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Olly Murs to present Xtra Factor… Oh dear

Wednesdays are rubbish. It’s traditionally the point at which you realise you’re only halfway through the week and it’s at least another two full days before you can blow all your wages on wine and gin.

To make this Wednesday extra specially depressing, it was last night announced that Olly Murs has somehow managed to land himself the job of co-hosting this year’s Xtra Factor. I’m breaking all rules of convention by pouring myself a consolatory double gin immediately.

So in the wake of this latest X Factor bombshell (not to be confused with that other X Factor bombshell), what can we expect from Mr Murs when he eventually hits our screens in August? Here are a few woefully uninformed predictions:

  • An assortment of mildly irritating hats – all perched jauntily at the back of the head of course.
  • Spontaneous (i.e. carefully rehearsed) dad dancing of the cringeworthy variety.
  • Random and inexplicable references to Bob Marley and/or other vanguards of the reggae genre.
  • Trousers which leave very little to the imagination.

So there you are, lots to look forward to from Xtra Factor and Olly Murs in the months to come! Who’d have thought we’d ever be wishing Konnie Huq back?

OMG! Has Cheryl Cole been booted off X Factor USA?

Well that didn’t last long! It sounds like Cheryl Cole’s American dream might have already gone tits up, with it being widely reported that our Geordie princess has been sacked from the X Factor USA judging panel!

SAY IT ISN’T SO, PET!

If true, it’s pretty safe to assume this will rank highly amongst Chezza’s extensive list of previous pubic embarrassments, namely:

Speculation has run wild as to the reasons behind her untimely dismissal; was it her ‘incomprehensible’ (i.e. not incomprehensible) accent? Did she have a bust-up with queen bee, Paula Abdul? Or was that massive mane of hair a follicle too far?

Whatever the case, I’m sure Cheryl is currently knocking back the gins with her ever-present mum, Joan and cursing the day Simon Cowell ever darkened her door.

TV Review: Four Rooms

This is something I never thought I’d write, but I’ve just been blown away by an antiques programme. A SODDING ANTIQUES PROGRAMME!!!!

The show in question is Four Rooms, Channel 4′s unique take on the Sunday afternoon snooze-a-thon, which manages to combine the best bits of Dragon’s Den and er… Dickinson’s Real Deal to create something completely AMAZING!

The concept is simple, members of the public bring in their prize possessions, and are given the opportunity to visit the titular four rooms. Within each room sits one of the country’s leading wheeler-dealers, who will (hopefully) make them an offer they can’t refuse.

Just don’t come knocking with a bit of chipped Clarice Cliff or your grandad’s collection of war medals, as these dealers are only interested in exceptional and unique pieces you won’t find anywhere else. So unless you’ve got a loo brush once used by Nelson Mandela, or a pair of Marilyn Monroe’s dirty drawers you’d be better off on The Antiques Roadshow.

The snag is, that any offer made by a dealer is only valid whilst they are in the room. If the contestant decides to leave the room and visit any of the remaining three dealers in the hope of more money, the offer is withdrawn. Cue a great deal of procrastination as a members of the public wrestle with the greedy instincts.

I’ll admit, when you attempt to describe the show’s format it really doesn’t sound that revolutionary. But when offers upwards of £40k start being made (for a bloody ripped painting no less) it gets nail bitingly good!

The dealers are a brilliantly eccentric bunch, and thankfully much more interesting than the crusty old tinkers David Dickinson wheels out week on week. In particular Emma Hawkins, a leather-clad, she-devil with an icy stare who specialises in ‘the macabre’ and sits on a throne made of antlers (I shit you not!). She could pretty much take out Deborah Meaden without breaking a sweat.

Equally brilliant is Jeffrey Salmon, an outspoken art dealer with a penchant for flamboyant scarves who drew gasps from his fellow dealers after buying a collection of Princess Di’s Christmas cards on the throw of a dice.

Next week’s collection of bonkers bric-a-brac includes a four-tonne concrete wall (which just so happens to have a Banksy mural on it), a Victorian hangman’s rope and the nose cone from Concord. I think it’s safe to say that David Dickinson’s permatan brilliance has been well and truly eclipsed :(

Four Rooms is on Channel 4 on Tuesdays, at 8pm.

