Mick Foley + Tori Amos = Awesome Tag Team

I don’t know how many other people out there also love pro wrestling AND Tori Amos, but since Mick Foley’s[1. I know him best as Mankind, so others my age may find that a familiar touchstone as well.] article about how Tori Amos changed his life was pretty much tailor-made for someone like me to enjoy on a lazy Saturday, I thought I’d share. I kinda love that it was also another wrestler (Maxx Payne) who introduced her music to him, and it is my firm view that lines like “my aim that night was to have the best barbed-wire match ever” improve any article they appear in. I don’t want to spoil the ending here, but you’ll find out how Foley’s repaid Tori for the inspiration she’s been to him, and it’s really rather heart-warming.

Wikipedia’s Mick Foley entry is, by the way, rather good reading, because the detached Wikipedia writing style only makes the ridiculous pro wrestling storylines it describes even more hilarious. Samples:

  • “Foley began a hangman, a spot where a wrestler’s head is tangled between the top two ring ropes The spot is usually painful but safe (though in WCW the danger factor was raised slightly because their ring ropes were not actual ropes, but elevator cables encased with rubber). Unbeknownst to Foley, however, 2 Cold Scorpio had earlier complained that the ropes were too loose, resulting in the ring staff tightening the ropes to the maximum. As Foley struggled to pull himself out, he tore off two-thirds of his ear and underwent surgery later that day to reattach the cartilage from the ear to his head, so that a total reconstruction would be possible in the future. Later that year, Cactus Jack and Kevin Sullivan were scheduled to win the tag team titles at Slamboree in 1994. Foley had to choose between reattaching his ear or wrestling in the pay-per-view and winning the titles. Foley chose to wrestle and won his only championship in WCW. Later on, Foley was frustrated by WCW’s reluctance to work a storyline around losing his ear.”
  • ”Although conventional wisdom holds that the Hell in a Cell match was responsible for Foley’s rise to main event status, live television crowds did not initially get behind Mankind because of the match. Foley decided that crowds might respond better if Mankind were more of a comedy character, and so he became less of a tortured soul and more of a goofy, broken down oaf. While Vince McMahon was in a hospital nursing wounds suffered at the hands of The Undertaker and Kane, Mankind arrived to cheer him up. Having succeeded only in irritating McMahon, Mankind unveiled a sock puppet named Mr. Socko. Intended to be a one-time joke, Socko became an overnight sensation. Mankind began putting the sock on his hand before applying his finisher, the mandible claw, stuffing a smelly sock in the mouths of opposing wrestlers. The sweatsock became massively popular with the fans, mainly because it was marketed (mostly by Jerry "The King" Lawler during the events) as being a dirty, smelly, sweaty, repulsive, and vile sock.”

AI8: Final Two

Idol final 2 performance rounds are often anti-climactic, because after a season of finding out what the top 2 contestants are good at, your “reward” is that you get to hear them singing the reliably awful coronation song, unadventurous producers’ choices, and only one song which really reflects the sort of artist they would choose to be. Tonight was no different, and although I want to write this because I think Kris was thrown under the bus again, it was generally just a dull night.

First round: Mad World (Adam), Ain’t No Sunshine (Kris)

I never understood why people went mad for Mad World the first time (and I utterly adore the Gary Jules version), but I guess it was still a better strategic choice for Adam than his actual best performance of the season (Tracks Of My Tears), given that his second song was going to be Motown as well. Since I was underwhelmed by it the first time and he didn’t change anything from that, I don’t have much to say. As usual, I felt like I was watching a skilled stage professional playing the part of a singer in a musical and doing so impeccably, but just not a musician intimately connected to the music he was creating.

Despite the simplicity of Kris’s setup – just him and a piano – I thought he brought an intensity and emotion to his performance that raised the bar from his first time, and which all of Adam’s dramatic platform entrance, dry ice and Hot Topic trench coat didn’t match. Perhaps this came naturally from having done his own arrangement, as opposed to capitalizing on someone else’s clever cover.

Vocally I think both of them sounded terrific for the songs they were singing, but I’m also gonna give it to Kris here because his song was more demanding than Mad World, and he pulled it off while playing the piano at the same time.

Second round: A Change Is Going To Come (Adam), What’s Going On (Kris)

I called this round for Adam before I even saw them perform, because Adam’s song has a million times more Moment potential than the mid-tempo snooze that is What’s Going On. Apart from the obvious Obama associations, this song is so awesome it even gave Syesha a moment! Seriously, if anyone reading this thinks they can make What’s Going On riveting in comparison, please record yourself and upload it to Youtube, because I’ve looked and found no evidence that this is humanly possible.

