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Dec 19

TOMCRAFT – “Loneliness”

FT + Popular15 comments • 1,184 views

#953, 10th May 2003

Artwork for the single Loneliness by TomcraftAndrea Martin’s “Share Your Love” is an attractively crafted 1998 R&B tune about loving a philanderer. She opens with a sad idea, “Happiness seems to be loneliness, and loneliness killed my world / How could you guess, when you’re only thinking of yourself, and how you look to other girls”. In Martin’s song, she develops the feeling, but Tomcraft, a German DJ, saw the potential in the lines as a pure moment.

Broken out of its context, denied resolution, that moment circles through “Loneliness” like an intrusive thought, a dark side mantra, HAPPINESS = LONELINESS. At first it won’t quite form, Martin’s voice murmuring “Happiness – and Loneliness” as if in shock. Tomcraft’s music drives the feeling on into existence, borne on rattling bursts of percussion and acid squelch, and the swelling, menacing pulse of the bassline.

If “Make Luv” was a sound exhausted of use, “Loneliness” is a dancefloor style in evil health. This kind of dark, hard, techno-edged house music had been an occasional feature of the charts for a few years – bits of “Loneliness”’ builds sound very like Zombie Nation’s terrific 2001 hit “Kernkraft 400” – but something about this track crossed over and peaked higher. It might be that it’s more emotionally striking in its sense of fractured, baffled, dread. It might equally be that it has an elegant second act, as a mournful piano melody unexpectedly opens up the song’s claustrophobic beatscape. One-dimensional is not always an insult in pop, and it wouldn’t have been here, but “Loneliness” lingers more for the addition of a second.

7

Comments

  1. 1
    Tom May on 31 Dec 2019 #

    This was, as I recall, one of the few best number 1s of its year. A great combination of banging techno pop and intense openness in the lyrics that chimed with my 20 year old self.

  2. 2
    ThePensmith on 31 Dec 2019 #

    ‘Loneliness’ was a record I really couldn’t get my head around at the time. That it ended up at number one was a mystery to me because I’d seen or heard no prior indication of it on any of the usual outlets in the weeks before it’s release. The fact it only stayed around for another eight weeks after that probably marks it out to many as being one of the year’s more forgettable bunnies.

    And yet time has actually been kinder to this than all of the above would perhaps allow it, not helped a little by Will Young’s interpolation of it on his 2015 single ‘Love Revolution’ which certainly reopened my ears to it, to the point where I like it a lot, for a lot of the same reasons you cite Tom. It’s now for me one of the few dance records that I enjoy from 2003, it’s simplicity yet slight air of menace is what makes this an enjoyable offering for me. 7, maybe 8 for me on this I think.

    And for anyone wondering who the mystery ‘flop follow up to chart topper’ I was alluding to on the Room 5 entry was, Tomcraft were it. ‘Brainwashed (Call You)’ tanked out at #43 in October.

    #2 watch – although slightly going against my reevaluation above, the track we might have been discussing instead had ‘Loneliness’ not had its end of week sales surge was the rather lovely ‘Rise and Fall’, the third and biggest single from Craig David’s ‘Slicker Than Your Average’ album, a duet with Sting which sampled his ‘Shape of My Heart’ that Sugababes had utilised on their single a month or so before this.

    This offered him a brief bit of respite from the Leigh Francis induced battering his public image was starting to take, and actually having watched him perform it on his recent Radio 2 in Concert show, it seems to have taken on a new poignancy that it maybe didn’t hold until his comeback four or five years ago.

  3. 3
    CriticSez on 1 Jan 2020 #

    Absolutely agreed on a 7.

  4. 4
    Lee Saunders on 1 Jan 2020 #

    A 9 for me, one of my favourite number ones of the whole decade. It heads straight for the dark of the club, like Touch Me before it, this darkness perhaps taking a thing or two from German trance but translating it into an era that will soon give us the alluring electro house, this being perhaps the strongest sign on that path in Popular terms since Flat Beat (at this point Satisfaction was just a few months away from charting, which of all 2003 hits is the one that most sounds like a decade hence). I love the main instrumental hook in this, the sound of which I still haven’t heard on any other record.

    As for its come-and-go status I remember reading somewhere that it was the record that Judge Jules played at midnight on New Year 2003 (happy new year everyone!), so its appeal would have been bubbling underground a long time before Data gave it a proper release in the UK (incidentally, this is the first No. 1 since joining Popular I own as a single, namely the 12″ I picked up somewhere down the line with Storm’s Time to Burn, one of its cousins from the trance era). Definitely a bit forgotten though, even by the time it appeared on Now 55 it was buried in the track list.

    A point worth acknowledging is that the version I heard at the time, and have continued throughout the years, is the 2:48 radio edit. This seems a little rarer to come by now as on YouTube and Spotify the “Radio Cut” that runs to about 3:49 is the first thing that comes up.

  5. 5
    Lee Saunders on 1 Jan 2020 #

    A 9 for me, one of my favourite number ones of the whole decade. It heads straight for the dark of the club, like Touch Me before it, this darkness perhaps taking a thing or two from German trance but translating it into an era that will soon give us the alluring electro house, this being perhaps the strongest sign on that path in Popular terms since Flat Beat (at this point Satisfaction was just a few months away from charting, which of all 2003 hits is the one that most sounds like a decade hence). I love the main instrumental hook in this, the sound of which I still haven’t heard on any other record.

