Sunday, 3 October 2021

The best (and worst) toys of the 1980s

 Toys

Toys, especially the good ones, only happened on birthdays and Christmas. If you were unlucky enough to have your birthday in December, you’d get one of your Christmas presents early/late and told it was a birthday present.  Other toys happened throughout the year but these were usually from the rotating stand in the post office. They cost about £1 (25p in 80s money) and consisted of moulded green plastic soldiers in various immobile poses, a truck whose wheels would fly off the first time it drove on carpet and a paratrooper who you’d throw out of the window in the hope his parachute would open and he’d glide to earth gracefully only to watch it plummet like spent firework into next doors garden, the one with the massive Alsatian.  But what were some of the better toys of the 1980s?


 

Simon

 


A true pop culture symbol of the 80s, Simon was a game which required the player to watch colours light up and bleeps to bloop, then repeat them before the time ran out. Named after the children’s game Simon Says where you had to do everything Simon said (but not the things he didn’t say), meant this was a home version of being at work. It’s a scarily accurate depiction of the working world because in both scenarios they only show you a hugely complicated thing once and expect you to repeat it perfectly; if you don’t, you’re fired. What fun!

Space hopper


Probably more popular in the 70s, the Space Hopper remained a mainstay of the toy section in the Winter Argos Catalogue throughout the 80s. I’m not sure why because this novelty was usable for about twenty minutes before someone dislocated a kneecap or a shoulder.
  I think the name ‘space hopper’ came about because the sensation of bouncing around the room on a huge orange balloon with a face drawn on it is exactly the same as that experienced by astronauts when they bounce around their spaceships on large orange balloons with faces drawn on them. If we ever do invent technology that allows common civilians the chance to visit space, I doubt we’ll be hopping in it using these.

 Speak & Spell

Genuinely one of the best things a child could have received at Christmas. Could you imagine anything making spelling fun? This brightly coloured electronic game did, with several functions such as, speaking a word and asking you to spell it, hangman, visual memory and pattern recognition, homophones, abbreviations, contractions and a secret code cipher. It must have made parents up and down the country very happy – especially during a pandemic which necessitated home schooling!

Stickle Bricks



These were what I suppose you could call an ‘homage’ to Lego. You don’t see huge sculptures of famous landmarks made out of stickle bricks though do you? There’s no adventure park called Stickle Brick land is there? Yes, I understand their educational value to toddlers, mashing together these spiky blocks to form what they think is a work of art but to the discerning eye, looks like you threw a packet of sausages out of a tenth-floor window.  This is summed up in the TV advert which aired in the 80s. A small child uses one large red brick as a platform upon which it places two long blue bricks perpendicular, two rectangular bricks above that with another two long blues ones sticking out of the side, a yellow square one on the top and a small blue square on top of that. When the adult asks the child what on earth this abstract monstrosity represents, the child turns and says ‘It’s you daddy!’ and everyone laughs.  You think the stickle brick model is crude until the camera angle changes and shows the father with his big square head, unfathomably wide body and long blue legs.

 


Stretch Armstrong 


I’d love to know Stretch Armstrong’s back story.  At best guess, he tried working out but couldn’t stick to his routine so he drank four bottles of cooking oil and got ab implants.  He was so proud of his new look, he bought a pair of blue pants and refused to wear anything else, ever.  I’m not sure what the target age for this toy was but handing this to anyone let alone a child, is a bit creepy. The sole purpose of a stretch Armstrong however was to try and pull his arms and legs so far from his body that they came off.  I’m just off to Disney to sell them this idea as a plot point for Toy Story 5.

 Teddy Ruxpin

Either this inspired the Child’s Play movies or vice versa. Teddy Ruxpin was a teddy bear with a lazy eye whose face would attempt to imitate whatever cassette you’d inserted into it’s back-hole (by which I mean there was a cassette-shaped hole in his back).  Whether it was a nice bedtime story read by Kenneth Williams or Iron Maiden’s latest album, Ruxpin would move his mouth along with the words.

The bear came with compatible tapes whose left and right track were split into the audio and the instructions for Teddy’s facial expressions. The final tape the manufacturers released was called ‘Teddy Ruxpin visits the dentist’. Compared to previous releases such as ‘Teddy Ruxpin Sings Love Songs: A Special Collection of Teddy’s Favourites’, ‘Lost in Boggley Woods: Teddy and His Friends Meet the Wogglies’ and ‘The Mushroom Forest: You Can Be Anything You Want to Be’ (which sounds like a Happy Monday’s album), it was the best one yet!

Thursday, 7 January 2021

 

The 'Home' in the 1980s

There were various gadgets about the house in the 1980s because it was a time for innovation and exciting new labour-saving devices. The microwave exploded (not literally) and came with its own cookbook! CD players were everywhere, the Walkman (which sounded at the time like the worst superhero ever), calculator watches, VHS and the Game Boy all appeared in our houses. But what of the most memorable gadgets?

