Friday, 10 October 2014

Bach-man: The Dark Knight Surprises

Now that you’ve all had a week to deal with the fallout of the ‘Bachelor’ finale, it’s time to look at whether the writing was on the mansion wall for this ‘creek tragedy’ much earlier.  I say ‘creek tragedy’ rather than ‘Greek tragedy’ of course because of the uniquely Australian spin employed here; a bloke dates numerous women simultaneously and then breaks-up with one overseas within weeks of proposing.  Here’s a quick look at some of the reasons why this fairy tale (short of the final episode being set in Bangkok) was never going to have a happy ending.

First and foremost ladies; don’t mistake meeting a douchebag in a rented mansion for meeting prince charming in a royal palace.  No successful monogamous relationship has ever started in a mansion.  They’ve ended there and they’ve visited there, but they’ve never started there.  If you want a mansion-based love affair, put on bunny ears and hope when Hugh Hefner scraps your name and replaces it with a number, you’re at least in the top 50.

Secondly, how did any of the viewing audience or competing bachelorettes think a show based around letting the male make all of the choices was going to end well?  Any girlfriend, wife, sister or ‘gal-pal’ that’s ever asked a straight man to choose which of her two dress options he prefers, would know that making executive decisions is not in a straight male’s skill set.  It ranks right up there with sharing our feelings and remembering anniversaries.  How did you think getting him to choose from 24 options would turn out well?  For crying out loud, host ‘Osher/Andrew/G/Gunsberg’ can’t even decide on which name he wants to go by!
While we’re on the topic of choices, whose brilliant idea was it to send the girls to South Africa for ‘Le Grande dumping’!?  South Africa; the country that gave us the 'vuvuzela', apartheid and the villains of ‘Lethal Weapon 2’.  The only way this whole experience could have ruined my memories of ‘The Lion King’ more, was if Blake had dumped Lisa and then immediately pushed her off pride rock.  The symbolism was there; elephant bones, red sand and an environment where a cactus would struggle to grow – what made you think love could?  If you got called into your boss’s office and it looked like that, you’d know you were getting made redundant before you were getting a heartfelt marriage proposal.  Not since Prince William and Kate’s Australian visit has a couple had to sit through more native tribal dances.  Sorry Channel Ten, but if I want to see heartbreak on the African continent, I’ll watch ‘Blood Diamond’ or simply tell my sponsor child his drawings are shit and I’m stopping payments.

Also, sorry to crush the illusion for the girls at home and in the house, but Blake didn’t organise the dates.  I know, I know, it's the news heartbreak is made of but then again, the truth both hurts and heals.  If that was part of the attraction, you should’ve focused your affections on the producer or the work experience kid who died a little inside every time you or one of the Bachelorettes uttered the words, “Awww Blake put together this beautifully romantic date”.  If you listened carefully after each time someone said it, you could hear ‘Jason the intern’ shouting off camera, “alright next time Blake can try driving out to Narre Warren looking for a store that stocks candleholders suitable for replicating a Thai sunset!”

Side note:  never trust a man who sounds like he’s getting a chunk of the band Journey’s royalties every time he mentions their name.  Blake mentioned the word “journey” so many times, I started to think he was saying ‘Germany’ and I assumed the final episode would be filmed in Munich at Oktoberfest.  In fact, what should have happened is that every time Blake mentioned the Bachelorettes being on this ‘journey’ with him, each girl should have gotten 20,000 frequent flyer points.  You’re not a hobbit mate, this isn’t Middle-Earth and you’re not on a journey.  I mean sure it did end up with you grabbing a ring, but that’s by-the-by.

People believing all along that Blake was a nice guy and how wrong they were is essentially a very good explanation for how Ivan Milat was able to get backpackers into his car and how Tony Abbott was able to get elected Prime Minister.  A vast majority of the Australian public are to judging character what ISIS is to peaceful protest.  With all due respect to Blake, you don’t get to claim a broken heart if you’re the douche that causes it.  And if you do feel pain in your heart, it’s in all likelihood a result of steroid abuse rather than disappointment at love lost. 
The question needs to be asked – do people who are desperate to meet someone even need shows like ‘The Bachelor’ anymore?  With the rise of programs and applications such as Tinder, Grindr, Facebook and Instagram, it seems ‘dating shows’ are being made obsolete by what I’m labelling ‘relationsh-apps’.  Not sure if I can trademark that but it certainly gives credence to the theory that ‘The Bachelor’ is potentially more of a tool for people trying to find fame rather than look for love.  Word to the wise; don’t let your sibling or daughter go on a show where she competes with other women for the affections of one man.  It’s demeaning and probably quite damaging.  We shouldn’t have ‘The Bachelor’.  What we should have is a show, with a similar format called, ‘The Bachelor Degree’.  A show where 24 women compete for university degrees while fending off the advances of a creepy guy with a voice like ‘Love Song Dedications’ host, Richard Mercer.