Adam’s performance was, well, true to himself. I adored it until he busted out the Sad Elvis face and the unnecessary glory notes and channelling Von Smith, and then I got bored and zoned out. But at least the first half of the performance was really well done, and he seemed to connect more genuinely with the song than he did with Mad World.

Kris actually made quite an admirable attempt to make What’s Boring On his own. He sang it well, and I think he deserves way more credit than he’s gotten so far for being a sufficiently accomplished musician to accompany himself on two different instruments in one show (an Idol first, I think). But although he’s managed to make me enjoy other songs I hate this season (She Works Hard For The Money, Heartless), he didn’t reinvent What’s Going On enough to make me like it.

Third round: Hot Fucking Mess (Adam, Kris)

Let’s not belabour this: FAIL for Adam, EPIC FAIL for Kris, and above all, SUPERCALIFRAGILISTICEXPIALIFUCKING FAIL for Kara. However, I commend Adam for committing to the musical universe that is I Believe This Is My Moment Like This Now Inside Your Heaven Where My Destiny Makes You Proud marginally better than Kris, and for saying “Thanks for giving me that song, it was beautiful” to Kara with a straight face. Now, let us never speak of this again.

Conclusion: Adam edged Kris out tonight, partly due to his own abilities and partly because Kris was out of luck with a shitty second song and a coronation song which totally didn’t suit his vocal range. 

I’m still hoping Kris can pull off an upset since they’re neck and neck based on the Dialidol numbers, which looks surprisingly close for an Idol finale and again speaks volumes about the fanbase Kris has managed to amass despite being continually underpimped relative to Adam and Danny. But if he can’t, c’est la vie. I’m just grateful to him for giving me the first finale I gave a shit about since Fantasia’s.

Kris Allen FTW!

(I wrote this straight after the Top 3 performance show last night but wasn’t able to post it till today because my blog host wasn’t co-operating. And as it turned out from today’s results show, my assumption turned out wrong – YAY! I think it’s the first time ever that someone has made the final 2 with zero coverage before the performance rounds and Kris should be damn proud.)

I never, never thought I’d be saying this but after tonight’s Top 3 episode of American Idol, I think I might actually want Kris Allen to win. I’m assuming he’ll go home tomorrow, but I’m still putting this out there tonight.

This isn’t how I started the season. I started off duly impressed by Adam after Satisfaction, and completely dismissed Kris after his forgettable Man In The Mirror. But even though Adam always sings his songs impeccably (on vocal ability alone it’s clear no one else there measures up to him), as an interpreter of songs he has not impressed me since Black or White and Tracks Of My Tears. Most of the time, even when I think he’s done well I still strongly prefer the original (Dilana’s version of Ring Of Fire, Gary Jules’ version of Mad World and Muse’s version of Feeling Good just to name a few). This week, I thought he massacred One and once again, sang Cryin’ very well but somehow still ended up making me long to hear Steven Tyler.

As for Kris, he’s gone from a total unknown in the audition rounds to being in the top 3 with two contestants who were continuously pimped right from the start and I don’t think he got there just by being cute. I think he’s there because he’s pulled off quite a number of smart, nuanced interpretations – Remember The Time (to be fair, part of that surprise was because my expectations of him were so low at the time, but I went back to watch the performance and still loved it), Ain’t No Sunshine and She Works Hard For The Money are all really enjoyable performances that don’t make me long to hear the originals. I think this is how he surreptitiously won me over without me realizing it until tonight.

Tonight, he got the booby prize judge pick by Kara and Randy (I mean seriously, how pathetic is it that Simon and Paula get their own picks and Kara and Randy have to share?) and the shitty second spot, neither getting to open the show nor close it. This would be as good a time as any to decide that he can’t overcome The Chosen Ones’ juggernaut by now and just resign himself to a dignified exit.

Instead, he threw himself into it fearlessly. Apologize is a rather difficult song to sing and contrary to what some judges said I don’t think it’s comfortably within Kris’s range at all, but he didn’t shrink from it and pulled it off pretty successfully. First round to Kris. Heartless was, quite simply, a master stroke. It was unexpected, current, brave, well sung and absolutely the perfect time to have a Moment. Best TV of the night, and second round to Kris.

(Note: You’ll notice I’m talking like Danny doesn’t exist. I’ve basically given up trying to figure out why he’s so popular, and because I’ve already steeled myself to see him in the finale, I’m mentally prepared for Adam and Kris to fight for the remaining place.)