 

Breville Sandwich Toaster


In the 80s, the Breville Sandwich Toaster was like an opinion - everyone had one and most of them ended up in that cupboard in the kitchen that nobody ever goes in.  The modern equivalent of this contraption would be the Spiraliser. It seemed like a good idea! It seemed like you'd use it forever and then after two unsuccessful attempts at toasting bread and inappropriate fillings, the thing is consigned to the gadget graveyard cupboard along with your bread maker, popcorn maker, juicer and that elastic thing you bought off QVC that you attach to your feet and pull towards you (which you thought would turn you into Arnold Schwarzenegger in 20 minutes). 

The toasted sandwich maker required you to take two pieces of bread and choose a filling as long as one of the ingredients was cheese.  It was no good just having ham or slices of chicken, you needed cheese so that something could give you third degree burns by sticking to the top of your mouth. 

You'd place the filling between the bread and pop them in the toaster.  The Breville had two hotplates which were bevelled (or 'brevilled' maybe?) in order to make your toastie look edible by sealing the bread around the edges and creating stripy burn marks the likes of which you might see on a pork chop.  It didn’t have a timer or indicator light however, you had to keep lifting the top panel to see if the bread had been sufficiently burnt and therefore, the contents were capable of removing your taste buds with a temperature the Devil himself could only dream of.  This tradition was carried on through the ages by the pop tart and the McDonalds Apple pie.  Both of which are too hot for half an hour, just the right temperature for 13 seconds and then too cold to enjoy.

 Henry Hoover



When they invented the vacuum cleaner, everybody who used one must have felt that there was something missing.  Just picking up dust and fluff without having to use your hands wasn’t enough. Worse, was using one of those manual non-electric roller things that picked up 3% of the dust on the carpet. Either way, these contraptions lacked personality so someone came along and put a creepy face on the front.  I’m not aware of any other household appliance that has a face – probably because they don’t need one! Sometimes you get a kettle that looks a bit like Hitler (Google it!) but the last thing you want is your fridge staring at you when you’re trying to make a sandwich. 

Not only did the Henry Hoover frighten children more than Steven King's IT, it had a look on its face like it knew you'd vacuumed up something valuable but you had no idea. It was taunting you, like those faces painted on the side of the Waltzer at the fairground (maybe that’s just me?).  On some models, Henry's nose was the corrugated pipe up which the dirt would travel - like a weird elephant with a special diet.  Things only got weirder when they brought out a female version called 'Hetty' - putting a Henry and a Hetty in the same cupboard just felt wrong.

Rubber Shower Mixer



Back in the misty past, one had a choice of tap in the bathroom. There was a hot one and a cold one. If you wanted to wash your hands you either had to put the plug in and fill the sink with a mixture of one part cold to three parts hot. Either that or remove the skin from your hand by running it under the hot tap before quickly flicking it over to the cold stream before emitting a bloodcurdling scream.  No mixer waterfall taps here I’m afraid. There had to be a solution?

Cue a rubber hose pipe that split into two at one end and had a shower head on the other. You pushed one head onto the hot tap, one onto the cold tap and Bob’s your Mother’s Brother.  Over time, the rubber would fatigue and go hard so the ends were harder to attach to the taps. This inevitably resulted in one of them popping off mid-hair-wash (when you’ve conveniently got your eyes closed to shield from the retina-removing shampoo which always managed to get between your eyelids no matter what) so you were either scalded or blasted with freezing cold water.  As an aside, there was always an instruction on the side of the shampoo bottle for what to do if you got the shampoo in your eyes. However, I couldn't ever read it because I had shampoo in my eyes.

 Record Player



Vinyl as a sound storage medium had been around since the 1940s and hit its peak in the 1980s before being slowly replaced by CDs, then Limewire and then on-line streaming before coming back into popularity in the 2010s for some reason. We all loved that scratchy, crackly, bumpy, vari-speed, warped, humming lack of clarity you got from vinyl didn’t we, especially when fluff collected on the needle? It was much better than that crystal clear high definition menace, the CD. You can make playlists on Spotify these days. Choosing any song at all and adding it digitally to a virtual list you can access on your phone. In the 80s you had two choices. The first was to link your record player up to a cassette recorder and make a mix tape. This did involve locating the LP with the song you wanted, removing the large black disc, popping it on the turn table, dropping the needle at the exact point before the required track, holding down the play and record buttons and waiting through the entire song so you can press stop at the end.  Then repeat twenty times until your cassette is full of songs.

The second way to make a play list was to gather together all your favourite singles, place them all on the top of a stick which protruded from the centre of the turntable and set the player away. When the first song had finished playing, the needle returned to its carriage, the next single dropped down the stick onto the first record and the needle moved back over and played the song.  By the tenth record to drop down the stick, things started to get dicey – the records started to slip over each other, slowing down, speeding up and making the singer sound a bit weird.  However, people who just listened to Bob Dylan records couldn’t tell the difference.

