The Snow In The Summer or So-So

12/25/2006 - 12/31/2006

Wed 27 Dec 2006

Charts of the Year (1): FI, LT, NL

Finland

So, guess what's top of the pops for 2006 in Finland. Their record-breaking Eurovision entry? Something by one of their hugely successful metal exports? Er, no.

01 mika kesa - valvomo
02 hard rock hallelujah - lordi
03 guardian angel - lovex
04 sekaisin - antti tuisku
05 vapaus johtaa kansaa - cmx
06 rukous - maj karma
07 you - tarot
08 viides vuodenaika - mokoma
09 sauna paale - bloodpit
10 broken promised land - private line
11 boten anna - basshunter
12 punainen viiva - timo rautiainen
13 rakastele mua - zen café
14 sorry - madonna
15 eternal pyre - slayer
16 hips don't lie - shakira
17 fairytale gone bad - sunrise avenue
18 house of sleep - amorphis
19 energiaa - pete seppala
20 mimic47 - diablo

In Europe's fastest-moving singles survey, the equivalent of ten weeks at number one is sufficient to give Valvomo the year's most successful single. The group was beaten in the Eurovision national round with a folk song that would never have even thought about getting out of the semi-final. Competition winners Lordi finished just about a week behind, with local rockers Lovex taking third place. Indeed, Lordi's hit was the only one of the top ten to chart outside Finland. The pan-Scandinavian hit Boten Anna is the biggest hit to be familiar outside Finland. Note the top 20 place of Fairytale gone bad, which is just creeping into the German charts.

Lithuania

01 hips don't lie - shakira
02 sorry - madonna
03 dani california - red hot chili peppers
04 happy birthday - flipsyde
05 promiscuous - nelly furtardo
06 you and your hand - pink
07 tonight - reamonn
08 aukso pieva - jurga
09 one - mary j blige / u2
10 stars are blind - paris hilton

We're giving a top 10 for those nations where there's only an airplay chart to use, and the M-1 chart is perhaps more Western-facing than much of the country. Shakira had an average position of number 11 every week for the year. Flipsyde were a German boy-band, whose one hit has mercifully not been followed up. Jurga is the only Lithuanian act in the top ten, and her Nebijok was last year's top tune.

Netherlands

01 rood - marco borsato
02 crazy - gnarls barkley
03 hips don't lie - shakira
04 als de morgen is gekomen - jan smit
05 no worries - simon webbe
06 la camisa negra - juanes
07 I don't feel like dancing - scissor sisters
08 boten anna - basshunter
09 mas que nada - sergio mendes
10 toppertje - guillermo & tropical danny
11 talk - coldplay
12 dance4life - tiesto
13 because we believe - andrea bocelli / marco borsato
14 everytime I think of you - marco borsato & lucie silvas
15 the great escape - ilse delange
16 sos - rihanna
17 you give me something - james morrison
18 right here right now - raffaela
19 one word - anouk
20 because of you - kelly clarkson

No surprises to see Marco Borsato at the top of the list here, he is to the Netherlands as Robbie Williams is to the UK. He has a huge lead at the top of the annual chart, the equivalent of ten weeks at number one, and another entry lower down the top 20. Gnarls and Shakira were international hits, Jan Smit a local dose of schlager. Note the remarkable success of former Blue member Simon Webbe. The Netherlands was the only territory outside Scandinavia where Boten Anna has been a hit.

permanent link
posted 27 Dec 2006, 13.10 +0000

Entertainment
Two Songs a Week 55 - Greenwich

One of the most curious one-hit wonders of the mid-90s was Spacehog, whose In the meantime only ever brushed the bottom of the top 30. A four-piece group of Brits, who met in New Amsterdam and blended glamour with crunching rock, the group was the personal project of record boss Seymour Stein. Huge budgets, massive promotion, but not enough raw talent to be anything more than a short-lived trivia question. In concert, the group attracted praise for its showmanship, but this excitement never transferred to the records. Only the telephone samples and rising-and-falling oohs of their minor hit are remembered. But, hey, what a four-minute wonder.

permanent link
posted 27 Dec 2006, 17.35 +0000

Two Songs a Week

Fri 29 Dec 2006

Charts of the Year (2): FR, BE

France

01 gabriel - najoua belyzel
02 living on video - pakito
03 facon sex - tribal king
04 la boulette generation nan nan - diams
05 le papa pingouin - pigloo
06 pas de temps - faf larage
07 roc - nadiya
08 hips don't lie - shakira
09 coup de boule - plage
10 baila morena - zucchero
11 un ange frappe a ma porte - natasha st-pier
12 j'voulais - amine
13 rock this party - bob sinclar & cutee b
14 le titou - titou le lapinou
15 diras que estoy loco - miguel angel munoz
16 slipping away - moby
17 we are the champions - crazy frog
18 aimer jusqu'a l'impossible - tina arena
19 everytime we touch - cascada
20 tous ces mots - nadiya
21 la camisa negra - juanes
22 zidane y va marquer - cauet
23 crazy - gnarls barkley
24 jeune demoiselle - diam's
25 le ragga des pingouins - pigloo
26 donne-moi une vie - yannick noah
27 la jungle des animaux - bebe lilly
28 amies ennemies - nadiya
29 fous ta cagoule - fatal bazooka
30 world hold on - bob sinclar

France is the third largest singles market in Europe, and is surely entitled to list a full top 30. Not much to choose between the leading singles, as Najoua's anthem triumphs from a loose cover of a mid-80s dance classic, and an African-tinged drumbeat. Below come two local rappers and an animated penguin covering one of the unsuccessful entries from Eurovision 1980. Nadiya is the act of the year, putting three in the top 30, headed by the theme to the €20,000 box on A Prendré où a Laisser. Also in the top ten are The Ubiquitous Shakira™, the return of Italian superstar Zucchero, and the first of two songs about Zinadine Zidane's head - the other is at position 22.

