A bloody and violent Korean TV show takes the world by storm. But can it live up to the hype?
What’s The Show?Squid Game.
What’s It All About, JG?Somewhere on an island off the coast of Korea, contestants who are in various desperate situations due to debt and poverty are driven to compete in lethal games for the amusement of a bunch of rich assholes. Yeah, that’s pretty much it.
What’s The Book?Sidesplitter: How To Be From Two Worlds At Once by Phil Wang.
What’s It All About, JG? It’s a not-exactly-a-memoir book that addresses a bunch of topics that stand-up comedian Phil Wang feels the urge to write about – food, comedy, culture and so forth. The book is divided into ten chapters, each dealing with a relevant topic, as Wang explores each one in his own rather rambling but appealing style. Ranging anywhere between the serious to the extremely silly, Wang takes each subject and devotes his attention to it in his own inimitable style.
Oh 1999, how long ago you seem. Remember the days when all you had to do to get a hit was turn the tone control on a mixing desk from low to high and hope nobody noticed how ridiculously simple that was? Ok that’s a little unfair, but not everything stands the test of time. What’s interesting about Fatboy Slim these days is both how genuinely, unexpectedly impressive the music sounded back in the heady days of 1999 and how rather facile it sounds now. Still, in many ways Fatboy Slim’s breakthrough album, You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby is extremely forward-looking – prescient even. It’s essentially the template for, to take one not-at-all-random example, Moby’s career, and many others will follow in its wake. That’s not a criticism of artists like Moby who will use this template, but it does demonstrate where it comes from.
We deal with the second song on Please Please Me this episode as we tackle the all-too-aptly named “Misery”. Does the song justify its spot as the second track on the album? How does the style fit with the rest of the tracks? And just why do Pink Floyd get name-checked?
We reach the first track of the first album on today’s episode as we discuss “I Saw Her Standing There”. Does it make for a good album opener? Is it a good representation of the band? And just how well (or otherwise) does the 70’s Lennon cover with Elton John stand up? (hint: not great!)
What’s The Topic?Korean TV, and the wonders thereof.
Even the most pop-culturally blind person in the world could not really have failed to notice just how dominant and mainstream K-Pop has become in the world. BTS are, of course, the big-ticket item there, and have secured an enduring legacy outwith their home country and around the world . Even just a few years would have seemed vastly unlikely except with a novelty hit like “Gangnam Style”. Yet music – and there’s a whole lot more to Korean music than just K-Pop – isn’t the only place Korean culture has been flourishing.
It would be fair to say that Madonna’s Imperial phase came to an end pretty much with the 80’s. Her chart success in that decade was practically without parallel but nobody’s Imperial phase lasts forever. The 90’s were decidedly more hit and miss – there was movie success (Evita) and movie failure (the quite abominably frightful Body Of Evidence). There was music success – “Vogue” and “Justify My Love” most notably in the singles charts – but though the album before Ray Of Light, Bedtime Stories, had sold in predictable boatloads because, well, Madonna has a lot of fans, neither it nor its singles really impacted the public consciousness outside of her fandom all that much. There was a four-year gap between Bedtime Stories and Ray Of Light – not quite unprecedented for Madonna but still matching the longest period between albums she had ever taken. And, in truth, her public image was slipping.
The man who saved Doctor Who from obscurity returns to his throne. But how good an idea is that?
Russell T Davies is returning to the world of Doctor Who.
This is, to put it mildly, an interesting development. Davies’s absence from the Doctor Who world, after standing down alongside David Tennant back in 2008, has been fairly striking. Other than a brief, and really rather excellent, cameo during the (also rather excellent) The Five-ish Doctors Reboot, he was entirely in absentia from Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary shindigs. While some of that might simply be out of respect for his replacement, Steven Moffat, it’s still noticeable that the person responsible for guiding the show back from the Wilderness Years, and the person who single-handedly turned it into one of the most popular shows on television, was completely absent from the big party. Davies has done nothing for Big Finish at all, a company he claims to have been rather proud to have saved in the early days of the new show by quietly deflecting questions about licencing. And if ever there was a refuge for Doctor Who writers of the past, it’s Big Finish. There’s been the novelization of Rose, and it’s pretty good for what it is, but beyond that? Zip.
That career in pop music didn’t quite happen for Natalie Imbruglia. You can tell because, really, when was the last time you thought about Natalie Imbruglia? Exactly. The answer is almost certainly “the last time “Torn” came on the radio / was played in the mall”. We are firmly in one-hit wonder land and, you know, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s not quite the whole story but let’s be honest, if anyone can name another song she recorded without having to Bing it then that would be pretty remarkable.
For our second episode of our podcast we dive into the B-side of the first entry, which means we’re covering P.S. I Love You. How does the song compare to its A-Side? Does the structure hang together? And just why do the Chipmonks intrude on the conversation?