Digital Alarm Clock



Satellite television requires a large metal dish screwed to your chimney stack in order to receive signals fired out of the sky by floating metal. Digital television also requires big metal aerials which stick out of your roof to capture signals which are bouncing around the atmosphere.  In order to pick up the radio on a radio alarm clock however, you need a thin piece of string hanging out of the back.  No matter where you put this string, the radio signal would cut out, crackle and hiss until you found a place where it worked; The only way you could keep the string in this place was to hold it there, not ideal for trying to fall asleep. Also, trying to tune the radio in with that little plastic wheel made you feel like a safe cracker. The difference between Radio 1 and 2 was a barely discernible rotation which would always end up slightly between the two so you could hear both, but neither very clearly.

Every household in the 80s had that small wooden box that emitted an eerie green or red glow in the middle of the night.  It told the time, it had a radio and it woke you up when you told it to, providing you had a degree in the enigma machine and you’d worked out how to set the time on it.  It had a large snooze button which was invented by a sadist. You’d wake up with ample time to get to work but for some reason you’d decide to mash the snooze button and leave your future in the hands of fate.  If you reached for the snooze button a second time, you would have already started getting your story together for when you have to ring in sick at 9am because there’s absolutely no way you’re catching your train now.  The sleep button turned the radio on for an hour and then turned it off automatically – in this time you were supposed to be able to fall asleep with the radio on.


 

Friday, 7 August 2020

The worst lyrics of the last 10 years

The music charts are unrecognisable today compared to what they were until about 2005 (around the time downloads counted towards 'sales'). What hasn't changed however, is the songwriters' penchant for ridiculous lyrics.  Here's a few from the 2010s that will leave you scratching more than just your head...

Eminem – Love the way you lie

‘Now you get to watch her leave out the window, guess that’s why they call it window pane.’

Eminem there, practicing his routine for the Edinburgh festival next year.  He’ll probably follow that up in his next song by saying something like, ‘She borrowed one of my tops, I guess that’s why they call it a s-hurt’ or ‘she was making cakes in the kitchen, I guess that’s why they call it b-aching’.

 One Time – Justin Bieber

 ‘When I met you girl my heart went knock knock’.

 Is this some kind of joke?  Oh, it’s Justin Bieber, of course it’s a joke.  All his music is.

Ridin’ Solo –  Jason Derulo

Following in the footsteps of Sean Paul, speaking your own name in a song seems to be the only way of distinguishing yourself from all of the other similar sounding singers in the charts.

‘I’m putting on my shades to cover up my eyes’, Jason says.  So that’s what shades are for! I thought they were for combing your hair with.  He tells us in this song that he is ‘ridin’ solo’ which makes the following line so disturbing:

 ‘Finally doing me and it feels so right.’

 Ok, so I’m going to try and assume he means something else…

 ‘So fly how I spread my wings, loving myself makes me wanna sing.’

 I think I'd better move on.

Only Girl in the World – Rihanna

 ‘Want you to love me, like I’m a hot pie’

 No thanks, this is a new T-shirt and I don’t want to get gravy all down the front.

What’s my name? – Rihanna 

‘The square root of 69 is 8 something, right? ‘Cause I’ve been tryna work it out.’  I’m not sure if this is meant to be rude or something but I’m not sure you can work out a square root without a calculator or a book of logarithms?

 ‘Like A G6’ – Far East Movement 

To be clear, a G6 is a fictional aeroplane which is better than a G4 which does exist.  With that nonsense aside, ‘Poppin’ bottles in the ice like a blizzard, when we drink we do it right gettin slizzard.  Sippin sizzurp in my ride, like Three 6, now I’m feelin so fly like a G6.’  I often pop my bottles in the ice just like a blizzard doesn’t.  I often get slizzard too, on sizzurp. You?

 Get ‘em Girls – Jessica Mauboy

This is a song about high heels so I’m not going to be too harsh on the shallowness of the words.  ‘I don’t need a runway, I got on my get ‘em girls, I got on my get ‘em girls, I can catwalk my way to the front page, I got on my get ‘em girls, I got on my get ‘em girls.’

Actually, I am going to be harsh.  My brain is starting to melt with inanity of the lyrics in the 10s.  There must be someone out there writing something worth listening to. I know, I’ll ask Miley Cyrus.    

 Who Owns My Heart – Miley Cyrus

‘So come on baby, keep provoking me, keep on roping me, like a Romeo, baby, pull me close, come on, here we go, here we go, here we go.’ Does she mean ‘rodeo’ or ‘Romeo’?  I can’t remember the cowboy bit in Romeo and Juliette, can you?

Firework – Katy Perry

‘Cause baby you’re a firework, come on show ‘em what your worth, make ‘em go ‘oh, oh, oh!’ as you shoot across the sky.’

 She is of course singing to her friend Mrs Wheel. Mrs Catherine Wheel.

 Woo Hoo – Christina Aguilera

‘You know you really wanna (hey), wanna taste my (woohoo), you know you wanna get a peek, wanna see my (woohoo), you know you wanna put your lips, where my hips are (woohoo), kiss all my (woohoo).’

 For the sake of the contents of my stomach I really hope a ‘woohoo’ is a cocktail she’s making.

 E.T. – Katy Perry

‘Infect me with your love, fill me with your poison.’

Afterwards, whatever you do, make sure you go to the doctors.

Grenade – Bruno Mars

‘I’d catch a grenade for you.’

