Saturday, 25 December 2010

Advent Calendar - Christmas Day - Horace Goes Skiing

A true festive classic for Christmas Day - Horace Goes Skiing. Yep, the ZX Spectrum classic is back thanks to the efforts of MySpeccy.com. Click the screenshot below to launch the game in a new window - you'll need Java, but it's well worth it.


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Friday, 24 December 2010

Advent Calendar - Christmas Eve - Domino Rewind 2010 Free Compilation

So Christmas is just a day away, and we've got another quality offering for you lucky little bleeders today on the Popsiculture Advent calendar. So good in fact we had to move it to Christmas Eve so as not to upstage our other recent entrants.

Domino Rewind 2010 is a free 14 track compilation of some of Domino Records' favourite tracks of the past year, including a great track from Villagers' debut album Becoming a Jackal, which I missed when it was released back in May, but has just made a (very) late entrance onto my Christmas wish list.

You'll also find some better known acts on here though including Clinic, Four Tet, The Fall, and Tricky. Listen to the whole thing on the player below or hit the 'MP3' icon to download all 14 tracks, entirely free.

Merry Christmas folks!


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Thursday, 23 December 2010

Advent Calendar - Dec 23rd - Guinness Christmas Jingle

Guinness's Christmas Jingle is a viral bit of fun from a brand famed for its engaging marketing campaigns. OK, clonking a half-empty Guinness doesn't have the eerie appeal of a full-on wine-glass orchestra, but it's easy to get the hang of. Check the demonstration below and the annotated video that lets you get stuck in for yourself.


And now your turn...


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Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Advent Calendar - Dec 22nd - Scissor Sisters - Invisible Light

A bit of a preview from the Scissor Sisters here - it's the rather raunchy video for Invisible Light, the closing track from their album Night Work. We can only embed the censored version below, but if you like what you see head over to YouTube for the explicit video - providing you're over 18.


And the naughtier version can be found here.

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Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Advent Calendar - Dec 21st - Belle & Sebastian 'Holiday Spectacular' Live Concert Webcast

Another good one for you today. With Christmas a matter of days away Belle & Sebastian and the lovely people at Matador Records and Rough Trade have teamed up with The Guardian and NPR to give us an early pressie - a full free Belle & Sebastian concert to be webcast live HERE at 9pm GMT tonight.

The Scottish art-pop group are touring in support of their new album The Life Pursuit, but have promised a selection of older tracks and fan favourites as well. There's even support from Canadian indie-rockers The New Pornographers.

Take a look at the short promo video below, and be sure to tune in later (and we'll try to find an archive of the performance afterwards for posterity).


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Monday, 20 December 2010

Advent Calendar - Dec 20th - Super Santa Kicker

Some festive fun today - Super Santa Kicker, courtesy of Bored.com and Gameshot.org. If you find this as addictive as we did, you'll be here for at least the next half an hour - unless you're some kind of Santa-flinging ninja...



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Sunday, 19 December 2010

Advent Calendar - Dec 19th - Wye Oak - Civilian

Wye Oak's third album, Civilian, is due out on March 7th 2011 on City Slang records. But that seems like an awfully long way away, so here's a sneak preview - just hit the play button below to hear the title track via SoundCloud.

If you like it enough, you can download it for free by clicking here to visit the track's SoundCloud page and then clicking the download link.


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Saturday, 18 December 2010

Advent Calendar - Dec 18th - Hurts - All I Want For Christmas Is New Years Day - iTunes Free Christmas Single of the Week

Okay, we missed this one on the Christmas Number One round-up at the beginning of the week (and a number of others no doubt). It's iTunes' free Christmas Single of the Week, from British synthpopsters Hurts, All I Want For Christmas Is New Year's Day.

As you might guess from the title this isn't your usual cheery seasonal song, in fact it even goes beyond familiar Christmas curmudgeon, to downright slit-your-wrists depressing. So if this is your season to be melancholy, hey, get on board!

And because we like to give you a little bit extra here on Popsiculture, we've thrown in a version of Hurts hit Better Than Love as remixed by LightsOverLA for your consideration.


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Friday, 17 December 2010

Advent Calendar - Dec 17th - BBC Sound of 2011 Artists

A quick look forward into 2011 now, and the BBC have looked into their crystal ball once again and selected their top 15 ones to watch in the year ahead. Previous winners of the BBC's 'Sound of...' lists have included 50 Cent, Mika, Adele and last year Ellie Goulding, so like it or not they probably know what they are talking about.

