I was amused by this story about an English newspaper insulting Shetland, calling it the most depressing place in Britain. After a flood of protests, the paper – published in that hive of cheer, Birmingham – printed an apology and promised to pay a visit to Scotland's most northerly county, to give a more balanced report.
Shetland was probably my favourite place to visit on my travels while working for UHI in Inverness. It's a beautiful group of islands – wide open skies, a barren beauty in the landscape, a rich cultural and archaeological heritage, friendly people, and a unique dialect inherited from the days when it was owned by Norway. Sure the long winter nights must get a bit much, but then midnight golf in the summer is the plus side – and the gulfstream ensures it's never as cold as you'd think.
Lerwick, the main town, is great – compact, bustling, gorgeous architecture (including grand Victorian buildings and a 18th century fort), and an excellent nightlife for its size. Buoyed no doubt by the oil money that has enriched Shetland with excellent public services, there's a confidence about Lerwick that you simply wouldn't get in any town elsewhere that was within easy reach of a big city.
I've also been to Birmingham for work: no contest.
From that article, I ended up surfing my way to a piece in the Shetland Times about a couple of guys walking from Elvis Voe in Shetland to Presley in Moray, visiting places with tenuous Elvis Presley connections on the way. It's good to know that there are other "stupid boy projects" to originate in the highlands and islands! These guys are doing it for charity, too, which is thoroughly commendable.
By contrast, all I can think of that Birmingham lends itself to music-wise is that recent hit by U2.