Under what circumstances would you have to catch a grenade for your girlfriend? If you’re having to do this on a regular basis to show her how much you love her, I’d consider asking her to move somewhere a little less ‘Grenadey’.    

Don’t Stop The Party – Black Eyed Peas

As you’ve probably realised by now, Will.I.Am thinks he has invented a new form of music which transcends even the genius of Mozart, Bach and Beethoven.  He thinks he has invented such an advanced arrangement of the musical form, he just has to blink and a masterpiece will form in front of his eyes.  However, he is completely wrong and just looking at the first twenty two words of this song, nineteen of them are the word ‘don’t’.  Genius.

Now you understand that, read these words and feel as sad as I do :

‘Get up off my genitals …kill you with my lyricals’.

Well, he got the second part right.  It’s quite obvious that Will.I.Am’s second name isn’t Shakespeare.   

Marry You – Bruno Mars

Word of advice to all you out there thinking of asking your partner to marry you.  Try not to call your impending wedding ‘something dumb’ and definitely tell them that you definitely want to get married. Definitely don’t tell them that you think you want to get married.

‘It’s a beautiful night, we’re looking for something dumb to do, Hey baby, I think I wanna marry you.’

See what Billy Joel, I mean, Bruno Mars has just done there? Everything I said not to do.  Why don’t these people listen to me? 

Give me everything – Pitbull

This song truly sickens me to the stomach. It really does.  I’m going to exonerate Ne-Yo who was also on this track because I like him and I honestly think he didn’t know what he was doing.  I think he was trying to crossover or what-have-you and got caught up in something he didn’t understand. 

However, Armando Christian ‘Pitbull’ Pérez whose rapping I would rate as ‘intermediate level’, decides to tell us all to go and have intercourse with someone indiscriminately because, in his words, ‘we might not get tomorrow’.  He tells this random stranger that he wants her to ‘give’ him ‘everything tonight’.  He also tells us to ‘grab somebody sexy, tell ‘em hey’.  This is of course regardless of their own feelings (because believe it or not Mr. Pitbull, women do have their own thoughts, needs and feelings) or whether they’d be happy for this short bald rapper with the worst ‘beard’ of all time to ‘love love you tonight’. 

It actually makes me throw up in my mouth a little bit.  At least the song has a happy ending as he tells us, ‘I got locked up like Lindsay Lohan’.  All us sexy people can sleep easy tonight then. Phew!

Whip My Hair – Willow

I wonder if Willow would have had a singing and acting career if her parents weren’t Hollywood A-listers.  Probably not based on these lyrics :

‘Don’t let haters keep me off my grind, keep my head up and I know I’ll be fine, keep fighting until I (yea), am down and I feel like giving up, I whip my hair back and forth, I whip my hair back and forth (just whip it).’

Try it. Cheers you right up; or gives you motion sickness, one or the other.

Abortion – Lil’ Wayne

I know what you’re thinking.  How could a song called ‘Abortion’ have bad lyrics? Well, it does, and here’s a list of what I’m going to call atrocities that are committed in this song

  1. He rhymes ‘abortion’ with ‘unimportant’
  2. He uses the phrase ‘palms in your pants’
  3. He says ‘I’m a hell of a smoker’, like it’s something you can be good at
  4. There’s lots of swearing and dropping of the ‘n’ word
  5. He quotes Ronan Keating
  6. He makes vulgar references to sexual practices

He needs Jesus!

Party – Beyonce

‘We got the swag sauce, she drippin’ swagu.’

Well, it’s not quite William Blake is it?  You might expect something so inane to come out of Kanye’s mouth but then Andre 3000 gets involved and smashes us all across the face with this deeply unpleasant image. 

‘F- with me baby, I’ll make it milk ‘til it drip down your knees’

It’s so wrong, the word ‘wrong’ seems wrong.

Run The World – Beyonce

Apparently, girls rule the world.  Not quite a message of feminism which should encourage all humans to treat each other equally, rather an argument to begin a masculinism movement in response. One reason Beyonce said she wanted to write this song was to ‘give women strength’.  Why would you need to do that if they run the world?  Hasn’t been thought through very well has it.  Then she says:

‘I remind you, I’m so hood with this’

She’s as far away from being ‘hood’ as she is from working in a call centre to feed herself and her family.

Megaman – Lil Wayne

I’ve come to a decision.  Lil Wayne is the worst lyricist of all time with the worst stage name of all time.  It doesn’t matter if in the future, all songs pop songs have to be written containing nothing but words of one syllable or less, Lil Wayne will still hold the title.

‘I’m a diamond in the rough, like a baby in the trash’

It’s beyond terrible.  This man needs to get another job. Or Jesus.

Born This Way – Lady Gaga

‘Whether you’re white, black, beige, chola descent. You’re Lebanese, you’re Orient.’  Cultural sensitivity isn’t Gaga’s strong point is it? Just gotta make it rhyme.  And beige?  Who is beige??  

Friday – Rebecca Black

The entire song.

