Tag Archives: rock

How to win X Factor

X Factor CakePhil: Last week m’collegue wrote “I really I need to go on the X Factor but I can’t really sing and hate ballads !” on the basis that it’s a lot easier to get published if you are famous already. I had this explained to me by the prolific and succesful author Gervase Phinn a couple of years ago. He’s a really nice bloke and makes huge amounts of time for his fans but is quite realistic about the challenges for new authors.

However, I don’t see this as a problem. All we need is for one of us to become famous and the world is our oyster. That means Nolan just has to win X-Factor. Nothing could be simpler.

You are probably thinking I underestimate the size of the task but I have a secret plan. Ten years of spinning the disks of death on the wheels of steel at our local hospital radio station have given me a pretty good understanding of the music industry. Add to that the fact I’ve played with Pete Waterman’s train set a couple of times and that the first person to pay me money for something I wrote now runs the country’s top mobile disco then my contacts in the biz are all I need.

First up, the “can’t really sing” problem. The solution is Autotune. For the civilians out there, this is computer software that takes in a voice at one end and spit out a tuneful voice at the other. It has been suggested, by cruel and jealous people, that some of the soap starlets who go on to have a recording career, owe a lot to this sort of assistance.

Next, we need a suitable ditty to warble. Ballads are out it appears. Never mind, although we’ve never swapped iPods to check out each other musical tastes, I know Ms Nolan tends towards the rockier end of the spectrum. Having seen her other halfs CD collection, I can understand this. After all, if you know you all three original Spice Girls albums are hidden in the loft and reducing the value of your property, then you need something to drown out any attempts to retrieve and play them.

My suspicion is that the iPod contains lots of Swedish Death Metal tracks. Before you head to Wikipedia to work out what I mean, perhaps I can help with some lyrics, reproduced here in the original Swedish so you don’t miss the delicate nuisances:


These will be accompanied by half a dozen guitarists sawing away on their “Axe” like crazed lumberjacks and a drummer making sounds like the very bowels of Hell are being torn asunder. All amps will be turned up to 11.

This is probably a bit esoteric for primetime ITV but I think we can still work on it. Maybe we kick off with some Kaiser Chiefs.

Retirement would do:

I want to retire
No longer required
I want to get by without the man on my back
A tear in my eye
With a heart full of pride I must go out on a high
And tell nobody why

That sums up our dreams – not lazing around on a yacht, but the freedom to create and do something interesting to be remembered by. You can see what I mean about not requiring great singing skills from the YouTube clip, budget cuts at the commercial channel will soon mean everything is recorded on mobile phones.

Perhaps I’m not being radical enough though. How about some thing from American band Monster Magic ?

Powertrip would probably do the job:

I’m never gonna work another day in my life
The gods told me to relax
They said I’m gonna be fixed up right I’m never gonna work another day in my life

“You’re just being silly”, I hear you cry. Well, no I’m not. Those of us old enough to remember the Top 40 in the days before X Factor, when music was music and not the stuff we get now, will recall that the week after Christmas often saw some METAL at the number 1 spot. Why ?

Simple, all the METAL fans knew this was their chance. They would wait until the Crimbo number 1 chart, and then head down to Woolworths and buy something newly released by a suitable METAL band. Because the post festive chart was compiled on the smallest number of sales of the year, there being no internet and the shops being shut for several days, the single would rocket to the top slot and then vanish the following week.

So, the plan is simple. Lots of noise, plenty of head banging (I’ll need longer hair to help with this so we’ll have to wait a while), get the METAL fans onside. Add in all those who hate Simon Cowell and we can’t lose.


Filed under Phil

Being a product of your environment

Rocky Road CakePhil: Are we all products of our environment ?

The question occurred to me after visiting the Home of Metal exhibition in Birmingham. It’s an excellent event which tells the story of heavy metal from its earliest origins to the modern-day. For those of you reading this and not wearing tight black leather trousers while being deafened by the latest ditty from Napalm Death on the stereo, the genre was born in the heavy industry of the Black Country. The name stems from the sort of work on offer there – heavy engineering, more particularly metal bashing. The environment was run down and dark and this begat heavy and dark music.

Very few people born in Wolverhampton grew up thinking of show tunes.

Which brings me back to the book. After the exhibition we were sitting in central Brum enjoying  a ROCKy road cake (see what I did there ? ROCK – y road ! I’ve got loads like this) and pondered that the book is very much like this. It grew out of the situation we found ourselves in at the time. They say you should write about what you know and that’s kind of what we did.

But there is more. The characters are also products of their background. Kate, our protagonist, has a back story and this has led her to where we find her in the book. She doesn’t know it at the start but it also provides the basis for the dilemmas she faces during the story. So even though she is fictional, we’ve had to create a history for her – just like every author before us. In fact if you write for a soap opera you find yourself locked in a room before starting, to read the official story of each character so you don’t get it wrong – bad news for Dr Who writers as the character is several hundred years old so it must be a fat book. When we got started we wrote some short character biographies ourselves. Needless to say this is now out of date and by the time we get to book 5, keeping track of it all will be a challenge.

Mind you, we never actually sorted out Kate’s musica tastes. There is a brief mention of her iPod but that’s in the gym and surely this doesn’t count ?


Filed under Phil, Writing