Go on over here to check out the talent for 2011, where you'll find videos for most of the artists, and a whole host of reviews, links and biographical information on all those included.

Popsiculture's favourites are intense singer-songwriter type Jamie Woon, and US rockers Mona, but we can also see really big things on the horizon for Jessie J. Check out her single Do It Like A Dude below, or go ahead and download it from iTunes here.


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Thursday, 16 December 2010

Advent Calendar - Dec 16th - TRON: Legacy iTunes download

If you're planning to go see TRON: Legacy, you could do worse than to book your seat with Cineworld. Right now they're offering a free iTunes download of a track from the TRON: Legacy soundtrack when you book online or at one of their box offices. It's not totally free, admittedly - you still have to pay to see the movie - but if you're a fan it's a nice perk.


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Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Katie Waissel Christmas Singalong - Selfridges Manchester, Dec 15th

While Katie Waissel's Christmas Singalong on the top floor of Exchange Square's Selfridges in Manchester was far from perfect, it was a festive affair and a chance to glimpse just how good the starlet could be at full health.

To be fair, the fates were conspiring against Katie from the beginning on this one. Being 15 minutes late taking to the stage is no surprise from any performer, although a few people weren't prepared to stick it out for a few minutes and decided to leave instead. The only real criticism that could be levelled at this event is a lack of preparation - the sound levels weren't right, leading to feedback and overly loud vocals throughout, and Katie hadn't had chance to practise with the backing tracks, which left her lost at times.

Advent Calendar - Dec 15th - Setspeed remix of Yo Video - Fool

More new goodies for today. This time around it's Fool by Yo Video, but it's not the original version - it's a brand spanking new remix by Setspeed. Check it out below.



And for the original video...


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Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Advent Calendar - Dec 14th - Tron Legacy Trailer, and ride the light cycle

If you're anything like us at Popsiculture, you're probably a nervous, babbling wreck by now, in anticipation of the release of Tron Legacy in cinemas this Friday. You've seen the beautiful Razer gaming peripherals, you've heard the great Daft Punk soundtrack...well, to keep you going until Friday then we've got the latest official trailer for your perusal.


And if that's not enough, I recommend a quick visit to the official site, where amongst other things you can take a ride on a light cycle in a fun mini-game. Go on, you know you want to.

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Monday, 13 December 2010

Harald Gloockler: Prince of Fashion

The Harald Gloockler: Prince of Fashion show was a one-hour special on Living TV and, oh boy, was it special! Harald Gloockler is a German fashion designer who was filmed during his trip to London to show some of his haute couture designs in a fashion show at the Cafe de Paris.

If I asked you to imagine a photo fit of David Gest, Ali G, Cher Lloyd and Lesley Ash then dressed that person in clothes reminiscent of Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, Prince in his 80s era and Max Wall then you would end up with Harald Gloockler.

Advent Calendar - Dec 13th - Together @QRistmas featuring Steve Brookstein and Eileen Hunter - Don't Give Up

The wait is over and Don't Give Up is finally out and available to download. OK, it's not an 'advent calendar' entry in the same way as some of our others, but it's an important one for a couple of reasons. First, it's the best way to stick two fingers up at Simon Cowell if you're staging a protest against the mass-marketing of The X Factor this year, thanks to it being by the show's first ever winner Steve Brookstein and his wonderful wife Eileen Hunter. But more importantly - most importantly - it's a chance to give to the people who really need help in these colder months by supporting some of the nation's homelessness charities and getting an excellent song to listen to as well.

There's a preview below and please get behind this - StreetSmart and the Together @QRistmas campaign are well deserving of support. Our own QR code above links to iTunes either using your mobile phone's camera or just by clicking on-screen - or you can download Don't Give Up here.


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Sunday, 12 December 2010

2010 Christmas Number One: The Race

Okay, 2009 showed us that is doesn't just have to be the newly crowned X Factor winner at number one every Christmas. The race for Christmas number one in 2010 is therefore well and truly wide open. So who's your favourite?

Me and Bobble run the rule over the hopefuls in this special 2010 Christmas Number One round-up.

The Futureheads - Christmas Was Better In The 80's

Dan: I just love the Futureheads, and this is no exception. Good nostalgic lyrics, and hallelujahs...what more do you want? I might just go buy it now...

Bobble: It's nice to hear a Christmas song that's a proper song. This one could hold it's own in the charts any week.

Buy Here

Matt Cardle - When We Collide

Bobble: Matt Cardle was the X Factor 2010 winner from his first audition, but he's a worthy winner and it's a decent song. Buy the Biffy Clyro original instead though, it's better.

