Jul 31, 2020

POP RATS ANAGARMS: the answers


As sure as the sun follows the rain, as sure as the buffalo follows the rabbit, it is now time to complete my pop music anagram series with... drum roll... the answers.

If you've not been keeping up with my anagrams, then catch up on parts one, two, three and four. Go there now before you see the answers.


Here we go. My two criteria for choosing the musicians I did were (1) they were well known and successful, and (2) I didn't like them. With each answer, I will justify point 2. Or at least, I'll try to.

FLAKED MORNING ANUS (5,3,9) is Simon and Garfunkel:
Their music seems weedy to me, as if it's not really trying. They need to back things up with a techno beat, or perhaps a spectacular pom-pom dance routine. Which one is Simon and which one is the other one? No-one really knows.

I AM LUBE BELCH (7,5) is Michael Bublé:
He's so middle of the road, it's like watching painted road lines dry. If he was a cat's eye, its eyelid would be half drooped with boredom. I realise things like Michael Bublé need to exist, like tables or shoe horns, but that's no reason to get excited about him.

HAIRY CAMERA (6,5) is Mariah Carey:
What's with the warbling? If someone did that to you on the street, you'd punch them on the nose. No-one needs to scale five octaves: just stick to the one octave. In fact, stick to the one note. There are too many notes.

LIAR CHEAT USING AIR (9,8) is Christina Aguilera:
It's so long since I've heard Christina Aguilera that I've forgotten what she sounds like. Was she the one in ABBA? Was she that X Factor winner who sang that song? Was she the baked potato one out of East 17? All I can remember is I didn't like her music.

PERTURBING SCENES (5,11) is Bruce Springsteen:
I know he's the boss and everything, but he's not the boss of me. I don't get the whole American blue jeans thing, or the whole stadium rock thing. Mainly the jeans. Why can't he wear a nice pair of cords? Or some orange slacks? Yes, orange slacks would be nice.

BLAND BOY (3,5) is Bob Dylan:
Hey, I get this guy's place in history, but I can't stand the voice. I think he's the reason I don't like folk music. I heckled Bob once, at Manchester's Free Trade Hall. I demanded he play some Judas Priest. I think people misheard me.

TA, LEUKEMIA (5,5) is Katie Melua:
Katie's music is warm and comforting, and I don't want warm and comforting. I want cold and uncomfortable: it's why I'm into techno. She should make some techno instead of counting all the bicycles in major Chinese cities.

BYE, PISS RANTER (7,6) is Britney Spears:
I didn't like the sexy schoolgirl thing: very worrying. I didn't like the whole Toxic bad behaviour thing: it was a bit meh. And as for her dubstep moment? For the love of Springsteen, poke out my ears with a Garfunkle.

There you go. Some fun anagrams, some revealing answers, and a torrent of negativity to cast a shadow over this whole enterprise. Why not make an anagram out of someone you love by shaking them until all their innards get scrambled? What fun! Thanks for readgin (it's an anagram of reading).

Jul 29, 2020

POP RATS ANAGARMS 4: Thank you and goodbye


I've just spent 24 hours in a police cell. My crime? Posting anagrams so good, they should be illegal.

Get ready for life sentences all round, because here are two more POP RATS ANAGARMS! (It's an anagram of POP STAR ANAGRAMS, as you may or may not have noticed.) 

This is the final pair of anagrams in this series. Thanks to those who have played along on Twitter: in dedication to you all, today's anagrams are themed on "thank you" and "goodbye". The next post on this blog will have all the answers.

As with the previous posts, there are two pop acts to name. Both are successful enough to be well known names, and they're also artists I don't especially like. This whole word game is some kind of masochism on my part.

Get solving! Leave a comment or tweet me the answer, and look out for a clue further down this post.

First anagram (length of the solution's words in brackets): TA, LEUKEMIA (5,5)


Second anagram (length of the solution's words in brackets): BYE, PISS RANTER (7,6)


A brace of final bafflements for you to solve. Clue? They are both solo artists. That's all you're getting this time.

Comment if you're old school or tweet me if you're trendy and modern.

Answers coming up soon.

Jul 28, 2020

POP RATS ANAGARMS 3: perturbing and bland


I'm delighted that my POP RATS ANAGARMS (it's an anagram of POP STAR ANAGRAMS) have made international news. They were on the front page of every newspaper on earth, got 96% coverage on the entire internet, and a farmer in Somerset sent up a skywriting plane which said FAT ROLUNDS ANAGRMS ARX GXFRQPPT (it was a windy day).

