Sunday, 25 December 2011

The Christmas Anthem

Scene: watching Downton Abbey in my living room, eating turkey sandwiches and drinking wine.

Aunty Roaring: "Nigel Havers is all right, isn't he? He'd do for Edith."

Mummy Roaring: "He's no George."

Cue a LOT of shrieking when the Nespresso ad appears.

Mummy Roaring: "Do you think he'll still come and visit me even though you bought me a Lavazza machine for Christmas and not a Nespresso one?"

There's only one place he'll want to be this Christmas, Mother:

Thank you all, and goodnight.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Advent Anthems: 24

Ah, every now and again Ramping takes a break from the Hipster Atheism of the Guardian and is pleasantly surprised by a little media festiveness from less ideological newspapers. Thus forthwith today he was cheered by the total dominance of Christmas in the Financial Times. A lovely piece on forgiveness of debts that even anti-captialist RQT would have approved of, and some Judtian reflections on Christmas as the levelling of differences between god (sic) and man that, while perhaps standing in an awkward relationship to their supplement "How to Spend it", might speak to those who most need a Christian thought for the day. However, most pleasing was a piece on the difference between 'Fox Christians' and secularists. Its author reminded us that 'The Financial Times is not the place to seek spiritual advice.' SHOCK! Still QED more spiritual than the Guardian whose idea of Christmas celebration is probably goodwill towards Ed Miliband (it's his birthday on Christmas Eve - 42 today!) and signed copies of Polly Toynbee's autobiography. But in conclusion the FT encouraged 'To Fox News, we urge a little humility. In the gospels, Jesus urged his followers to render unto Caesar what was Caesar's and to God what was God's. By this he meant, pay your taxes and keep religion separate from politics. We wish you Happy Holidays. To the politically correct we urge you to lighten up. We also wish you a Merry Christmas.' Ok, so s/he gets Jesus wrong. But still a little humility and a little Christmas merriment is no bad thing.

In other news there is only one possible advent anthem for Christmas eve. The song that combines hope and hopelessness, love in all its painfulness, some insults that the Guardian would print in full in scare quotes and then frown upon, social realism and solidarity. A song for all time that has only ended in disaster every time it has been covered. Your penultimate Advent anthem...

Friday, 23 December 2011

Advent Anthems: 23

So The Family Roaring have arrived. I have spent the evening eating, watching Niles Crane ironing his trousers and comparing make-up tips on the stairs with Mummy and Aunty Roaring. In a different place this year, but Santa will surely know where to find us.

So, naturally, I thought of this (it starts about 1:45):

"The main thing is that we're all going to be together, just like we've always been, that's what really counts. We could be happy anywhere as long as we're together."

Advent Anthems: 22

The Spice Girls' first Christmas No. 1. Because safe sex is even more important in the holidays than the rest of the year.

This takes me back to being thirteen and in love. 'Putting it on' was just a distant dream, though. Ah, youth.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Advent Anthems: 21

"hey Charley for chrissakes do you want to know the truth of it? I don't have a husband, he don't play the trombone and I need to borrow money to pay this lawyer, and Charley, hey I'll be eligible for parole come valentines day."

I love Tom Waits. He has the voice of a man you want to listen to when you're drunk. He reminds me of the bad characters Gary Oldman played in nineties movies. I want to find someone who'll take me out dancing every saturday night. This video is a Christmas card for lost souls. It makes you want to lose control and not care any more. It makes you regret ageing and feel old. It makes you lean against a wall and wish for something else. It makes you nostalgic for something you never had. It is the happiness at the end of a bottle that never arrives. It is the feeling that people should be kinder than they are. In short, it's a little bit like Christmas.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Advent Anthems:20

Christmas is going to the dogs. It's a thought my beloved Henry would approve of and since Christmas is a hard time of year for elderly arthritic retrievers, today's anthem is dedicated to him.

It's not Henry in the video but a fellow retriever. I think Henry would approve.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Advent Anthems: 19

OMG - Hadley Freeman totally reads this blog. First she reinforces our message about the wrongness of Carey & Bieber (AA9) and then she reinforces our selection of East17 as the greatest Christian single of all time (AA14). Hadley had clearly stepped out as the foremost journalist upon writing an homagery column on Zoolander, so we're not too surprised at this synergy of opinion. In unrelated news I am still recovering from my vicar's blanket ban on "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" from any Christmas service. So here is the finest version I know of by the best live band I've seen:

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Advent Anthems: 18

Last night I finally watched Fifteen Million Merits, the second installment of Charlie Brooker's wonderfully depressing series of dystopias. I was very glad I recorded it, because if I had watched it straight after the X-Factor final, I would have been up all night worrying that Little Mix had been sold into porn-slavery. Luckily that never happens in pop.

Anyway, it was rather excellent, with added backstage-authenticity presumably provided by co-writer and Person In her Own Right Konnie Huq.

But even MORE excitingly, the Huq-Brooker collaboration has extended to making babies! Can you imagine??! I suppose this child will be an expert at video-games and making Tracy Islands.