Dan: I like the song, and Matt is a decent, down-to-earth guy. I hope he does well, but I don't want to see X Factor at number one again. Sorry.

Buy Here

Arbelour Choir feat. Gamu Nhengu - Where Will You Sleep This Christmas?

Bobble: Not as bad as I expected, and it's for a good cause so I'll put aside my feelings about Gamu and say good luck to her.

Dan: Yeah, Gamu is releasing this for Aberlour, Scotland's Children's Charity, so fair play for that. Let's just say she isn't one of my favourite artists though. It's a no from me.

Buy Here

Together @QRistmas feat. Steve Brookstein & Eileen Hunter - Don't Give Up

Dan: Ah, the ghost of X Factors past. Can't say I was familiar with the song, but Steve has a great voice, and singing with his wife Eileen Hunter this is a really nice duet.

Bobble: If an X Factor winner deserves to be at number one this Christmas Steve Brookstein probably does. Plus @QRistmas is all about helping StreetSmart, a homelessness charity helping people this Christmas.

Buy Here

Xander Rawlins - 1000 Miles Apart

Dan: Part of me recoils against this sort of mawkish sentimentality, but then again he has an interesting voice, and a good song.

Bobble: It's a nice sentiment, but it's nothing special.

Buy Here

The Killers - Boots

Dan: Again, I have a bit of a personal, and irrational, grudge against the Killers, so I can't bring myself to fully endorse this. Quite palatable though.

Bobble: Boots lacks the anthemic qualities of Human and All These Things That I've Done, so although there's nothing wrong with it, it's a bit of a disappointment from the Killers.

Buy Here

Miley Cyrus - Who Owns My Heart

Bobble: I don't even think that was a Christmas song.

Dan: It wasn't, but it's being released anyway.

Buy Here

Gio Compario - Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

Dan: Is there anything more hateful than these adverts? Who thought this was a good idea?

Bobble: I hate Gio Compario, and I wish he hadn't released this song.

Buy Here

George Michael - December Song 2010 (I Dreamed of Christmas)

Bobble A little generic, but there's something about the chorus that I like.

Dan: It's is quite nice. Nothing more, nothing less, and yet it feels like it could live on to be a classic.

Buy Here

The Trashmen - Surfin' Bird

Dan: I know this is meant to be some sort of ironic "protest". I just think it's a great song, albeit a fairly silly novelty one.

Bobble: I won't have anything to do with these protests. If you must protest against the X Factor, buy Don't Give Up instead.

Buy Here

--

So there it is, The Futureheads, QRistmas, even Matt Cardle for Christmas number one. Anyone but Gio Campario, oh or Gamu. Whoever you want to come out on top next Sunday, make sure you have your say.

Advent Calendar - Dec 12th - Egyptian Hip Hop remix of Kid Adrift - A4 in Ecstasy

Fancy another remix? I hope the answer to that question is yes... well either way, here's today's festive treat for you. It's a remix of Kid Adrift's A4 in Ecstasy by Manchester-based popsters, the confusingly named Egyptian Hip Hop.


And in case you fancy a reminder, here's the original video...


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Saturday, 11 December 2010

Advent Calendar - Dec 11th - Grace Cole discount code

OK style fans, this one's for you. The lovely people over at Grace Cole have kindly given us a promo code especially for you guys. I'm delighted, because I've been doing some work for their brand Miss Cole and Hot Pink Magazine and I can honestly say they love life and LOVE their products - which is always a good sign.

We've picked out some of the best options below for boys and girls of all ages and any tastes - to get the discount, simply head over to the Grace Cole website and enter the promo code XMAS2010 to knock a massive 20% off of your order!

The Boutique

The Boutique delivers luxury at a frankly incredible price. The Grapefruit, Lime and Mint Luxury Hand Care Duo pictured here is less than £7.00 even without a promo code - you can knock about £1.40 off with the XMAS2010 code above.

And although we've chosen a rather boy-friendly option to picture, that's only because of the pink-fest that's about to come - there's plenty of pinks and purples from The Boutique to keep the girliest of girls happy well into the new year.

Miss Cole

The Miss Cole brand is close to my heart thanks to Hot Pink Magazine - it's a fun and affordable range which might be a bit too bright for boys' tastes but makes bath or shower time a glamorous affair for girly girls of all ages.

I recommend the Scrub Up Well Travel Duo - body lotion and body polish, luxuries rather than essentials, just as it should be at this time of year, and priced at a truly astonishing £3.00 - and that's before the discount!