Here are two more pop music anagrams. The golden rules are the same as previous anagram challenges: Firstly, these are very successful pop acts, and secondly, I think their music is well rubbish. You may like them: I don't. With that in mind, today's pop star choices might prove controversial.
Rearrange these anagrams to make a famous music star. Leave your answer in the comments or, more likely, tweet the answer at me. There is also a clue below. 

First anagram (length of the solution's words in brackets): PERTURBING SCENES (5,11)


Second anagram (length of the solution's words in brackets): BLAND BOY (3,5)


Want a clue? Both of these American solo acts were born in the same decade.

Comment or tweet me up. Another pair of anagrams in seven shakes of a goat's beard (i.e. soon).

Jul 27, 2020

POP RATS ANAGARMS 2: two (h)airy pop music anagrams


Yesterday, I challenged my blog readers with two fiendish pop music anagrams. Some of you got it, while some of you broke down in tears. "No more, Fats," you wept while ripping your clothes asunder.
You: Hello, I'd like a refund on this designer jacket, please.
Tailor: But it's all ripped.
You: Yes, I ripped it real good. I'd like a refund please.
Tailor: We can't refund items you've damaged.
You: But... Fat Roland did this anagram quiz where—
Tailor: You've said enough. Here's a thousand pounds.
Here is more, so may the tears flow into rivers. Below are two further POP RATS ANAGARMS (it's an anagram of POP STAR ANAGRAMS). Remember: (1) these are all very successful pop acts, and (2) I don't like any of them because I'm a music snob.
Solve these two pop music act anagrams by leaving a comment or tweeting me the answer. And pay attention because I've given a little clue below.

First anagram (length of the solution's words in brackets): HAIRY CAMERA (6,5)


Second anagram (length of the solution's words in brackets): LIAR CHEAT USING AIR (9,8)


See if you can unscramble each anagram into the name of a pop music act. And here's a little clue – you'd definitely notice if either of these solo artists started singing in your neighbourhood. They've got range!

Comment or tweet. Another pair of anagrams shortly.

Further Fats: See part 1 of POP RATS ANAGARMS here

Jul 26, 2020

POP RATS ANAGARMS 1: two flaky pop music anagrams

pop rats anagarms

I've noticed an increase in stupidity among my blog readers. Putting the cat in the fridge, stirring your tea with the loo brush, going to the shops in clown shoes, that kind of thing.

What you need, readers, is a mental challenge.

Welcome to a short series of POP RATS ANAGARMS! These are actually POP STAR ANAGRAMS, but what I've done is mix up the letters in each word (I swapped the Ps in POP). This is because I am well clever.

Two things connect the pop music acts featured in these anagrams:
1. They are all very successful pop acts. Some of them have a whole bunch of number one singles, and the acts that don't are still very much household names. Mostly solo acts, but not all.

2. I don't like any of them. That's right: I've picked some of my least favourite names in pop. This won't help you solve the anagrams necessarily, but it will tell you which CDs not to get me for Christmas.
This is the first of five POP RATS ANAGARMS blog posts. The first four posts will each have two anagrams to solve so if you find one too easy, there's always another to unscramble. The fifth blog post will have the answers.

Let's go. Solve these two pop music act anagrams! Either leave a comment or tweet me the answer (oh and look out for a clue below).

First anagram (length of the solution's words in brackets): FLAKED MORNING ANUS (5,3,9)


Second anagram (length of the solution's words in brackets): I AM LUBE BELCH (7,5)


There you go. Two absolutely delightful anagrams for you to unscramble into the name of a pop music act. Pssst: here's a clue – one of these acts had their hits many years ago, while the other is a 21st century act.

Comment or tweet!

Another pair of anagrams soon.

Jul 24, 2020

Blimmin' eck! Fat Roland's guide to the 2020 Mercury Prize


The Mercury Prize has announced its shortlist, and what a list. 

Who is who, why oh why, and what do they look like when you listen to them? I'm here to answer all of your nominee quandaries. Here is my album-by-album guide to the 2020 Mercury Prize.

Anna Meredith – FIBS

Anna is a proper classical music person who chucked all of her violas and trumpets into the sea and waited until a synthesiser washed up to shore. Somewhere there's a fisherman with a barnacle-clad flute wondering if he's found a new species of fish. Meredith's got a proper MBE, which stands for "Music Brilliant Excellent" or "Mercury? Blimmin' Eck!" The album sounds like she's pressed a single loop for ages on a Juno keyboard, but in a good way. It sounds like post rock for people made of cotton wool. Again, in a good way.