Regardless of where you stand on the issue, be it ‘Team Sam’ or ‘Team Blake’, one thing’s for certain; people haven’t turned against a bachelor this much since Jesus.  And he at least left the booming voice and process of eliminating people he didn’t like, to his dad.  I will say this though; if you’re disappointed in ‘The Bachelor’ finale, you should really be disappointed that you ever invested so much interest in it in the first place.  It’s like investing more money in a 'pyramid scheme' each week and then blaming the scheme when it goes under and takes all of your money with it.

In the end, we can say two things with absolute certainty; the first being that whether or not the claims about there being no sex in the ‘Bachelor Mansion’ are true or false, the viewers at least got well and truly screwed... and they didn’t even get a rose.  The second – no girls are going to be shining the 'Bach signal' into the night sky for Blake any time soon.

Friday, 3 October 2014

‘The X-YU Factor’ – 7 Easy Steps to Balkan Pop Stardom

If Shakespeare was right and “all the world’s a stage”, then Eastern Europe’s standing in the spotlight with its people singing and dancing away in front of the old ‘iron curtain’.  Now I’m not painting it as a region of show tunes and spirit fingers.  With a seemingly endless supply of Eurovision contenders and popstars with catchy tunes, it’s a healthy balance of kitsch and cool.  It’s arguably the best place in the world to consider a path to the top of the pops and they have a fine-tuned formula for success.  So if you’re one of the budding performers out there less interested in climbing a “stairway to heaven” and more interested in taking the less arduous “escalator to fame”, this might just be the handy instruction guide you’ve been looking for.  From concept to reality, here are your ‘poptions’.

Step #1 – Sing about the unattainable not the affordable

The first step to Balkan pop stardom is simple; make sure you’re singing about things no normal person in your home country can afford.  Few things will make you look like a big star more than appearing to live a life your formerly-Socialist listeners couldn’t.  This means making sure you’re singing about rolling in Audis and Ferraris in the Summer time on the way to a private party on the Adriatic coast aboard a yacht with models and top-shelf drinks.  Fact; no one ever wrote a hit song based around trying to jump start a Fiat on their Winter caravan park holiday by a pond in Romania.  The ‘rule of three’ is a safe bet for what your song should contain; luxury cars, excessive alcohol consumption and the Montenegrin coast.

Here are a couple of popular and sure-fire song themes to get you started:

Winning theme for girls:  You’ve just broken up with your boyfriend, you’re fine about it and now you’re heading out with 16 of your closest girlfriends to drink, dance and party the night away.

Winning theme for guys:  Your girlfriend’s just broken up with you, you’re fine with it and now you’re going to try and woo a new one with a combination of a fast car, VIP parties and all-night partying and drinking.

This leads me to the next step….

Step #2 – Gratuitous product placement is essential

You don’t know how long this Miley Cyrus 'Balkan wrecking ball of fame' is going to keep swinging so do everything you need to do, short of naming the song “Cash for Comment”.  Include lyrics like, “cruising in my Merc while I’m sipping on some Moet, grab a booth at Eve then Crown Casino’s where we’re going.”  In the midst of that, make sure you mention so many capital cities that Google Maps might want to chase you for royalties.  You haven’t made a truly catchy and kitschy Balkan pop song until you’ve mentioned the top ten cities that Eastern Europeans have migrated to in the last 50 years.  From Zurich and Vienna to Berlin and Sydney, start practicing your pronunciations.

