Robert Hampton

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20th May 2013

From Vikings we’re descended, it’s frightening what those men did
Posted by at 7.52pm | Music, Television | No responses

Eurovision (aka Farage’s Nightmare) was an absolute delight this year. I watched it with laptop by my side, watching a constant stream of commentary and gentle mockery on Twitter. It felt like a club of bitchy gays had banded together online.

It helped that the show put on by SVT was one of the best Eurovision shows I’ve seen in ages. The aren’t many hosts that could capably handle a three hour telecast to 100 million people, but Petra Mede – a super-trouper if ever there was one – was great. She turned out to be that rarest of Eurovision hosts – one who does jokes that were actually funny. Here’s her interval act, Swedish Smörgåsbord, a brilliant musical number which celebrated Sweden while also offering enough self-parody to keep it bearable. Also, it contained the word “titties” and a gay wedding.

No real standout songs, apart from the Romanian entry Cezar, who delivered an amazing falsetto performance while dressed like a 1980s Doctor Who villain and surrounded by scantily clad dancers. It really was the campest thing imaginable.

Then there was the Irish entry, Ryan Dolan, who came dead last. Sorry about that Ryan – I voted for you, although I can’t quite put my finger on the reason why…

Ryan Dolan's sexy dancers

As expected, Britain’s song failed to make much of an impact, with Bonnie Tyler’s effort only finishing 19th. However, that hardly seems to matter in an overall fantastic show. The Hampton jury gives Sweden 12 points!

20th June 2011

Cry Wolf
Posted by at 1.15pm | Music | 1 response

Patrick Wolf is a singer who has been around for a few years now, and released several albums, none of which have achieved the success they deserve. It is a shame, because each one has been an eclectic mix of brilliant tunes.

Here’s The City, the first single from his new album Lupercalia, which is out today. And it’s AMAZING.

Buy the album now from Amazon on CD or MP3 download.

27th May 2011

To MP3 or not to MP3, that is the question

As a gay, I am legally obliged to adore Lady Gaga*. Her new album Born This Way has just come out and naturally I made a beeline to my computer to buy it. Actually that was a lie – I was already at my computer, because as well as being gay, I am a total nerd.

Where was I? Oh yes, the album and such. I was about to click to buy the CD, when I spied that Amazon were selling the MP3 download for just £3.99, saving me seven or eight quid over the physical copy. How could I say no to an offer like that? Quite easily, in fact.

You see, I actually quite like CDs. You would think that I — being a child of the microcomputer revolution — would embrace the future like [NAME REDACTED] embraces Big Brother contestants. But there’s something about CDs that is lost in MP3 format, which means I’ll be sticking to CDs for now, thanks.

Don’t get me wrong, a lot of the early objections to digital music no longer apply. MP3 downloads are now ridiculously cheap — often significantly cheaper than CD. They are also, for the most part, free of that annoying Digital Rights Management which requires you to continually prove to your computer that you are legally entitled to play the music you’ve already paid for.

Of course there are many advantages to MP3 downloads. The music is instantly available as soon as you’ve handed over your credit card details. You can keep your entire music collection in something the size of a matchbox and take it with you wherever you want – I have an iPod, and my first action when I get a new CD is to rip it into iTunes. For new and struggling musicians, the lower distribution costs of MP3 can offer big cost savings over the traditional methods of music distribution.

But there’s just something about actually holding a shiny, tangible CD that the MP3 experience can’t replicate. As an example, let’s compare what people who bought Patrick Wolf’s The Magic Position on CD got compared to MP3 downloaders:-

Picture of Windows Explorer showing a folder of MP3 files Picture of Patrick Wolf CD and sleeve notes

For those who took the trouble to get a CD, a pretty inlay sheet with lovely artwork and sleeve notes. For MP3 downloaders? A folder full of icons in Windows Explorer. Yes, you see the CD cover art in iTunes or Windows Media Player, but it’s NOT THE SAME.

I’m fully aware that I’m sounding like an old man complaining about how things were much better in “the good old days”. For the record, here are some other obsolete technologies which I wish were still current: Ceefax, BSB squarials, Acorn computers, Class 101 DMUs.

* This is of course not true, I just wanted an attention-grabbing opening paragraph.

14th May 2011

Posted by at 3.59pm | Music, Television | No responses

Blue promo shot for EurovisionI will be watching the Eurovision Song Contest tonight at the Mersey Tart‘s house, in the company of his partner Dave and our friends Jamie and Roy. This gathering is sure to be gayer than the cast of Glee singing Kylie Minogue’s greatest hits in a Soho leather bar on a stage made out of condoms.

