Posts from 19th December 2000

Dec 00

Melody Maker Remembered

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Melody Maker Remembered: from, unexpectedly, Salon – this is ex-writer Cath Carroll writing elegantly about why the music papers mattered.

27. BACKSTREET BOYS – Shape Of My Heart

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27. BACKSTREET BOYS – Shape Of My Heart

As he steps out of the shower and starts to pat down his wet hair Alan finds himself humming a song he can’t quite place. It’s something he heard on the radio, quite serious and tuneful, but the name slips from his mind as he ties the hair back and pulls on his slate Joe Bloggs shirt, and by the time he’s out the door the song is gone too.

He’s in the Rat and Parrot: as usual he goes to the jukebox. They’ve got “Yellow”, his favourite single this year, and some old Van Morrison and Stones tunes, and Louise would like it if he put some Robbie on, and the fucking machine’s gone wrong again, that’s only six songs. Everyone agrees those machines are dodgy, and the records play, and Lou laughs and punches Alan on the arm when “Kids” comes on, just like she used to when they were, you know, ‘together’. Another song comes on, with christmas-cake production and a young voice straining for heatbreak. “What’s this?” asks Lou and nobody knows, though something about it rubs itself against the walls of Alan’s head. “It’s the fucking Backdoor Boys! The Backdoor Boys!” yells Steve, and Lou asks “Alan, is this one of yours?” and Alan says “No way. God no, it’s not one of mine.”
(Original review here)

Kirsty MacColl dies in boating accident

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Kirsty MacColl dies in boating accident. I’m not sure if NYLPM is the place to announce this, especially considering that only last night in the pub I was doing my usual schtick about Kirsty MacColl on backing vocals equalling end of career (the Smiths, The Wonder Stuff). It may be a shame to think that she will be best remembered for Fairytale Of New York – which is about as credible as Christmas records ever get (ie not very but at least the word arse was said on it).

I actually rather liked some of the stuff on her last album, and I thought “In These Shoes” was a masterful pop single. She made a better fist at Latino pop that Geri Halliwell, and much better that Jennifer Lopez. Lets hope she did not hear the Ronan Keating/Marie Brennan version of Fairtale Of New York before she got hit by the speedboat. It is most surreal listening to an Irishman putting on an Irish accent to sound more like Shane McGowan.

Ah well Kirsty MacColl RIP – as A House would say.

I’m not sure if it’s up on the website yet

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I’m not sure if it’s up on the website yet, but the NME has picked Queens Of The Stone Age’s Rated R as its album of the year. Now, Rated R is not a great album – it rocks along in a fun way, but the hooky promise of the best single (“Lost Art Of Keeping A Secret”) is not, alas, kept. So why this choice? Theories that come to mind:

– it’s been a year in which all the obvious choices are a bit too obvious. A pick like this will at least get people talking.
– QOTSA’s basic selling point is that they are Proper Rock for indie kids and so can be bought without suffering the taint of Liking Metal, in a way that Kyuss could not have been and Monster Magnet can not be, for example. This probably applies more here than in the States because we rock less, but in a musical environment of extreme fiddliness there’s still something tokenistic about the Queens’ rockin’ ways: I’d guess a lot of end-of-year lists will feature Rated R as their only rock record. So NME gets to position itself as a paper which will embrace tough, hard music in the dark days ahead without alienating its demographic.
– QOTSA are American. The reason Melody Maker went belly-up is that ‘the kids’ were generally into British music and thus could be well-served by the non-specialist British press, TV etc. Americophilia = exoticism = a good niche for the NME to be in. Also NME is trying to turn itself into a global music brand, so picking Coldplay would send out the wrong signals.

Or of course it might be that the writers liked the album. But how boring would that be?

The Freaky Trigger Pop Music Focus Group, November 2000

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The Freaky Trigger Pop Music Focus Group, November 2000: why oh why do I do this to myself? Anyway, here we are – thirty-six pages of commentary, critiques, and crudities on the last six months’ singles. Swearier than ever! Thanks to everyone who took part and head for the forum to praise and condemn the results.