Charli XCX – how i’m feeling now

Fact I: Charli XCX is a Roman person called Charlie who lived in the year XCX. Fact II: She recorded this album under lockdown, which means she played the keyboards one-handed while waving goodbye in a Zoom meeting. Fact IIII: The album is full of r'n'b bangers that sound downloaded through an early-2000s modem. Fact IIIIIII (I've lost count): Charli says she sees music in colours, which is a shame because they didn't have colours in Roman times.

Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia

Dua Lipa is the queen of pop. Is she a benevolent queen, or a despotic one? That depends on how many people she's beheaded. Future Nostalgia is packed to the rafters with roof-raising pop bangers: she reminds me of Sophie Ellis Bexter but without a Blue Peter mum. I like that bit in the Dua Lipa single that goes "pa da da daa pa de dah, oh!" although I don't think that's on this album. Swing that axe, Dua! Oh hold on, the phone's ringing. Hello? I'm being sued for what? No, I don't remember telling my readers that the pop star Dua Lipa led a series of public executions in her bid to become the ultimate pop queen. Sorry, you must have the wrong number. Okay, bye.

Georgia – Seeking Thrills

This is not the eccentric electronic duo Georgia from the oddball Edinburgh imprint Firecracker Recordings. Which is a shame, because I liked what I heard. Instead, this is much more straightforward: summery dancefloor tunes perfectly designed for all the festivals that aren't happening right now. Georgia's dad was in some obscure act called Leftfield. The other Georgia, the one I remember, deconstructed music into a thousand Nintento shards: this Georgia rebuilds it.

Kano – Hoodies All Summer

Grime grandmaster Kano (pictured) has tonnes of award nominations: Mobos, Brits, Mercury Prizes, cycling proficiency certificates. They're literally pouring out of his every orifice. His track Trouble is already a modern classic, with the help of a 92-year-long video in which he shows off his spittin' skills. I'd advise against wearing a hoodie all summer, unless of course you've got stuff falling out of your orifices, in which case I'd recommend a number of hoodies placed at strategic points on your body to avoid the very real possibility of something shooting out of your bum and ruining the job interview and/or funeral you're attending. This is great advice: I hope someone's reading this.

Lanterns on the Lake – Spook the Herd

You can't spook a herd of cows by putting lanterns on a lake: let's get that clear from the outset. You could set fire to a sheep, perhaps. Anyway, this Newcastle outfit's blend of folksy indie music provid– no, wait, I can't let this rest. Maybe make the shape of a cow ghost using the lanterns: the lake's ripples would make it move eerily. Or just throw the cows into the lake and chuck a lantern at them. Yeah, do that.

Laura Marling – Song for Our Daughter

Marling, who is not a fish, is one of the most nominated artists in Mercury prize history. She's been referred to as "nu-folk" which is like nu metal with fewer wallet chains. Marling, who is definitely still not a fish, wrote this album for a non-existent daughter. What is also non-existent is my interest in folk music. She'll probably win the Mercury, because a fish hasn't won the prize since James Hake in 2013. Wait. Was she a fish or wasn't she? Am I thinking of marlin? The Mercury needs to choose less confusing musicians.

Michael Kiwanuka – KIWANUKA

If in doubt, just put your name in big letters. This is why I scribble FAT ROLAND on passing schoolchildren and Deliveroo riders. Kylie's first album was called Kylie, so I assume that's the sort of vibe the excellent Mr Kiwanuka was going for. He's got a labrador called Whisky, which is nice, although I doubt Whisky has ever written "Whisky" on anything, on account of not having opposable thumbs. Madonna's first album was called Madonna. This is Michael's third album: he's doing it all wrong.

Moses Boyd – Dark Matter

When I reviewed this album for Electronic Sound, I said Moses Boyd pinballed around his drum kit "like an oiled whippet". This was not meant to be a suggestion. I would sincerely like to apologise to any dog owners who have lost their pets due to unexpected slippage, but you shouldn't have been near the cement mixer in the first place. Where was I? Oh yes. Moses. Boyd. Jazz. Funk. Drums. More drums.

Porridge Radio – Every Bad

Lawks, it's an indie guitar album. I've not heard one of those since 2003. If you're not sure what a guitar is, it's like a synthesiser but shaped like an 8 and made of string. Weetabix Wireless, sorry, I mean, Porridge Radio are from Brighton. The beach in Brighton is most famous as a filming location for the Paul Bettany film Wimbledon. If a guitar album wins the Mercury, albeit one as good as this, all electronic music is dead. Fact.

