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
Rebecca Ferguson

I Can't Get No Satisfaction
Aretha Franklin
Rebecca Ferguson

Katie Waissel

Everybody Hurts
Katie Waissel

Sex On Fire
Kings of Leon
Katie Waissel

Cher Lloyd

Walk This Way
Run DMC vs Aerosmith
Cher Lloyd

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
Mary Byrne

Brass In Pocket
The Pretenders
Mary Byrne

Wagner Carillho

Addicted To Love
Robert Palmer
Wagner Carillho

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 -
Aiden Grimshaw's version -

Matt Cardle - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Elton John's version -
Matt Cardle's version -

Paije Richardson - Crocodile Rock
Elton John's version -
Paije Richardson's version -

The Girls

Rebecca Ferguson - Candle In The Wind
Elton John's version -
Rebecca Ferguson's version -

Katie Waissel - Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting
Elton John's version -
Katie Waissel's version -

Cher Lloyd - Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word and Mockingbird
Elton John's Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word -
Eminem's Mockingbird -
Cher Lloyd's mash-up -

The Group

One Direction - Something About The Way You Look Tonight
Elton John's version -
One Direction's version -

The Over-28s

Mary Byrne - Can You Feel The Love Tonight?
Elton John's version -
Mary Byrne's version -

Wagner Carillho - Circle of Life and I'm Still Standing
Elton John's Circle of Life -
Elton John's I'm Still Standing -
Wagner Carillho's mash-up -

Monday, 8 November 2010

DVD & Blu-ray Round Up: Doctor Who - The Complete Fifth Series

Finally, five months after the series finale aired, the BBC have released a box-set of the complete Doctor Who Series 5. And wouldn't you know, you wait five months and suddenly 4 box-sets come along at once. Take your pick from the rather spiffy lenticular 3D cover to the left, available on DVD or Blu-ray, or the executive-looking Special Edition steelbook complete with collector's booklet, 4 illustrated artcards, and a host of the usual commentaries and extras, again on DVD or Blu-ray.

I've already touched on this Doctor Who series a few times on the round up, and made no secret of the fact that I loved it. Matt Smith stepped in to David Tennant's shoes and looked a natural right from the start, and the addition of the beautiful and brilliant Karen Gillan hasn't done the show any harm whatsoever.

All in all series 5 was a great success, from the charming opening to The Eleventh Hour, through the spooky Vampires of Venice, the petrifying Time of Angels to the quirkier episodes like Vincent and the Doctor, and the good old fashioned two parter of The Hungry Earth / Cold Blood, everything seemed to more or less click in to place.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Finn Peters - Music Of The Mind

Finn Peters is a flautist and alto saxophonist, who has made music in a bewildering array of styles over the years. From jazz to latin, from acid house to broken beats, there seems to be nothing the Devon born musician can't turn his hand to, and handle with aplomb.

Music of the Mind is the third album Peters has released under his own name, after his debut Su-Ling in 2005 (which was selected as one of Jazzwise's Albums of the Year), and the 2008 follow-up Butterflies. True to form, this album is a challenging and eclectic collection of nine tracks (apparently the magic number for a Finn Peters album).

Unlike anything he (or anyone else) has done before though, Music of the Mind is all built around Peters' brainwaves. Quite literally. Recorded using futuristic Brain Computer Interface technology, they form the basic musical framework, around which he has composed and improvised these tracks, which seem to draw on all of his previous music experiments.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

The X Factor Live Show, Saturday November 6th

Our sneak preview of what each remaining finalist is singing on this week's The X Factor, with the links you'll need to download the originals and pre-order the contestants' versions.

Performances by category:

The Boys

Aiden Grimshaw - Nothing Compares To You
Prince's version -
Aiden Grimshaw's version -

Matt Cardle - The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
Roberta Flack's version -
Matt Cardle's version -

Paije Richardson - I'm A Believer vs Hey Ya!
The Monkees' I'm A Believer -
Outkast's Hey Ya! -
Paije Richardson's version -

The Girls

Treyc Cohen - I Don't Wanna Miss A Thing
Aerosmith's version -
Treyc Cohen's version -

Rebecca Ferguson - Make You Feel My Love
Bob Dylan's version -
Rebecca Ferguson's version -

Katie Waissel - Don't Speak (or 'Don't Worry', according to the X Factor website)
No Doubt's version -
Katie Waissel's version -

Cher Lloyd - Empire State of Mind
Jay Z and Alicia Keys' version -
Cher Lloyd's version -

The Group

One Direction - Kids in America
Kim Wilde's version -
One Direction's version -

The Over-28s

Mary Byrne - There You'll Be
Faith Hill's version -
Mary Byrne's version -

Wagner Carillho - Viva Las Vegas and The Wonder of You
Elvis Presley's Viva Las Vegas -
Elvis Presley's The Wonder of You -
Wagner Carillho's mash-up -

The Rocky Horror Picture Show: 35th Anniversary Blu-ray Edition

Hey Fox, I've got something to say... I really love the skilful way... you've brought The Rocky Horror Picture Show out on Blu-ray.