Lower down come animated rabbits, the Eurovision 2001 entrant, a failed Aussie star, the Spanish language single of the year, and an old tennis player. All human life is here, with songs in four languages (five if you count the baby-talk of Lilly at 28). Leading British interest, by the way, was James Blunt at position 33. Last year's Star Academy winner, Magalie Vaé, made 76; it will be interesting to see how this year's winner, Cyril Cinélu, will fare.

Wallonia

01 hips don't lie - shakira
02 gabriel - najoua belyzel
03 living on video - pakito
04 la camisa negra - juanes
05 rock this party - bob sinclar & cutee b
06 aimer jusqu'a l'impossible - tina arena
07 la boulette generation nan nan - diams
08 unfaithful - rhianna
09 coup de boule - plage
10 roc - nadiya
11 crazy - gnarls barkley
12 un ange frappe a ma porte - natasha st-pier
13 world hold on - bob sinclar
14 temperature - sean paul
15 slipping away - moby
16 facon sex - tribal king
17 baila morena - zucchero
18 I belong to you - eros ramazzotti and anastacia
19 we are the champions - crazy frog
20 goodbye my lover - james blunt

That's the French-speaking part of Belgium, which follows France quite closely - seventeen of the top 20 are in the French top 20, and only Rhianna and Eros / Anastacia didn't do much. It's like English-speaking Canada and her provinces to the south. Anyway, The Ubiquitous Shakira™ leads the way here, and Belgians are absent from the top 50 entirely - Mike's Good Morning Mike, at number 53, the biggest local hit. Not Kate Ryan, the outrage at her defeat in Eurovision translated only to a number 71 hit for the year.

Flanders

01 rood - marco borsato
02 lief klein konijntje - henkie
03 hips don't lie - shakira
04 rock this party - bob sinclar & cutee b
05 je t'adore - kate ryan
06 I belong to you - eros ramazzotti and anastacia
07 la camisa negra - juanes
08 crazy - gnarls barkley
09 I don't feel like dancing - scissor sisters
10 ya ya yippee - k 3
11 pump it - black eyed peas
12 prison break - kaye styles
13 beep - pussycat dolls
14 een tocht door het donker - thor
15 goodbye my lover - james blunt
16 isn't it time - udo
17 hard rock hallelujah - lordi
18 because of you - kelly clarkson
19 unfaithful - rhianna
20 my humps - black eyed peas

That's Dutch-speaking Belgium, as you might recognise from the best-seller. It beat an interpretation of The battle hymn of the republic (yes, the revolutionary song, which readers might also know as John Brown's body) by four clear weeks. The Ubiquitous Shakira™ is close behind. Two Eurovision entries in the top 20 - local girl Kate Ryan fell out in the semi-finals, but made number 5 here, and is the only French language single to chart all year. Her follow-up, the English Alive ended at 30 for the year. Eurovision winners Lordi are down at 17. We're still surprised that the Eros and Anastacia song wasn't a huge hit across the continent, only really selling in Belgium and Germany.

permanent link
posted 29 Dec 2006, 10.43 +0000

Entertainment
The week in a post

Have I stumbled across too many depressing Myspace layouts that have sapped my Christmas spirit?!

I make no apologies for being unusually quiet in the past week, there are perfectly good reasons why. Here's a bundle of stuff from the past week or so.

We welcome any excuse to big up Melissa Ferrick (and the people who sell merchandise at her shows), but must raise eyebrows at this bibble from a syndicated arts feature:

One of the hardest-touring artists going, Ferrick somehow found time to lay down her sixth album in the past year.

Crikey, six albums in one year? That's good going! Or bad journalism. Which is more likely.

Speaking of bad writing, I've been reading I Wish I Was Me, the 2000 autobiography from Pete Waterman. He explains how he single-handedly invented European disco, gave us Fly Robin fly and the Belle Stars and left the keyboard loop on You spin me round by accident, and treated Bananarama like hard-partying nieces. His plans for a rail company came to nought, and it does rather feel like he's used the book to big himself up. It's a trait that most of us find annoying in Jonathan King, and Waterman is no better. There's a lack of attention to detail - calling records top twenty hits when they peaked at 23 makes us question other points he makes. And, being a 2000 book, there's no word on Pop Idol. But plenty on Steps, which is no bad thing. And he does close by saying that the internet will be good for pop music when you can see something on the telly and order it at once. Where's Leona Lewis when we need her? Number one? He's right, and JK (the internet will never amount to more than 5% of the music business) was wrong. Anyway, the book was knocked down to 50p in a clearance sale, and I can't honestly say that it was worth much more.

Quite the most bizarre thing I've heard in recent days was Capital Disney's Santawatch programme, from 8pm until midnight last Sunday. Cube regulars James and Val spoke to festive characters include Mr. Frosty (snowman), and made plans to interview Mr. S. Claus, should he visit. Star of the show was E. Bunny, Esq, who I never knew was Welsh-Romanian, and who finds work to be a little slack at this time of year. Can't think why.

