Let's face the music...

I've never watched this show much before, despite its reign across student TV sets, but tonight I ended up watching the second episode at a friend's house and was pleasantly surprised.

What I don't like about all these panel shows is the dragged out emotions and Strictly Come Dancing is like so many other shows in that it operates around a negative philosophy of voting people off, the whole series is like a slow-motion firing line where the audience sits through a never-ending showcase of anticipated silences and very scheduled erratic applause, then after a reel of weeks and losers - one very smiley person remains.

Still, I think there are several factors that redeem this and make it a great program. Firstly there are some great characters. Bruce Forsyth cannot fail to amuse. He hovers with frailtly inbetween the judges and the dancers, his tuxedo practically holding him up, shuffling awkward questions at the contestants while straining to lift his eyes off the girls' breasts. Then there is Brunio Ravioli, who it seems is encouraged by the show's makers to be very elaborate and play on an Italian stereotype. The audience often don't laugh where he wants them too, which is enjoyable, and he also offers plenty of strange idioms that are obviously ineffectual translations, I love him. Tess Daly is always fun to watch too, her hair holds remarkable invincibility and she has a kind of half-attention that places her celestially above most of what is happening on the show.

The contestants are the best though, the sheer pic n' mix of celebrities. Heather Small from M People is actually a very talented, wealthy and respected pop singer, and even Rachel Stevens is very famous (even if most of her accumulated fortune comes from lads mags). But then some of the other contestants are barely celebrities at all, to the extent that I cannot even name them here, but their egos always carry enough conviction.

The costumes are of course the final punch of this show. I wish I bought some shares in glitter and sequins last month.

I'm already looking forward to next week's episode, I hope Arlene Phillips puts on a thick smudge of lipstick for me.
Words: Jack Cullen

Fever Pitch

I was in bed for three days this week with flu. By 'flu' I mean a severe headache, hot and cold sweats, swollen glands, fits of shivvering, a sore throat, eye strain, ringing ears, back and neck ache and a loss of appetite.

Like most boys who went to boarding school I very rarely fall ill, probably because boarding schools equip you with a mega immune system (due to a mixture of that great jolly hockey sticks outdoor life + cleaning dirt and grime off statues of lions + other bacterial exposure that I won't elaborate upon). So I'm usually really pissed off when I do catch something.

However, I discovered my own three-step recovery plan which I am about to reveal for you. Forget Nurofen, forget paracetemol, forget fruit and vegetables. This works better than anything a pharmacist can sell you...
1) Day Time TV
My weapon of choice is anything presented by Kristian Digby, for example To Buy or Not to Buy or Open Homes. Kristian (pictured above) is energetic, friendly and gently camp. He is always impeccably dressed and politely takes the piss out of everyone on his show. His well-spoken and well-mannered ways are like Vitimin C for the soul. Watching him present on TV will make you long to recover so that you too can prance about the streets shaking hands with rosy-cheeked chartered surveyors.
Other good ones to watch are Cash in the Attic and Bargain Hunt.
Quiz Shows are bad for recovery though. Not only will the inability to answer questions will put further weight on your headache, but Dale Winton will make you vomit and Anne Robinson can make you go into a recession and actually expire.
2) 1980s Chart Music
You need to do this in stages. Start with something slow and meaningful like Kate Bush or Gloria Estefan. Female solo artists who can empathise with your pitiful state and will sooth your ears.
Then go for something a little stronger and life-affirming. Perhaps Duran Duran.
Then finish off with something utterly pop-bent and up-tempo. For me Bananarama are the best. It's impossible to feel ill in the presence of their cheery harmonies. The best medium has to be cassette tapes, they capture the period's sound - plus the way the tape deck neatly closes shut and the way you nudge the little play button down - the satisfaction will rocket your recovery time, I promise you.
Avoid Grace Jones. I know she's fucking cool, but you're trying to get better right?
3) Drink Lots of Water
Self-explanatory, no?

Words: Jack Cullen

How do ASDA make their in-store playlist?

I nipped to ASDA this evening with my housemate Leo in order to pick up a few bits, chiefly meat, since I had already done my weekly shop at Sainsbury's but omit meat from my shopping list there since it costs about 7 quid for some wafer thin not-quite turkey.

Now I understand that all supermarkets have their drawbacks:

For M&S it's the lack of brand - no Coca Cola, no BabyBel, no PJs.
For Morrisons the major drawback is their guantanamo bay floor layout - virtually no lighting, nauseatingly thin aisles, agressive failed marines on the fish counter etc.
For Waitrose it's the embarrassingly large selection of ice cream and the fact that the check-out queue looks like a scene from Night of the Living Dead.
For Tesco it's their disgustingly cone-headed book section which offers the works of Jordon against a backdrop of 'the painful lives' genre and the true Fred and Rose West story.

ASDA are perhaps my favourite supermarket. Their prices are so dirt cheap they may as well be giving food away, they give lime green a role in life and of course they have George which is amazing if you want to buy clothes only to then rip them up, paint them and customise them before a fancy-dress party (although sadly some people do actually shop in George as if the racks were pret-a-porter). But what is the drawback to ASDA? The answer smacked me in the face this evening just as I was on the brink of choosing which Crunch Corner to get (I know the chocolate cornflakes with banana yoghurt are the best, but I al-l-l-ways get that one) I was in the midst of this pleasant dairy-based decisiveness when suddenly the instore speakers launched proudly into 'Elvis Ain't Dead' - that awful song by Scouting for Girls.

Scouting for Girls are terrible in general, they sound like a small boy who has just trapped his finger in a closing door, they look like the people you wish you never gave your number to in fresher's week, and I'm pretty glad I have no idea what they smell or taste like. But 'Elvis Ain't Dead' is their worse song by far. The lyrics at best are an abridged version of Dolly Parton "since you been gone I can do what I like", and at worst are a relentless repetition of an uninteresting cliche. The main riff also captures the feeling of a dedicated masturbation session where all parties involved cannot wait for the end, not because of the thrill it will bring, but because it will be the end.

There are three contexts to the photo of this band (pictured above) that I could come up with:

1) They are paying a visit to the area from which most of their fans originate
2) Glasto organiser Emily Eavis spotted a flop and gave them the wrong address
3) They are still searching for Elvis and suspect Welsh villages of harbouring him

Once my attention was focused on ASDA's in-store playlist I was exposed to further horrors though - James Blunt, Dido and... and... dare I type it... Daphne & Celeste. It was as if ASDA wanted us to fall to our knees with our hands on our ears and vomit all over their reflective flooring. Who actually chooses the music they play in there? Okay fair enough, James Blunt and Dido are enjoyed by enough plebeians to understand their residency on an ASDA playlist, but Daphne & Celeste .... DAPHNE & CELESTE!

My mind then began to contemplate the meaning behind the name Scouting for Girls... is it

a) They are helping some female models to get work
b) They are offering a female equivalent of the historic and sodomitical childhood past-time of scouting, traditionally only available to boys
c) They are on the hunt for hot girls (in which case if they mean obtainable ones then they could be hunting for a very long time)

A few minutes later the little man at the check-out asked Leo and I for our postcode, he said ASDA were running a survey to decipher the size of the area that they cater for in Leeds (obviously he didn't use a word like decipher, I'm paraphrasing from memory). I gave him my postcode and felt guilty.. because ASDA will forever think that they cater for LS6 in Leeds.. when in actuality I plan never to return to their musically torturous empire.

Not until the next fancy-dress invite arrives at least.