Recently I fired up GarageBand for the first time, after a decade or more of ignoring the pre-installed app that was sitting on my hard-drive. A few hours and half a dozen Apple Loops later, I had a song, the first I’d created (“composed” doesn’t sound quite right when it’s all loops) since an abortive attempt in my teens to become a guitarist to rival Mike Oldfield. And you know what, it doesn’t sound half bad: the effect is like some of the loungey jazz electronica I used to listen to a decade ago. A few weeks later, it still doesn’t make me cringe with embarrassment, unlike my attempt to sing “The Sun Always Shines on T.V.” at karaoke with colleagues last month.

Read More · 28 December 2015

As you’d expect of someone who’s rated all of U2’s UK number one singles as good or better, I once again contradicted the usual chorus of U2/Bono hate in this thread (which at least wasn’t as much of a chorus as it was in some). I can’t see Bono in the same dismissive light as so many at Popular do; to quote Gag Halfrunt, he’s just this guy, you know? (Blinding revelation: Bono is Zaphod Beeblebrox, in all his good and bad aspects.)

Read More · 12 August 2015

It was a record year for turnover at the top of the UK single charts, but I haven’t had much to say about many of 2000’s number ones. Here are some more of the honourable exceptions.

Read More · 5 May 2015

Popular has spent 2015 exploring the number ones of 2000, which is starting to tread on musical ground first covered at this very site; but a lot can change in fifteen years. Here are some of my initial comments on the year’s UK number ones, edited and adapted.

Read More · 5 May 2015

I’ve spent the past week and a half preoccupied with Blur’s new album The Magic Whip, which is better than anyone had any right to expect. It’s fast become my favourite Blur album since The Great Escape, possibly even since Parklife, which for an unexpected comeback is some sort of miracle; it’s as if they never went away.

A few blurry links: interviews and analyses at DIY and The Sunday Times; reviews at Drowned In Sound and The Guardian; Graham Coxon and Stephen Street talk about it.

4 May 2015

Music in 2014