Posts from June 2013

30
Jun 13

TAKE THAT – “Never Forget”

Popular61 comments • 4,691 views

#724, 5th August 1995

never I’m a sucker for a self-conscious farewell. I bought final issues of comics I’d never prevoiously read. My best Doctor Who memories were the regenerations. As a student, my favourite Shakespeare was The Tempest. And look! Here’s Gary Barlow as Prospero, drowning his songbook, letting Caliban free to hang out with Oasis at Glasto, moving on and leaving behind him maybe the most self-important single a boyband has ever produced.

28
Jun 13

Friday Poll Special – The Great Britpop Sorting Hat!

FT215 comments • 8,800 views

We are now firmly into the BRITPOP YEARS on Popular, oh yes, so it’s time to consider its musical legacy in the only language we truly understand, viz. a ticky-box poll.

We have selected 32 bands who someone, somewhere, might possibly have once described as Britpop. Tick all the ones you like and by science we will be able to finally, once and for all, define terms like “Britpop D-List” and “second divison Britpop”. Isn’t that a noble endeavour? I thought so.

Which of these Britpop bands were Any Good At All?

  • Pulp 70%
  • Blur 64%
  • Kenickie 53%
  • Suede 52%
  • Supergrass 48%
  • Elastica 47%
  • Super Furry Animals 44%
  • Ash 43%
  • The Divine Comedy 39%
  • Oasis 35%
  • Boo Radleys 30%
  • Lush 30%
  • Bluetones 28%
  • Catatonia 25%
  • Mansun 24%
  • Sleeper 24%
  • Black Grape 23%
  • Lightning Seeds 21%
  • Gene 21%
  • Longpigs 19%
  • Echobelly 18%
  • Shed Seven 16%
  • Space 14%
  • Ocean Colour Scene 14%
  • WELLER 14%
  • Kula Shaker 13%
  • Cast 11%
  • Menswear 11%
  • My Life Story 11%
  • Marion 8%
  • Seahorses 8%
  • Northern Uproar 3%

Total Voters: 1,496

Poll closes: No Expiry

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26
Jun 13

THE OUTHERE BROTHERS – “Boom Boom Boom”

Popular70 comments • 3,720 views

#723, 8th July 1995

outhere2 A dilemma, here. On the one hand, the second Outhere Brothers number one is somewhat better than “Wiggle Wiggle” – it shouts at you less, for one thing. On the other hand, the very words “second Outhere Brothers number one” suggest we have left the borders of necessity far behind. The Brothers here sound a little less obnoxious, a bit more playful – nursery rhyme goofs instead of unabashed horndogs. They have better ideas, too – a breakdown early on that sounds like it might be going somewhere, with an atmospheric dancehall intro. But the basic approach, constipated rappers leching over ordinary beats, really hasn’t changed, and “Boom Boom Boom” outstays its welcome just as surely as “Wiggle Wiggle” did, so you send it on its way still wondering why it bothered us in the first place.

25
Jun 13

ROBSON AND JEROME – “Unchained Melody”/”The White Cliffs Of Dover”

Popular126 comments • 7,738 views

#722, 20th May 1995

On Soldier Soldier’s Wikipedia page there’s a list of the places each season of the military drama was set- where Robson Green and Jerome Flynn’s squaddie characters were sent. Hong Kong, Cyprus, New Zealand… after Iraq, and a dozen years fighting in Afghanistan, the idea of a show about serving UK soldiers needing to get its drama from New Zealand seems bizarre, something out of a lost time.

But some things are constant: Britain is fond of its troops, whatever they’re asked to do. And when people start playing with ideas of Britishness and patriotism it’s no surprise to see a flash or two of khaki as the stereotypes parade. So, for the uninitiated or forgetful: this was number one for seven weeks, famously keeping Pulp’s “Common People” off the top. The singers are actors, who played soldiers in a long-running military soap. In one episode they have to do a bit of karaoke, and this is what they chose. Who, asked swooning viewers, will bring us this masterpiece on CD Single? A flash! – a whiff of sulphur! – enter Simon Cowell.