Batman

Wherever would POPSICULTURE be without a movie reference?? This is a great one - Batman toiletries are what every man needs! I'd actually love to get the Race to the Rescue gift set for Christmas - shampoo, foam bath, shower gel, soap and bath rocks in a Batmobile-design box for less than a tenner. Makes me feel eight years old again, which is what Christmas is all about!

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Friday, 10 December 2010

Advent Calendar - Dec 10th - Wheels - Feel About Me

Something new today - the debut single from Wheels, Feel About Me. The London four-piece are bringing back Brit Pop for a second bite of the cherry, without rehashing the same old sound. Feel About Me is out now on iTunes and we quite like it here, but if you can't wait long enough to download it there's a sneak preview below.

AND if you like that, there's a further track below - In My Head - that the guys have made available for download. Check the SoundCloud player below, and enjoy!


In My Head:

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Thursday, 9 December 2010

Advent Calendar - Dec 9th - Gang of Four free EP download

We have a real christmas cracker of an offer for you today, a free to download three-track EP from Leeds post-punk legends Gang of Four. Just enter your email address in the box below and enjoy a reworking of their classic Glass, a new track from their forthcoming album (their first in 16 years!), and a remix of I Party All The Time.



If you like what you hear I can heartily recommend GO4's essential album Entertainment!, a snip at £5.47 from Amazon right now.

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Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Advent Calendar - Dec 8th - Back to the Future game trailer

Your treat for today really is a good one - it's the trailer for the Back to the Future five-part game series from Telltale Games. It looks pretty good, and it features Back in Time by Huey Lewis and the News. Not sure if there's a massive three-dimensional holographic shark in there though, but you never know your luck.

By the way - if you're looking for more about the Back to the Future 25th Anniversary Re-release on DVD and Blu-ray, check out our review of the boxed sets available here.


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Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Advent Calendar - Dec 7th - K. Sparks 'A Day In The Life' album sampler

December 7th is the release date of K. Sparks' A Day In The Life (The Kurser Remix Suite). But before you head over to Amazon to download it, we've got an advent calendar treat for you - a sneak preview of two tracks from the album and a sampler of the rest. Hit the play buttons below to see what you think and hit up Amazon if you feel the urge to own the whole damn thing.

Mind Elevation

Sometimes

Album Sampler

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Monday, 6 December 2010

Advent Calendar - Dec 6th - Twilight: Eclipse trailer

Today it has to be The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. The latest movie in the Twilight franchise is fresh out on DVD and Blu-ray, just in time for Christmas. Reacquaint yourself with the trailer as today's treat below.




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Sunday, 5 December 2010

I Fight Dragons - Welcome To The Breakdown

Chicago's I Fight Dragons make fun, inventive pop by utilising the 8-bit sounds from NES and SNES consoles, combined with some good old fashioned Blink-182 style power-chords. Known as chiptune, it's not as unusual a concept as you might think, with proponents of this quirky sub-genre popping up all over America over the past 5 years or so, as well as some far flung outposts, notably Scandinavia.

Welcome To The Breakdown, featuring seven new tracks, is the band's second release after 2009's Cool Is Just A Number EP.

Welcome to the Breakdown - I Fight Dragons

Advent Calendar - Dec 5th - Free iTunes download of Prince Fatty - Dry Your Tears

Today's treat is one you probably know about already, but by our reckoning it's the last day that Prince Fatty - Dry Your Tears will be iTunes' free single of the week. It's free, so there's nothing to lose - you may as well get over there and download it, before it's too late! And because it's Christmas, we've even given you a video of Prince Fatty live in Thailand to enjoy.

iTunes


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Saturday, 4 December 2010

Advent Calendar - Dec 4th - House MD game trailer

Today it's a heads-up on the upcoming release of House MD for the Nintendo DS, due out on December 10th. The trailer below is for the PC version, but you can expect the same combination of medically themed puzzles and imagery from the show. The only question that remains is... could it be lupus?


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Friday, 3 December 2010

Advent Calendar - Dec 3rd - Blu-rays for under £10

Today's treat is proof that Blu-rays don't have to cost the Earth, with Amazon's excellent selection of Blu-rays for under £10. Our picks are below, but follow the link for a massive choice of more than 1,000 titles, all in high definition.