Pop Specs rating:

An open letter to Avril Lavigne

Pop Specs,
The Arse End of Nowhere,
Leicester,
UK.

Dear Avril Lavigne,

Since 2002 you’ve been producing above average pop music of the angsty-teen variety. And whilst I have enjoyed (almost) everything you’ve released over the past nine years, I feel compelled to write you this letter having just watched your latest video, Smile.

A lot has happened since you first shot to fame with Complicated: Governments have waged war on terror, Lindsay Lohan enjoyed a brief holiday in Lesbos and Claire from Steps made a career out of getting fat. And yet on planet Avril, time appears to have stood resolutely still.

Oh so rebellious green hair, pseudo-punk-rock graffiti and dressing like a 12-year-old hooker is all well and good if you’re actually 12 and hoping your strung-out parents will notice you. But let’s be honest, at the ripe old age of 26, this sort of behaviour is starting to look a little weird.

With a marriage and subsequent divorce under your belt, it’s pretty safe to say that you’re already waist-deep in the murky waters of adulthood. And with your 30s fast approaching, I think that a radical change in image is LONG overdue.

Perhaps for your next video you might consider a treatment that’s more relatable to your ageing fan-base? Lip-synching whilst battling the onset of middle-aged spread for example? Or rocking out in the homeware department of Debenhams perhaps?

And while we’re at it, why not ditch those mouldy tresses and emo threads for something age appropriate? Nothing says ‘mature woman’ more than a low-maintenance bob, a floral print blouse and a pair of palazzo pants.

If you decide to run with any of my (frankly amazing) suggestions, please forward 5% of all future royalties to the above address.

Kind regards,

Pop Specs x

Album Review: Lady Gaga – Born This Way

Unless you’ve been in a cultural coma for the past three months, you’ll know that Lady Gaga‘s relentlessly hyped album, Born This Way is released on Monday (cue two billion ‘little monsters’ collectively jizzing their pants).

Unfortunately, you’re also likely to have already heard most of what the album has to offer, thanks to a tsunami of spoilers which have included catwalk shows, pre-release downloads, full album streams and a particularly dubious tie-in with, er… Farmville.

So with all sense of release-day excitement completely obliterated (well done marketing types), what’s the album actually like?

PRETTY FUCKING AMAZING.

At the risk of sounding like one of Gaga’s paw waving fanatics, almost every track on Born This Way is roughly seven and a half times more interesting than anything heard on her debut album, The Fame (which was by no-means rubbish).

A dance album at heart, Born This Way is dripping with flamboyant excess, incorporating an eclectic and often baffling mix of influences. Expect to hear some amazingly 80′s saxophone, a raved-up mariachi band, a smattering of Gregorian chanting and even a cameo from Mr Anita Dobson.

Remarkably, it all comes together in a cohesive and brilliantly unique way, creating an album stuffed with potential hits that are all unmistakably Gaga. And yes, those bat-shit crazy, pseudo-European accents are BACK!

Early singles, Born This Way and Judas are Lady Gaga at her most traditional and serve as a great introduction to the album. However it’s surprise hit, The Edge of Glory which manages to pack the bigger punch, and is perhaps more representative of her evolved sound.

Government Hooker is a deliciously theatrical slice of electro sleaze, that would definitely be my stripper music if I were to ever become an actual stripper. While Schiße is a balls to the wall techno belter that will have you clamouring to book the next available budget flight to Berlin.

After a slow start, Marry The Night erupts into a euphoric chorus that’s matched only by Hair in its celebratory sense of gay abandon. You and I is the album’s one obligatory piano rock number, that’s thankfully much better here than previously performed by that ghastly girl on American Idol.

Are there any weak tracks? No, not really. Bad Kids and Highway Unicorn don’t connect with me as instantly as the rest of the album. But they’re far from rubbish, and hardcore little monsters are bound to love them unreservedly.

So despite the questionable artwork and her recent dalliances with prosthetic horns, Lady Gaga has managed to produce her strongest body of work to date. An epic album which will undoubtably sell by the bucketload and cement her position as pop’s most fascinating figurehead.

Pop Specs rating:

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