More conventionally interesting was Sisters of Aphrodite, the Third Programme's feature on goddesses, comparing the Greek love goddess with Mary of christian faith. It's on Listen Again until Sunday evening. UK readers might also be interested in a bunch of free tracks from GWR's new jazz station, The Jazz, available until 2 January. (And it is UK only, not even extending to l'Ireland.)

Television: I've managed to avoid CBBC's Doctorwho programme. Caught Vicar of Dibley, then remembered why I've not bothered to watch since the last millennium. 'Snot funny. Never Mind the Full Stops really is a radio programme with pointless visuals and a pompous chairman. Recognised a lot of the French clips from Fort Boyard Takes Over The World, and rather enjoyed Eurosport's filler from the Great Outdoor Games. Unimpressed with It Started With Swap Shop, and one glance at the production credit (Unique for BBC2) explains why. Pick of the season was Pat Gibson's steam-rolling of all opposition in the Brain of Britain final. As familiar as it is magnificent.

As it's the last days of the year, a number of famous people have died. Finding a good way to get a long obit in the paper this year were Charlie Drake (comedian), James Brown (wife-beater), Marmaduke Hussey (chairman of the B.B.C. governors), Saparmurat Niyazov (Turkmen dictator), Dennis Linde (songwriter), John Butched (Coventry M.P.), and Gerald Ford (first motor car to lead the southern Canadian provinces).

One clipping: Sam Leith sticks up for Fairytale of New Amsterdam.

Bono has been awarded a knighthood, against the advice of someone who makes Tony Blair look like a yammering idiot. Apparently he's a saint, he's going to save the world, yada, yada, yada, but my God! He never even takes the sunglasses off. Paris was right. Big deal. Paris is always right.

permanent link
posted 29 Dec 2006, 11.33 +0000

News
Look back at Correspondents Look Ahead

Stephen Sackur hosted Correspondents Look Ahead 2006, which went out on 30 December 2005. There was also a listener phone-in, which we're not reviewing.

The panel each began by offering a single prediction: Frank GARDENER, the security correspondent. Increasing condemnation of al-Qaeda, and an export of brutal jihadists from Iraq. I don't think either came to pass.

Carrie GRACIE, the China correspondent, went for China to become number 4 in world GDP, ahead of the UK and France. According the the International Monetary Fund, this has happened, albeit by barely 0.2%, which may be within the margin of error.

Caroline WYATT of Europe said that there would be a year of navel-gazing over immigration and integration. This was obvious, but still true.

Justin WEBB said that the Failed Colonies would psychologically pull out of Iraq, and declare victory. The first came to pass, the second did not.

James ROBINS, diplomatic correspondent, said that there would be increasingly strident and bellicose grumblings against Iran, stopping just short of military intervention. It was bad, but never that bad.

Stephen SACKUR, host, tipped the chop for Charles Kennedy. Spot on.

First substantive discussion was on the environment; WEBB said that nothing would be done by the military junta, but posited the evangelicals might force their hand by declaring the preservation of the creation to be a good thing. An interesting idea, and one that is taking place in some congregations, but not one that has yet dominated policy. GRACIE said that there's no mechanism for the Chinese to enforce their rules, other than bringing bad publicity on their heads. ROBINS said that India wanted the industrialised world to pay, and WYATT told that the French don't discuss their Kyoto requirements.

GARDENER suggested that Gulf oil states don't want prices so high that there are moves away from oil. ROBINS and WYATT said that Russia got the soft soap because of its oil wealth. The panel suggested that this wasn't to be the year of nuclear power - ROBINS correctly spotted that the UK would go nuclear but reluctantly.

Turning to Iran, GARDENER suggested a lot of talk, much behind-the-scenes action. ROBINS said that the United Nations would get involved, in spite of the loss of tactical advantage. Both were correct

A significant pull-out of forces from Iraq looked likely a year ago, and GARDENER was positive. He split the Iraqi nationalists from the imported fundamentalists, suggesting the latter group followed the same ideals as al-Qaeda. WEBB proposed a phased withdrawal, even if the resistance continued, by accepting greater losses. This did not happen. ROBINS said that prochain ancien British prime minister Mister Tony Blair needed some troops to come home. True, but still not happening.

GRACIE says that her listeners on the World Service are deeply hostile to the policy of the junta; ROBINS says it's antipathy to the policy, not the individual people. WEBB talked about the insularity of the Yankees, and said that there would be little progress towards Palestinian independence. SACKUR wondered what Ariel Sharon's policy would be - this programme was made just days before his career ended. GARDENER said that the region would become more polarised, which did come to pass.

Terrorist threats, and GRACIE said that there would be a debate about where to draw the line between protection of civil liberties and the prevention of terror. The debate raged, with stunts from the government to keep fear high. WYATT said that the main worry was the discontented young people in the suburbs, waiting for an ideology. ROBINS quoted Mary Robinson, that the west has lost the moral high ground. WEBB called this utterly ludicrous, made a false equivalence between Iraq 2002 and the modern-day Potomac Basin, and claimed that the provinces were free and successful.

WEBB and GRACIE indulged in a slanging match about the international responsibilities of the FARCE and Red China, with WEBB airing more separatist propaganda. GARDENER brought the discussion back to reality, that human rights was the one remaining moral figleaf, and was ruined by abuses. GRACIE says that it's as much about perception as reality, and Red China is winning.