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Thursday, 2 December 2010

Black Eyed Peas - The Beginning (Deluxe Edition)

It's not often these days that a new album gets past my cold hard exterior of cynicism and weary indifference to actually make me feel something. The Beginning, the latest from Black Eyed Peas manages it though for all the wrong reasons. It's not that I've ever been a fan of theirs, but at least in the past you could count on Will.I.Am and his other preposterously named cohorts to come up with the odd good hit; Shut Up is a decent song, My Humps was ridiculous but undeniably catchy, and it all seemed to come together on I Gotta Feelin. But The Beginning falls so far short of even my modest expectations that I found myself getting really wound up just listening to it.

It's not just the sense of talent being wasted, but the obvious lack of finesse or any sort of care gone in to the process of making this album. This hasn't been crafted, just thrown together and packaged up, shamefully, into standard, Deluxe and Super Deluxe editions, all conveniently available in time for the lucrative Christmas market. Black Eyed Peas see themselves as some sort of 'future hip-hop' group, which apparently means an abundance of over-compressed sounding electro/dance beats, robotic one-paced rapping, and practically every line spoken or sung either cut to pieces, or autotuned beyond recognition. Kanye has a hell of a lot to answer for if this is the future of hip-hop.

The Beginning (Deluxe Version) - The Black Eyed Peas

Advent Calendar - Dec 2nd - Ciara 'Basic Instinct' album sampler

Today's Advent Calendar goodie is an album sampler preview of Ciara's upcoming release Basic Instinct. If you like it, you can pre-order at Amazon here or download from iTunes from December 13th here.


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Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Advent Calendar - Dec 1st - Doctor Who Christmas special preview

Stick with POPSICULTURE as we count down to Christmas Day, with a new treat behind each door. Today, a festive special to open the countdown, in the form of a sneak preview of the Doctor Who Christmas special, A Christmas Carol.


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Saturday, 27 November 2010

The X Factor Live Show, Saturday November 27th

It's Saturday night, so it must be time for The X Factor. Who are you backing? With Katie Waissel through last week in one piece, Paije Richardson out and Cher Lloyd in the bottom two for the first time - not to mention the seemingly unstoppable force that is Wagner Carrilho - every vote counts and it's time to fire things up with rock week. Links below to buy the originals of tonight's songs on iTunes and to preorder the contestants' performances, the winner's song and this year's Help for Heroes charity single featuring all 16 finalists.

The X Factor 2010 Winner's Song (Pre-order)

The X Factor 2010 Help for Heroes charity single - Heroes

...and because it's on EVERY week, the Yeo Valley Rap by the Yeo Valley Boyz, from the Yeo Valley advert. That's the power of branding right there.

Performances by category:

The Boys

Matt Cardle

I Love Rock 'N Roll
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
Matt Cardle

Nights in White Satin
Moody Blues
Matt Cardle

The Girls

Rebecca Ferguson

I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
U2
Rebecca Ferguson

I Can't Get No Satisfaction
Aretha Franklin
Rebecca Ferguson

Katie Waissel

Everybody Hurts
REM
Katie Waissel

Sex On Fire
Kings of Leon
Katie Waissel

Cher Lloyd

Walk This Way
Run DMC vs Aerosmith
Cher Lloyd

Girlfriend
Avril Lavigne
Cher Lloyd

The Group

One Direction

Summer of '69
Bryan Adams
One Direction

You Are So Beautiful
Joe Cocker
One Direction

The Over-28s

Mary Byrne

All I Want Is You
U2
Mary Byrne

Brass In Pocket
The Pretenders
Mary Byrne

Wagner Carillho

Addicted To Love
Robert Palmer
Wagner Carillho

Creep
Radiohead
Wagner Carillho

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Razer TRON Gaming Peripherals

I was born in the early 1980s. Computers were new and the internet was something nobody understood and few people had heard of - the Matthew Broderick movie WarGames is a fine example of how things worked back then. All we knew was what we saw in the movies - that the inside of a computer contains lots of skyscrapers laid out like city blocks and information flies around between them like an emergency response helicopter.

But TRON, the 1982 Jeff Bridges movie, actually goes one step further than that and suggests computer programs are almost sentient beings, with their own personalities and ambitions. It's probably no coincidence that I've always named my computers - and even given separate names to separate hard drives - working on those kinds of influences. And it's probably not surprising to anyone who knows me that I'm pretty thrilled to see Razer's TRON: LEGACY Light Cycle mouse, matching mouse pad and keyboard go on sale after being announced back in the summer. The countdown to the release of TRON: LEGACY in the cinemas is well and truly on.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Steve Brookstein and Eileen Hunter - Don't Give Up

I admit I didn't know that much about Steve Brookstein before this year's The X Factor - obviously I knew he was the first winner of the show back in 2004, but I couldn't even have told you that his winning song was Against All Odds. It's a fitting title six years on, however, as Steve and partner Eileen Hunter have paired up on a cover of the Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush duet Don't Give Up that is vying with the PR machine of The X Factor Series 7 for the Christmas number one spot.

