Ok, so Christmas was two months ago, and my birthday isn't until November, BUT does anyone fancy donating a rather large sum of money to my good self so I can go to America and attend the Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls?
Once upon a time, a long time ago (well, in 2002), I was actually in a band. I played clarinet, sang backing vocals, and was the only member of our musical quartet who didn't have a beard. We did two gigs in Oxford, one of which involved a man setting his leg on fire halfway through our set, and my friend Marianne running up onto the stage between songs so she could nick my cigarettes. We eventually went our separate ways after our lead vocalist had a Mark E. Smith style strop, and sacked us all so he could make weird eight-minute math rock epics in his bedroom. However, it was fun whilst it lasted, and I have always secretly harboured dreams of being the next Patti Smith or Joan Jett. Hell, I'd settle for being the next Dolly Parton come to think of it.
I know I'm not the only one who harbours girlish dreams of musical stardom, which is why the Rock and Roll Camp for Girls looks so...well...rock!
This is 'I Would Take the Pain Away', a song recorded by Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari, former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's 18-year-old daughter.
Bakhtawar is currently a student at the University of Edinburgh. Apparently Bhutto encouraged her daughter's musical pursuits, and in 2007 Bakhtawar met P Diddy. 'I Would Take the Pain Away' is dedicated to her mother, and the video features footage of Bhutto at an election rally, shortly before she was killed by a suicide bomber.
There are myriad fabulous things about Eartha Kitt, but here are my top five:
1. She was the only person in the world who could accurately pronounce the word "rowr".
2. Orson Welles called her "the most exciting woman in the world".
3. She continued to work despite having colon cancer - her last gig was just two months ago.
4. In the 1960s she was invited to lunch at the White House. While there, she spoke out against the Vietnam war: "You send the best of this country off to be shot and maimed," she told the group of about 50 women. "They rebel in the street. They don't want to go to school because they're going to be snatched off from their mothers to be shot in Vietnam."
5. She implored Father Christmas to "slip a stable under the tree". You know, for her many horses. Or at least I thought she did when I was a child.
Make the jump to watch Eartha Kitt doing her thing, singing "Santa Baby".
This is Eliza Wren Payne. She's from Utah, is bald, wears arm-warmers, has dimples, and is awesome.
I saw her supporting Nik Kershaw (yes, 1980s legend Nik Kershaw - we don't need to go into why I was there) at the Luminaire in Kilburn a couple of weeks ago.
When Eliza came onstage I expected her to either be another Winehouse clone or one of those purveyors of faux-Celtic melancholy (not necessarily a slight - I myself am one of this tribe, all plucked strings and yodelly sighs and references to broken-off love affairs and flowers that have withered all).
But she wasn't.
She sings playful, artfully arranged songs with a beautiful but not showy voice that slips seamlessly between low and jazzy, sweet and scratchy, and high and operatic.
There's no denying it, all-girl bands get a bad rap. I'm not talking about female vocal groups - for want of a better term to distinguish between girls singing in harmony and women wielding instruments - but bonafide bands. It's not a common sight, is it?
"Addicted To Love" is partly to blame - that unmentionable Robert Palmer video where clueless models stare vacantly ahead as they wiggle along to the beat, confused by the wooden thing on a strap they find hanging round their necks. In my line of work I have come across a few stage directors who want to recreate that look for pop shows. "Guys, I've got a great idea - let's get a bunch of girls in to be the backing band, it'll be soooo "Addicted To Love" - brilliant!" Ick.
Read on after the jump - I'm just getting started and there are videos to watch!
It's the time of year when all the "Ones To Watch in 2009" lists start to proliferate across the internet, many of them regurgitating content from elsewhere to keep up with whatever the current tastemakers (whoever they are) are recommending for the New Year. I'm not one for following the crowd, so here's a little twist on the concept.
Five artists you didn't watch in 2008 but really should have:
1. Carina Round - currently holed up in a studio in North Hollywood recording her fourth album, this woman channels the dense poetry of Patti Smith with a ferocious power all her own. A mesmerising live performer, Wolverhampton-born Carina toured with Annie Lennox in 2007 and The Gutter Twins in 2008, but remains one of the music scene's best-kept secrets. More people deserve to hear her in 2009 - keep up to date with her blog and YouTube channel.
What's not to love about her? From her deadpan delivery on jolly songs about abortion ("Oasis") to the photo book where she poses as a beautiful corpse (with text by Neil Gaiman) she's irreverent, creative and always interesting.
Here are my top five reasons to love Amanda Palmer:
Fact: I adore Kylie. But what did Danni Minogue do wrong? She's never really been embraced by a the British nation. In fact, after reading this piece in The Sun, I'd go as far to say that you lot just plain old don't like her.
Why? Read my top five reason why I prefer Kylie and have your say after the jump.