Sports Team – Deep Down Happy

Sports Team are wacky, like a clown on a sausage, or a barbershop quartet up the nose of a walrus. Their critics say they are posh Cambridge lads who read too much John Betjeman. Why are they even in this list of best albums? I don't even like sports. Or teams. Or being happy deep down. Uh-oh! Coco's fallen off the bratwurst! So wacky! Like a goose in a top hat, or a buffalo in a fez, or morris dancers with googly eyes on their knees, or an office tie covered in cartoons of Stewie from Family Guy, or an inflatable penis dressed up to look like Prince Phillip, or saying the word "Uranus" the rude way, or a piece of poo on a stick, or a stick embedded in a massive poo, or stabbing yourself to death with a poopy stick, stab stab stab until the horror of this album is forgotten forever. Ahem. I think I need to lie down for a bit.

Stormzy – Heavy is the Head

Never heard of him, sorry. Only joking! I am being very hilarious today, I hope someone's reading. Stormzy does actually have a very heavy head and has to carry it around in a wheelbarrow. Sometimes he wears bullet-proof vests just to support his torso, what with the weight of his colossal bonce. Stormzy once did a single about how his head was too big to fit in his boots, which to be honest we could have guessed without learning it in the song. If the actual Mercury prize is a medal worn around the neck, Stormzy is truly stuffed. 

Jul 22, 2020

Selected tweeted works: young lovers and yawning

A blue bird

Twitter is a gentle and beautiful environment in which everyone lovingly carves perfectly-nuanced tweets in order to make the world a better place.

Here are some of my recent tweets designed to honour Twitter's uplifting and supportive atmosphere, which in many ways can be seen as me contributing to world peace.

"But Fat Roland," you doth protest, "surely making a blog post out of tweets is terribly lazy, and is a sign that blogging long since died out as a relevant artform."

Thanks for your contribution, reader. Do me a favour, can you just take a step back? And another step? Just one more step. Neeeearly there. *opens trapdoor to crocodile pit*

Selected tweeted works

1. PPE
Today, I am wearing 14 masks across various parts of my body as all-over protection combined with cool rad fashion.

2. Fake Fake
What would you call a Nathan Fake tribute act? (See me sniffily dismissing replies here.)

3. A single tweet
and then the whale said to the vicar, "Mother Superior? I thought you said blubber posterior!!" Ha ha ha ha, oh my, I think that's the greatest story I've ever told on Twitter. (See thread.)

4. Literature
I just yawned and accidentally recited all the vowels in the complete works of Shakespeare.

5. Animal abuse
I can't BELIEVE I've been cancelled. It was just a few puppies and the blowtorch wasn't even on the high setting, I mean JEEZ.

6. Fine Time (for a tweet)
I don't know if anyone's noticed this, but New Order's album Technique is very good.

7. Television
Why were they showing the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics when they should have been showing the bit where I won 82 gold medals? Harrumph.

8. Pardon?
an bauetiful song for my beuatiful handss made of roast beeff (tweeted on my Jusbin Bebber account)

9. All the lovers
Overheard in the park today - A couple of young lovers relaxing on the grass, him saying (and adding a beat for emphasis): "I'm glad you found that funny, because that was a joke by... Will Ferrell."

10. Eating out
This pub is too packed. We've had to climb into each other's mouths to shield ourselves.

Jul 21, 2020

The alternative, picky version of the Mercury music prize

Mercury Prize logo

The Mercury Prize is the best metal of prize. Much better than the Wrought Iron Prize, the Tin Prize and the Ytterbium Prize. Yes, I just looked that up.

In advance of the Mercury shortlist being announced later this week, my friends at Picky Bastards have cobbled together a pretty impressive alternative list of Mercury Prize nominations

FKA Twigs is hailed as a genius, there's praise for the warm analogue tones of Michael Kiwanuka, and Ghostpoet offers a "masterclass in restraint". One album is called an "uncompromising, apocalyptic triumph" but you'll have to read the article to find out which album it is.

I've also made a suggestion: 808 State's Transmission Suite. "808 State’s first album for 17 years wasn’t just a triumph in techno," I write. "It was a brilliantly realised celebration of old electronics." Have a read of all of our alternative Mercury albums here.

While you read that, I'm going to learn about ytterbium. It's named after Ytterby in Sweden, which is a bunch of houses built on a haunted mine. Apparently Ytterbium has a "molar heat capacity" , which I can only assume is to do with setting your teeth on fire. You shouldn't put ytterbium in your eyes, which, to be fair, you can say about most things.

Have you finished reading that Mercury piece? Good. I can stop reading about ytterbium now: it's really dull.

While I'm lazily researching things, here's something else. Wikipedia tells me the Mercury Prize is named after their original telecommunications company sponsor Mercury Communications. When Technics took over as sponsor in 1998, they kept the Mercury name, even though the Technics Prize would have loads more cred because of the whole turntable thing. 

