Posts from 23rd December 2007

Dec 07

BARRY WHITE – “You’re The First, The Last, My Everything”

FT + Popular42 comments • 6,226 views

#361, 7th December 1974

One of the things I’ve realised writing Popular is that Britain tends to like – or tended to like – songs and stars with a tiny hint of the absurd, records that hook you with sincerity but sugar it with the option of reserve. Barry White’s signature hit is straight-up rhapsodic disco, an explosion of love and desire. But the fact that the smoothie who performs it is so recognisable, such a giant, so open to pastiche, unlocks the song for an audience who can take part in it without needing to feel it. This is why it’s a wedding disco favourite (which in turn is why I’m sort of sick of it): anyone can jog around the dancefloor and join in with big Barry’s open-armed professions without feeling stupid, because there’s a level on which the guy who’s singing it has already absorbed any possible ridicule. Which is generous of him, but then it’s a generous record.

Can’t make it all alone

FT6 comments • 561 views

I’m in severe danger of starting to hate an excellent song. Not because of what “Fairytale Of New York” is – whole-hearted, rambunctious, sad and sentimental – but because of what it’s being used for: “the great anti-carol” as Sean O’Hagan typically puts it in a piece in today’s Observer, a stick to beat ‘commercialised’ and ‘banal’ Christmas with.