Little Things – One Direction

Oh my sweet baby Jocelyn.  Boys under the age of 18 should not be allowed to try and give women compliments.  Saying things like, ‘I know you’re fat and smell of cheese a bit, but I still love you’, is not, I repeat, is not a compliment.  I urge you never to use any of the lines in this song in real life otherwise you will soon be single and probably have a hand-print on your left cheek.

‘I know you’ve never loved the crinkles by your eyes when you smile.  You’ve never loved your stomach or your thighs … but I’ll love them endlessly’

Even if she says these things, youre not allowed to ever say that out loud.  Trust me.

‘You still have to squeeze into your jeans, but you’re perfect to me’

Seriously, you can’t say that to a woman.  Please stop saying these things.

‘Maybe you’ll love yourself like I love you’

Ok, I think it’s time to move on… (again)

Call Me Maybe – Carly Rae Jepsen

There is a weird lyrical phenomenon which crops up now and again and each time it does, the lyricist in question thinks they’re the first person to have had the idea.  The general gist is that you ‘love’ someone before you’ve met them.  Michael Bublé had a song called ‘Just haven’t met you yet’.  He’s under the illusion that you can talk directly to someone in your distant future.  You can’t, by the way.  Savage Garden told us that they ‘loved you before I met you’, which again makes no sense; unless of course both singers are actually spiritual mediums with precognitive powers.

Carly Rae (Carly to her friends) is the latest to use this lyrical device, telling us that ‘before you came into my life I missed you so bad’.  No you didn’t, stop it.

Boyfriend – Justin Bieber

Bieber is guilty of things thousands of other artists are guilty of but he was what was wrong with 2012’s music industry so I’m going to make an example of him.  ‘If I was your boyfriend, I’d never let you go’, he squeaks.  Proving that he thinks of women like fish, catching one and then taking her home to cook and eat rather than release it back into the river.

‘I can take you places you ain’t never seen before’.  This isn’t much of a boast because he was 18 when he sang this line and most 18 year olds haven’t seen much past the insides of their bedrooms.  ‘I’ve got money in my hands that I’d really like to blow’, the rich teenager brags, using his money rather than his personality to attract a mate.   ‘Swag swag swag’, he continues, which is one way to describe money you stole – stole from unsuspecting eight year olds who don’t know what else to spend their pocket money on.  ‘Chillin’ by the fire while we eatin’ fondue’.  He knows how to live doesn’t he?

‘I could be your Buzz Lightyear’, ah, still playing with your Toy Story merchandise at the age of 18 are we?  ‘Fly across the globe’, he adds.  I don’t remember that bit in any of the Toy Story movies.

‘I am ‘ma make you shine bright like you’re laying in the snow, brrr’. 

You’re going to what now? And the word is ‘lying’. Seriously.          

Birthday Cake – Rihanna ft. Chris Brown

Rihanna did a lot of things featuring Chris Brown in 2009 but despite that, she allowed him to team up with her on this 2012 travesty.  Please write in and tell me why these lyrics are a good idea :

‘It’s not even my birthday but he want to lick the icing off’, which is obviously what you do on your birthday.  ‘He want that cake cake cake cake cake cake cake cake cake cake’.  Is it just me or does he want that cake? I get the feeling that ‘cake’ is a euphemism, like every other innocent word in pop songs in the 2010s.  ‘I’ma make you my bitch’.  Lovely to see them respecting each other like that isn’t it?

Fat Joe ft. Rick Ross & Juicy J – Instagram that Hoe

‘Instagram that hoe, Instagram that hoe, Instagram that hoe, Instagram that hoe’.  Next week they’re going to Instagram a rake and some secateurs.      

Stupid Hoe – Nicki Minaj

‘You a stupid hoe, you a, you a stupid hoe You a stupid hoe, you a, you a stupid hoe’  Next week, Nicki will be shouting at a bag of compost.

Justin Bieber – All bad

More nonsense pouring out of this young boy’s mouth here.  I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt when he says ‘Instigators, like pouring fire on propane’.  He might be trying to be ‘funny’ by reversing the whole ‘pouring petrol on the fire’ joke by saying he’s the fire or something. But the award for most sexist line in a song in 2013 goes to Justin Bieber, Andre Harris, Jason P.D. Boyd and Ryan Toby because one/all of them are responsible for this :

‘Ooh, you know females and how they like to run their mouths’. 

You know males and how they like to make sweeping generalisations about women?

B.E.A.T. – Selena Gomez

Whether this song was originally written for Rihanna is unclear but I hope someone doesn’t walk into the room at the wrong time when Selena starts singing ‘It’s a big bad world but I ain’t ashamed to like the lights in my hand and the beat in my face, beat in my face, beat in my face.’  Really, you need to think these things through.

Blurred Lines – Robin(’s) Thicke

How much respect has Robin’s Thicke got for women?  Well, I’ll let you decide as he’s got bigger lawyers than me :

‘You the hottest bitch in this place

I feel so lucky

Hey, hey, hey

You wanna hug me

Hey, hey, hey

What rhymes with hug me?’

Not content with those aberrations against the English language he also objectifies women in his video and tells us that there is a ‘blurred line’ between a woman consenting to activities in the bedroom and not.  His wife left him not long after this song was released, finally teaching him that women do have personalities and a mind of their own and won’t do anything he asks them to do because he is a man.  Poor Robin.