There was a round of People To Watch. GRACIE nominated Sven-Goran Erikkson. England hadn't beaten Sweden in 37 years. Keep counting; last we heard, Sven was turning down the manager's job for the FARCE team.

GARDENER asks: what happened to Osama bin Laden. Good question.

ROBINS named former Singapore prime minister Goh Chok Tong as the next UN sec-gen; he was right that it's Asia's turn, but the job went to Ban Ki Moon. Alex Pettifer of the Stormbreaker movies would also be big.

SACKUR tipped John Sentamu, archbishop of York and future Celeb Big Brother contestant, and W. Rooney, football player. The first £100 million footballer?

WEBB tipped Barak Obama as a possible Dem VP candidate, and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela to prop up the Castro regime, or that of his successor. Castro remains alive, but does get support from Sr. Chavez. Mr. Obama would be right as VP, not president just yet.

WYATT tipped Nicholas Sarkozy as a pop-up presidential candidate in France, and Audrey Pulvar, the only black newsreader on French television. She's good, but she's no David Pudjas.

A trade deal in 2006? No, said ROBINS, but the positive deals on Africa will help. That Russia takes the G8 president doesn't help, as ROBINS claimed the Russians see Aricans as sub-human. WYATT said that M. Chirac was a stumbling block. WEBB suggested that the christian right might keep Africa on the agenda, and GRACIE that the Chinese saw political advantage.

Attention turned finally to the World Cup. WYATT said the Germans were prepared, especially for crowd disturbances and security. WEBB said that he would re-read Proust, but didn't understand baseball at all.

Gadget of the year? SACKUR nominated the $100 wind-up laptop.
ROBINS - solar panels, to save money.
WYATT - the bicycle, to get healthy and save oil.
GRACIE - a gadget finder.
GARDENER - personal stereo down your glasses frame.
WEBB - the personal technology consultant, a plumber for high-tech questions.

Forget the predictions that were way off beam, concluded SACKUR. We'll not give him that much cheat, but will suggest that the panel was more right than wrong.

That was Look Back at Correspondents Look Ahead. The next installment will follow next year.

permanent link
posted 29 Dec 2006, 12.23 +0000

Intellectual
Charts of the year (3) - PL, LV, EE

Poland

01 on an island - david gilmour
02 talk - coldplay
03 spider's web - katie melua
04 lonely day - system of a down
05 bylabym - hey
06 a pain I'm used to - depeche mode
07 afterglow - inxs
08 life is wonderful - jason mraz
09 maneater - nelly furtardo
10 john the revelator - depeche mode

The Radio Trojka chart, so only a top 10. The station appears to play rock for mature audiences, which explains the presence of hoary old rocker David Gilmour, though mercifully not his band Pink Floyd. In fairness, his song is actually rather good, and deserved to beat Coldplay by more than a single place. Two from Depeche Mode in the top ten, and it's been a rare week that they've not featured in the station's top 20. The Ubiquitous Shakira™ did not chart at all.

Latvia

01 lilian - depeche mode
02 beautiful morning - enas
03 suffer well - depeche mode
04 so beautiful - darren hayes
05 viss mainijies - gain fast
06 martyr - depeche mode
07 lapsa - prata vetra
08 digitally bright - brainstorm
09 hips don't lie - shakira
10 mr greene - dons
11 uzmini nu - h2o
12 sparni - linga
13 lights out - dons
14 promiscuous - nelly furtardo
15 verni moyu lyubov - valerij meladze & ani lorak
16 somehow - enas
17 krokodils - double faced eels
18 sexyback - justin timberlake
19 pa jokam - double faced eels
20 veter - brainstorm

A national airplay chart, the single most reliable listing compiled anywhere to the east of the Iron Curtain. Depeche Mode are popular, with three in the top six. Enas and Gain Fast are local talents, while Prata Vetra are Brainstorm when performing in Latvia, ensuring that just 13 different acts appear in the top twenty.

Estonia

01 rahutu tuhkatriinu - mari leen
02 sorry - madonna
03 advertising space - robbie williams
04 vota aega - tanel padar
05 iseendale - ines
06 talk - coldplay
07 I don't feel like dancing - scissor sisters
08 ule tumeda vee - smilers
09 you and your hand - pink
10 ingel - blacky
11 no promises - shayne ward
12 you've got the love - source
13 far away - nickelback
14 ugly - sugababes
15 crystal ball - keane
16 wisemen - james blunt
17 tudrukune - tanel padar & the sun
18 hips don't lie - shakira
19 la camisa negra - juanes
20 don't bother - shakira

The Eesti chart appears to be a full national sales-and-airplay chart, so a top 20 it is. Mari Leen is a local candy-pop singer, Tanel and Ines have both been hugely successful at Eurovision. Below the top three, there's very little to choose between the songs, such is the way of a sales-and-airplay combo. Two in the top 20 for The Ubiquitous Shakira™.

