We’re far too lazy/jaded/secretly into Bennet to do the ‘clever writing about pop’ thing any more, so it’s a good thing that some people still manage it.
New York London Paris Munich
30 November 2004
There are two good reasons why this single must come out.
i. The Cheeky Girls are exactly tawdry enough for Christmas (and NO OTHER time of year, bog off Cheeky Flamenco et al.). “Have A Cheeky Christmas” slowly revealed itself as a seasonal masterpiece, its rictus grin of forced cheer a frighteningly precise recreation of that office party vibe. “Rum-pa-pum, rum-pa-pum, Santa Claus is comeeng / Rum-pa-pum, rum-pa-pum, feeling up my stockeeng!” – shudder.
ii. We are all about the cunning swap of Summer and Christmas themes here at Freaky Trigger, and “Boys (Christmastime Love)” is exactly the kind of thing we were thinking about (that time down the pub).
The Shopping CD
Many thanks to the comments box crew who came through splendidly. The actual CD, to be played between rounds at the quiz tomorrow, goes a little something like this:
1. PET SHOP BOYS – “Shopping”
2. SMOKEY ROBINSON AND THE MIRACLES – “Shop Around”
3. THE FRESHIES – “I’m In Love With The Girl At The Manchester Virgin Megastore Checkout Desk”
4. The Everley Brothers doing a Coke advert.
5. JAMES BROWN – “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag”
6. MADONNA – “Material Girl”
7. Advert for Bran Flakes
8. BENNET – “Mum’s Gone To Iceland”
9. PINK FLOYD – “Money”
10. T Rex doing a Pepsi advert.
11. GUY MITCHELL – “There’s A Pawn Shop On The Corner In Pittsburgh Pennsylvania”
12. CARTER THE UNSTOPPABLE SEX MACHINE – “Shopper’s Paradise”
13. Advert for Do It All
14. HANK WILLIAMS – “Window Shopping”
15. ABBA – “Money Money Money”
16. “Nescafe Calypso” (in German!)
17. ADAM FAITH – “Lonely Pup In A Christmas Shop”
18. THE SMITHS – “Shoplifters Of The World Unite”
19. SUPERMARKET – “Supermarket”
20. The Rolling Stones doing a Rice Krispies advert.
29 November 2004
Help wanted – attention comments box massive. I’m compering a quiz on Wednesday night at work. The theme is ‘shopping’. I’m putting together a CD-R of shopping- and spending-related tunage to play in between rounds while we count points etc.
Any ideas? I have “Shopping” by the PSBs, “Shoplifters Of The World Unite”, “Money” by Pink Floyd, “Money Money Money” by ABBA, “Supermarket” by Supermarket, “Shop Around” by Smokey Robinson, “Lost In The Supermarket”, and a couple of others. More needed. Preferably not too obscure*. And really I need them quickly, too.
*I know “Supermarket” is hardly well known, but it is funny.
Pop Factor: 709 Controversy Factor: 255
Trying to be Madonna is a noble and not uncommon aim for our pop stars. Britney tries, Christina tries – you could probably make a case for Robbie trying, and let’s not even consider the efforts of Geri. Now here’s Gwen having a go, with two big points in her favour. For one thing she seems to be modeling herself on Madonna’s supremely entertaining bonkers diva early-90s phase (Erotica, Dick Tracey, Blonde Ambition etc.), for another she’s written the best Madonna single of the last 15 years. “What You Waiting For” is brutally direct, entirely modern and sleekly catchy but it’s also bursting with daffy personality. Gwen gives herself some harsh advice, goes all squeaky and twee on us, spoons over some cool Japanese girls and ends up shouting the year’s most striking hookline. Mildly baffling but entirely terrific. 9 (Tom)
Sometimes all that matters is the result, not how the game was won. But whatever game Gwen is playing here I think she’s playing it brilliantly because this track pushes my buttons the way it’s intended to. Cute and/or annoying (I’ve never had a problem with Stefani or her style tho and still think ‘Just A Girl’ is great), brash and/or deft, the track chugs and thunders along with a satisfactory thud akin to the production of Germany’s Tomcraft – particularly his remix of Kola’s ‘Into The Light’. So, for me any criticism of bandwagon-jumping is irrelevant here, because this is perfect pretentious power-pop done proper, and I think it’s got more oomph than any Pink or Girls Aloud single. Quirky lyrics aside I love the way the track plays out at the end, the background playground chanting still in effect, maintained, not ready to give up despite the tone of resignation – like a machine reluctantly winding down after a particularly enjoyable and satisfying workout. 10 (Steve M)
ILM seems to hate it. I can’t imagine why. Well, that’s not quite true: the self-pitying lyrics, the clipped vocals, the disinterested tone, the incongrous introduction – those things, perhaps, are detestable. But I will grip tenaciously to poor taste if I so desire, and rarely is it so alluring as with this. The beat, the “tick-tock,” the glorious forcefulness with which that first verse is delivered – oh, so many hooks! That bit about “your million-dollar contract” is an eye-roller, but it’s all in such good fun that I’m never moved to think of dismissing the song. Absolutely wonderful. But I’m bracing myself for the follow-up. 10 (Atnevon)
Super Milk Chan sideswipes PuffyAmiYumi in her new Hello Kitty hummer, spilling the duo’s ginkgo biloba smoothies; hilarious hijinks ensue. Snide bastards are bound to say this stupid ho’s finally taking a chance, and succeeding. However, while I am snide and quite the bastard, let me set things straight – Gwen’s not so stupid, I’m hoping (for Gavin’s sake) she’s not a ho, and it’s clear that the risks she’s taken since “Don’t Speak” raked in all those pre-Titanic pathos dollars have grown exponentially in direct proportion to the amount of success she’s had. I can’t imagine where she could go next to push her envelope, though, unless she’s able to actualize an idealized version of the futurepopshock that Luc Besson gamely attempted in The Fifth Element with the blue-skinned cosmic opera diva Plava Laguna. Don’t fight this good shit in your ear, folks. 10 (David Raposa)
Gwen as usual sings like she’s in a shampoo advert, with exagerated body and bounce, but yoked to a disco track- strident, dictating that you dance- the result is suddenly spectacular. Her vocal swoops and swerves suddenly have a purpose. The music’s an exhilirating bounce between countless bright plasticy layers- like Van Halen or Rush, sounds just keep appearing for no reason, as if they’re sitting coked-up behind the console for hours- “yeah one more layer!”.
