Sunday, February 29, 2004


Words cannot do justice to how much we wet our pants yesterday when our lovely friend Jamie (whose way with words can be seen, irregularly, here) informed us that he had a spare ticket for Eurovision: Making Your Mind Up! donated to him by the lovely Mr Punkiatrix (who doesn't have a website as far as we know but is still ace nonetheless) which would enable us to spend an evening in the company of Terry, Gaby, Lorraine and all of the other showbiz types who make no secret of their love for this trashiest of contests. Now, we know that Eurovision previews are well under way courtesy of our awe-inspiring friends at and lowculture, which are (a) longer-running (b) more in-depth and (c) irrefutably better than this one will be. We promise them that this is more of an homage than a rip off, honest. Besides, you can't expect us to go through all that and not want to come home and write an exhaustive feature on the whole experience. So here's our little breakdown of the evening and the songs that we heard.

Song 1: 'Weekend (Gotta Work)' by Enrap-ture
Will I know who they are already?: It seems unlikely.
What style are they going for?: Mis-Teeq meet the Pink Ladies.
What style do they actually have?: Erm, Mis-Teeq meet the Pink Ladies via Five Star.
What's the song like?: Rather generic R 'n' B song about what a pain it is to work during the week and how much nicer it is to go out and get trollied with your mates at the weekend. How profound. Even the Sugababes would have dismissed this as just being too generic-girl-anthem.
Distinguishing features: Some of the dodgiest lyrics we've heard in a while. Forgive us for being cynical, but a song that opens with the lines "Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday/Friday" isn't hugely likely to knock us off our seats with its inventiveness. However, it did have a very rousing chorus and was one of the more uptempo songs on offer.

Song 2: 'Hold On To Our Love' by James Fox
Will I know who he is already?: If you were one of the ten people to watch it, he came fifth in Fame Academy this year.
What style is he going for?: A younger, cooler Bryan Adams.
What style does he actually have?: A less offensive, less interesting Will Young with a guitar.
What's the song like?: When they invent multimedia dictionaries, this is the song you'll hear when you look up Radio 2.
Distinguishing features: He has all the same schtick that he had in Fame Academy (swinging his guitar behind his back at the end of a song, elaborately punching the air on receiving good news). His performance stance is bizarre - he has one leg stretched out behind him at all times, as though he is performing in the kitchen and trying to keep the fridge door closed after overstuffing it.

Song 3: 'Me Without You' by Haifa
Will I know who she is already?: I have a feeling she may have lent her vocals to some Hi-NRG covers.
What style is she going for?: Gutsy female singer/songwriter chic.
What style does she actually have?: The lovechild of Billie Piper and Glory the Hellgod from Buffy the Vampire Slayer
What's the song like?: An early nineties Dina Carroll B-side. Pleasant and inoffensive, but probably the most forgettable song of the night.
Distinguishing features: Very nice hair. An exotic name (she's from Essex), which is pronounced "High-fer" rather than "Heffer", just in case you were wondering.

Song 4: 'Leading Me On' by Hyrise
Will I know who they are already? Ant was in 3SL, and as I'm sure you'll remember his brother Andy was a finalist in Pop Idol. No idea about the others.
What style are they going for?: Blue's younger brothers.
What style do they actually have?: Blue, as purchased from TK Maxx.
What's the song like?: Not bad, actually. Quite uptempo, in the Triple 8/Blue-when-they-were-good vein.
Distinguishing features: The one that sings the high notes is worryingly thin. This may have not translated particularly well to the small screen, but they looked utterly lost - they lacked the presence to fill even this tiny stage. Their attempts at dancing were risible. And we're fairly sure they were miming, the rotters.

Song 5: 'With You I Believe' by Haydon
Will I know who he is already?: The boy's a bloody veteran. Was in Ultimate Kaos at the chubby-cheeked age of nine, also featured on Reborn in the USA with other Eurovision heros Gina G and Sonia last year.
What style is he going for?: Charming Motown soul sort-of-thing.
What style does he actually have?: A swiftly-eliminated Fame Academy finalist.
What's the song like?: Watered-down inoffensive aspirational ballad. Expect it to be released by the winner of the next Pop Idol, probably.
Distinguishing features: Cheeky grin. An obsessive fan sat about twenty metres to my left who gave an alarming amount of vocal support. Likes playing with microphone stands.