permanent link
posted 29 Dec 2006, 18.11 +0000

Entertainment

Sat 30 Dec 2006

Charts of the year (4): DK, NO, SE

Denmark

01 mr nice guy - trine dyrholm
02 boten anna - basshunter
03 glenn fransisco - niarn
04 arghhh - dolph
05 crazy - gnarls barkley
06 the hjarta & smarta - kent
07 brudevalsen - teddy pedersen
08 love generation - bob sinclar
09 the cynic - kashmir
10 sorry - madonna
11 john the revelator - depeche mode
12 suffer well - depeche mode
13 who the fuck are the - arctic monkeys
14 royksopp's night out - royksopp
15 one - mary j blige / u2
16 klip I mit korekort - bamses venner
17 we are the champions - crazy frog
18 hung up - madonna
19 I don't feel like dancing - scissor sisters
20 stars are blind - paris hilton

If Finland is the fastest-moving chart in Europe, then Denmark's has to be the slowest. Last year's number one is this year's number one, and Trine Dyrholm's dominance has been utterly remarkable - no fewer than 29 weeks as the national best-seller, 21 weeks in the runner-up position, and just two weeks at number three. She's hardly been out of the top two all year! Kent's and Royksopp's singles were also releases from last year. Niarn and Dolph are also local talent.

Norway

01 one - mary j blige / u2
02 hips don't lie - shakira
03 boten anna - basshunter
04 I don't feel like dancing - scissor sisters
05 hallelujah - espen lind, kurt nilsen,
     alejandro fuentes, askil holm
06 respekt for grandiosa - grandiosa
07 a little too perfect - aleksander denstad
08 crazy - gnarls barkley
09 tir n'a noir - vamp
10 lift me - madrudaga / ane brun
11 sexyback - justin timberlake
12 maneater - nelly furtardo
13 it's all coming back to me now
     - meat loaf & marion raven
14 as to I osjlo - ravi
15 unfaithful - rhianna
16 floden - bjorn eidsvag
17 don't save me - marit larsen
18 love I can't defend - elvira nikolaisen
19 stupid girls - pink
20 just hold me - maria mena

A massive lead for Bilge and U2, finishing almost two months (at number one) ahead of The Ubiquitous Shakira™. The number 5 single is a Norwegian super-group, including the reigning World Idol. Both members of 2000 group M2M appear in the top twenty - Marion at 13, Marit at 17, and the latter's Under the surface anchors the top 30. Bad luck to Madonna, who finishes at positions 21 and 22 for the year. Leading Brits were Coldplay, who put Talk at position 35.

Sweden

01 everytime we touch - cascada
02 boten anna - basshunter
03 who's da'man - elias / frans
04 7milakliv - martin stenmarck
05 I don't feel like dancing - scissor sisters
06 crazy - gnarls barkley
07 metal will stand tall - the poodles
08 evighet - carola
09 trust me - united djs / pandora
10 temple of love - bodies without organs
11 right here right now - agnes
12 smack that - akon
13 do what you're told - sebastian
14 casanova - pimp diddy
15 my love - justin timerlake
16 mambo - helena paparizou
17 hurt - christina aguilera
18 sexyback - justin timberlake
19 rain - ola
20 sing for me - andreas johnson

They did love their cheesy dance in Sweden this year, with Cascada winning by a length from Scandinavian dance geeks Basshunter - the big song is about an IRC bot, and follow-up Vi sitter i ventrilo och spelar dota takes its name from a voice chat program and a World of Warcraft game. We kid you not! Elias is a five-piece boy band, augmented by a guest vocalist, while Martin Stenmarck heads a parade of five Eurovision entrants and wannabes in the top 20. He was the national entry for 2005, and returned this autumn with a massive-selling live EP. This year's entry from Carola does almost as well as it did in the contest proper, Melodifestival entries from Bodies Without Organs and Andreas Johnson, and the release from last year's winner Paparizou were also hits. Agnes and Ola were from casting shows, and the Poodles appear to be a semi-spoof group in the mould of WigWam. They also went in for Eurovision, but not with this song. Highest place for a Brit was number 30 for Shayne Ward's No talent promises. We deserve a return of the Rednex (number 34 for the year) in revenge.

permanent link
posted 30 Dec 2006, 11.37 +0000

Entertainment
Two Songs a Week 56 - Raise a glass

After the excesses of Christmas, the New Year holiday always gets a very rough ride. There's Dina Carroll's rather fabulous The perfect year, and, er, Cliff Richard's This new year, and, er, that's all.

All? No! New year is, as the name suggests, a new year song by the Sugababes. You know, Mutya, Keisha, Siobhan. The classic line-up, who blended garage beats with swoonsome vocals, and all three had the looks and attitude to become huge stars. When the group's first single, Overload, came out in early autumn 2000, that looked to be a question of when, not if. Follow-up Run for cover features some of the greatest harmony work from the digital age. Sadly, London Records were so incompetent that they managed to turn a loss on the first album, and let the group go in summer 2001. They split up, a tragic waste of talent.

So tragic that Mutya and Keisha promptly got back together again, and recruited blonde Liverpudlian Heidi into the group. Though good, she wasn't a patch on Siobhan. The group mixed Freak like me into Are "friends" electric?, made an eye-popping video, and catapulted themselves into the premier league of pop. The group have never really been pushed outside the UK and the near continent, which is a tremendous shame.

As is the Stalinistic reworking of the group's history. Mutya left the group early this year, and their fourth album, Taller In More Ways, was re-issued with her vocals replaced by those of new member Amelle. A similar phenomenon has taken place for the group's greatest hits album - Siobhan's take on the first two singles has been replaced with inferior work by Heidi.

