In an age of one-week wonders, “Believe” was a phenomenon – a massive global hit, bossing the charts for close to two months. It has a formidable legacy: as well as a triumphant capstone for Cher’s career, it sets the tone for a surge of dance-pop successes over the next couple of years, and opens the pop career of writer/producer Brian Higgins and his Xenomania team, whose idiosyncratic approach to pop will illuminate the early 00s.
Except none of that matters. “Believe”’s place in history and conversation has been all filled up by that unnatural bend in Cher’s voice in the verses, the moment the public discovered Autotune. So “Believe” stops being a rather good pop song about rubbing your ex’s face in their folly, and instead is treated as Patient Zero in an epidemic that defines or ruins modern pop. All the debate and the disdain over Autotune starts here, and all of it since lands back here. Cher, what have you done?
In another world, the crassest Number One of 1998 might have been its most chic. “Gym And Tonic” steals a name, a concept, a hook and most of a sound from Bob Sinclar’s “Gymtonic”, written with Daft Punk’s Thomas Bangalter, who also co-wrote the gorgeous Stardust hit “Music Sounds Better With You” – from which Spacedust lifts the rest of their ideas, and their band name. It’s not so much filing off the serial numbers as daubing luminous paint on them. “Music Sounds…” had just missed reaching Number One a few months before this – which meant that at the peak of French pop cool in my adult life, the sole representative of “French touch” on Popular is a knockoff by a pair of Brits with an, ahem, “deliberately cheap” video. C’est la vie.
Avengers NOW! and Marvel in the 2010s
Marvel Comics’ announcement that its new Thor is going to be a woman has attracted plenty of froth and comment – especially since it turned out that this was part of a general refreshment of their core titles under the Avengers NOW! banner brand. Captain America is to be replaced by long-standing partner The Falcon (who happens to be a black guy), and Iron Man is going to become a dick (they may have trouble presenting this as a radical change).
There have been a range of responses. Superhero comics are built on the “illusion of change”, but apparently have the most reliably troll-able audience in media history, so some people are upset at the idea of a status quo change. That it’s a status quo change away from a white guy in two cases – and those two cases are the ones drawing all the heat, nobody is saying “I love Tony Stark! How dare they make him even more of a jerk” – is not coincidental to the level of rage.
We know there have been some serious issues recently with the login and comment system. The main ones being:
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Both of these are down to caching issues, and we’re working to resolve them with our current hosts or find a different solution. In the meantime, our apologies.
If you can’t get your login to work, try clicking on another post – it sometimes shows up after that. If it still doesn’t work, you should also be able to post comments unlogged.
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Sorry once again for the hassle – the comments are really important and we are hoping we can get everything sorted out again before too long.
“Because We Want To” worked by leaning on Billie Piper’s energy and nascent dramatic flair rather than her singing. For “Girlfriend” her voice is more central, which is a problem – it’s a mushy, gobstopper-mouthed instrument, prone to sliding words together so that every line sounds shrugged through. It makes “Girlfriend”’s chorus – Billie asking a guy out – sound really grudging and reluctant. The awkwardness doesn’t end with the vocals, either – like Peter Andre’s hits, “Girlfriend” is professional songwriters trying for cool and ending up with a supermarket own-brand version of R&B, clumpy and thin.
Once upon a time there was a whimsical, backward-facing tendency in British life, with a habit of surfacing just as things were at their shiniest. The Beatles released Sgt Peppers, for instance, and the world proclaimed a revolution: but some took a subtler view. George Melly, a man with an interest in fashion, the texture and the cut of things, noticed right away how old Pepperland looked. The cavalry twill, the black-and-white photos, the circus posters, the childrens’ drawings – this was as much retreat as advance. The golden youth of Britain reached back into playful memory, storing up an attic chest of precious bygones against a rupture they had helped begin.
The Beatles weren’t alone – its childish streak is the first thing anyone notices about UK psychedelia. But if childhood could be appropriated by the hippies, the process could work in reverse. Primary school pop, thirty years later, could assume the grown-ups weren’t listening and borrow a few of the sixties’ better ideas.
This ought to be something special: the most outspoken member of the biggest group in pop teams up with the most exciting new female MC for years. Instead, the first solo Spice No.1 finds Missy Elliott barely in attendance and Mel B flailing as she tries to carry a song that plays entirely to her weaknesses.
One issue – and it’s the one that seems to sum “I Want You Back”’s puffing mediocrity up – is that Mel B is a fairly woeful rapper. The opening minute is like an excruciating pro-celebrity golf match, with Mel and Missy trading rhymes and Mel struggling to find any variety or charisma against even the most softball lines from her bored-sounding co-star. “How can you ‘beep beep’ with no keys?” indeed.
ENGLAND are the winners of the Pop World Cup 2014. Congratulations to manager Ronald and the team: Disclosure, Natalia Kills, Mutya Keisha Siobhan, AlunaGeorge, Years & Years, Foals, and Katy B and Jessie Ware.
Nigeria (managed by Cis) are runners-up, and Chile (managed by lartsaegis) take third place.
The GOLDEN MIC for the highest-scoring individual track (pitch invasions disqualified) goes to Japan’s BiS, for “Stupig”.
The GOLDEN MIXER for the highest-scoring team (best average scores across matches played) goes to South Korea.
Nominations for Team of the Tournament are open in the comments box.
At last! The anthems are sung, the teams are on the pitch, and the Macarena Stadium in Los Del Rio is about to play host to the greatest event in global pop, the Pop World Cup Final. Joining us are.. YOU, in the comment(ary) box and the voting poll – below the cut – and our finalists, England – managed by Ronald, and Nigeria – managed by Cis. Nigeria are the defending champions, England the sleeping giants who may finally have awoken. Only you can decide the outcome.
Below the cut are our two songs and managerial comments, as well as the all-important poll. The match will end on Sunday evening, exactly as that other World Cup final kicks off. Well done both sides for getting here, and may the best team win.
SPOILERS AHEAD! A glimpse now into Popular’s gleaming but dystopian future, i.e. the first half of 2014′s number ones, ranked from best to worst based on how much I liked them when I played them just now. No marks, obviously, but consider this a hostage to future fortune. Assuming I get that far. But how could I not with so many bittersweet deep house tracks to write about?
1. DUKE DUMONT – “I Got U (Radio Edit)”: My favourite iteration of the year’s signature sound – wonderful poise in the vocal (#Justice4KelliLeigh!) and the backing is gorgeous. Why isn’t all pop like this right now OH WAIT HOLD ON