It's 35 years since The Rocky Horror Picture Show was first released and it continues to prove one of the most popular touring theatre performances. The atmosphere when you see it live is incredible - and the delays due to true fans heckling the actors mean you really get your money's worth. But if you want to see Richard O'Brien, Tim Curry and Susan Sarandon's classic appearances, the movie's the way to go.

There's little to say about The Rocky Horror Picture Show that hasn't already been said, but read on for a round-up of the extra features that come on the 35th Anniversary Blu-ray Edition - this could be a good option for Christmas, if you know anyone who just loves to yell "Slut!" and "Asshole!" at their TV while decked out in their best lingerie.

Janelle Monáe - Without A Fight / The Shape Of Things To Come (Videos)

One of my favourite artists of 2010, the completely fantastic Janelle Monáe has put out two brand new songs this week. Proving that The ArchAndroid album (reviewed here by me) was just the beginning of what this multi-talented girl has to offer. This new material might not be a great departure from that album, but hey, why fix what ain't broke?

Without A Fight (From 'For Colored Girls' OST)

Without A Fight is being used for the film soundtrack of For Coloured Girls, where it sits alongside tracks from soul legends like Gladys Knight and Nina Simone. Monáe is a natural heir to these pioneers, and it's great to hear them next to each other. The track could easily have been an off-cut from The ArchAndroid, a jazzy uptempo romp through three-and-a-half minutes of unrelentingly positive self-help mantras, it's pure Monáe.

The Shape Of Things To Come (For 'Shape What's To Come')

Recorded for the Shape What's To Come online community, and released for free on their website (grab it here now), The Shape Of Things To Come is another track all about empowering young women. A version of Max Frost & The Troopers' much covered 1968 track which weighs in at just 1 minute 49 seconds, it's a perfect showcase for Monáe's beautiful soul voice.

Buy Janelle Monáe - The ArchAndroid from iTunes now

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Diana Vickers - My Wicked Heart CD release

Hey Diana Vickers fans, just a reminder that My Wicked Heart is now available in physical CD format, if you want one of your very own to hold on to. You can get the four-track CD, which includes the original song and remixes, from Amazon here.

But think carefully - do you want remixes, or do you want her campfire version? It's a brilliant laid-back spin on an upbeat track and proves the versatility of Vickers and of My Wicked Heart. It's the B-side on the digital download and you can get it at iTunes here.

If you're not convinced My Wicked Heart can work as a campfire singalong, you obviously need to practise your whoops-a-daisies. Here's your chance to get started with a sneak preview of the campfire-style My Wicked Heart...

Monday, 1 November 2010

DVD & Blu-ray Round Up: Predators

Okay film fans, I've been neglecting my weekly DVD and Blu-ray round up for too long now. Last week I missed the big release of Iron Man 2, and a couple of killer Blu-ray box-sets in the form of Alien Anthology and the 25th Anniversary digitally remastered, goodie-packed Back to the Future Trilogy Collectors Tin. Don't ask any more questions, just buy that one right now.

We can't keep living in the past though, so on to this week's batch of Doovdés. The big Hollywood release is Predators Robert Rodriguez' updated take on the 80s action/horror franchise. Bob gave you his verdict on the blog back in July, and I can't really fault his logic there.

Mitch Benn - Proud of the BBC

OK, we're ten years into the new millennium now, and something's been missing... anyone know what it is? The photo of a comedian holding a guitar in front of the TARDIS should be a clue. That's right - we haven't had a decent novelty song in AGES.

Mitch Benn's Proud of the BBC goes some way towards restoring normal service in that area, but to be honest, there's real pride in there - I think he might actually really mean it. So if this isn't a novelty record, what exactly is it? Well, as someone who is himself very, very proud of the BBC - and the NHS, and all those other things that made Great Britain great in the first place and continue to be taken for granted today - I think this might actually be a protest song. It's like a rally cry to supporters of Auntie to get it together and save a national institution.

Either way, it's both moving and amusing - and the Twitter crowd are definitely behind it today, November 1st, the day of its release. Popsiculture will be looking out for this one in the charts - could the aptly named Mr Benn knock a certain Ms Cole off of the number one spot? I could get behind that...