Posts from 7th April 2000

7
Apr 00

Rock & Roll is Dead

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Rock & Roll is Dead quoth dreadful article on local US paper’s website. Boo hoo. What the article is saying is that the thing called ‘rock and roll’ which used to sell a lot of records (and hence make rock writers’ lives easier) is dead. And? Solution: obvious – either the writers in question should find some low-selling rock which isn’t dead, of which there is plenty, or they should actually pay some bloody attention to the stuff which is selling plenty and try thinking about it for once rather than scoring cheap points by mentioning disco and the Village People.

Anything else is just whining and hackwork.

BRITNEY SPEARS – “Oops…I Did It Again”

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BRITNEY SPEARS – “Oops…I Did It Again” (MP3, which you can currently get via here)
Let me be the first to state the obvious: that is the worst title for a pop single ever. It brings to mind crapping-toddler birthday card designs in its tumourous cuteness, and when you imagine it sung you imagine it accompanied by a winsome giggle-gurgle of mock-embarassment. Typing it out makes my fingers squirm.

The title is all the more baffling when you listen to the single, lyrically Britney’s tuffest yet – sort of. She’s still crying, a fool, etcetera ad nauseam, but she’s also leading some hapless boy foil on, and the big winking hook is “I’m not that innocent”. So now you know. Musically, “I Did It Again” (think of that as the title and it all becomes much less painful) is a slippery thing, hookful but not as grand-guignol sledgehammer-catchy as her other stuff. Most of it is production-line Abba-stomp, and it passes the time, but it’s the weird structural and production touches that make you listen again. The jagged beat it starts with promises wonderful new levels of machine-pop hardness, but they don’t really appear: what you do get is so much vocal manipulation and mannerism that all sense of this being a recording of an event – of an actual singer singing an actual song – slips completely below the radar.

The emergent teenpop aesthetic seems to involve rejections of such musical centres in favour of stunt vocals and a choreography of effect. This is music for dancing and snogging, like pop always has been, but also blipvert music for surfing the web and playing video games and watching TV: The oddest moment in “I Did It Again” is when the tune distorts and slows and a crackly bit of soapy dialogue comes on, totally unrelated to the song, and providing an attention-break just like an ad break or a station ident or a pop-up window. Which renders criticism along tradpop lines even more redundant, because the aims of album rock are now just so alien to what’s happening in the charts. I’ve deprogrammed myself pretty thoroughly from rockist preconceptions and even I feel pretty lost when it comes to a record like this – the critics are speaking a different language.

“Inspired by no-one / Other groups bore us / How can you say we sound like Frazier Chorus?”

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“Inspired by no-one / Other groups bore us / How can you say we sound like Frazier Chorus?” is perhaps my favourite Half Man Half Biscuit lyric, and in hot anticipation of the English issue, wherein they may well be mentioned quite a lot, here’s a link to the Frazier Chorus website. It’s a just-the-facts website pretty much, though you can buy a horribly-titled demos ‘album’ for ten of your Earth Pounds. My personal recommendation would be to buy the Sue album for twenty of your Earth Pence instead, though.

Haven’t caught up with The War Against Silence in a while.

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Haven’t caught up with The War Against Silence in a while. A recent blockbuster includes a review of the new Trembling Blue Stars album and some funny stuff about his first ever computer.

So here we have

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So here we have Fly Online: it looks way gorgeous and cutting-edgey, and when you get in it talks about bucking the mainstream and how there are still skiploads of underground visionaries out there waiting to be discovered, and generally it makes me feel bad about my long-since-sold-out tastes and how I don’t buy much from Rough Trade anymore. And then you click on the music section and it’s Everything But The Girl. Sheesh. Further evidence that the word ‘mainstream’ means nothing. But as I say, nice to look at.