Song 6: 'It Just Gets Better' by Madison Taylor
Will I know who she is already?: Not unless you live in her street, I shouldn't think.
What style is she going for?: Emma Bunton, circa 'Take My Breath Away'.
What style does she actually have?: A caucasian Zoe Birkett.
What's the song like?: Very summery, slightly gospel-tinged. Again, something Emma Bunton would probably have put on her first album.
Distinguishing features: She had a proper band. Wheeee! She should not be confused with Australian dance combo, Madison Avenue, or ill-fated late nineties girlband Madasun.

I'm fairly sure it's a surprise to no-one by now that James Fox was declared the winner. The general consensus was that it was the type of song that does really well at Eurovision, which I'm inclined to agree with as long as I can include a giant "when it's performed by the Irish entrant" caveat. The problem is there'll be a zillion songs like his in the contest, and I can't see it standing out. Still, at least there's a reasonable chance we'll get some points this year.

Things that excited us that weren't related to song selection:
- Emma Bunton performing 'Puppet On A String' as an intermission, even if it was pre-recorded. If she doesn't use that as a B-side on a subsequent single, I'm going on hunger strike.
- Gina G doing a performance of 'Ooh Ahh...Just A Little Bit' that was miles better than the one she performed in Oslo when she was actually our entrant. Bless her.
- Hayley Evetts reading the results of the Birmingham jury, even though Colin "Wooden" Jackson couldn't get her name right.
- Phixx (Phixx! Phixx!) walking right past us when we were waiting to go in. We were this close to Mikey Green! How we managed to maintain consciousness through all of that is a mystery even to us. We tried to grab Andrew in the hope that he might write a real column for the website, but sadly we weren't quick enough.

So, roll on May and Istanbul then. Eeeeeee!

Thursday, February 26, 2004


Unfortunately we invited Andrew to come with us to a top showbiz party last night, and as a result he, like us, is far too tired and mildly hungover to dispense any kind of sage advice. But he promises to be back tomorrow for his final day, so don't forget to send in your questions.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004


We were beginning to worry that we'd never get a chance to say this again, but Busted might just save pop after all. There we were, thinking Busted were going to try and turn themselves into serious musos (well, Charlie seems very keen to do that, anyway) when some lovely people over at the Popjustice Messageboard mentioned that we might want to check out Busted's cover of The Black-Eyed Peas' 'Where Is The Love?'

And what a joy it is to behold. Never before has such a pompous and worthy song been deflated and kicked in the metaphorical nuts in quite the same way. The original got on our nerves for so many reasons (it included Justin Timberlake, the lyrics were awful, and it was one of the few pro-peace songs that actually made us want to commit serial homicide) and Busted's version manages to be infinitely superior by taking the piss left, right and centre. For us, the part that truly makes it is just before the second chorus where Matt chants, in a broad Essex accent, "Where's the lavv, James? Where's the trewf, James?" It's just so joyously silly. It's nice to know that Busted haven't become dead set on being "serious" musicians 100% of the time. We'd like to see the Darkness try and do something this inventive.

And we're not really that scared of Charlie leaving any more - much as Charlie's rendition of Justin Timberlake's part is a triumph, it's Matt who makes this song. Easily. We think we might love Matt, actually.

Today's topic: I Just Want To Get Along With You

It's a tough life being a popstar, you know. It's not all endless bouts of taking your shirt off on Top of the Pops and answering inept questions from Cat Deeley on CD:UK. Popstars know hardship just like the rest of us, and that makes them better people. Better than us, obviously, because they have rock-hard pecs and nice hair. Speaking of which, The Lovely Andrew from Phixx is here to write his column again - hurrah! Today's angst-ridden correspondent is Mr Marzipan from Leamington Spa:

Dear Andrew from Phixx,

What an interesting middle name and surname you have! Please help me. I really, really hate the people I work with, and I want to slap them to death. Others lead me to believe that this is not the way to behave in public, but how else can I find a solution to this problem of their existence?