Look, I know all the cool kids like Adam, and I like Adam too. He was off his game tonight, but he’s done other good performances which should of course count for something. But on a night where Adam got Simon’s song pick (Simon has picked for the winner more than half the time and almost always makes the best song choices), got to close the show, and is of course a seasoned pro who has already been massively pimped the entire season, Kris stepped up unintimidated and delivered what I thought were the best two performances of the night. I admire that. I will smile and nod if Adam wins, for sure. But tonight’s epiphany was that I will pump my fist in the fucking air if Kris’s impossible dream comes true.

AI8: Michael Jackson Week

(I was going to post this right after the Michael Jackson week performances on American Idol, but then I got unexpectedly hijacked by a Simon Cowell obsession. Yes, I know. But look! He likes puppies! Anyway, since it was halfway written already, I thought I might as well just finish it up and slap it on here even though it’s unbelievably late. Country week tonight, yee-hah!)

Speaking as a total Michael Jackson lunatic familiar with pretty much every lyric, note and dance move the man has ever committed to public record, this was an interesting week for me on American Idol. Before the show, I tried making a list of what I’d have picked for each contestant and why, and found it fairly challenging. So many fantastic MJ songs are about delivering a complete performance rather than hanging everything on the sort of glory notes that get you praise on American Idol, and of course if you pick a song which is forever linked with an iconic performance, it has to be for the sort of contestant who can pull off a very different take. David Cook did a good job with Billie Jean last season, but I still credit Chris Cornell more for the success of that performance than David himself.

But then I watched the show and definitely got a couple of surprises. (Note: I didn’t do Youtube links to the performances because new American Idol vids on Youtube appear and disappear all the time, but just do a search and you should be able to find at least a few uploads that haven’t been deleted yet.)

Lil Rounds
I’d pick: Keep The Faith. Nothing has set her apart so far from the many shouty divas who initially impress but aren’t ultimately unique enough to stay. This song suits said shouty divaness, but also has plenty of room for showcasing subtlety, growly gospel riffs and all-round flava.
She picked: The Way You Make Me Feel. I didn’t like it at all, and don’t feel she brought anything new to it. I think the slower tempo lost her the exuberance of Michael’s version and didn’t gain her any sexiness or soulfulness in return.

Scott McIntyre
I’d pick: Stranger In Moscow. Scott’s not my kind of artist, but I think he would do an earnest, clear-voiced performance of this song which would appeal to his core fanbase. Variety no, sticking to your strengths yes.
He picked: Keep The Faith. Strangely, despite Scott’s utter lack of above-mentioned gospel flava I think the performance worked out well for him. Most people don’t know the song so they won’t be making the same comparisons as I am to Michael’s version, and at least it was something a little different from his adult contemporary balladeer zone.

Danny Gokey
I’d pick: Man, I don’t know. I definitely don’t want any more Heroesque “lies in YOUUUUU” pointy gestures but I’m not sure he’s capable of dialling down the schmaltz. I wish Matt Giraud hadn’t already sung Who’s Loving You in the wild card round, because I think Danny could have done it better. (Not that any version will ever top baby Michael’s.)
He picked: P.Y.T. Not bad! A brave non-obvious choice and he threw himself into it with some abandon, which I liked, spazzy dancing included. Above all, kudos for not exploiting his (yes, admittedly sad) backstory by picking Gone Too Soon, because that would really really turn me off.

Michael Sarver
I’d pick: I don’t think this guy’s good at upbeat stuff, and am pretty amazed he got through the first week with that awful I Don’t Wanna Be karaoke. I think Human Nature is the sort of oh-he’s-such-a-SNAG-despite-being-a-roughneck ballad that would work for him.
He picked: You Are Not Alone. He did well to pick an arrangement that made the song less deathly dull than it is, but then he spiralled into off-pitch belting. Again, enthusiastic karaoke by a nice guy, but that’s just not good enough.

Jasmine Murray
I’d pick: Black Or White. She needs to not do another treacly ballad, and this would be suitably upbeat. I still wouldn’t like it much, I reckon, but I’ll never like her much anyway.
She picked: I’ll Be There. Boring and flat, not just in pitch but in the tone of her voice and her rendition of the song. I don’t agree that she combined bits of the Michael and Mariah versions, I think she tried the straightforwardness of the Michael version without possessing the purity of his voice that made it special.

