Posts from 21st January 2003

21
Jan 03

PALL OF SHAME

I Hate MusicPost a comment • 505 views

PALL OF SHAME

More from the readers. ‘Rob’ writes on behalf of his idols:

“Please do not insult legendary artists when you clearly have little or no idea about them or there music. Anyone with the vaguest idea of Elton John’s music should know that the lyrics to “Rocket Man”, and, for that matter, all his other songs, are written not by Elton, who writes the music, but by his longtime collaborator. Any pathetic and juvenile criticism of the lyrics of Elton John songs should therefore be directed at his songwriting partner, Bernie Taupin.
Both men, by the way, are in the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame”

My apologies, Rob – in fact I was avoiding mentioning Mr Taupin out of a misplaced desire to protect the man from the consequences of his folly. All Bernie did, after all, was write awful poetry – never a good idea but not in itself worth a slating. His one terrible mistake was to hand this poetry over to my old pal Elton John, who promptly converted his verbal castor beans into musical ricin. However I now see the error of my ways: believe you me, from now on whenever Elton needs the Tanya Treatment, Bernie will get it too.

Thankyou also for reminding me of the Songwriters’ Hall Of Fame – though if Taupin is an alumni I can only think it’s some kind of Internet spam scam. I have two suggestions to make this sorry institution into a proper Hall of Fame.

– when anyone joins it they should only be allowed to do so with a 3-letter name. Bernie could be “BUM” for instance. Songwriters who can’t think of a name get called “AAA”.
– when you get into the Hall of Fame, it’s Game Over, so you can’t write any more songs. Ever.

If we must have this awful thing, then people, let’s do it right.

Olympia Manchester Athens Cologne?

FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 206 views

Olympia Manchester Athens Cologne?: Pitchfork launches a singles-review weblog! With “no regard for age, popularity or genre”. (“Singles” in our download-friendly age meaning single tracks, of course.) Good idea, good format, good luck.

FAITH HILL — ‘Cry’

FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 386 views

This song surprised me at first — granted, it was the video that surprised. I didn’t think I’d see Faith sulking through a sweltering dystopic lovelorn backdrop any time this century – I didn’t know she could sulk! With my cursory exposure to Ms. Hill coming via her teeth-rotting hits of sunshine (‘This Kiss’, ‘The Way You Love Me’, ‘Breathe’), the bitterness and anger seething between the swooping strings sounded — not authentic, and not more real. Different. A different sort of different I didn’t expect — fie on me for having low expectations.

Of course, after beating the song into my head these past couple of months, it’s pretty clear that ‘Cry’ isn’t much more than the root canal flipside to all the sugar and spice she fed the Billboard charts these past couple of years. It’s not a personal glimpse into that bitterness & anger you get with love gone wrong, though. ‘Cry’ is a Rorshach blot that doesn’t leave much room for interpretation — unless you’re the type to take round-trip plane rides with your Frequent Flights of Fancy Miles, you’re going to see the same thing in that amorphous blob as millions of other listeners. And shame on you if you’re reading that assertion as a criticism of the song – most songwriters would fold, spindle, and mutilate for just one opportunity to tap that universal vein. (Brief aside – show me a songwriter / musician that doesn’t want to communicate with as many listeners as possible, an artist that wants to entertain and inspire on their terms and their terms alone, and I’ll show you about 1000 CDs from my collection, days’ worth of music made by talented, creative folks struggling / that struggled to rub two coupons together.) (OK, I was wrong – 1250 CDs, give or take two hundred.)

If you notice Faith’s pushing through the words instead of singing them (like she’s never done that before), there’s no need to grouse — it’s belabored a wee bit, but the conviction is there. Professional actors know when to mug for the camera and be totally, shamelessly obvious. Sometimes, there even has to be a little effort put in by Happy Me in order to wake up my inner Goth and realize some quality existential angst. Even if it’s only for 4 minutes, it’s worth the effort.