Can’t get it out of my head

I keep finding myself humming The Locomotion because a colleague had his first baby, a girl, earlier this week, and named her Eva. (Little Eva, geddit?)

Anyhow, that segues nicely into one of my personal highlights of the week.

The Brits

Wednesday’s annual music awards was, in many respects, fairly predictable. Duffy cleaned up, winning three awards. A big name – this year it was Coldplay – was nominated in several categories and came away with nothing. At least one of the ‘live’ acts – ahem, Take That – mimed their performance. There was a bit of a fuss over the fact that Leona Lewis – who notched up number 1 singles on both sides of the Atlantic in 2008 – wasn’t even nominated for Best Female Solo Artist. The trendy favourites du jour – or those backed by co-ordinated Facebook campaigns (Iron Maiden) – won the big prizes.

In other respects, though, it was two hours of anarchic TV that demonstrated an ability to insert tongue firmly into cheek in a way the Grammys never would. From the moment dancing co-hosts James Corden and Mathew Horne joined Kylie Minogue in performing Can’t Get You Out Of My Head to the Pet Shop Boys’ closing medley (accompanied by the Killers’ Brandon Flowers and Lady GaGa, no less.) There was a terrific live performance by double winners Kings of Leon. And the stage set – replete with cardboard cows, giant rubber ducks and a caravan – was, err, distinctly odd.

Somehow I don’t think Sunday’s Oscars will be quite this surreal.

Heroes

Heroes is back in the UK with volume 4 (the second half of season 3) next week. Even allowing for the fact that there will be two new episodes shown on Monday, this means we will be two full weeks behind the US, which is a shame. Now the BBC showed episodes from the first half of the season just a couple of days after US transmission, so I’m not sure why we have the two week delay this time around. Boo, hiss.

Whatever happened to the killer album?

It’s probably partly due to the fact that iTunes has changed the way many people purchase and listen to music – for instance, I now frequently download a couple of singles by an artist I like rather than buy the full album – but when I do buy an album, I am frequently disappointed. More often than not, I will listen to a new album a couple of times, complain about the proliferation of ‘filler’ tracks, and then never play more than my favourite three or four tracks ever again.

Over the past four years I’ve bought probably 50 albums, but I can count on my fingers the number which I will still listen to without reaching for the fast forward button: Employment and Yours Truly, Angry Mob by Kaiser Chiefs; Lily Allen’s Alright, Still; Rihanna’s Good Girl Gone Bad; Eyes Open by Snow Patrol; We’ll Live And Die In These Towns by The Enemy, maybe.

I bought three albums last week. The Sugababes’ Catfights And Spotlights was hugely disappointing – two decent singles, not much else, 5/10 at best – I was glad I’d only paid £4 for it. I took a punt on Lady GaGa’s The Fame off the back of her number 1 single Just Dance, and it’s definitely grown on me after a second and third listen, but even though I’d rate it 7/10, I doubt I’ll be listening to more than five tracks in more than a month’s time. Finally, Lily Allen’s It’s Not Me It’s You is also worth at least a solid 7/10, but if I fast-forward a year from now, I can definitely see myself plumping for Alright, Still in preference the next time I want to kick back to Allen’s razor-sharp lyrics for 45 minutes.

That’s the thing about killer albums. They don’t come along very often – and with increasing rarity the older I get, it seems – and you automatically find yourself reaching for one you have heard a hundred times over one you bought just last week.

A couple of years ago, I listed my top 100 songs of all time. I really must have a go at naming my top 50 albums too; it would be interesting to weigh up how more contemporary albums stack up against, say, Brothers In Arms or Like A Virgin. I’ll need a long think about what I want to listen to while I’m compiling the list, though …

Valentine’s Day

My parents were staying with us over the weekend, and kindly agreed to babysit on Saturday night to allow us to go out. We ended up going out for dinner at Carluccio’s in Oxford (where we had a lovely meal), after my first attempt to book the local Thai in Newbury had me snorting in disbelief at their £36 a head ‘special’ menu – normally, a meal there is about £25 each – and their attempts to book us into one of their two sittings at 6.30 or 9.00pm. Who says Valentine’s Day isn’t a licence to print money? Restaurants, cards, flowers: everything seems to cost a fortune. Money can’t buy you love – when it comes to February 14th, it doesn’t seem to buy you very much of anything.

Zac update

Zac continues to develop apace. He seems to have put the challenge of walking to one side for the moment in favour of pushing and/or climbing on everything: he’s been clambering on top of his toy box for a while now, but in the past few days he has been leaning on the rocking chair in his bedroom saying “Row, row, row” and then two nights ago he managed to climb and stand on top of the rim of the bath all on his own. Scary.

Other than that, he seems to be learning at an ever faster pace. I taught him how to knock on doors earlier this week, and he now waves “bye bye” energetically whenever he is leaving somewhere, or even to announce that he wants to leave. And then there are the seemingly random things that make him laugh: the latest two are burping (which is good for at least five minutes of non-stop cackling) and pausing a TV programme. No, I have no idea why either.