Posts from June 2015

28
Jun 15

New Popular Entries: Where And When?

Popular21 comments • 1,152 views

Hello – just a quick note to reassure people that we haven’t gone back to the bad old days of no updates. My situation is as follows – I’ve been on a long, complicated work project which finishes tomorrow. Then on Tuesday I’m going into hospital to have my gall bladder taken out – if all goes well I’ll be out on Tuesday night and will be recuperating for a week or two. At some point during that I’ll start updating Popular regularly again!

(The next entry is actually half written – if I manage to finish it I’ll put that up, as it offers a bit more discursive meat than poor LeAnn.)

Meanwhile, this is an excellent opportunity to go check out the masses of new recent posts on Marcello and Lena’s Then Play Long blog, which has surged back into activity with some superb writing on the LPs of 1989.

See you all soon! Tom.

20
Jun 15

LEANN RIMES – “Can’t Fight The Moonlight”

Popular33 comments • 2,682 views

#882, 24th November 2000

leannrimes “Same Old Brand New You” showed that the Max Martin style could be achieved on the cheap – but what happened if you went in the other direction? Plasticky British pop wasn’t the only strain under pressure from the Swedes – America’s pop establishment, typified by ballad queen Diane Warren, also needed to react. “Can’t Fight The Moonlight”, co-written by Warren, is one attempt. It’s an expansive meeting of styles – a sweeping film soundtrack number, produced with thumping, Martin-esque drama. Just in case that wasn’t big enough, the producer is Trevor Horn, obviously no stranger to maximalist visions for pop. Somewhere in this colossal landscape is LeAnn Rimes, a young country-to-pop crossover act who seemed more comfortable at the faith and flag end of her original genre.

10
Jun 15

It’s A Metamorphosis

FT/28 comments • 1,430 views

psbrldThis is a reprint from my Tumblr, from a meme where people asked for album reviews. This was for Very, by the Pet Shop Boys (and Bilingual too, as it turns out).

I got an anon asking about Bilingual too, so I’m going to consider them together as the NEIL TENNANT TURNS 40 diptych of albums. There may be an element of projection in this, dear reader. Tennant of course coined the phrase “imperial phase” to describe the moment when you’re pop’s darling, and it ends at – no coincidence this – roughly the point at which house music takes over from the post-disco/hi-NRG dance music the PSBs made as the default sound of clubland. So all their run of albums post Introspective to about Nightlife (maybe that and Release too) are him (and Lowe, who knows!) coming to terms with this.

The first move is easy – prove your songwriting chops and show you’re a serious guy with Behaviour, but Very is the interesting one. The Behaviour singles did OK, but the tide is going out on them, the music has changed under them and Tennant’s in his late 30s – they know they basically have one more shot at making a great pop album which forces its way into the public consciousness, which gets and earns coverage in Smash Hits as well as respectful write-ups in the broadsheets. And Very is their attempt at that album, the last event Pet Shop Boys record.

8
Jun 15

A1 – “Same Old Brand New You”

Popular21 comments • 2,210 views

#881, 18th November 2000

a1sameold A1’s “Take On Me” was a needless re-spray of the prior generation’s classic pop. Now their magpie tendency turns to their own times. After Billie’s “Day And Night”, this is the year’s second I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-Cheiron number one, a studied and whole-hearted application of the uptempo Swedish style to an English boyband. “Same Old Brand New You” makes no secret of the moves it’s learned from its sources, and adds only the lightest of new twists in the form of a body-rockin’ electro breakdown.

4
Jun 15

WESTLIFE – “My Love”

Popular28 comments • 2,145 views

#880, 11th November 2000

westlife mylove “My Love” is Westlife in their pomp – a seventh straight number one, leaving records trailing. They were as popular as they’d ever been, which is to say, not as popular as you might think: a steady fanbase of a hundred thousand or so first week fans, but nothing in the way of crossover. Still, they sounded monolithic enough. “My Love” starts intriguingly hesitant, as if it wants to be their “Knowing Me Knowing You” – “I’m all alone, the rooms are getting smaller” (Imagine Westlife, trapped in a malfunctioning TARDIS.) Of course, that doesn’t last, and the windswept chorus of “My Love” – a de facto title track for their second album, Coast To Coast – is them at their most banner-waving. It’s confident and assured, big-chested – they know what they’re about by now, these boys. Cheiron – the jobbing end of Cheiron – are back too. A memo is sent out to stakeholders: the Westlife enterprise has considered the possibility of changing its business model for the second record, and politely rejected the proposal.

2
Jun 15

SPICE GIRLS – “Holler”/”Let Love Lead The Way”

Popular48 comments • 2,936 views

#879, 4th November 2000

spiceholler The original concept for the third Spice Girls album – according to Stannard and Rowe, the writers and producers the group jilted for Forever – was that it would concern the girls becoming women, the group maturing along with their audience. Even ignoring the fact that these “girls” were already the five most successful women in British music and sticking purely to the branding, It wasn’t the most promising of ideas. Sure, a lot of the charm and quality of Spice was how unapologetic it was in drawing inspiration from teen magazine problem pages – balancing friends and boys; safe sex; being nice to your Mum. It might have aimed itself squarely at a particular market, but it didn’t talk down to them – and in not doing so, it won a far huger audience. But Spiceworld had already moved away from that, and besides, there were plenty of grown-up alternatives out there. The Spice Girls never making anything like “Black Coffee” was no shame: forcing themselves to try might have been.