It's hard to think of appropriate captions when you think of Charlie Brooker.

Luckily this is the right time of year for baby-themed songs. I was going to make you listen to the Lion King version of When a Child is Born sung by Il Divo, but I hurled all over my keyboard, so we'll make do with this. (You clicked the link, didn't you? Idiot.)

Dylan sung by Maria Muldaur. (If you're pious, you can imagine Mary singing it in the stable.)

There’ll be a time I hear tell
When all will be well
When God and man will be reconciled
But until men lose their chains
And righteousness reigns
Lord, protect my child.

Advent Anthems: 17

Oops, we got a bit out of sync! Not my fault, Ramping is bounding all over London eating canapes and making people give him presents. (I have been watching small children pretend to be angels all weekend so I was legitimately busy.)

Here's a catch-up Anthem (see if you can spot Jane Leeves):

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Advent Anthems: 16

To remind you of the "Real Meaning (TM)" of Christmas:

Don't you wish this guy would run your Midnight Mass? Or would you rather preach a nice sermon about how Christmas is a time for all the family? Discuss.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Advent Anthems: 15

This is a special Advent Anthem dedicated to Jon Morgan. The video is a beautifully crafted telling of the nativity and its message is the very meaning of Christmas. You may not remember reading about the vampires in the Gospel account of Jesus' birth, but how much more terrifying is that? They are always there. But Love will keep them from your door. So relax and enjoy the video.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Advent Anthems: 14

It has been speculated that as Cameron boarded his private jet Merkozy was stood on the runway doing exaggerated hand gestures dressed all in white fur. Poignantly it began to snow, some of the flakes catching in its bizarre facial hair. Traces of this song could be heard above the roar of the propellers.

Perhaps the greatest Christmas song of all time, though apart from the church bells at the end (which could just as easily be wedding bells) it is more affectively than substantially Christmassy. Still as an homage to Continental drift I shall have it on repeat play all through today.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Advent Anthems: 13

This is one of my favourite putting-up-the-Christmas-tree-with-a-glass-of-wine songs: Christina Aguilera belting out 'Merry Christmas, Baby' accompanied by the extremely wonderful Dr. John.

Christmas is about excess, and Aguilera invented the trashy-diva look, and always over-sings like a bad bitch. I love her.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Advent Anthems 12: Sex, Cannabis and Cake Edition

After an exhausting weekend, with an ad-to-minute-of-actual-television ratio of about 3:1, Little Mix (aka Tulisa's "Little Moofins") were crowned champions of pop, beating Bruno Mars impersonator Marcus through Girl Power, Tears and Not Being As Thin As You'd Expect.

Really, they are inspirational young women. Did you know that they are the first group of girls to ever achieve anything? And that Jesy's seriousface is the best one in the business?

Teenaged girls cry A LOT.
Little Mix and Marcus got the chance to sing Christmas songs for their supper, but my highlight (apart from Leona Lewis' frankly bizarre cover of a Nine Inch Nails song) was the tremendously over-lusted-after Michael Bublé slurring his way through 'Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)' like your drunk big brother who thinks he's super-sexy embarrassing you in front of your friends on Christmas Eve.

Fun fact: Bublé's ex-girlfriend (allegedly) described him as a "self-obsessed jerk" who craves "sex, cannabis and cake". She told News of the World (oh how I miss it) that "Michael saw himself as a real ladies' man who could schmooze any women into bed, and had done on tours. He told me I was too uptight and needed to loosen up.

"Many times he told me, 'I have the perfect, best-looking penis.'

"He bragged about how it gave the ultimate pleasure to women. I just ignored him. But he was good in bed."

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Advent Anthems:11

Christmas for me IS Phil Spector. I still associate Motown with Christmas because my mother had a double sided tape with Phil Spector's phenomenally good Christmas on one side and his Motown classics on the other. So River Deep and Mountain High, Then He Kissed Me, and Why Do Lovers Break Each Other's Hearts all take me back to childhood innocence and expectation. Still, it's kind of a nice fit.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Advent Anthems: 10

Yesterday we followed a star out to a little town in a province far, far away. Birmingham. We went hoping to find a baby lying in a manger but unfortunately despite being due Thursday the little guy was late. We stayed as long as we could hoping for a dramatic rush to the hospital with towels, hot water etc. but were bitterly disappointed. In any case our marvellous hosts, Luke and Zoe, supplied plenty of cheer including reindeer sausages and Christmas music. Being a lecturer in the liberal arts (and possibly the dark arts), however, it was "arty" Christmas music and so we had the delights of Low's Christmas album. For those who don't know Low's music, it's somewhat bare and slow-moving at the best of times. The very fact that they have a Christmas album is almost hilarious, but this their version of "Little Drummer Boy" is exactly what you'd play if you wanted to parody them. Luke informed us that they are the only band to have ever set off Radio 1's trigger alarm on John Peel's show, for having too long pauses.