23
Jun 13

LIVIN’ JOY – “Dreamer”

Popular142 comments • 6,534 views

#721, 13th May 1995

A dance music confession: I never, quite, intuitively grasped what counted as House and what fell under Garage. The bumping, cut-up rhythms and vocals that begin the remixed “Dreamer” feel like garage, for example, but as Janice Robinson takes the song into its urgently blissful chorus I want to call it house – or even go more specific and say handbag house, that showy, uplifting offshoot that strutted across superclub dancefloors in the mid-90s.

These sort of divisions are the meat and drink of dance music – social markers as much as genre markers, guides to who might dance to what – and, in the case of handbag, what might be safely dismissed. Otherwise knowledgeable and thorough histories of dance music wave mid-90s house away as mere disco (as if disco was ever mere), a crowd-pleasing sideshow away from the main action. In terms of ‘progression’, perhaps that’s right. In terms of pop, it’s way off.

19
Jun 13

OASIS – “Some Might Say”

Popular276 comments • 11,065 views

#720, 6th May 1995

“And you still think you’re going to rule the universe? You wouldn’t know what to do with the universe. You’d only shout at it.” – Doctor Who, The Pirate Planet

“They ruined British music and they ruined British music journalism.” – Jeremy Deller, Mojo Magazine.

“I think you’re the same as me” – Oasis, Live Forever

This is not, you suspect, how anyone really planned it. The Kerenskys of Britpop, the intellectuals who dreamed back in ’92 and ’93 how a new British pop music might sound and feel – modernist, fashion-conscious, ironic, nostalgic (but naturally with excellent, unexpected taste), not really very much like rock – failed to predict anything like “Some Might Say”. They (we! I read Select too!) never anticipated this sound – swampy, lazy, loud as fuck, rolling with belligerent confidence, bleeding contempt for any music that wasn’t it.

For many, it was electrifying – I resisted hard enough to convince myself I wasn’t impressed, but listening back now to “Live Forever” and “Cigarettes And Alcohol” I still don’t love them but I can’t bring back the distaste, only the effort it took to maintain it. Where Take That pleaded, hand on heart, for classic status, Oasis simply demanded it, Visigoth-style.

18
Jun 13

TAKE THAT – “Back For Good”

Popular48 comments • 5,744 views

#719, 8th April 1995

Hello Guardian referrals! The rumour you are looking for is in comments #14 and #30 – but stick around and explore our UK No.1s blog if you like…

To open your pop record with acoustic guitars can signal a certain seriousness of purpose. To arrange your pop song with the help of a string section, ditto. Begin, like “Back For Good”, with both at once and the message seems unavoidable: this is the big one. This time, we’re Doing It Properly.

Or maybe it just looks that way with hindsight. “Back For Good” seems an awfully self-conscious record to me: a deliberate, almost overthought shot at classicism. It’s an unctuous record, with a naked craving for respect. But perhaps it only looks that way because, well, it worked. This is the point at which Gary Barlow stopped being the entrepreneurial leader of Britain’s biggest boy band and started getting himself fitted for his Statesman Of Pop robes. It’s the moment he became a talking point – of course, he’s always been a great songwriter – by squeezing his typical, meandering songs into an airtight pop structure and throwing strings and harmonies at it.

5
Jun 13

what you see is what you !!THUMP!!

FT3 comments • 286 views

As a kid I had a couple of picture books which visualised sound — natural and orchestral — as lines and brightly coloured abstract shapes and star-bursts. I loved them (and should look them out and scan some pages) but of course you couldn’t actually hear the sounds being visualised, and the images were still. Animation that illustrates music isn’t a new idea, either, but I do actually love the overlap between graphic scores, score-composition and realisation considered as a programming software, and interwoven sound and vision unfolding in real time.* Here’s someone doing it with Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring.

The Adoration of the Earth:

The Exalted Sacrifice:

2
Jun 13

THE OUTHERE BROTHERS – “Don’t Stop (Wiggle Wiggle)”

Popular53 comments • 4,449 views

#718, 1st April 1995

The Great British Public has a long and warm relationship with smut – stuff that is somehow about sex without making anyone actually want to do it. A part of our national psyche is forever a 12-year-old boy. As times and manners change, the balance between cheekiness and directness has tipped, from seaside postcards and George Formby to Judge Dread and Roy “Chubby” Brown. The itch remains the same – show us something naughty. So it’s not that surprising that the Outhere Brothers (debut single: “Pass The Toilet Paper”) wind up with two number ones.