There are two lazy received opinions about Eurovision which get aired endlessly around this time of year. One is that it is a dated, cheesy waste of money which is irrelevant to modern life and should be scrapped forthwith. You could say the same thing about the Royal Family, and look how popular they are at the moment.

The other complaint is that the contest is ruined by political voting, where countries vote for their nearest neighbours, especially in recent years as a horde of Eastern European countries have rushed to join in the fun. One person expressing these opinions is James Ball in the Guardian who writes, “an examination of Eurovision voting data has confirmed a persistent voting gripe – the eastern European voting bloc indeed exists, and is now all but unbeatable.”

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30th March 2011

Come McFly With Me
Posted by at 11.45pm | It's My Life, Music | No responses

I quite like McFly, and I often get ribbed for it. But I’m glad I don’t care what people think, otherwise I wouldn’t have been in the Echo Arena with Andrew last night, dancing like an idiot while surrounded by screaming female fans. I’m seriously glad I went — those guys know how to put on a show!


OK, I sound like a 15-year-old girl. The moral of the story is… Do what makes you happy, as long as it’s legal — and maybe sometimes, even if it isn’t! 🙂

31st August 2010

It’s Rosie the Nosey Neighbour!
Posted by at 6.09pm | Fun, Music, Radio | No responses

Here is a short coda to my Brighton trip. On the train home I was listening to more Adam & Joe XFM podcasts from 2006. Unbeknownst to me, this included this hilarious discussion of R Kelly’s Trapped in the Closet album, which caught me unawares and induced helpless laughter in me.

Aware that I was getting strange looks from my fellow passengers, I tried to stifle my laughter. My attempts only resulted in a coughing fit, which earned me even more strange looks.

Adam and Joe must be two of the most entertaining people on the radio. I really wish they’d hurry up and return to their 6 Music show.

1st January 2010

2009? More like Two Thousand and Fine!

July saw Merseyrail’s run of bad luck continue, as a train rolled out of the depot and derailed. To atone for their sins, they introduced a new day ranger ticket, but I wasn’t convinced. This was something of a train-y month for me, as I did my bit to help out the previous generation of Merseyrail trains. Trains were also on the Government’s mind, as they announced that the Liverpool to Manchester line would be electrified.

In London, the Police proved once again what a wonderful organisation they are. In Rome, a swimmer suffered an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction.

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20th December 2009

Facebook: not just for using your personal data!
Posted by at 7.06pm | Music | No responses

Well, isn’t this wonderful:-

Rock band Rage Against The Machine has won the most competitive battle in years for the Christmas number one.

The band’s single, Killing In The Name, sold 500,000 downloads beating X Factor winner Joe McElderry’s The Climb by 50,000 copies to clinch the top spot.

Their success followed a Facebook campaign designed to prevent another X Factor number one.

Clearly the problem of illegal downloads is overblown: all you have to do is start a Facebook campaign and people will happily pay to download a song.

Not that I particularly liked The Climb, but no-one should pretend that Rage Against The Machine’s victory is any less manufactured than the X Factor winners of the past few years. Also, couldn’t they have picked a good song to go up against Simon Cowell? Especially as it’s ultimately Sony who own both songs, so the evil corporate people get the money anyway! WELL DONE EVERYONE.

28th October 2009

Balk like a pirate day

It’s a victory for Lily Allen, as Peter Mandelson has announced plans to disconnect persistent file sharers.

I have mixed feelings about this. I do think that the people who create music and support that industry are entitled to be paid for their work (and when 7digital is charging as little as 50p for DRM-free MP3 downloads, is paying that tiny amount really too much to ask? Even for Michael Bublé?)

On the other hand, my civil liberty instincts are telling me this is a bad thing, as I’m far from confident that those accused of illegal file sharing will be allowed to access the due process of law and defend their accusations (there are, of course, many legitimate P2P networks out there).

Also, cutting internet connections totally is a draconian step. Most internet users need their connection to function in life and could not manage without it. In the near future, access to the net could be considered as essential as running water or electricity. Throttle their connections, block the ports, but don’t cut them off entirely.

16th October 2009

It Was Acceptable in the Eighties
Posted by at 11.59am | Music | 1 response

A-ha are splitting up. This is probably very sad news, but it does provide the perfect excuse to embed a YouTube video. Don’t get too excited, you’ve probably already seen it:-

There should be a tribute band called Mm-Hm.