Britney’s new single: the inspiration behind the multitude of Youtube covers

Britney Spears’ new single, Hold It Against Me, has only been out for about a month, but it’s already inspired a large number of covers on Youtube.

From the couple of videos I watched, most people have remade the dance-pop song into a slow ballad, and I’m quite impressed. These two versions, in particular, stood out to me.

The first is by Chester See and Andy Lange, and the other is by Sam Tsui; both musicians are quite prominent on the internet and you can even purchase Tsui’s music on iTunes. If you enjoy See and Lange’s cover, it’s available freely from Lange’s website. I have had this on heavy rotation for the past week.

The striking thing about the covers has been the fact that a song with dirty lyrics could be transformed into a meaningful love song. It’s amazing how changing a song’s arrangement can do so much.

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When news just isn’t news

I like the Sun-Herald and I read it every Sunday. But I didn’t like the fact that slap bang on today’s front page was Kristy Fraser-Kirk and her fiancee and the headline, “EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Kristy Fraser-Kirk on marriage and life after DJs”. It’s one of those stories that you would expect from trashy tabloids like New Idea (together with a massive cover photo). I do wonder, does anyone still care about a person who hogged so much of the spotlight last year? I’m sure we’re sick of hearing about her.

The Fraser-Kirk update wasn’t the only story that irritated me. On page three, there was another un-newsworthy story about Juanita Phillips, the ABC newsreader. Yes, a newsreader is a fascinating news item! It turns out her marriage is on the rocks and her husband is in hospital suffering from bowel cancer. As the ABC said, it’s a private matter, and also it’s none of anyone’s business.

Perhaps it was a slow news day. but how depressing to think that good ratings depends on stories like these.

Pop music’s obsession with sex

Checked out the iTunes Singles or the ARIA Singles Charts lately? You won’t be surprised to know that many of the songs that feature in the top 20 are just about sex with not much subtlety.

Let’s look at the iTunes Singles Chart (as of January 30). First place is taken by Rihanna’s S&M. In case you weren’t aware, that’s short for sadomasochism. Number two is Wynter Gordon’s Dirty Talk. No prizes for guessing what that song is about. Katy Perry’s Ryan Tedder-esque E.T. takes fourth place, and it’s basically a song about Perry’s sensual love for an extraterrestrial alien who she begs to “take me…wanna be your victim, ready for abduction”.  Enrique Iglesias’ terrible track Tonight (I’m F***in’ You) comes in at number nine. (The censored counterpart that replaces the f-word with Lovin’ is at number 25.)

Then there’s Avril Lavigne’s single What The Hell at number 10 and from the surface you would not even guess that the song was related to sex at all. Well, if you google the lyrics – as you do with all songs – you notice that the ex-sk8er girl is telling off her boyfriend for wanting a monogamous relationship. “You say that I’m messing with your head All ’cause I was making out with your friend. Love hurts whether it’s right or wrong I can’t stop ’cause I’m having too much fun”.

What else is there? Oh, there’s Usher’s More at number 13. I haven’t actually heard this particular track but upon doing a quick Google search, I found that once again it’s just like the songs I’ve already mentioned – sex, sex and more sex in wonderfully descriptive language: “I’m a beast, I’m an animal, I’m that monster in the mirror, the headliner, finisher, I’m the closer, winner. Best when under pressure one second’s left I show up.”

I’m not done yet and I am only at number 15, which is taken up by The Lonely Island’s I Just Had Sex. No explanation needed again. Little Red occupies the 18th spot with Rock It, a track that isn’t quite clear about what it’s on about. Is the band singing about dancing all night long or something else? Hmmmm.

Lastly, Britney Spears’ new single, Hold It Against Me is at number 19. The song has no artistic quality at all, but as a pop music enthusiast, I quite like it despite its shallow lyrical content courtesy of Max Martin and Dr Luke. It’s like her last single, 3 – complete trash, but terribly catchy and addictive.

That rounds up the iTunes Top 20 Singles Chart. I hope you won’t hold it against me – definitely not in the way Britney is insinuating – and think that I hate pop music because I think it’s all sex-driven. I confess that I do enjoy pop music. I even admitted that I liked Britney’s single. But perhaps you will be a bit more conscious of the lyrical content of songs you listen to when you turn on the radio or iPod.

2010: another year of sex scandals

Have you lost track of how many sex scandals have been exposed by the media during 2010? No doubt you would. 2010 was another year filled with plenty of scandal to keep the media happy. In Sunday’s Sun-Herald, Matt Golding published a witty cartoon that summed this up. I thought it was hilarious especially with the dog staring directly at “Canberra Raiders Lewd Act With Dog”.

Notice the pun used- “naughties”. I thought this was a very clever and accurate way to describe the decade that has passed. We like to talk about it as being a time of great technological advances thanks to smartphones and social media. But along with their popularity, we have seen a surge in the number of sex scandal stories to the extent that it might as well have its own section in the news.

Crikey recently published an interesting article describing how things have changed dramatically thanks to smartphones and social media. In the past, those whose dirty secrets were exposed were just unlucky. “The two Aston Villa stars made a VHS video (remember them?) in 1998 with four women only for “Joe Public” to “find” the video in Yorke’s garbage and hand it to UK tabloid The Sun,” writes Leigh Josey.

Nowadays, you don’t need to dig around someone’s trash to find a sex scandal because there is Facebook and Twitter, or better yet, the Internet where anything and everything will viral. There’s no point thinking about policing this because it’s impossible. Plus, you have to be really stupid to let people take photos of you doing something like having sex with a dog.

