remember Simon Amstell being rude to them on Popworld a couple of years ago.

Mark: Was not "Too Shy" to be lead singer of Kajagoogoo and sing wimpy theme tune to "The Neverending Story". Had famously bad hair.

Sarah: Looking at his picture, the hair is now less awful: more Easyjet cabin steward on a night out than bog brush on heat.

Mark: Yes sir! She can boogie! I love her bizarro accent in the spoken word section.

Sarah: Weren't there two of them? And didn't they look like a Roxy Music album cover come to life? I can boogie! Ooogie oogie...

Cutting Crew
Mark: Hideous purveyors of "Adult Oriented Rock" that Dave Lee Travis would like a lot. They would certainly "die in my arms tonight" if I met them in a dark alley and had a gun and a watertight alibi, etc.

Sarah: All I remember about this lot was that they were played almost as much as A-ha on the video jukebox at the University of Ulster at Coleraine student union bar in 1988. I hate them with their dirty raincoats and spiky hair.

Mark: Like a female Haddaway, perhaps

Sarah: No thanks, I've already eaten.

Chesney Hawkes
Mark: What a fame whore. He's only just been on "Microcelebrity Sports Day" and now this. How much longer can he coast on the success of his "One and Only" hit record???

Sarah: My young colleagues tell me he's almost as big on the uni circuit as Timmy Mallet.

Kenny Thomas
Mark: I keep thinking of Kenny Rogers, perhaps proving that there is only room for one "Kenny" in the world of popular music.

Sarah: Didn't he play drums for The Who?

Mark: The Shannen Doherty of pop (and that's a compliment!). Had huge hit with "I think we're alone now" and then disappeared into murk of dodgy tabloid shenanigans and ill-judged Playboy appearances.

Sarah: Wore big jumpers to hide strange, malformed alien body and sang in shopping malls. Next!

Kelly Marie
Mark: No idea, but sounds like she could be the Belgium Eurovision contestant from 1975

Sarah: Umm...who? Bet her real name is Marie Kelly...see what she did there?

The Real Thing
Mark: As in "You to me are everything, the sweetest thing, blah blah blah"?

Sarah: I think that's them. I thought they were making a mint breeding whippets for Crufts or something.

Boy Meets Girl
Mark: OK, they're just making these up now.

Sarah: eh? Probably Eurovision rejects.

According to the bible of trash: Heat magazine, first up this weekend are Gloria Gaynor, Howard Jones, Honeyz, Tiffany and Limahl. Gloria is covering Kylie Minogue and Howard is covering anodyne winebar warbler Dido. Mark's faves to win at the moment are Tiffany, Gloria Gaynor and Belinda Carlisle. Sarah's faves to win are Shakey, The Real Thing, and Jaki Graham because she probably has a heartwarming story that'll capture the hearts of the Great British Public.All this, and Vernon Kaye too...

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