Here by contrast is also Bing and Bowie's 'marvellous... really fine' version. If you take out the little chat beforehand it's less than half as long. Love Bing. Am sure we'll be seeing some more of him later...

Friday, 9 December 2011

Advent Anthems: 9

This week has been all about the cougar: turns out that annoying 32-year-old presenter Caroline Flack is dating Harry Styles (17) from One Direction. Jan Moir is, obviously, disgusted. (Harry's mum is apparently quite cross, too.) She'd probably have a heart attack, then, if she saw the below 41-year-old mother of two showing her pants to a boy who looks about 12.

You're welcome.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Advent Anthems: 8

So I went to see Frisky and Mannish's excellent pop-parody last night at the Shepherd's Bush Empire. It was super-fun and being Christmas part of their set was given over to festive tunes. Arguably the most amusing moment was their deconstruction of "Mary's Boy Child", which apparently contains direct lies: "Man was saved forever more because of Christmas day". (Frisky [I presume Frisky is the man] made no bones that Man was in fact saved because of Easter.) But the highlight was the encore when they unveiled the most pernicious Christmas release ever; pernicious because it contained all the fatal flaws that Christmas songs may be heir to: stating the obvious (that it's Christmas), pathos, overly-catchy chorus, innuendo and political subtext. Frisky and Mannish are well worth seeing if you get the chance. The following video, for all the good it achieved at the time, really isn't:

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Advent Anthems: 7

Today's Anthem has something for all the family. Jon and Cindy with their personalised stockings cut a very fine couple. And the poignant lyrics pay homage to the dangers of being too caught up in a relationship: "My baby's gone, I have no friends". The guitar seems to hum "justice" in the background. And then there is the inspired rhyming of "relations" with "salutations". All in all a work of poetry that avoids all trace of festive-cliche. A masterpiece of Christmalia and all in just over 2 minutes.

And Cindy Crawford. So hot right now. Right now and always.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Advent Anthems: St Nicholas Edition

Ok, so I went to the sweetest St Nicholas mass in an actual St Nicholas church today. We sang him a special song and everything. It was awesome. Then I felt so Christmassy I went and bought TEN strips (sheets??) of tinsel and some super-tacky baubles and some 'solar-powered' Christmas lights, because it's a recession credit crunch.

But I am also awesome because I've only gone and put up the freaking BOSS as today's Advent Anthem! OMG it also has Clarence Clemons being a legend in it. As you can tell, I'm a bit excited.

HE SEES YOU WHEN YOU'RE SLEEPING! (Honestly, Bruce is always watching you.) HAPPY ST NICK'S DAY!

Monday, 5 December 2011

Advent Anthems: 5

Assuming you watched Ms. Kelly Rowland 'putting it down' (i.e. disappointingly not singing 'Dilemma') on the X-Factor last night, and you also told all your friends you were watching Charlie Brooker's new show about pig sex on C4 because you're that sort of Guardian reader, but you actually watched Beyoncé being incredibly hot on ITV because you secretly read the Mail, you will thank me for reminding you of the glory days of Kelly, Bey and the Other One.

Well, you won't thank me, because this is literally the crassest Christmas song ever recorded. I think it's called 8 Days of Christmas because of Hanukkah (that's what Wikipedia says anyway, and I am nothing if not thorough in my research). Don't ask me, I'm not some sort of prosperity-gospel-promoting R&B star.

Though if I was, I might be responsible for "ruining Christmas" like Beyoncé. See what happens? You record a capitalism-themed Christmas song in 2000, and by 2011 you're stealing video games from Joe the Plumber. It's like a parable about the real meaning of the baby Jesus.

Anyway, "enjoy".

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Advent Anthems: 4

I've just watched the pandas being FedExed into Scotland.

It is going to be rather snowy in their new home, according to the weather reports, but fear not! BBC Scotland correspondent Colin Blane reassured viewers: "I have been told the male panda, Yang Guang, is very fond of a roll around in the snow."

We'd like to wish Yang Guang and Tian Tian all the best in their quest for wintry sexytime. The following Advent Anthem should be inspirational to anyone trying to breed under adverse conditions:

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Advent Anthems: 3

Shine a light through an open door,
Love a life I will divide;
Turn away 'cause I need you more,
Feel the heartbeat in my mind.

We found love in a hopeless place.

It's the homeland of Roaring but it could be Advent in Palestine in any century.

Advent Anthems: 2

Sometimes, you just know you've stayed up too late. And it's too late to post an Advent Anthem, but you know you have to.

Sometimes, Mariah isn't enough. It sounds ridiculous, but it's true.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Advent Anthems


This is our first Advent Anthem, to warm your cockles. Or whatever. It's perfect if you're very shy. Or very outgoing.
This month, we're dedicated, no matter how drunk we might be (and we may be at the pub as we speak), to delivering your Advent Anthem each day.

To begin our Advent Adventure, here is your favourite (who just released an American-friendly Thanksgiving album) and ours.

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