All my love,

Mr M

The lovely Andrew replies: Dear Mr Marzipan,
This is an all too common problem these days. There is such stress of the youth of today to be overachievers in order to establish an individuality in the workplace, and more often than not this can spill out into bitter resentment amongst their contemporaries.
Your friends are right to advise you not to pursue your plans of slapping them to death: not only is this generally regarded as illegal, but it would make your hands very sore. Why not take a pair of headphones to work with you so you can ignore them unless you actually have to speak to them? Do an exemplary job of your work (as I'm sure you do already) so that they have absolutely no grounds to make you feel like you're not pulling your weight, and if all else fails, put sandpaper on the toilet seat.
Good luck with your career,
Andrew xx

Got a problem? Andrew's got a solution. E-mail us your dilemmas or leave them in the comment box below.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Today's topic: Men Who Love Too Much

The lovely Andrew-out-of-Phixx has been champing at the bit* since yesterday to start answering your problems and making the world a better place. He's sharpened his best pencil, put on his smartest jumper and perfected eight separate thoughtful-yet-sympathetic expressions. So without further ado, it's over to today's troubled soul, dvboy from Lincoln.

Dear Andrew-out-of-Phixx

Do you want to come over and play with my toys tomorrow? I already asked my mummy and she says it's OK if your mum says so.

The lovely Andrew replies:Dear dvboy,
I wouldn't say this necessarily classifies as a problem, though I'm not complaining. It's always nice to have an easy one to start with so I can work my way in gently.
I'm afraid I will be unable to come to your house tomorrow, as I will be working here writing my column. They pay me by the second, y'see, so the longer I'm here, the more money I get. However, if you want to come and visit me in my office, you're more than welcome. Just remember to ask an adult before crossing the road and to bring all your new Transformers.
This might be a good time to warn everyone of the dangers of meeting strangers off the internet. It all looks like fun, I know, but remember, it's very easy for someone to make up a false persona online and trick you into meeting up under false pretences. Stay aware, and be safe.
Andrew xx

And there we have it. His first column, and already he's a natural. More from The Lovely Andrew tomorrow. Please keep your problems coming in the meantime, he's such a handful if he gets bored.

*Of course we restrained him. We thought he'd feel more at home that way.

Monday, February 23, 2004


We're a sensitive lot here at Panda Pops, and we know when our readers are harbouring secrets and pain. We don't want that. We want to spread joy and harmony through the world in any way we can. Last year we attempted to heal the souls of the walking wounded when The Almighty Jessica Taylor from Liberty X joined us for a week as our agony aunt. As luck would have it, Jessica had a word in the ear of her celeb friend Andrew Kinlochan of being-gay-and-in-Phixx-and-possibly-being-the-only-man-Will-Young-would-ever-admit-to-fancying fame and, having told him how much fun she had during her time here, convinced him to join us too!

Don't hold back kids. You can e-mail your problems to or you can leave them in the comment box below. We'll pass them on to the lovely Andrew and he'll answer as many as he can.* But be swift, he's only here until Friday, before he has to run off and be shiny and oiled-up for someone else.

*DISCLAIMER: In the unlikely event of Andrew Kinlochan being unavailable at time of going to press, we reserve the right to have one of our staff writers ghost-write his column.

Sunday, February 22, 2004


Okay, we hold our hands up, this isn't remotely pop-related, but we had to feature it because it's just so fucking brilliant. Residents of Llanddewi Brefi in Wales - possibly all 638 of them, although this has yet to be confirmed - are apparently none too pleased at the way their village was represented by Matt Lucas and David Walliams in Little Britain.

Their chief problem appears to be Daffyd's perpetual claim that he is "the only gay in the village", which they feel implies that Llanddewi Brefi is some kind of behind-the-times cultural backwater. In a spectacular case of point-missing, they apparently failed to notice that in the show Llanddewi Brefi is full of gayers and Daffyd just happens to have a very strong case of delusion.

By far the best bit of this news story, however, was when they pointed out that there have been two gays in the village - just not at the same time. Fan-bloody-tastic.

(Our thanks to Broadcast magazine for this story.)