Heaven - Jay-Z

‘I arrive at the pearly gates, I had luggage meaning, I had baggage’.  I think Jay Zed should add caveats, footnotes and references to all of his lyrics.   

Drake – Versace

We’ve all got our musical heroes and we’ve all been in awe of something they wrote or sang.  When we’re young and see them on TV, almost worshipping them as idols of a world we couldn’t hope to be part of.  Freddie Mercury strutting about the stage like a peacock because he was an amazing artist with a fabulous voice and every right to be in command of all of our attentions.  Then there’s Michael Jackson who transcended being a human for a while until the stories about his personal life came out.  Before that, he was revered as a genius of dance and performance with genre defining songs such as ‘Billie Jean’ and ‘Beat it’.  There are many more music icons who will live forever in the musical halls of fame and not one of them ever sang about how talented they were, how rich they were or how many awards they’d won.  Because they didn’t have to. They became these personalities and lived the idol life style, leaving it up to us to appreciate how many awards they had and how big their houses were.

Then there was a rapper called Drake.  He started singing about how we should get off his property because rap is a gated community.  He then postulated how rap must be changing because he is ‘at the top’, ‘drowning in compliments’, that he is ‘selling a million first week’ (which other artist ever sang about how many records they were selling?), everything he owns is ‘Versace’ like this is a badge of honour, throwing the wealth he accumulated by dancing like a drunk uncle at a wedding and ‘rapping’ in our working class faces, that he’s got an album coming out in September (who mentions they’ve got an album out soon in a song lyric??). 

‘I’ve been so quiet, I got the world like ‘what the F- is he planning?’.  Nobody cares what you’re planning and when you go quiet it’s a blessing for all of us, believe me.  He then brags about his ‘hundred inch TV’ and takes narcissism to a new level by commenting ‘damn, I look great on it’.  He then uses the N- word three times in the next three sentences.  No matter what the context, it’s still a highly offensive word and it’s being used more and more in rap these days. 

Now, despite advertising Versace by saying the name over and over in the chorus, Drake dips into an unacceptable barrel, dipped into several times by the previous few lyrics I’ve mentioned.  The one where Drake thinks being a man gives him the right to treat a woman however he likes regardless of whether they object.  He raps :

‘I’m tryna give Halle Berry a baby and no one can stop me.’

I’m pretty sure Halle Berry can for a start and there’s that little thing called ‘the law’ as well.  He continues to call women ‘that bitch’ and ‘your bitch’ (like she is the property of someone), mentions several other brand names, mainly cars, drops the N word another few unnecessary times, and mentions how rich he is a few more times. 

Please never release any more ‘music’ ever again please. Next!         

Half of me – Geri Halliwell

‘I wanna have your baby, gotta have you like crazy and iron your shirts’      

That’s some ‘Girl Power’ right there.  It’s like 1996 never happened.

Walks like Rihanna – The wanted

‘She can’t sing, she can’t dance, but who cares, she walks like Rihanna’ Well that’s weird.  I’m not sure what position they’re looking to fill here, certainly not backing singer or dancer obviously.  However, the ability to walk like a woman from Barbados seems to have got her the gig, whatever it is.

Double Rainbow - Katy Perry

I’m guessing Katy Perry didn’t get very good marks in Geography at school, let alone physics.  Apparently, lightening is really loud and thunder is really bright.

‘Our chemistry was more than science it was deafening; loud like lightning it was striking you couldn’t deny it.’  

What are you on about?

‘Timber’ – Pitbull

Ignoring the childish unfunny innuendo that is even too childish for a carry-on film, comedy rapper Pitbull asks us to ‘Look up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, Nah, it’s just me.’  Imagine looking up into the sky and seeing a tiny bald man with a wildly false self-image hurtling through the sky.  You’d just ignore him and get about your business.    

Jason DeruloTalk Dirty

To quote the Chuckle Brothers (as I do quite frequently), ‘Oh dear; Oh dear, oh dear; Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.’  In fact, Dad-dancer Jason Derulo dips into a barrel of discarded jokes even the Chuckle Brothers wouldn’t find funny for this ditty from 2014.  Exerting his masculinity on us in huge dollops, he impresses exactly nobody by telling us that he’s about to indulge in some adult behaviour with two other people at the same time.  Classy I’m sure.  I bet his self-respect and dignity will be well intact after meeting two strangers in a foreign country and performing what should be an act of respect and love with them both, before even having a semblance of a conversation with either. 

‘Uno, met a friend in Rio, dos, she was all on me-o, tres we could, menage a three-o’, he verbally spews.

I would say I’ve lost all respect for Jason but I never had any to start with.

Marry me - Jason Derulo

Proof, if it was ever needed, that men rarely think long term and when they do, they tend to just come out with sentences they haven’t pre-planned.