Gwen’s always been a bit Madonna lite, an infinitely demanding material girl, but this is the only track so far that measures up to her ego. Of course that’s much much better than Madonna has been for years. 7 (Derek Walmsley)
I’ve found myself singing “Take a chance you stupid ho” on quite a few occasions, it’s a bit embarassing really. I like this song, it’s quirky. I bought the album, it’s fairly awful, and now I wish I hadn’t. I’m also thinking I like this song mainly as background to the really good video. Oh well! 7 (Jel)
Tick Tock, Tick Tock – forcing me down the road faster and faster to catch that bus. Tick Tock, Tick Tock – I really should’ve got my thoughts clear on this song. Running out of time.
At one point I had it all sorted, many moons ago. But it’s sucked me in now. The sense of urgency is compelling. The chorus drilling directly & efficiently at all my weak spots. This isn’t because of cheap production techniques. It’s that thing Gwen does with her voice that sounds like an off-kilter warble. Certain lines still seem a bit ill-thought. All this talk of stupid ho’s is not really what Id expect from her. It’s a bit lowest common denominator.
Oh, but at least it’s all electronic & orgasmic sounding. Rather baffling is that it sounds a bit flat on the radio which doesn’t seem right – perhaps they’ve removed all the good bits and turned up the guitar line in order to make it more palatable. The song makes no sense to me but I remain certain of one thing – Gwen is much better off without No Doubt. 7 (MW_Jimmy)
I remember that day when my cousin bought flowers for my sister while I was playing the Ladytron CD very loud. We stuck our tongues out at each other and sat there waiting for LCD Soundsystem to come on stage while some teenager standing next to us was babbling on the phone about Dance Dance Revolution. Tick tock tick tock tick tock, seconds alternating between the awkward and the ultra-hip. Thank you for the memories, Gwen. 7 (Michael F Gill)
Gwen Stefani prefers the Hello Kitty version of Japan, not going for the real To-oh-kee-you. I can see her walking through Harajuku gawking at the Superlovers store. As much as I like Japan, I prefer to peel away the veneer and realize that underneath it’s not that cute. Just watch Audition and avoid the painful lesson. But I digress. As much as I like Gwen Stefani’s nu kawai persona – a pouty Madonna/Jean Harlow wannabe dressed up in geisha attire – she’s just fallen off the dangling cord she calls her career. “What You Waiting For” begs for approval, but sounds like a mixed affair. It’s just all style and no substance. She tries to go for the meta approach but misses two important ingredients, namely her own persona and voice. What use is there if you sing about yourself but have forgotten to establish your own image? A well-produced track – you can hear the dollars bouncing off the beats – it just misses good lyrics and focus. She needs to give me the URL to that Post Modern Poem Generator because it has some wicked style. So do I like the song? I guess not. I need to find a climax here. Let’s see… She just drew her unLucky Number. Her Time’s Running Out. You should’ve taken a chance, you (*cough*) stupid ho. You Got Your Milion Dollar Contract, oops there it goes flying out the door! Blablabla. So many cliche putdowns and all it boils down to: the single’s absolute trite. 4 (Stevie Nixied)
I have never liked No Doubt nor any of her solo stuff, and this hasn’t changed my views at all. I find her voice unattractively nasal, with nothing that compensates for this. She strikes me as sounding like a poor version of Cyndi Lauper, without Cyndi’s extraordinary force or vitality. This record fiddles around with different moods, starting like a power ballad then into bouncy pop then driving rock, even shoving in a strange touch of what could be a mandolin after a while, but none of these things convince or go anywhere interesting. The chorus is adequate, but there’s nothing here that appeals to me at all, and nothing that much bothers me either. I don’t care. 4 (Martin Skidmore)
This one has all the properties of a great pop single (disposable, synthetic, juvenile), but the problem, really, is Gwen Stefani. We know her. Well. Too well. This type of song only works when delivered by some anonymous Girls Aloud animatron (that way, us musical-discourse types can rave about the production). Plus. those cooing, orgasmic vocals and the cutesy way she sings “tick tock tick tock” have to rate as some of the year’s more grating sounds. That horrible duet she did with Eve a few years back doesn’t seem so bad now. 3 (Henry Scollard)
26 November 2004
END-TIMES WATCH MUSIC THEME ISSUE: UPDATE!!