Or should that be QRistmas rather than Christmas? That is the charity initiative Steve and Eileen are supporting - a campaign that could only work in this age of smartphones and social networking which asks people to use a Quick Response code - one of those funny square barcodes you see on all sorts of products - by taking a photo with their camera phone and allowing themselves to be redirected to more information about homelessness charity StreetSmart and the QRistmas initiative. It is this uniquely 21st century technology that puts the 'QR' in QRistmas.

Download link: Don't Give Up is out on December 13th and available for download on Amazon UK.

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit (PS3)

Right, new feature time guys and girls. We haven't done game reviews on Popsiculture before now, mostly because we aren't big gamers, and I have only recently become the proud owner of a Playstation 3 (320GB, slim, and oh so sexy...check out Amazon for probably the best PS3 bundle deals on the internet). Yep, after certain adverse football results at the weekend, I was forced to cheer myself up by spending some serious money on the first console I've owned in a decade, with two brand new games, Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit and Assassin's Creed Brotherhood.

The Lowdown

Once we had overcome the technical difficulties associated with linking said PS3 to a Sony Bravia LCD VPL-AW15 projector, and Altec Lansing FX5051 speaker system, the first game in to the slot was Need for Speed, for some hi-def, big screen, surround sound action, racing around the beautifully rendered scenery of Seacrest County. Not that there's much time for looking at the scenery, as the game launches you straight in to Career Mode, and reveals a strange definition of a career in this fictitious little corner of America, where you are by turns either a maniacal criminal street racer, or a maniacal Police driver.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Alesha Dixon - The Entertainer

I'm genuinely excited to say The Entertainer from Alesha Dixon is due for a release date of November 29th, 2010. You can already buy it on iTunes ready for when it's released, and there are two versions to choose from - the standard 12-track album or the 16-track deluxe version. It's not being listed as a deluxe version, but it includes the videos to Drummer Boy and Radio, along with a couple of extra tracks, so I'd say it's fairly deluxe compared to the regular album.

This is being touted as Alesha's second album in some reviews - but it's not, it's her third. Before The Alesha Show there was Fired Up, which ended up being released in Japan and not in the UK. The latter has the unique honour of being the priciest album I've ever bought on import, and was well worth every penny. But that was back in the Mis-Teeq days - Alesha's all grown up now and has her own very distinctive sound.

The Entertainer - Alesha Dixon

DVD & Blu-ray Round Up: Toy Story 3

There's only one possible place to start this week, and that's with the release of the extraordinary final instalment in the Toy Story saga. Let me take you back for a moment to 1995: Colin Firth is winning ladies' hearts as Mr Darcy, Robbie Williams is breaking them by leaving Take That, and Sony are taking the world by storm with the release of the PlayStation. And a little known animation studio by the name of Pixar team up with Disney to release Toy Story, the first movie made entirely using computer-generated imagery. This 80-minute masterpiece was not only a big hit with the critics, but it went on to be a huge commercial success, spending 18 weeks in the movie charts, spawning an entirely new genre of film in the process.

The releases that have followed from Pixar, and it's main CGI competitor Dreamworks, have been some of the funniest, most entertaining, and most popular films in the intervening 15 years. From the early efforts like Antz and Shrek, to Pixar's mid noughties golden era of Finding Nemo and The Incredibles, or latter day greats like WALL-E and Up, they all owe a debt to the ground that was broken by Toy Story.

So for Toy Story 3, bringing the stories of Buzz, Woody, Jessie, the Potato Heads, and that pig thing to and end is quite a responsibility. Get the tone wrong and a 15 year, 2 film legacy could be ruined, get it right, and you've just completed one of the greatest film trilogies of all time. Thankfully Toy Story 3 comes in much, much closer to the latter; superbly written and beautifully animated, with a truly touching dénouement.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

The X Factor Live Show, Saturday November 20th

It seems a little like The X Factor have shot themselves in the foot this week. It's The Beatles week, but the official X Factor website's in a deal with Ovi. Which means all their download links are to cover versions. Luckily, the whole world now knows the Beatles are on iTunes, so you can get the proper versions below.