Let's not carp too much; it's fair to say that the Sugababes have been the single greatest pop act of the twenty-first century; always stylish, always sophisticated, and they now possess a familiar sound that is entirely their own.

permanent link
posted 30 Dec 2006, 13.38 +0000

Two Songs a Week

Sun 31 Dec 2006

How far has Livejournal fallen? (3)

Has my cron job worked, so that I can publish figures from 2006 in 2007? Result!

The headlines

size	accounts	11925333 (+208246, 1.78%)
size	accounts_active_1	489134 (-100323)
size	accounts_active_30	1808939 (-43342, -2.34%)
size	accounts_active_7	1096006 (-82096, -6.97%)
userinfo	allow_getljnews	431723 (-3396, -0.78%)
userinfo	total	11910953 (+208214, 1.78%)
userinfo	updated	7731271 (+94530, 1.24%)
userinfo	updated_last1	192288 (-40596)
userinfo	updated_last30	1075476 (-28995, -2.63%)
userinfo	updated_last7	596644 (-47993, -7.44%)

Slightly slower growth this month - November saw 215,000 new accounts - but it's all consistent with 1.8% growth per month, 24% per annum. I think the single most important statistic here is Active: 30d, the accounts that are used in a month. That was -1.21% last month, -2.34% this. Mark Kraft, himself a former staff member, prefers to monitor Updated: 30d, which has been falling at around 1.8% per month since the start of 2005.

The benchmark figure for accounts created by people is Userinfo: Updated, which increases at 45% of the full account speed for the second month.

Gender

gender	F	3270136 (+57872, 1.80%)
gender	M	1580353 (+32266, 2.08%)
gender	U	1917539 (+52291, 2.80%)

Total gender declared: 6,768,028 (+142429, 2.15%) (57% of Accounts, 88% of Updated - both figures have inched up.) Again, the stereotype that Livejournal is female dominated is being slowly reversed. At 0.3% per month, it'll be around a year before there are half as many declared males as females on the system. Note that this figure will include the unused accounts, the statistics do not give information on who actually uses the system.

Age

As we suggested last month, modal age has ticked up from 18 to 19. Rather than propose a graph that isn't changing shape from month-to-month, here's a list of the ages with at least 100,000 people:

age	15	192730
age	16	365731
age	17	478658
age	18	531666
age	19	533783
age	20	496836
age	21	444710
age	22	355492
age	23	287148
age	24	237562
age	25	187031
age	26	182522
age	27	121030

Quartiles come at 18.3 (n/c), 20.9 (+0.1), 24.7 (n/c), consistent with the usual aging process. Total declaring an age: 5,297,813 (+169379, 3.30%) (78% of Gender, 69% of Updated). Both figures have moved up.

Top 20 Countries

US	3242494	+35435
RU	403335	+16458
CA	272764	+3918
UK	232672	+4095
AU	110237	+1930
UA	46578	+2049
PH	42604	+1047
DE	39413	+897
SG	37198	+1760
FI	31581	+700
JP	26411	+514
NL	22265	+354
IL	16343	+417
NZ	15891	+325
BY	15162	+739
BR	14928	+364
ES	14790	+381
FR	14137	+362
SE	10550	+266
IE	10116	+216

224 other countries: 241,593

Total countries declared: 4,861,062 (+78009, 1.63%) (90% of those declaring an Age, 71% of Gender, 62% of Active - all down a point). In the top 20, Belarus (BY) continues to climb, this month moving past Brazil (BR). Fastest growth amongst the 20 came from Belarus (up 5.1%) Singapore, Ukraine, Russia - all managed 4% growth, no other nation grew by 3%. Canada (1.5%) and US (1.1%) continue to grow more slowly than accounts overall, but are joined this month by the Netherlands (1.6%).

Signups

Livejournal signups, Decembers 2001-6

The November period actually runs from 29 November to 29 December.

There's interest in this month's graph, as December 2003 saw the removal of invitation codes, causing a six-fold increase overnight. Five days in 2006 (3, 17, 18, 25, 26) saw more sign-ups than the corresponding date last year, and 30 November had more signups than in 2004.

Total signups:
2001 - 19,915
2002 - 37,237
2003 - 236,626
2004 - 290,140
2005 - 223,890
2006 - 208,768

Interests

It is remarkable that the same 454 interests are recorded this month as last. I can't rely on a fixed list of categories, so must discontinue this section of the analysis.

Syndicated feeds

Top 10
Blogthings	33306	+81
PostSecret	23731	+383
Dictionary Word of the Day	16589	+136
Neil Gaiman	15419	+194
Astronomy Picture of the Day	10699	+152
Penny-Arcade	8879	+94
Sinfest	8560	+84
VG Cats	8278	NEW
Dan Savage	7831	+68
Overheard in New York	7753	+77

VG Cats was number 8 in October, but was missing from November's survey for reasons that are not clear. It has exactly as many readers as it did in October.

Readership of feed ranked:
50	1307 (+24)
100	647 (-9)
200	297 (-3)
500	114 (-6)
1000	52 (-2)

The Zipf distribution allows us to approximate n = (1/k^s)*a
where n = number of readers
k = rank
s = exponent (experimentally, 1.13)
a = scalar multiple (experimentally, 117,000)

We might extend the table:

2500	17
5000	8
10000	4
25000	1
50000	1

Somewhere around 56,500 feeds have at least one reader. Note that these last figures are not comparable with previous months, as I've included all available data, rather than a subset.