Maybe the Technics Prize can be a dance music version of the Mercury, which would make me very happy. Someone set that up, please, thank you.

Jul 20, 2020

Fat Roland at the Garden Fringe — at a distance

Fat Roland at the Garden Fringe

On Saturday, I took some crack. Some sweet, sweet crack. 

At least, that's what it felt like. I performed 20 minutes of comedy at the first Garden Fringe event. It's a new post-lockdown project where people put on shows in socially-distanced back gardens.

We were in a suburban garden (location only known to ticket-holders). There was a garden bar and shed toilets and it was all kinds of fun. I was on a bill with comedians Danny Sutcliffe, Allyson June Smith, who I thought included the overlooking neighbours brilliantly, and compere Dave Williams. 

My last performance had been at Leeds Lit Fest for Tales of Whatever in March, which seems like forever ago. I'd forgotten how much I need to perform. Big emphasis on the word NEED: there was a wild look in my eyes as I typed that. Although my knowledge of crack is limited to its usage by characters in 1990s postmodern fiction and the television comedy Peep Show, I'd image this is what crack addiction feels like. It's very "moreish," as that bloke in Peep Show said.

And the gig was a sell-out too! Admittedly, the limited capacity helped to achieve that, as we all still had leave enough space for the virus not to attack us. But it quickly became clear that, with a lack of shows around at the moment, audiences are really keen for local, safe entertainment. I suspect there will be many more shows like this.

As a matter of record, here's some notes for my set, which is all a bit coded, and it's really for me to look back on this first post-corona gig at some point in the future.

My set: Eel-vis Presley, socially-distanced pop stars, put on the hat, gay nose, record shop prices, pop star envelopes, more nose, pop music maths, knight meets dragon, puppy competition, even more nose, book of friendship, eggs, last bit of nose. (Gig also contained a dig at Daft Punk about which I am thoroughly ashamed.)

Loads of people have got in touch with the Garden Fringe already, and you should too if you have I have a suitable show, a suitable garden, or would like to attend events. It's a good crack.

Jul 14, 2020

"Is it okay to hate music?" Fat Roland asks calmly

Celine Dion

Is it okay to hate music?

I've always been an snob when it comes to music. If a vocal or a rhythm track wasn't exactly "right", it would ruin the whole song for me: I'm a musical Goldilocks who can never settle on the best tempo of porridge.

I've picked easy targets in the past for my most hated music. On this blog I have railed against, specifically, James Blunt, Ocean Colour Scene and Celine Dion. I forget their crimes now: their apparent transgressions have faded over time. 

I still hold a seething hatred of the following:
  • "Dad music", usually comprising ageing rockers. 
  • Country and western, which is just folk music with horses. 
  • Opera, obviously. 
  • And anything popular. That's right: if the masses are into something, I have to be contrary and pretend I'm some kind of proto-John Peel into something obscure and difficult.
Hmmm. Actually, I don't seethe. I never seethe. So much of my hate is simply comical ire because it makes for funny writing.

I have never been an angry person. I remember a lot of shouty fighting in my family when I was a kid: my oldest brother storming out after a blazing row. I remember the tension, and spending some of my (mostly very happy) childhood being afraid. Combined with relentless bullying in school, it shook the rage out of me: made me see it as a futile emotion.

So I've always been quite chilled. Very level-headed in a crisis. I'm also 16 years older than when I first started this blog, so I'm even more mellow than I was. Added to my natural inner calm is the gradual slowing of age, the creaking mantra of my ageing bones. I'm also getting fatter as I get calmer. I think I am possibly becoming Buddha.

Don't get me wrong. Opera really sucks. And I can't stand Free's All Right Now and any version of American Pie: both songs have all the dynamic energy of a dead person's heart monitor, flat-lining from start to finish. Also if I hear Imagine one more time, I'm attacking John Lennon's piano with a hammer. And what about Nickelback and Billy Joel? Absolutely awful: I want to boil them in oil then boil that oil in oil. And if one more person comes up to me and says "techno techno techno techno", I'm going to get the twelve-inch of 2 Unlimited's No Limits and shove it right up their—

No. Stop. Deep breaths. Find your happy place, Fats. Like I said, I'm a really calm, chilled guy. Ulp. 

Is it okay to hate music? Well, James Blunt, Ocean Colour Scene and Celine Dion are not really music, are they. It's just noise: an awful pop cacophony with as much musicality as a hundred walruses being fired out of a cannon. See? It's easy when you know how to write it.