The X Factor 2010 Winner's Song (Pre-order)

Performances by category:

The Boys

Matt Cardle - Come Together
The Beatles
Matt Cardle

Paije Richardson - Let It Be
The Beatles
Paije Richardson

The Girls

Rebecca Ferguson - Yesterday
The Beatles
Rebecca Ferguson

Katie Waissel - Help!
The Beatles
Katie Waissel

Cher Lloyd - Imagine
John Lennon
Cher Lloyd

The Group

One Direction - All You Need Is Love
The Beatles
One Direction

The Over-28s

Mary Byrne - Something
The Beatles
Mary Byrne

Wagner Carillho - Get Back, Hippy Hippy Shake, Hey Jude
Get Back
Hippy Hippy Shake
Hey Jude
Wagner Carillho

Friday, 19 November 2010

BBC Children in Need - November 19th 2010

On Children In Need night I tend to take my lead from Terry Wogan's Eurovision experience: screen in front of me and a bottle of fun juice to the left. My only deviance is that instead of broadcasting to the whole of the UK via microphone, this year I have a blog to write and Twitter to keep me company. Please accept my apologies in advance as I write and drink as I watch. I have no idea what state either myself or the written word will be in by the time the final total spins.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Katie Waissel - Ray of Light

Long, long ago (well, four years), The X Factor finalist Katie Waissel had dark hair and a different surname. The moniker Katie Vogel was an homage to her grandfather, one of Katie's inspirations from an early age but who passed away when she was still very young. Perhaps it's fitting that her childhood inspiration provided the name under which she released 2006's Ray of Light, which was adopted by BullyingUK as its anthem for the year.

It's a strange thing, too, that four years later Katie is a perfect example of the undeserved hatred directed at people. Twitter (or, at least, fans of The X Factor who are on there) is genuinely divided into Waissel Warriors and Vogel Villifiers. It's real hatred, too - there have been death threats. To paraphrase one tweet, "We're not bullying you - we'll stop as soon as you quit the show." Anyway, that's a different matter...

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

The Beatles are on iTunes

So Apple's big exciting announcement was that The Beatles can now be found on iTunes. It is kind of exciting, but not for the reasons they meant it to be. It's exciting because it means there's a very real likelihood that The Beatles will be in the top ten this week. Possibly at number one. If you really fancy it, William Hill are offering 100/1 on The Beatles filling the entire UK Top 40 Singles Chart in any one week in 2011. They're also 25/1 to have the Christmas number one. So, you've got to ask yourself one question: "Do I feel lucky?" Well, do you...?

The Beatles

Rihanna - Loud

Robyn Rihanna Fenty has been pretty much omnipresent throughout the western hemisphere these past three years. There was a very real danger on the back of her uber-successful 2007 chart-topper Umbrella that she could become over-exposed, and no lads I don't mean in the good way. On a personal level I'd have to say that fear was realised; Rihanna is never going to be right up my street as an artist, but she isn't going anywhere, so I'd better get used to her.

What I can say for her is that she clearly has a good ear for a hit, and a fresh and fierce personality that makes her one of the more intersting celebrities on the scene. If I have to have an RnB diva forced on me for the next three years, well, better her than the next one off the production line.

So what of her latest effort, Loud? Is it any good, and am I any closer to being a Rihanna fan?

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

The Trip

A little gem, hidden away at 10pm on BBC2, The Trip is a crossover of truth and fiction from Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan.

Steve has been commissioned to review a number of restaurants in the North of England and plans to spend the time with his girlfriend, mixing business with pleasure. His plan falls through when she decides to go to America so Steve calls up old mate Rob to accompany him on his road trip.

Over six meals (six hotels, six episodes) they discuss the meaning of life with bizarre twists such as a Michael Caine impression competition between themselves or how to tilt your head and clench your jaw for the perfect head-and-shoulders shot.

When's It On?

The Trip, Mondays, 10pm, BBC Two

I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here!

Popsiculture hasn't covered I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here! before, so we'll have a little recap of the first two days.

The Premise

Five male and five female out-of-work celebrities were deposited into the purpose-built jungle camps and immediately pitted against each other in the very predicably named 'Camp Bruce' and 'Camp Sheila'.

