Posts from 4th August 2003

Aug 03

The Buzz

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Cherie Tipped For Pop Success

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Cherie Tipped For Pop Success: oh they so wish! If my search referrals are anything to go to this dubiously factual record might well be big in Switzerland though. Still, you never know – hard-hitting political tracks vs novelty disco records – form suggests the Top 40 will be a walkover. (Also glorious to see that the Tracey Ullman video incident is STILL being brought up – ha ha.)

LISA SCOTT-LEE — ‘Too Far Gone’

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Two common complaints about the singles charts: one, the turnover of hits nowadays is stupidly high; two, the charts are full of ‘manufactured pop’. What doesn’t get mentioned is that these trends neutralize one another to a degree. Yes, every boy or girl group fissions after three albums and the solo careers get going, but the fragmented fanbase of these solo singers is so tiny that they’re almost guaranteed the briefest of stays in the Top 40. No.12 — No.32 — No.Nowhere — barely even time to for ageing DJs and grumpy musicians to complain.

Unless the song’s great, of course. And ‘great’ here can just mean ‘unusual’, because a kind of basic catchiness and pep can be taken for granted in professional pop nowadays. If you don’t dislike the default sound of British pop music — energetic, clubby, transatlantically sung, chorus-centered and a little thin in the production department — you won’t find very much to offend you in the current charts. But you won’t find many British pop songs to excite you, either. Far from drowning the charts in prefab crap, British pop is marginalized in its own Top 40 — singles like Lisa Scott-Lee’s mere conjunctions between the supremely sweet confections from Denmark, Russia, Jamaica, and (of course) the US. 2003 has been another fabulous year for the British Top 40, but it’s almost nothing to do with us. Jemini’s perfunctory Eurovision flop seemed to sum it up — it sounded so rote, so tired.

British producers can still make wonderful singles — ‘No Good Advice’! — but they generally don’t. The motor of innovation that drives American pop seems to have run down in the UK — and in the rest of the world, producing international pop stars may still be enough of a novelty to keep things fresh. (European chart hucksters aren’t scared of gimmicks, either, but that’s another story.). Meanwhile Lisa has another record out, and like the last one, like the next one, it’s OK.

Club Freaky Trigger is on Wednesday

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Club Freaky Trigger is on Wednesday (see FT front page for details). Here is an opportunity to affect the playlist – which of these tracks do you think I should play? Vote for as many as you like – winner will definitely get an airing.

Freaky Trigger Interactive Disco II

Which Of These Should Be Played At Club Freaky Trigger?

Outkast – Ghettomuzick
MOP – Put It In The Air
P Diddy/Nelly – Shake Ya Tailfeather
Bubba Sparxxx – Jimmy Mathis
Pharell feat Jay-Z – Frontin’
Mya – My Love Is Like…Wo
Nas feat Pharell – Flyest Angels
Chingy – Right Thurr
  Current Results

Robert Armani – “Circus Bells (Hardfloor Remix)”

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It starts with a stiff funk bassline played on a synthesizer and it builds itself up a track at a time. At first it’s just the kick drum and the bass (NB you might not ever hear that opening part except in a DJ set, overlayed with the previous song) but then the drums start getting more excited and new sounds come online, more drum lines, then suddely everything peels away and you’re floating, like you’re Wile E. Coyote and you realize you’ve just raced straight off the cliff and there’s nothing underneath you, just brazen faith keeping you there. Will you fall? The bass comes back in. No, you won’t fall. Whole sections of percussion come in, too, and these blasts of distorted crazy shit start creeping up on you so that you can’t keep it all in your head at one time anymore. You were kind of pleased with yourself there, you could trace each part of the fugue, but eventually the song has so much going on that you just have to let it all hit you at once. And out of this din comes a siren that cuts through everything; suddenly everything else drops away again except the crazy disorted acid sounds—another Wile E. Coyote moment—and from somewhere very far away you hear the siren. It’s getting louder. On the canyon floor Wile E. crooks an injured neck down the road at a tiny dot of dust gathering speed on the horizon. The whoosh of snare-roll begins quietly, from the distance, and it lasts for like a million measures, rushing up towards you louder and louder and, after a bit longer than you expected, wanting to delay the moment but impatient for it, too, the song explodes back into view, all parts ticking and rolling and pushing against each other, the siren, the bass, the drums, and especially the aforementioned hard-to-describe psychedelic bit. (It’s like: a distorted guitar that sounds like a distorted keyboard, playing a killer riff that is yet absolutely unhummable.) The big climax is nothing Fatboy Slim hasn’t done a million times, but this song is the blueprint. It’s the tabula rasa of acid house. You can get funkier, rockier, more acid, more house, but no club track is more perfect.

Fountains of Wayne-Steacys Mom

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Fountains of Wayne-Steacys Mom (video)

When hearing this song it works wonderfully, because it is assumed that the kid singing has just come home from college, and it is the kind of decadence that is completely mutual, a graduate for our post ironic ages.

Then the video comes, with enough sexual signifiers to make Foucault come, and enough paedo subtext to allow for everyone but gary glitter skeeze out. The kid in the video is 10, the mother in question is 27–Steacy is about 11. We see the boy floating in the pool until he sees the mother and has a pop bottle orgasm, we see Steacy wearing heart shaped sunglasses, and sucking a straw–a Lolita with a co-dependent Charlotte Haze and a Humbert Humbert about her age. After that, there is a fantasized pole dancer which puts Everclear’s Volvo Soccer Driving Mom in proper perspective, a Bo Derek coming from the water and removing her bikini moment, and in conclusion the gentleman in question being caught masturbating in the bathroom.

The whole thing is supposed to come off as a cute way to look at wistful lust, but the results nibble away at a number of taboos we really should think about keeping.