‘A hundred and five is the number that comes to my head when I think of all the years I wanna be with you’

So you don’t want to be with her in year one hundred and six?  Also, Ed Sheeran recently sang ‘I’ll be loving you ‘til we’re 70’.  As soon as you reach 71, which in these days of medical advances, is quite possible, what then?  And who is going to be impressed by you telling them you’ll love them until you’re 70?  Honestly.     

Money on my mindSam Smith

‘When I go home I tend to close the door’.  Tend to? So sometimes you just leave it open? Odd, odd man.  




Buy your copy of 'The Worst Pop Lyrics in the World Ever' here :

Signed/Signed with personal message : https://peternuttall.net/wp/product/worst-lyrics-sig/

Unsigned paperback : https://www.amazon.co.uk/Worst-Pop-Lyrics-World-Ever/dp/1530279186

Monday, 6 April 2020

The best and worst of School Holiday's in the 80s


Camera film


These days, everything has to be instant doesn’t it? Using the camera on your mobile phone you can instantly check your selfie to see if you should take it again, one nano-meter to the left with a slightly poutier mouth.  Then these people (who are more interested in how they appear in selfies than in any other aspect of their lives) add filters which give them dog ears or huge teeth.  Then they adjust the light and contrast settings and post it to social media to see how many strangers click the thumbs up to validate their self-worth.  

A dog using a human filter
Back in the 80s, we had to put a small plastic cartridge (see pic above) in our cameras which contained a magical kind of photosensitive paper that captured what we could see with our eyes. It cost a fair few quid for the 'film' and it only enabled us to take 24 photographs.  We wouldn’t see any of the pictures we'd taken until at least a week after getting home from the holiday because we had to go down the high street, find a pharmacy, give the cartridge to a shop assistant who popped it into a small envelope and sent it away to a magical land where the pixies turned the little plastic doodah into actual photographs you could hold in your hand. You'd already paid for the film but now you had to pay again for the pixies to turn it into photographs.

The photographs would come back filled with people with blazing red eyes or with a sticker attached saying ‘quality control’ if the photo was a little blurry, which in the 80s, they all were.  Some photos would have a stray finger snaking in from the top right corner too.



If it was dark we had to affix an ice-cube to the top of the camera (see pic above). Each side of the cube had a bulb in it and once the photo was taken, the bulb would explode and the cube would swivel around to the next available.  Someone thought this was ridiculous however and decided to simplify the process.  They came up with this :


This is a tower of explosives which blinded anyone casually glancing in the direction of the camera when it went off.  1000 watts of spotlight power which could wake hibernating tortoises around the world with one flash. Also, the bulbs didn't just 'blow', they melted. Another example of that wonderful 80s health and safety.

Back to the pharmacy a week later to find out the entire staff have seen your photos before you did, even the one you accidentally took of your dad in his pants cooking breakfast when you were trying to fit the lava-hot-laser-death-flash to the top of the camera.  You know they've seen the photo because they've put a 'quality control' sticker on it; it came out a bit blurry, thank the lord.

Prize bingo

All the ones, 111; two and five, 7. Kelly's duck, 12.

You'd always be drawn into these places by a booming voice promising the world for a mere four corners, line or a full house.  It's always wise to check out the prizes before playing prize bingo as sitting for four hours trying to get a winning token to find out all you can swap it for is a chair leg or a key ring with Adam Ant on it probably isn't worth it unless you've got a chair at home with three legs or absolutely love Adam Ant. 

No ergonomics or risk assessments had been carried out on those bright red, round plastic seats that you could raise and lower by spinning it round.  Posh ones had the shape of someone's bottom carved into them to make the plastic more comfortable or something.  The 'caller' would then announce the beginning of the next game by telling you to point your eyes downwards and then proceed to shout out numbers printed on balls pinging around in a large glass cubicle. The 'fun' element came from the caller likening the numbers to things. Things like twenty two being 'two little ducks' because the number two looks like a duck or 11 looking like a pair of legs. Rogue callers would make up new ones such as 'the key of the door - twenty one, the hinge of the door - three, the handle of the door - seven' and so on and so-forth and what have you.

Playground equipment

A rare example of a vomit-free roundabout
Health and safety in the 1980's was non-existent. In the playground, children weren't required to wear PPE (personal protective equipment), there was no need for RIDDOR, NEBOSH or COSH and there definitely wasn't a CCST (Council for the control of slide temperature). On hot sunny days, metal slides could melt your soul.  They’d cause you to lose some of the skin on your legs due to friction but also, you’d garner some lovely third degree burns before you flew off the end onto the nice soft concrete.  

Everyone in this picture is completely fine, no need to worry.

There were no rubbery substrates to land on like they have these days, or bark chippings with families of woodlice living in them (which also help cushion any falls). Most playground apparatus in the 80s was made of metal and painted with the kind of paint that chipped off if you looked at from the wrong direction - probably lead-based too. 

What do you call a horse with no legs?
Playgrounds were full of the sounds of children crying after falling off things, hitting parts of their body off things or being forced to go too fast on things by other, laughing children.  Slides varied from playground to playground but they were generally too high, had two loops of metal to hold on to when you'd managed to scale the steepest metal staircase known to mankind, then you had to try and manoeuvre your legs into a sitting position with about six inches of space in which to do so.