Camp Bruce

Nigel Havers (posh actor)
Shaun Ryder (music legend)
Linford Christie (ex-athlete)
Lembit Opik (ex-MP, ex-Cheeky Girl boyfriend)
Aggro Santos (no idea. I think he may have won a competition to appear on the show)

Camp Sheila

Britt Ekland (old actress)
Sheryl Gascoine (ex-wife of fishing-rod owner and lover of fried chicken, Paul Gascoine)
Gillian McKeith (fake doctor, poo poker)
Stacey Solomon (X-Factor loser)
Kayla Collins (Gail Porter's replacement, Playboy 'model')

Monday, 15 November 2010

DVD & Blu-ray Round Up: Avatar Extended Collector's Edition

Avatar, James Cameron's 12-years-in-the-making sci-fi epic, with it's beautifully drawn alien world, and it's broadly drawn characters hits the shelves today in an all new Extended Collector's Edition, offering the viewer an additional 16 minutes of immersive action on Pandora.

There can't be anyone left who hasn't seen Avatar by now, so I'll rattle through the plot as quickly as I can: It's 2154, humans are mining on an alien moon called Pandora where they use 'avatars' to interact with the native Na'vi race. The Na'vi are a peaceful bunch whose homeland is threatened by the nasty colonial humans, one of whom is Jake Sully, a paraplegic former Marine sent undercover using his avatar to persuade the Na'vi to abandon their spiritual home at Hometree. Naturally he has a change of heart, and 'goes native' leading a heroic fightback against the humans.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

The X Factor Live Show, Sunday November 14th

It's The X Factor results show and the finalists look well up for it in an energetic performance of Sonny J's Can't Stop Movin'. Not sure why they didn't do an Elton John track, but there we go.

In other news, it's a sausage-fest as JLS, Westlife and Take That hammer home The X Factor's obsession with boy bands. Anyone would think they were setting up One Direction for a win. Oh well - if you're a fan of the boys and confident they'll take the title, you can already pre-order the winning single at the link below. Other Sunday night performances for November 14th are also listed below.

The X Factor 2010 Winner's Song (Pre-order)

Group performance - Can't Stop Movin'
Original version: Sonny J - Can't Stop Movin'

Songs for survival (links are to download the original versions)

Aiden Grimshaw sings Crowded House - Don't Dream It's Over

Katie Waissel sings Christina Aguilera - Save Me From Myself

...and after weeks of valiant battling, Katie and her Waissel Warriors pull off the shock of the series and knock out front-runner Aiden Grimshaw. Absolutely unbelievable.

Guest performers

JLS - Love You More

Westlife - Safe

Take That - The Flood

Saturday, 13 November 2010

The X Factor Live Show, Saturday November 13th

It's Elton John week on The X Factor, the song list has been published and here's our round-up of the performances coming up, as well as iTunes links so you can download the originals and pre-order the remaining acts' versions. In fact, you can already pre-order the winning single, if you want to take a gamble on one of your favourites taking the 2010 The X Factor title.

The X Factor 2010 Winner's Song (Pre-order)

Pre-order the group performance from Sunday November 14th

Performances by category:

The Boys

Aiden Grimshaw - Rocket Man
Elton John's version - http://bit.ly/cLSeq9
Aiden Grimshaw's version - http://bit.ly/bJ5yrn

Matt Cardle - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Elton John's version - http://bit.ly/c2fqNR
Matt Cardle's version - http://bit.ly/aeqDc1

Paije Richardson - Crocodile Rock
Elton John's version - http://bit.ly/9xCIfz
Paije Richardson's version - http://bit.ly/ayIcKX

The Girls

Rebecca Ferguson - Candle In The Wind
Elton John's version - http://bit.ly/9Ftshl
Rebecca Ferguson's version - http://bit.ly/9AZZqL

Katie Waissel - Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting
Elton John's version - http://bit.ly/clQkDc
Katie Waissel's version - http://bit.ly/cOF0Nf

Cher Lloyd - Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word and Mockingbird
Elton John's Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word - http://bit.ly/9va81D
Eminem's Mockingbird - http://bit.ly/d6C7ss
Cher Lloyd's mash-up - http://bit.ly/9UwO5D

The Group

One Direction - Something About The Way You Look Tonight
Elton John's version - http://bit.ly/cRSOUQ
One Direction's version - http://bit.ly/buhNS5

The Over-28s

Mary Byrne - Can You Feel The Love Tonight?
Elton John's version - http://bit.ly/aoFY7K
Mary Byrne's version - http://bit.ly/9BgiXV

Wagner Carillho - Circle of Life and I'm Still Standing
Elton John's Circle of Life - http://bit.ly/aLI9qV
Elton John's I'm Still Standing - http://bit.ly/aaLkbz
Wagner Carillho's mash-up - http://bit.ly/bc3nBa