Monday, March 12, 2007

Miscellany: 12 March

Goodness, it's been longer than I thought... oh well.

- This is the best BBC news story ever.

- Somewhat less excitingly, the environmental lobbyists are getting very worked up about "ghost flights" at Heathrow. The basic idea is that you lose your slot at Heathrow if you don't use it - and the slots cost so much that even if you're not running a real service, it's cheaper to fly a plane back and forth for no reason than to stop flying and automatically surrender the slot.

This is being presented as a green story, but surely there's a simpler way of looking at it. The reason BMed is running these pointless flights is to avoid losing its slot. (It formerly used the slot to run a service to Tashkent, but withdrew it on the grounds of civil unrest in Uzbekistan, which seems fair enough.) The underlying policy is that there's lots of demand for Heathrow, and so once you've got a slot, you use it or lose it. Obviously, if you can hold onto the slot by running empty flights, and it's become economically worthwhile to do so, then the policy isn't achieving its aim, and it needs fixed. Environmental considerations don't even need to enter into it, surely?

- Hey, Charlotte Hatherley has a new album out! That seems an ideal excuse to post the video for Bastardo. Which was on the previous album, but who cares?

I'll never understand why that album wasn't a bigger hit. It's got more hooks in one track than most bands manage in a career. ("Kim Wilde" is especially packed - here's a completely unrelated YouTube video which uses it as a soundtrack.)

- When did it become acceptable for mainstream pop acts to make novelty records again? Lily Allen with a puppet teeters on the brink of gimmickry, to put it mildly. But I don't know quite what to make of Christina Aguilera's "Candyman", an acknowledged riff on "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy." Forties retro? That's an, er, interesting choice.

By all rights, this should be ridiculous. It's Christina Aguilera doing the Andrews Sisters, for heaven's sake. (That's why there's three of her.) And indeed, it is ridiculous. But still... it's rather good, isn't it? If you're going to do something that absurd, you've got to go all the way, and boy, they've done it with that video. It's even got the right colour tone - it ought to have a Technicolor logo on it somewhere. Meanwhile, Christina Aguilera throws herself into playing a living cartoon, and gets away with it. She's a better performer than I'd given her credit for, actually.

It's a really odd record, but I approve. It takes a degree of nerve to release something that silly.

- And if you prefer much, much cheaper videos: here's Regina Spektor in front of a television.

Not quite the cheapest official video I've ever seen - the Pixies' atrocious effort for "Velouria" is unlikely ever to be beaten - but this one is at least good.