Unless these celebrities finally get the point and learn to think (I highly doubt this), we can only expect more sex scandals in 2011 and in the next decade.

Lindt review

I usually never have issues with many cafes unless they ruin the coffee but even then, I’m quick to forgive and will return.

However, tonight was a different experience when I went with my friends to Lindt Café at Cockle Bay Wharf, Darling Harbour where we received terrible service.

First off, the Asian man who made our orders would not allow me to collect them until I had physically shown him the receipt. Fair enough, I thought.

Just as we began to enjoy our hot chocolates, the same guy comes over and booted us out. His reason? We were not allowed to drink inside the café because we had purchased TAKE AWAY drinks.

I don’t really see the justification. Okay, it was a take away drink so I should be taking it away but I have never known a café to kick a customer outdoors because they decided to purchase a take away drink?

I will say that I did enjoy the hot chocolate, and in case you’re wondering, their take away hot chocolates are $4.50 for a small.

I guess this is what happens when you’re a big company in a nice area. You can overcharge and people will still come and buy your products. I won’t totally dismiss Lindt, but let’s say I’m not a fan of the take away rule. (Can’t a customer change their mind?) Overcharging, I can live with.

Update: As you can see in the comments section, Lindt has graciously responded to my post. To Lindt. thank you. I appreciate and respect that someone takes the time to see what customers think of their products (good and bad). I reflect on what I wrote and believe it was harsh although it was how I felt at the time. Also a slight correction, their small hot chocolates are $4.50 for a takeaway.

Everybody hates Kristy

Kristy Fraser-Kirk has finally settled her $37 million claim against David Jones and its former CEO Mark McInnes. At last!

Sadly for her, she didn’t get that massive sum of money she wanted. Instead she received $850,000, which is still a lot of money. Never mind that she’s settled the case because Fraser-Kirk is not giving a single cent to charity.

What does that say about her character? In a statement, Fraser-Kirk says:

“I had asked the Court to award punitive damages, which was to go to charity, but as the Court will no longer be determining the case that’s no longer possible. I look forward, however, to participating in charitable work in the future.”

Pfft! What a lame excuse. Sorry guys, I would only give to charity if I got the sum I asked for, but since I didn’t I’m keeping it all to myself.

A cartoon by the Sydney Morning Herald’s cartoonist Cathy Wilcox explains this perfectly.

Well sorry Kristy, if you seriously cared about exposing sexual harassment in the workplace, you would have bettered your cause by perhaps giving some part of that money to an organisation or group that supports women.

A reader’s letter to the SMH probably explains it better.

“This is the latest distortion that has sadly affected Ms Fraser-Kirk’s credibility. First was the outlandish $37 million claim. ‘General damages in sexual harassment cases have never exceeded the low hundreds of thousands of dollars and ‘punitive’ damages are usually awarded in the low tens of thousands of dollars (if at all). Her claim can be viewed only as a poorly advised publicity stunt … To restore some credibility, she should donate some of the damages to charity. To say it is no longer possible is a distortion, and she knows.”

In a poll by the SMH, turns out most people agree that Fraser-Kirk was only out to get money.

Perhaps she was courageous (the other option) at first but any sympathy that I and probably many others had for her disappeared when she demanded $37 million, then asked David Jones to pay for her US holiday, and now this.

I hope she enjoys the money. She better save it because it’s highly unlikely any company will want to hire her now.

Junk food akin to drugs, according to ad

The whole debate over junk food advertising and its link to childhood obesity is one that will never go away. In the Sun-Herald today, there was an article about a controversial commercial that has been released online, which you can watch here. It’s been quite popular with over 230,000 hits on Youtube.

The ad made by Sydney agency, Precinct Studios,  shows a mother preparing heroin. As she is about to inject her son, the scene changes to show him eating a hamburger. It ends with the message: “You wouldn’t inject your children with junk so why are you feeding it to them?”

The ad blames parents for the obesity epidemic saying feeding them junk food is like injecting them with drugs.  This view is backed up by the managing director of the agency, Henry Motteram who told the SMH “it’s not their fault. The more I thought about it, the more it came back to the parents every time.” He adds that giving junk food to children is the same as child abuse.

While I believe that parents hold some responsibility for what their child(ren) consume, feeding them junk food is definitely not like feeding drugs. That is, unless it’s their staple diet and they are eating nothing else. But that does not seem to be the ad’s position. The ad is advocating NO JUNK FOOD at all. There is nothing wrong with the occasional hamburger. I’m all for it.

Those who disagree with the ad like Karen Sims from lobby group the Parents Jury say that advertisers are part of the problem. “Parents cop the blame for childhood obesity but that’s simplistic view,” she told the SMH. “There are plenty of products which are marketed as being healthy when they are not. Then there are the products which make children believe the world won’t spin unless they have them.”

With the exception of the argument that advertising contain false information about being healthy (this is where I strongly support the outrage of parent groups), at the end of the day, parents have the final say. Using Sims’ terms, it’s simplistic to just blame advertising for creating overweight kids. The food industry is a business and companies need to market their products.

Parents should encourage their children to develop good habits including healthy eating from an early age. They don’t have to give in to the advertisers or their kids when they beg them to buy whatever it is they want. There are a lot more dangerous threats than junk food advertising outside and you can’t censor everything.