Kris Allen
I’d pick: Remember The Time, because he needs to do something less Mickey Mouse Club than his previous Man In The Mirror, which I hated. Remember The Time is groovy and playful without requiring too much smoulder for his boy band face to handle.
He picked: Remember The Time. I’m really surprised at how much I liked this! The guitar may not have added much musically, but it did give the song a slightly different flavour from the original, and brought out an ebullient, charming performance from Kris which really should seal his popularity with the tweens. Hell, I felt the “adorable-sexy” too!

Allison Iraheta
I’d pick: Give In To Me. I see her giving the verses the soulful, slightly melancholic feel she did with Alone (my favourite performance of the opening rounds), and then kicking into rock chick overdrive with the chorus.
She picked: Give In To Me. Didn’t like it! It felt like the whole song was in rock chick overdrive right from the start with no build-up, and with that awful outfit (she’s not fat but I’d still go easy on the leather shorts) it felt overdone, like she was in a bad soap opera’s depiction of a rock concert. Also, while I forgave her tendency to sing slightly flat on the high notes with Alone because the rest of that performance was so kick-ass, I’m going to stop forgiving her from now on.

Anoop Desai
I’d pick: The Way You Make Me Feel. Suits his stage presence and energy, and I’m guessing it’s within his vocal range.
He picked: Beat It. So awful that even Paula couldn’t manage to say anything good. If you do this song you have to change it up, but he sang it straight and sang it badly. I’m rather depressed about this, because I liked him a lot before the live rounds.

Jorge Nunez
I’d pick: He could do the Spanish version of I Just Can’t Stop Loving You, maybe, but I’d pick Whatever Happens. It’s not very well known, but I think it suits his singing style.
He picked: Never Can Say Goodbye. I really don’t think this was anywhere as bad as the judges did. The arrangement and performance was corny, but that’s kinda what Jorge is, and I thought his vocals were far better than Michael Sarver’s.

Adam Lambert
I’d pick: Dirty Diana. He could either camp it up or strip it down, and either way I think he’d bring the drama.
He picked: Black Or White. I’ve never wanted to like Adam. I hate his hair, his fashion sense, and despised his Believe cover in Hollywood week. But somehow he managed to embrace the shitness of Black Or White and totally, electrifyingly transcend it! Like him or not, I think people will have to start admitting that they’re curious every week to see what he’ll come up with next.

Megan Corkrey
I’d pick: Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’? Some of the quirky vocal tics in the verses might suit her, but the minus is we’d get more of her hideous dancing.
She picked: Rockin’ Robin. Not as disastrous as I expected – there was one line where she did a pretty nice yodelly sort of inflection – but ROCKIN’ FUCKIN’ ROBIN, ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS?! I want the awesome Megan that auditioned sounding like Billie Holiday back please, not this nightmarish shittypop equivalent of Kimya Dawson.

Matt Giraud
I’d pick: She’s Out Of My Life. I know he should probably do something more upbeat than another ballad, but it would help me figure out if overdoing the riffing is just something he did with Who’s Loving You, or something he does all the time.
He picked: Human Nature. It wasn’t perfectly sung but somehow I really loved the relaxed, carefree way he did this. He’s no Elliott but because I adore the song, am a total sucker for piano guys, and love the tenderness and delicacy of how he sang the “does he do me that way” lyric, this was my favourite performance of the night and I may be starting to find him a little dreamy.

Alexis Grace
I’d pick: Come Together. (Not a MJ song per se but still fair game since he recorded and released a cover version.) I’m personally not sold on her new pocket sexpot persona but the aggression and attitude of this song suit what she’s been trying to project.
She picked: Dirty Diana. The first verse was very promising, but it got a little repetitive after that. The song can handle a lot of oversinging, but Adam did a better job of oversinging while keeping things interesting than she did.

His Hip Materials

From a rather repetitive anti-hipster Adbusters article which, stoner-like, states really obvious things as if they are profound realizations, at least this observational gem emerged: “The dance floor at a hipster party looks like it should be surrounded by quotation marks.” I instantly imagined this delightful hipster party in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials universe, the air above the dancefloor thick with quotation mark dæmons all glowering at each other.

Fighting Words

I picked up this tan belt on sale at Mango recently. I like using belts to cinch my waist and draw attention away from my wide hips and large ass.

I wore it for the first time the other day and asked Alec what he thought.

Me: You didn’t notice my new belt! Do you like it?
Alec: Yeah, it’s a great belt.
Me: *beams happily*
Alec: When you wear it, you can pretend you’re the WWF champion.
Me: *seethes, considers a clothesline followed by jump off the top turnbuckle with sharpshooter to finish*

Unrelated wrestling amusement: Mick Foley reviews The Wrestler for Slate.