the horror! the horror!!!
Stourbridge Scene Special with guests:
>> The Wonder Stuff’s Miles Hunt
>> Pop Will Eat Itself’s Clint Mansell
>> Ned’s Atomic Dustbin’s Jonn Penney
Nearly all of the news about the Ukrainian Election Crisis has been has been predicated on the tug of war between east and west and a Putin vs Bush new world order being played out in White Russia. No-one appears to have picked up a much more significant aspect to this escalating domestic crisis.
The next Eurovision Song Contest is in the Ukraine. They have six months to sort this electoral crisis out, otherwise a grand tradition will be destroyed. It is particularly harsh as this years winner, Ukranian Ruslana, had the best song in years (not to mention Xena-esque outfit and dance routine). With its Eurovision firendly “shi-di-ri-di-duy, shi-di-ri-di-da-na” lyrics coupled with Adam And The ANts style percussion it swept the boards at this years event, in a manner wholly unlike either of the candidates in the recent Ukrainian election. Vote Ruslana and her Wild Dances, and put this civil war to death.
25 November 2004
END-TIMES WATCH MUSIC THEME ISSUE :
i. a co-worker just came in to announce he has tickets to the POP WILL EAT ITSELF reunion show
ii. a second co-worker then told EVERYONE IN THE ROOM that he once SHARED A BED with CLINT of pwei
iii. :O :O :O :O :O why are you still reading!!!??? :O :O
Received wisdom on Layer Cake was the shock that Matthew Vaughn (erstwhile Guy Ritchie producer) turned out to be a better director than Ritchie himself. LAZY LAZY LAZY! Yes, Layer Cake is a striking effort, but considering where Vaughn is in his career and who he has been able to call up to shoot and collaborate with it might not be a surprise that it is well made. Where are the flashes of directorial individuality which, for better or worse, ran through Ritchie’s debut like a dog in Walthamstow Stadium?
So to the Ordinary World section, the moment where the film leaps to life. I am not sure I like the section, but this is possibly personal. Ordinary World is one of my favourite songs, the pain in Simon Le Bon’s voice as he sings about not being a pop star anymore (my reading) gets me every time, so listening to it and suddenly visualising the savage beating from Layer Cake was a bit upsetting. Yet looking back, the songs choreography, for all its slick cruelness, is one of those perfect pairing of music and action. It may be flash tat, but that is where Vaughn showed he could do it.
23 November 2004
Cat Power and The Handsome Boy Modeling School?Be My Boy.
I?ve been about thinking about Cat Power, and I’m thinking of her cover of Wild is the Wind, that grand Peyton place chantey about lost opportunity, and about how much more sad she made it by making it simple?Cat Power, the indie darling, is not an indie singer, she isn?t angry or torn apart or ironically cute enough.
She is dangerous, and she is so lonely, that listening to her will make you lonely too?you could see it in the isolation of the above track, how her voice worked like turpentine on an old thrift store table.
The beats lay supine, and smoke?watching a pretty girl sing about the most heart breaking codependency imaginable?be my boy, not as a command, or a beg or an option, just a sort of free form uncoiling of desire. (That desire, as it negotiates a matrix of absence and presence?what he made her do, what she made him do, his ?hunger from the start?? and then she starts singing about diamonds, candy, pills and million dollar bills, and you realize the real currency is the currency of the soul singer, of the torch balladeer?it is not about money, pleasure, sex or candy?it is about power. )
When she says she will never be on her knees, that she will ?Slide, Slide, Slippery, Slide? over those keyboards, and the noise of piano and drums, she is avoiding a python grip, she views this relationship as a drama, losing him is losing her soul.
It?s a song that stays with you, the chorus almost sing song?like Rosemary Clooney singing a tisket a tasket, like Billie Holliday singing about a child who has his own, like kitty wells asking how far heaven is, and Nancy Sinatra bang banging her way thorough lee Hazelwood?s more cheesy proclamations.
But its more then that, its got a certain hip hop edge and its got a certain grit, its got the exhaustion of cities, the low key 3 am sadness that comes when you are still awake and the city is settling down to sleep. In this way, it manages to wrestle away the irony and kitsch of Prince Paul and Dan the Automater.
She makes them as real as she can