Thursday, February 19, 2004


There's quite a famous episode of The Simpsons where Homer accidentally knocks the batteries out of the remote control, and ends up flailing blindly trying to replace them before he's forced to watch a live broadcast of a NASA space launch, and is saved at the last minute by Bart pulling the plug out of the wall socket. This, gentle viewer, is the way I felt last night whilst watching the backstage footage of the Brits on ITV1 - only I was paralysed by sheer laziness and a bizarre sense of schadenfreude rather than a powerless infra-red device.

This year's Brits truly was a shitshow, wasn't it? No wonder I chose the lovely Sarah Beeny over it. However, I think the backstage footage might just have been more painful than the show itself, mainly for the smug self-congratulatory air it had. The worst offender was not someone you might expect. It wasn't Justin "Living Proof That There's A Countrywide Shortage of NHS Dentists" Hawkins, Cat "Rock Is Back And To Prove It Here's Busted" Deeley or Kate "I'm Just A Girl Who Cain't Say No" Thornton. Nope. It was Jamie Fucking Cullum.

Okay, I'll freely admit that I can't stand Jamie Fucking Cullum at the best of times. I was once trapped in a car from Deal to London listening to him wanking lyrical on Radio 2 about how nobody would dare touch 'Singin' In The Rain' because it's such a classic, only to hear him shitting on its tombstone and then bulldozing the graveyard shortly afterwards. Jamie Cullum makes jazz music for people who don't like jazz. Or music. Or people.

I was willing to tolerate him up until now because it seemed the only music industry he was intent on destroying was jazz, which, while not an ideal scenario, didn't really affect me that much. Having watched him at the Brits, I can only assume his death wish extends to the entire British music industry, and I can't stand back and watch that happen.

We were forced to see Kate Thornton interviewing him every thirty seconds (I'd be hard pushed to name one of them as the bigger media whore), including a supremely pointless anecdote where he namedropped Alicia Keys just because he could:
JAMIE FUCKING CULLUM: I nearly lent a CD walkman to Alicia Keys.
KATE THORNTON: Why didn't you?
JAMIE FUCKING CULLUM: She already had one.
I then lost all respect for Pharrell Williams as he was shown shaking hands with Jamie Fucking Cullum and telling him that he hadn't stopped listening to Jamie Fucking Cullum's CD since being given it. Jamie Fucking Cullum feigned humility, yet still managed to look more smug than Jonathan Ross marking an A level smugness paper.

So, he must be stopped. And, in the spirit of Patented Panda Pops Protests*, we've decided that Jamie Cullum Must Die. How, we're not quite sure. But he Must Die. We're envisioning a campaign not entirely dissimilar to the one run by the sadly-now-defunct Jamie Oliver Must Die website. Please feel free to submit anecdotes or pictures - like the one above, but photoshopped by someone who isn't a complete retard and actually has more sophisticated software than MS Paint - that will aid the cause.

*Patent pending.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004


We watched Property Ladder and Faking It instead, and missed nothing, apparently (lawsuit pending from the Young Disciples). The Darkness won everything, hoo-bloody-ray. They'll be as ubiquitous next year as Ms Dynamite has been this year.

The biggest travesty, of course, was Dido winning Best British Single. Normally I'd put it down to some confusion on the part of the voters, and that they thought they were voting for the Best British Person Who Is Single, but even then there's still no reason to vote for Dido because she has a face like a wet weekend in Rhyl and a personality to match. I can only assume that the Brits selection panel were in some kind of coma (presumably Dido-induced) when 'No Good Advice' was released. Cunts.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004


Will Young would be spinning in his grave. If he was dead, that is. Now, on the one hand, it's lovely that Simon Cowell and 19 Management care enough about Michelle McManus to give her album a televised ad campaign. We don't profess to know much about the advertising industry (due to the unique way the BBC is funded by you, the viewer); if you want to pose in-depth questions about that, you're much better talking to this chap. What we're wondering is which bright spark decided it was a good idea to model it on the Privilege Car Insurance adverts.

For those of you who haven't seen it, it features a lot of people shouting "we did it!" over the backing of Michelle's debut number 1 single (why?) 'All This Time'. It's saccharine, it's cheesy, it's unimaginative, and, more than anything, it just feels cheap.