Step #3 – Piano accordion or trumpet solos are ‘instrumental’ to success

Whether your song is a woeful tale of lost love or a power ballad with more electronica than a Berlin rave, you don’t have a chance at a hit unless you squeeze in the old squeezebox somewhere.  Think of it as a piano you can walk around with that has the sounds of summer inside it.  As for the sound of Balkan trumpets, they’ll get people up on their feet quicker than a surprise terror raid by federal police.  It might even mean that you have the privilege of being ripped off by Jason DeRulo.

Step #4 – It’s OK to make a DJ your new BFF

You’re going full Balkan on this one so you have no choice but to do it right.  This means teaming up with an average-looking Eastern European DJ who seems hell-bent on his main contribution to the track being a short blurb about the song and random announcements throughout the track in very broken English.  I mean properly ‘written-off’ English.  Like ‘Allianz’ Insurance would need to replace his accent and vocabulary kind of ‘broken English’.  The technical term for the accent you’re looking for is ‘Eurovision vote announcer’.

Step #5 – Be your own hair, make-up and wardrobe team

In terms of the male Balkan popstar hopefuls, a $200 gift voucher to spend at Tarocash and $20 for Hairhouse Warehouse will have you covered.  As for the potential Balkan popstarlets, in much of Eastern Europe the saying “less is more” may not apply to meal sizes or economic strength, but it definitely applies to the outfits of the female popstars.  You could be forgiven for thinking the people hardest hit by the economic crisis in Europe have been Eastern European clothing retailers.  The budget for wardrobe is usually inversely proportional to the budget the singer’s spent on cosmetic surgery.  So say $45,000 has been spent on nips, tucks, fills, extensions, keeping things up and sucking things in, the wardrobe receipt should be around $16.50 for a white two-piece bikini that only gets more revealing as the video clip progresses.  It actually makes a lot of sense; if you’ve gone ahead and spent $250,000 on a new sports car, you wouldn’t go and cover it up now would you?

Step #6 – Making music doesn’t mean having to make sense

For the Balkan popstar, the irrelevant and illogical video clip narrative is king.  This means even that if for some reason you choose to sing about your tough upbringing and the state of human rights in the world today, you’re still well within your creative rights to do so alongside bikini-clad girls or oiled-up guys on a beach in Mykonos.  It’s important that your video clip and lyrics make no sense when compared to one another.  That means more room for creativity plus it should at least double your YouTube hits as people go back to watch the video again in a quest to figure out exactly what’s going on in it.  You want to leave your audience asking questions like, “Did they just use this as a chance to hook up with the model acting opposite them in that video?”  Make sure at some point in the video you’re throwing around dollar/euro bills at an amount the equivalent of the GDP of Bulgaria.  If, on top of this, your song and video clip contain more spilling of champagne than a Formula 1 Grand Prix winner’s podium, you’re on the right track.

Step #7 – Cooking-up the video: Turn up the heat and just add water

Hot Balkan pop hits aren’t set in the cold so your video should make it look like Summer in Eastern Europe is year-long and Winter’s been exported to England.  Plus it’s harder to get away with wearing a lace bikini or singlet when you’re standing in front of a glacier rather than a beach bar.  Summer videos are the realm of hit pop songs and attractive people enjoying life.  Winter videos on the other hand are for Bear Grylls expeditions and Rocky Balboa training montages.  Remember, this is why people write songs about partying away in Serbia rather than “living it up in Siberia”.  If you’re a girl singing, your lyrics should be telling the opposite of your visuals.  Sure you’re drinking copious amounts, dancing with strangers, wearing next to nothing and have filmed a sex tape prior to the launch of your pop career, but you should definitely remind people incessantly that you’re not ‘easy’.  Partying by the beach is essential.  Realistically, the bigger the body of water, the better.  The video should show you either on it, in it or beside it.  Here’s a guide for you; ither on it,Sea > Lake > River > Swamp.  However a private pool on a boat, in a club or above a hotel is like your Uno ‘Wild Card’ and trumps them all.
So there you have it, your step-by-step guide to becoming the Balkan popstar you've always admired from afar but thought just disappeared into hibernation in a Macedonian cave somewhere once Eurovision was over each year.  In the end, I guess to really achieve that vibe of the true Balkan popstar, your song and video should basically be the TAC and VicRoads' worst nightmare; a mix of young people drinking excessively, driving fast cars with no seat belts on while standing up with the roof down.  After all - one man's Euro trash is another man's treasure!

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