Unrelated fashion amusement: Elyse (still my favourite Top Model contestant ever) spots some spectacular fake Coach bag fail (scroll down).


I lost the draft post for this in the server meltdown so the topic of discussion is obviously yesterday’s “news” by now, but I remembered the incident while listening to the radio today and decided to resurrect this conversational fragment anyway. I’m always amused by the strange things that move Alec to angry pithiness.

Me, reading the news: Henceforth, Beyonce’s new stage name shall be Sasha Fierce.
Alec: WHAT.
Me: It is designed to emphasise a fiercer musical direction.
Alec, looking genuinely aggrieved: She’s about as fierce as a Care Bear’s nipple!


I have never had much patience for people who dismiss hip-hop as being only about gangstas, bitches and hos, or people who like poetry (especially slam poetry) but don’t extend the same regard or respect to rap. It smacks of ignorance and laziness, like someone picking up A Clockwork Orange and concluding it sucks within the first few pages because they don’t get all the weird language about droogs and devotchkas.

Snoop Dogg has always been a problem for my campaign, not least when I was still in London, listening to Still Dre in my room in the Catholic hall and the elderly nun who ran the place knocked on the door to discuss something with me – during a perfectly timed lull in the conversation while I was standing in the doorway talking to her, my speakers loudly proclaimed “It’s the motherfuckin’ D O double G / Snoop Dogg, mothaFUCKAS!!!” Still, despite myself I rather enjoyed this interview (Emma Forrest) in The Guardian. Excerpt:

I have worn scuffed Converse, boy jeans and a T-shirt to this interview because I didn’t want Snoop to look at me sexually. And yet I find myself asking the next question, when the publicist pops her head in to say “two more minutes”. I stare at him, staring at himself and it comes out like Tourette’s.

“What would be my market value, if you were still pimping?”

Snoop looks up, with interest, for the very first time. He looks at my face, my hair. He appears to do a sum in his head.

“Stand up real quick, let me see.”

And I do.

“Oh! You built nice! You built like a black girl! You been sitting on a fortune. You need the right person to represent you, get the connection. You could be in the $4,000 range.”

Snoop was right. Us Jews do have all the money. All the time I had been wondering where mine was, when it was right behind me.

Gorilla Marketing

Ads like this really make me miss watching TV in the UK. Gorilla and Phil Collins’ In The Air Tonight have a moment, and very tangentially, Cadbury tries to sell some chocolates. (Via Mayee.)

American Anticlimax

I wrote a rant last night about how abysmal the American Idol finale was and then fell asleep without saving it. Sorry, I know most people are too cool to love American Idol – once I get this out of my system I promise I’ll get back to writing about indie music.


  • You Give Love A Bad Name: Ballsy the first time, blah the second time. Vocals were terrible and he was clearly out of breath.
  • She Will Be Loved: Case study in the blandness that is Blake. The same dumb preppy clothes he wears every week, the same dead eyes, emotionless face and flat reedy voice. Also an awful song choice strategy-wise – if your third song’s already a treacly ballad, why do the same with the second?
  • This Is My Now: Look, I know you think you’re soooo much better than this song and you want everyone to know it too but honey, even unicellular organisms are better than this crappy song. Suck it up, lose your “I listen to underground hip-hop” pretensions and sing the hell out of it. You’re not an artist, you’re a layer in the American Idol cheesecake.


  • Fighter: Picking a song by an artist who can outsing and outperform you any day of the week isn’t the best way to show you’re a “fighter”. It’s more like you’re pogoing through the jungles of Vietnam and Christina Aguilera’s the Vietcong.
  • Broken Wings: I’ve never seen a performance of this on American Idol that wasn’t pageanty slop, and this was no different.
  • This Is My Now: At least she did her fake, shrieky best on it and on that laughably pathetic basis alone, she deserves to win American Idol.

Verdict: Blake threw in the towel, Jordin wins by default, and Michelle wishes she’d stayed in the karaoke pub drinking instead of coming home to watch this dreck.

Oh and let’s not forget the final insult to injury for us poor viewers: a performance from Penishead Daughtry, still proving with his eyeliner and his posing that he’s only about as edgy as the average ten year old girl.

Best part of the night? Finding out that Paula broke her nose because she tripped over her dog. I believe the “tripped” part, less so the “dog” part. Unless “dog” is slang in LA for “sack of crack”.