Why is this? Was the second series of Pop Idol really that much of a shambles that no one had any money left over to spend on a decent campaign? Is the Privilege Car Insurance advert some kind of industry standard of excellence that everyone wants to capitalise on its success? Or is Michelle just so boring and unnoteworthy that no one can be bothered to put any thought into her ad campaign? It doesn't exactly make us think that the album will be worth listening to.

We are, however, quite enchanted by the idea of recycling rubbish old adverts to revive the flagging sales of bands. We've already seen Sam and Mark steal the Jamie Oliver Sainsbury's adverts and splice them into their rubbish video. What could be next? Here are some of the treatments we came up with:

- A beach. A bright sunny day. A family are running around and playing in the waves, the woman wearing a long billowing dress. Ten boys wearing not-entirely-convincing urban gangsta clothing run gaily across the beach flying a kite. One of them has nice hair and is far prettier than all the rest. One of them is on rollerblades, another has a large dalmatian running alongside him on a leash. Cue the song: "Woooooooooaaaaaaahhhhhh Blazin' Squad! Blazin' Squad for yoooouuuu....."
- A cloudy day. Rain. Thunder. A girl with big sad eyes looks up into the camera. We hear her voiceover. "This is my friend Javine. Javine was ever so sad when the viewers didn't want her. Javine saw her friends Cheryl, Nicola, Nadine, Kimberley and Sarah go off into a house. She never saw them again. She didn't know them if she'd ever find singing success. But the good people at Innocent never put a healthy artist down. She now has a record contract and a top ten single under her belt. But Innocent can only continue to do this with your donations. Buy just one album a month, and save an artist today."
- A generic quiz show studio. A middle-aged host. Bored housewives and pensioners as contestants. The host begins: "Okay, here's your starter for ten. Who were the band who formed following rejection from the ITV show Popstars?" A bored housewive presses her buzzer and responds "Liberty X". "Correct", the quizmaster responds. "For ten points, who collaborated with Richard X on the single 'Being Nobody'?" A pensioner presses the buzzer and responds "Liberty X." The host asks "For twenty points, and to win the game, what is the name of Liberty X's new album, available in all good record stores?" A blearey-eyed student presses her buzzer and says uncertainly "Being Somebody?" "Correct!" beams the host. "Susan, you're our winner today!"

The big advantage with all of this, of course, is that the ads are ideally suited to run around the sort of stolid daytime television programmes the artists will be presenting in six month's time when they get dropped. Ah, poetic justice, you're our favourite friend.

Monday, February 16, 2004

New Feature In "Thwarted Before It Got Off The Ground" Tragedy

Other bloggers out there will know exactly what I'm saying when I talk about how agonising it is to come up with a really good feature for your weblog, only to find it doesn't really work when you actually try to post it. Such is the feeling I'm having today.

I was going to have a feature called "I didn't date one of Blazin' Squad" - the reason being that I was watching Top of the Pops Saturday this weekend and realised that Reepa bears an uncanny resemblance to my ex-boyfriend. Unfortunately, none of the pictures I can find anywhere even back this up remotely, and I suspect I may have imagined the whole thing.

Nevertheless, I don't have enough ideas to let them just slide away like that, so publish and be damned, I'm going to run with it.



I hereby reserve the right to alter the above pictures if I find some that actually prove my point.

Saturday, February 14, 2004

Happy Valentine's Day!

Here's hoping that all our readers got lots of ace cards from buff hotties/hotettes.

Here's a picture of Andrew Phixx giving you the come-to-bed eyes. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Robbed! (A Panda Pops Protest)

Here at Panda Pops we're not greatly given to thinking. We had a narrow escape last Thursday when we almost thought about something and came periously close to being (gasp) deep. Fortunately for all of us, what would certainly have been a crisis was averted, and we're still as shallow as we always were.

But sometimes you can't avoid thinking about things, and such is the position we find ourselves in today. We're thinking about how Peter Andre (the real one, not, sadly, the former BBC royal correspondent as played by David Walliams) is almost certain to relaunch his recording career following his stint on I'm A Nonentity, Get Me A Lucrative Sponsorship Deal! And then we sat and thought about how we didn't really care, because he was rubbish and we hadn't missed him. And then we thought about some of the people who we thought were more deserving of a recording contract, people for whom the gods of reality TV did not smile on quite so brightly as P. Andre Esq.