Totally totally safe. Nothing to see here.
Then the speed of your descent would be governed by the material covering your lower half.  If you were wearing linen slacks then you'd fly off the end into a tree. If you were wearing lederhosen, you're probably still stuck at the top.  When you finally reached the bottom, you’d invariably find a moat surrounding your exit.  

Just before your best day turns into your worst day
The earth had slowly been eroded by children's ‘Clarks’ and filled with rainwater which never seemed to evaporate.  This moat wasn't exclusive to the slide however as you'd also find one under each swing, around the perimeter of the roundabout and under each end of the see-saw.  It made asphalt playgrounds much more attractive.



Water painting

Colour so vibrant, you needed polarised retinas
At an age where your drawings of people consisted of just a head with arms and legs sticking out of it, the water painting book was like Merlin's spell book. You're still a few years away from actual paint, you're not allowed anywhere near the felt tips, you've only just discovered crayons and staying 'within the lines' is an advanced class for the older kids who are allowed to play with Plasticine.

F!!
The water painting book had ten pages, each with a line drawing of something fun like a duck in a rain hat or a pastiche of allegorical magical reality, and instead of painting it intricately with a subtle blend of pastel tones, you just had to dip your paintbrush in water and slap it on the paper.  As you did so, a barely discernible colour would begin to appear - a faint, pale, ghostly apparition of a tribute to a colour, creating a world of despair and desolation until you realise that the completed picture is actually a metaphor.  A prediction of what colour the actual world will turn when the child gets their own mundane office job they hate and kids of their own.

White arrow van



The White arrow van was as close to Christmas as you could get without it being actually Christmas.  It was the bringer of all things, Aladdin’s cave, Sport Billy’s holdall, that Karate guy off Batfink's sleeves, that uncle you never saw who gave you money in your birthday cards, finding a fiver in the pocket of your winter coat. It was all of those things combined.  It's the equivalent of today's Yodel or DHL I think, just a courier to many people but to a child in the summer holidays, it brought all your catalogue fantasies to the doorstep.  Stuff you'd pay 25p a week for 52 weeks for. Stuff you'd stand at the bottom of your garden path, staring down the road, hoping to glimpse sight of a navy blue van with the white tick on the side for.  Then it would drive right past and not stop. RUINING YOUR DAY.  Sorry... I apologise for the flashback... 


YOU WEREN'T THERE, MAN!!!

Daisy Chains



Daisies are everywhere these days aren't they? If you're in a grassy field they are anyway.  To boys, daisy chains were like witchcraft or alchemy. Girls could whip up a horticultural-based necklace or bracelet in seconds, then flounce off with an arrogant strut, leaving the boys behind, each holding two daisies, trying to stick them together like two blocks of Lego with no bobbly bits.  

It wasn't until my age was into double figures that I worked it out.  I was ten years old, playing for my school football team at centre half.  As we were playing a team vastly inferior to us (probably the under 5's B team) me and my fellow central defender hadn't had much to do for a good ten minutes so he sat down and proceeded to make a daisy chain (an act for which he was ridiculed for many years following, but I digress).  It was like one of those TV programs where a masked member of the magic circle shows you how they chop someone in half or escape from a locked barrel of water.  He drew back the curtain of mystery that shrouded my innocence that day and I've never been the same since. Cheers Alan!

The Waltzer


The Waltzer will forever remain a mystery to me.  Rickety oval diner-booths on castors with nothing but a rusty metal bar to keep you in your seat whilst a crazed young carnie spins you round, all while you're being carried around a rotating decking-based carpet of death with flashing lights and blaring dance music.  I have to say, it's not my favourite.

Batteries

Ready to power your portable anything
A big part of growing up in the 80s was getting toys with the phrase 'batteries not included' on the packaging.  There was even a movie with that as the title; it was about some alien robot toys that didn't have batteries or something.  

80s batteries were massive (probably still are but I've never needed batteries this big since) - I'm sure, from memory, that AA and AAA batteries were around but all I remember are those ones that looked like the front wheel of a steamroller.  Huge barrel shaped batteries they were; even something tiny like a calculator watch needed eight of them to work for twelve minutes.  

The fact I'm still alive enough to write this means I survived this weird practice, but whenever a particular toy was running out of power, my parents would whip the batteries out and put them in the oven! Then, five minutes later, pop them back in the toy so I could enjoy another twenty minutes of Astro Wars. I'm not entirely sure we should be doing that though. Please google it first.

Space Invaders


The first time I had to come to terms with the fact that the way things look on the box and in adverts are never the same as you get in real life, was at the age of six. I saw this huge arcade cabinet with big scary monsters on the side, big menacing yeti monsters with glowing eyes, stalking the moon menacingly, with lots and lots of menace.  However, when I stuffed my 10p into the slot and gazed down at the screen (I was standing on a box, I wasn't a freakishly tall six year old), I saw cream coloured blobs jerkily blipping and blooping across the screen.  Not a hairy humanoid alien in sight. Don't even get me started on McDonalds Hamburgers.

Life is just one huge lie about hairy aliens and hamburger quality