These are the statistics. Conclusions, as ever, are yours.

permanent link
posted 31 Dec 2006, 12.03 +0000

Blogging
Charts of the year (5) UK, DE

Germany

01 love generation - bob sinclar
02 crazy - gnarls barkley
03 no no never - texas lightning
04 hips don't lie - shakira
05 unfaithful - rhianna
06 54 74 90 2006 - sportfreunde stiller
07 maneater - nelly furtardo
08 I don't feel like dancing - scissor sisters
09 zeit dass sich was dreht - herbet gronemeyer
10 I belong to you - eros ramazzotti and anastacia
11 big city life - mattafix
12 ich bin ich (wir sind wir) - rosenstolz
13 danke - xavier naidoo
14 das beste - silbermond
15 schwarz und weiss - oliver pocher
16 sexyback - justin timberlake
17 because of you - kelly clarkson
18 buttons - pussycat dolls
19 hung up - madonna
20 ding - seeed
21 dieser weg - xavier naidoo
22 one - mary j blige / u2
23 she's like the wind - vibekings
24 just be good to me - karmah
25 hard rock hallelujah - lordi
26 happy birthday - flipsyde
27 you and your hand - pink
28 sos - rihanna
29 promiscuous - nelly furtardo
30 I still burn - tobias regner

Heading the pack - and heading it by a month at number one - is Bob Sinclar's semi-official theme to the world cup. The football event also made hits 6, 9, and 15. Gnarls and Shakira were ubiquitous everywhere, Texas Lightning were the biggest German Eurovision entries in almost a quarter-century. It's a shame that Eros and Mattafix never made it outside Germany. There are a couple of dodgy 80s covers towards the bottom of the list, and one Eurovision winner.

UK

01 hips don't lie - shakira
02 crazy - gnarls barkley
03 I don't feel like dancing - scissor sisters
04 from paris to berlin - infernal
05 I wish I was a punk rocker - sandi thom
06 no tomorrow - orson
07 put your records on - corinne bailey rae
08 chasing cars - snow patrol
09 sexyback - justin timberlake
10 maneater - nelly furtardo
11 nasty girl - notorious big
12 because of you - kelly clarkson
13 sos - rihanna
14 who knew? - pink
15 thunder in my heart again - meck / leo sayer
16 everytime we touch - cascada
17 america - razorlight
18 smile - lily allen
19 irreplaceable - beyonce
20 you give me something - james morrison
21 all time love - will young
22 that's my goal - shayne ward
23 welcome to the black parade - my chemical romance
24 sorry - madonna
25 promiscuous - nelly furtardo
26 she moves in her own way - kooks
27 beep - pussycat dolls
28 voodoo child - rogue traders
29 smack that - akon
30 put your hands up for detroit - fedde le grand

This is based on chart positions, not sales, but there's a remarkably strong correlation between the two lists. No place here for A moment like this, which concentrated three-quarters of a million sales into two weeks.

permanent link
posted 31 Dec 2006, 16.04 +0000

Entertainment
Charts of the Year (6) - North Europe's Top 50
01 hips don't lie - shakira
02 maneater - nelly furtardo
03 because of you - kelly clarkson
04 crazy - gnarls barkley
05 promiscuous - nelly furtardo
06 you're beautiful - james blunt
07 everytime we touch - cascada
08 boten anna - basshunter
09 one - mary j blige / u2
10 I don't feel like dancing - scissor sisters
11 smile - lily allen
12 talk - coldplay
13 put your records on - corinne bailey rae
14 love generation - bob sinclar
15 la camisa negra - juanes
16 starlight - muse
17 no tomorrow - orson
18 america - razorlight
19 fill my little world - feeling
20 push the button - sugababes
21 chasing cars - snow patrol
22 you and your hand - pink
23 ugly - sugababes
24 she moves in her own way - kooks
25 is it any wonder - keane
26 bad day - daniel powter
27 black horse and the cherry tree - k t tunstall
28 breakaway - kelly clarkson
29 sexyback - justin timberlake
30 chelsea dagger - fratellis
31 monster - automatic
32 dani california - red hot chili peppers
33 rock this party - bob sinclar & cutee b
34 a pain I'm used to - depeche mode
35 ldn - lily allen
36 hard rock hallelujah - lordi
37 gabriel - najoua belyzel
38 no no never - texas lightning
39 hung up - madonna
40 sorry - madonna
41 empire - kasabian
42 from paris to berlin - infernal
43 who knew? - pink
44 it's not that easy - lemar
45 goodbye my lover - james blunt
46 unfaithful - rhianna
47 I belong to you - eros ramazzotti and anastacia
48 living on video - pakito
49 john the revelator - depeche mode
50 unwritten - natasha bedingfield

No surprises to find The Ubiquitous Shakira™ takes the top spot, it headed the list for eleven weeks. Nelly Furtado's eight- and seven- week toppers nestle in the top five, while Gnarls was kept from the top by Shakira. Kelly's hit was an eleven-week topper in the opening quarter. The other chart-toppers finish at positions 20, 39, 23, 40, 17, 16, 18. U2 and Green Dull make 66, Take That 105, and Nelly Furtado's current leader is 96. Basshunter, Najoua, Eros and Anastacia, and Pakito are the only four records not to be released in the UK. Depeche Mode had a remarkable year, placing 34 and 49, with Suffer well at 51 and Martyr at 59.