And so we come to our protest. I present to you:

One Miss Jessica Garlick.

Perhaps I can't comment fully on Jessica's Pop Idol credentials, as I didn't really start watching the first series until the week that Rosie Ribbons lost the plot (along with the tune of 'The Winner Takes It All'). But I do own the DVD and have had a chance for a review, and frankly I am disappointed that she only managed ninth ranking. I'm not saying she deserved to win, but I'm rather flummoxed as to how Aaron, Laura and Darius managed to beat her, despite all being of mediocre talent at best.

There are those cynics who say that Jessica is a twofold loser, having failed to win Pop Idol or The Eurovision Song Contest. However, she managed a very respectable second-place at Eurovision in 2002, and given the utter trouncing we got for entering Jemini, I think it's about time we appreciate the fact that we can overcome much of the European neighbourly politics and vote-rigging that exists when we enter an able contestant with a decent song.

She did a lovely B-side to her Eurovision song entitled 'Whatever', and has the slightly dubious honour of doing the best performance on the Pop Idol Big Band Album (I realise it sounds like a hollow compliment, but it has its moments) with her rendition of Cole Porter's 'Everytime We Say Goodbye'.

So where is Jessica Garlick now? Living in Chiswick with Hayley Evetts, we are told, clinging to her popstar dreams like a drowning man clutching at a seagull's ankles. And yet somehow, thanks to ITV1, the far less able and even less wanted Peter Andre might be getting a second chance at stardom.

Does that sound fair to you? It doesn't sound fair to us. Let the protest commence! Rah! etc.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

I've not posted anything for ages

because I'm a lazy bastard.

In my defence, someone's been ill at work this week and my workload has doubled.

However, I know you're all champing at the bit for updates, and all being well one will be with you tomorrow. What, you say? Well, let's just say that given the current redundancy of AlistairWatch and AndrewWatch, we think it's time for another Patented* Panda Pops Protest!

*Patent pending.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Sarah Beeny's boobs

Unaccustomed as I am to talking about ladybits, I have become very distressed by Sarah Beeny's boobs whilst watching Property Ladder. I'm not distressed by their presence, but by the fact that they appear to grow and shrink from scene to scene. In one scene, they were so large that they actually seemed to be obstructing her arms from moving freely.

How does she do this? Does she keep a little pump under one arm to casually inflate them if people aren't paying attention (as demonstrated by Sally Phillips in a memorable Smack the Pony sketch of yesteryear), or is it all to do with tight tops and good posture and lighting? Personally, I'm baffled.

AndrewWatch: the resolution

AndrewWatch will now conclude, as Mr Hayden-Smith is back in his rightful place today, presenting CBBC, presumably fully recovered. He is also wearing a nice shiny tracksuit top thing which is unzipped down to nipple-level and which frankly makes concentrating a lot harder than it should be.

NOTE: Due to the diagonal nature of fabric folding, you can't see his nipples, they are safely covered up. More's the pity.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004


This isn't going to be a regular feature or anything, we just wanted to voice our concern at the fact that the lovely Andrew Hayden-Smith of CBBC-presenting fame appears to be off sick today, leaving us watching purely for professional reasons, other than our normal highly unprofessional ones.

All volunteers to go round to his house with chicken soup and nurse him back to health form an orderly queue behind me, if you please.

(Sorry for the small and pathetic picture, but the server holding the bigger ones appears to be down today. It's like an epidemic...)

AlistairWatch: an entirely superficial update

Today Alistair was wearing what appeared to be a very nice denim shirt, of much the same variety that I would like for myself had I not promised to stop buying clothes until I've been to the gym a few times and actually look good in clothes*.

He also looks a lot healthier this week. He was looking rather gaunt the other week and we were slightly worried about him. Perhaps news of our protest reached him and lifted his spirits. We'd like to think that we helped at least a little bit.

.*Please don't interpret this to mean I look good naked, because sadly I look even worse then.