Posts from September 2015

27
Sep 15

EMMA BUNTON – “What Took You So Long?”

Popular23 comments • 2,986 views

#894, 14th April 2001

bunton It was obvious from “2 Become 1” on how crucial Emma Bunton was to the Spice Girls. She managed to be their steadiest and most seductive singer at once, the anchor of their ballads and the Spice who could turn a line like “Be a little bit wiser…” from a wagged finger to a beckoning one. All their nicknames found different ways to miss the point – for Baby, the pigtails-and-smiles branding masked the group’s most mature vocalist.

21
Sep 15

HEAR’SAY – “Pure And Simple”

Popular57 comments • 3,872 views

#893, 24th March 2001

hearsaypure “I’m here to be a pop star. I’m sick of being skint.” – Noel Sullivan of Hear’Say, outside his first audition.

Watching the first episode of Popstars – chunks of it are on YouTube – is like looking at footage of early motor cars. You’re watching a newly invented machine that will transform and scar the landscape it moves in, that will become an ordinary part of millions of lives, and that will make some of its engineers appallingly rich. But you’re not looking at a car as you know it now – you’re looking at a funny little device, all prongs and angles, trundling along on its four large wheels, picking up tentative speed. Walking ahead of the vehicle is a rangy, sandy-haired man, waving a flag with a rather pained expression on his face. His name is Nasty Nigel.

16
Sep 15

The Canon Crawl

FT63 comments • 1,970 views

joniblue This is another one of my ‘listening exercises’ – in a world of enormous musical choice, I find games like these are a good way of structuring what I hear, and avoiding the temptation of falling back on a relative handful of default choices.

I started this one when I was recovering from an operation, over the summer. The rules were simple. I went to the Acclaimed Music website, and looked at their list of critical favourites from each year from 1960 to 2014. I picked one LP a year, the highest on the list* I hadn’t knowingly heard all the way through and thought I could bear. One LP per artist max.

I’ve listed the LPs under the cut. To make things more fun, I’ve listed them in the order I’d most want to hear them again right now – from most to least.

10
Sep 15

WESTLIFE – “Uptown Girl”

Popular28 comments • 2,834 views

#892, 17th March 2001

westlifeuptown Features the best joke on a Comic Relief single – a girl gets bored of her “whitebread world”, and instead she chooses Westlife. But the video for “Uptown Girl” – the most entertaining thing about it – leans into just this conceit, casting the band as five honest lads working service jobs and pitched into a cartoon class-clash fantasy, against posh goons straight out of an IPC comic. This puts the emphasis on a part of the song Billy Joel doesn’t stress as much – “Uptown Girl” in his reading is the fantasy of a boy dreaming that a rich girl will notice what a stand-up guy he is. He wants to beat the high class boys, but they’re a background detail. “Uptown Girl” in Westlife’s world involves a woman waking up to the fact she’s stuck with a pack of howling arseholes.

8
Sep 15

SHAGGY feat. RIKROK – “It Wasn’t Me”

Popular31 comments • 2,687 views

#891, 10th March 2001

shaggywasnt One of the things dancehall does supremely well is project authority. The genre is born in competition – between soundsystems, between MCs. While rappers jealously guard their beats, dancehall MCs submit themselves to judgement over the same riddims as their peers, and one way to stand out is through sheer stentorian dominance. Not every MC takes this route – some are lovers, some jokers, some storytellers – but I’d guess for casual Western listeners the platonic form of dancehall involves a gruff bark riding atop a beat like Zeus on his thundercloud.

This is the image “It Wasn’t Me” has so much fun with. Shaggy’s character – the “true player” – takes the MC’s self-confidence to a level that rewrites reality itself. His helpless partner, Rikrok, struggles to find a detail that will make Shaggy relent, back down, admit there are things you simply can’t brazen out. But Shaggy is as remorseless as he wants his poor protégé to be. “It wasn’t me. It wasn’t me. It wasn’t me.