Monday, August 23, 2004

V ON TV: Let's try this again; our first post on this got swallowed by net congestion
E4 always had a hard task on its hands with its coverage of the V festival. The BBC had an excellent Glastonbury and T in the Park, and even without V usually feeling like the consolation prize of festivals, so many of the bands playing had already been on at Glasto or T (or both) the whole thing was in danger of looking more like a compilation of previous events rather than something fresh and exciting. Here are the Scissor Sisters, and Amy Winehouse, and Jamie Cullum, and Starsailor, and The Thrills, and... but you get the point. And the venue (E4 chose to base itself in Chelmsford) looked less like a bohemian out door celebration of the gods of music and joy, more like a bunch of protestors penned in a public park.

But it's always possible to turn a potential disaster around, and E4 managed it. They turned it round, and round, and round and round so much the programme lurched all over the place in a dizzy and confused fashion, eventually pausing to throw up in a wastebasket full of wasps. The main presentation was handled by Cat Deeley and Vernon Kay, for reasons we're still left fumbling with. Deeley is useless without a script in her hand and, we'd suggest from watching her rambling, confused attempts at interviews and desperate attempts to adlib, without three or four reshoots, and, although she is easy on the eye, she should never be allowed to anchor anything live ever again. Kay, of course, has wide experience of live television - having wasted so many, many precious minutes of his life presenting Top of the Pops At Play to an audience of almost nobody - so he's able to keep a show flowing.The trouble is, he's almost so insanely unlikeable, with his slightly smug air and inability to tell 'thing that happened' from 'interesting thing that happened' he should be used to protect famous people from being kidnapped. No terrorist, however desperate, is going to bundle someone in the back of a van if they have to take Kay as well. Of course, the duo's shit job would be almost forgivable in the context of a live show, but for some reason they decided to leave their clumsy, pointless links for the highlights package as well. (The package, by the way, claiming to be 'LIVE' even as it showed bright sunlight over Chelmsford at ten thirty at night). Even T4's Simon was a bit rubbish, pissing away an interview with the Scissor Sisters in what was meant to be a humorous undercutting of media people's desire to say "I was there first", but was actually little more than Simes' way of telling us "I was there first." Even though he wasn't. He also interviewed Jamie Cullum for what seemed to be three hours.

Cullum, for me, was the highlight of the music - mainly because he desperately tried to get the crowd to sing along, only to be met with a handful of people participating amongst ranks of stony-faced, closed-mouth Pixies fans.

The gimmick of choice this year seemed to be child labour - Scissor sisters had a couple of scary looking blond kids clog dancing to Laura, while N*E*R*D pulled a young lad in a Muse shirt onstage for Rockstar. Jamelia didn't invite any kids on stage, but did show beyond reasonable doubt that she has just one "dance", that hand-wavy thing that she does; it may just have been a bad gig but her much-vaunted astonishing voice doesn't seem to cut it live, either - you wished she'd just shut up and let her backing singers do the work, to be frank. And whoever it was who suggested Goldie Lookin' Chain are simply 2004's Morris Minor and the Majors (on NYLPM, I believe) was being cruel. Tony Hawke's songwriting talents are way beyond what GLC can achieve. In a way, they're a perfect E4 band, working well in a context which pretends that Bo Selecta is funny; but beyond that, they're very patchy. "Guns don't kill people - rappers do" is a kind of funny phrase, but repeating it sixty odd times in three minutes is a comedy cupboard that's been laid bare. Especially if the best rhyme you can think of to go with it is "woo-woo-woo." Stutter Rap? Closer to Rat Rapping.


Simon said...

The first one did post, but anyway:

It's worth pointing out, as you might have missed this, that there was no live coverage on E4 or C4, just the highlights edit, even though it was widely advertised as such, and the edit didn't even try to make it obvious. There were some very strange choices for what was shown too, hardly any current singles, almost random selections - yeah, why go for the big Snow Patrol hit when you can show its B-side? - and the curious omission of the trailed Pixies, which could have just been because they refused to let any of their set be shown, but then they allowed BBC3 to show two songs during T In The Park. And we got to hear Number 13 Baby behind the last link anyway.

Yes, the presenting was awful, no spark at all, although it's going to be difficult anyway if Kay's involved, particularly the moment he launched a link with "I've done my kagoule up!", from which there is surely no possible escape. (Oh, point of order - surely the shows with which Deeley made her name were all live? SMTV, CDUK, Fame Academy, um, the Stars In Their Eyes Kids Final...) This was on ITV2 last year with Sarah Cawood and some bloke I haven't heard of before or since, so why they went full pelt for even less coverage this year is curious.

Simon Hayes Budgen said...

Oddly, the first post - which i've now deleted to avoid me confusing myself too much - didn't actually show up until... well, quite a while after it was posted. Probably too much expensive Japanese lager down at the Google HQ after their IPO.

I'd been wandering around convinced there was some live coverage I was missing, so it's even more perplexing that there wasn't anything actually during the day that would at least have explained the "live" caption. I mean, obviously I don't want to sound like MHP here, but... why? Why was that there?

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