permanent link
posted 31 Dec 2006, 16.35 +0000

Entertainment
Charts in week 52

North Europe's Top Twenty

 20 16 U2 / Green Dull - The saints are coming
 19 20 Faf Larange - Pas de temps
*18 NE Lily Allen - Littlest things
 17 13 Nadiya - Amies ennemies
 16 14 Feeling - Love it when you call
 15  8 Fatal Bazooka - Fous ta cagoule
 14 10 Justin Numberwang - My love
 13 15 Depeche Mode - Martyr
*12 NE Pogues / Kirsty MacColl - Fairytale of New Amsterdam
*11 NE Monrose - Shame
*10 12 Faudel - Mon pays
  9  4 Razorlight - America
  8  9 Akon - Smack that
  7  6 Seizure Sisters - I don't feel like dancing
* 6  7 Snow Patrol - Chasing cars
* 5 11 Silbermond - Das beste
  4  3 Clitring Aguilera - Hurt
  3  5 Wham! - Last christmas
  2  2 Take That - Patience
* 1  1 Nelly Furtado - All good things

Unlike some other chart shows we could mention, we're giving the top 20 its usual treatment. Lily Allen is up to her third hit of the year, Monrose won a casting show in Germany, and the Pogues and Kirsty you'll know. Snow Patrol are back at their peak after five months on the chart.

Let's take this chart in something less than 128 seconds. Leona Lewis retains the top spot, holding off Take That. Iron Maiden has the highest new entry, Different world may not ever get played on the Radio 1 chart show. Akron climbs back to 4, Cascada holds at 5. Two other releases of significance - Sharam's Party all the time goes from 36 to 8, and David Gilmour follows up his Polish chart-topper with Arnold Layne, a duet with David Bowie. Big Bass comes in at 27.

As is traditional, there are re-entries and climbers galore. Booty Love move 18-6, Razorlight's America goes 23-15, the Seizure Sisters 27-16, the Council Estate Slappers 32-21, My Chemical Romance 42-24, Amy Whinehouse 37-25, Justine Numberwang 53-30, the Feeling 41-31, and Shakira 49-33. There are plummets for the festive singles - the Pogues slip 6-13, Slade 21-34, The Annoying Thing 16-62, Andy Abraham drops out of the 75 from position 26, and Cliff Richard plunges 7-43. In any other week, lemming of the week would go to McFly, who slump 3-20 - Iron Maiden will do well to equal that next week.

Outside the 40, Good Shoes bow at 48, they're an Xfm band. Nine records re-enter from outside the top 75, typically climbing around 20 places, and there are eight other climbs of ten places or more. None from the High School Musical, though, they move 58-52 and 61-66 after the show aired on BBC-1 last Friday.

Take That retain top spot on the albums list, ahead of Oasis, Snow Patrol, Razorlight, and the Beatles. Pink moves up to 6 on reductions in the sales, which also boost Kasabian (59-19), Muse (51-33), Pussycat Dolls (71-34), My Chemical Romance (56-35), James Blunt (83-37). Plunges include Westlife (2-7), Ill Divo (4-15), Angelis (25-55), All Angels (37-57), and Andrea Bocelli (38-65).

Good and possibly good stuff on the singles listing:

 3 NE Iron Maiden - Different world
11 15 Nelly Furtado - All good things
13  6 Pogues and Kirsty MacColl
  - Fairytale of New Amsterdam
15 23 Razorlight - America
19 NE David Gilmour - Arnold Layne
20  3 McFly - Sorry's not good enough
23 17 Razorlight - Fall to pieces
24 42 My Chemical Romance
  - Welcome to the black parade
31 41 Feeling - Love it when you call
32 28 Lily Allen - Littlest things
33 49 Shakira - Hips don't lie
34 21 Slade - Merry xmas everybody
36 33 Mary J Blige - MJB da MVP
48 NE Good Shoes - The photos on my wall
50 70 Razorlight - In the morning
51 54 Killers - Bones
52 58 High School Musical OCR - Breaking free
54 69 Pink - You and your hand
57 38 Matt Willis - Don't let it go to waste
59 74 Lily Allen - Smile
60 73 Kasabian - Shoot the runner
64 re Pink - Who knew
65 re Kasabian - Empire
66 61 High School Musical OCR
  - We're all in this together
68 re Goo Goo Dolls - Iris
72 75 Panic At The Disco
  - I write sins not tragedies
75 re Lily Allen - LDN

permanent link
posted 31 Dec 2006, 19.56 +0000

Entertainment
Weather in week 52

Cool and still weather persisted until Wednesday afternoon, when much milder weather pushed in from the south-west. Very heavy rain on Saturday afternoon caused five football matches to be abandoned up and down the various English divisions.

25 Mo cloud                4/ 5
26 Tu cloud                3/ 4
27 We cloud                3/ 6
28 Th rain o/n, sun        6/ 9, 4.5
29 Fr rain early, cloud    5/11, 2.5
30 Sa heavy rain           9/ 9,21.0
31 Su cloud, showers       4/11, 8.5

107.5mm of rain this month, well above the average of 62.5mm. A "mere" 23½ degree heating days this week, the winter's total now 188½, compared with 282½/808, and 226½/677½ in the past two winters.

Expect showers at any time, but it will be mild - very few if any night frosts outside the Highlands. Strong westerly winds will continue until Wednesday, Thursday in the eastern parts, and the final blast will be from the north, so do wrap up.

permanent link
posted 31 Dec 2006, 20.22 +0000

Weather

older writing... write to