    As for its come-and-go status I remember reading somewhere that it was the record that Judge Jules played at midnight on New Year 2003 (happy new year everyone!), so its appeal would have been bubbling underground a long time before Data gave it a proper release in the UK (incidentally, this is the first No. 1 since joining Popular I own as a single, namely the 12″ I picked up somewhere down the line with Storm’s Time to Burn, one of its cousins from the trance era). Definitely a bit forgotten though, even by the time it appeared on Now 55 it was buried in the track list.

    A point worth acknowledging is that the version I heard at the time, and have continued throughout the years, is the 2:45 radio edit. This seems a little rarer to come by now as on YouTube and Spotify the “Radio Cut” that runs to about 3:49 is the first thing that comes up.

    (Hope this isn’t double posting, it told me just then my comment didn’t submit?)

  6. 6
    cryptopian on 1 Jan 2020 #

    I share Lee@4’s enthusiasm for this one. All of the different layers and motifs are memorable, but stack together for a really tightly mixed track.

    That said, I agree that the original I remember liking was the 2:45 radio mix (that became the track on the album MUC). The tease of the synth bassline near the start before it drops and fills the room is that spark of drama that makes it a 9 for me.

  7. 7
    lonepilgrim on 2 Jan 2020 #

    Oh this is glorious – the dark mood and treated vocals put me in mind of Burial but it’s great in itself – I wasn’t aware of this at all

  8. 8
    James BC on 3 Jan 2020 #

    I was living in Spain and knew this from the music channels there, but I was very surprised to find it had been a UK number 1 – I thought it was just another anonymous euro-only dance track and a likely contender for most random number one ever. Tom’s Zombie Nation comparison is a great one that really unlocks for me what it was that made it notable. Though Zombie Nation is several times better.

    So on a proper listen it’s not bad. On another Popular entry people were talking about triangulating dance music in terms of euphoria, sadness and menace, and this one is a little too far into the menace zone for me.

  9. 9
    rabbitfun on 4 Jan 2020 #

    Tom, slight correction: the Andrea Martin song is called “Share *the* Love”.

    It’s a great record this, and yes, clearly a younger comrade-in-sound of “Kernkraft 400”.

    As for Andrea Martin, she’s actually involved with another UK #1 later this year, and would almost make it a triple five years later when Leona Lewis’s “Better in Time”, which she co-wrote, peaked at #2.

    None of these were her biggest hit though: that was En Vogue’s “Don’t Let Go (Love)”, a US #2 and UK #5 as well as a global smash, produced by the Atlanta-based Organized Noize production team with which she was associated initially.

  10. 10
    Steve Mannion on 6 Jan 2020 #

    Sample watch: UK MC Akala (who these years pops up on TV often to explain brilliantly Racism and related issues) sampled the aggressive synth hook of ‘Loneliness’ on his single ‘Shakespeare’ in 2006. Not a hit but would like it to have been. Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCcqS6AP8uI

  11. 11
    Alan on 6 Jan 2020 #

    Apropos of nothing, looking down my copy of Now 55, it has a HIGH count of going solo/moving on/next gen artists: Javine, Kym Marsh, S Club 8, Lisa off of Steps, Lisa Maffia, Robbie, Appleton (Appleton!), Ronan, Darius, and both Melanie C and Emma B.

  12. 12
    Shiny Dave on 7 Jan 2020 #

    Because this was at the time when I was still into dance music but also getting cold feet over it, I can never remember quite how much I liked this one. It definitely felt like a weird number one, arguably still does, but this definitely joins “Another Chance” as one of the good examples of the “take a fragment of an older song and build a dance track around it” strand of 2000s dance. There are some unspeakably bad examples in that microgenre, and we meet one of them on Popular. :(

  13. 13
    Auntie Beryl on 8 Jan 2020 #

    #2: in a previous job I was prevailed upon to attend a launch event for “85% Proof”, the Will Young album from which the “Happiness”-cribbing “Love Revolution” was taken. He’d just signed to Island Records, and quite a swanky room was filled with press, retailers and so on. (It was early afternoon, which usually guarantees a decent attendance in the music industry.)

    Once the promo video to “Love Revolution” had been screened, Will asked the room if anyone recognised the source of the hookline. I’m not normally minded to wave my hand in the air at Q&As like this, but given proceedings had essentially just turned into a Popular quiz I eventually volunteered “Happiness” by Tomcraft. The “Leave Right Now” hitmaker seemed relieved *somebody* knew, as the silence was beginning to deafen. People genuinely turned to me and whispered “how did you know that?”

    So there you go: a number one single, at this point just twelve years old, was an apparent obscurity at a music industry gathering. This says nothing about the record; much more about the people present.

    Anyway, that’s my Tomcraft anecdote.

  14. 14
    Andy g on 8 Jan 2020 #

    There’s an exasperating tendency for swathes of music industry employees (perhaps those who swan into a job off the back of connections, and/or those able to undertake unpaid work experience while living in London) to have dishearteningly little knowledge of music history (recent or less recent) or pop culture..

  15. 15
    Chinny Reckon on 16 Jan 2020 #

    @13- ‘Loneliness’ isn’t the ‘source’ of the hookline though. Will Young was probably more inspired by Tomcraft, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he was unaware of the source. Tomcraft probably didn’t receive any royalties from the Will Young record.

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