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Feb 15

GABRIELLE – “Rise”

Popular34 comments • 2,104 views

#847, 5th February 2000

gabrielle rise It’s not only teenagers who can take pop as a model for their circumstances. At the time “Rise” was in the charts I had a friend who related to it very strongly – slowly getting over a passionate, disastrous long-term relationship. For her, the song was a precious co-ordinate in mapless territory. Privately, I disliked it: its frankness, its straightforwardness, its patience in picking over and cataloguing the bones of a feeling. It felt too grown-up, because I was none too grown-up.

Of course “Rise” immediately sounds serious, worthy, expensive: Dylan doesn’t come for free. Except this time he did – he liked the song enough to give a sample away, responding to its simplicity perhaps (or just in a good mood). Not just any Dylan either, “Knocking On Heaven’s Door”, a song we last met pressed into service as a threnody for murdered kids. Gabrielle calls on it for a redemption and empowerment story. To be knocking on heaven’s door is to be almost dead, on the brink of giving in – but she uses Dylan’s ruminative, repeated hum as something cleansing: a means of turning away from that point, stepping back and rebuilding. Not forgetting – the singer is still thinking of her ex, but she ends the song only scarred, not wounded.

It’s a very January record – slow, a little chilly, heading gingerly towards its new start. The arrangement, beyond those mantric Dylan hums, is steady – a slow tap of snares for the rhythm, and the most interesting thing in it a little shiver of strings deep in the mix near the start of the final verse, a last haunting of the singer by her past. Mainly, “Rise” rests on its sample and on Gabrielle, who gives a smooth, deliberate performance with the occasional icy touch – “Colder / In my thinking”. My initial judgement was more or less right, if too harsh – this is music for adults: resonant in particular situations, but comfortable otherwise.

There was a lot of it about. After the gaggle of tweenpop, Europop and boy band newcomers of the last two years, the 00s begin with a strange 90s highlights reel. It’s fully ten songs before we get a number one by a new face to the blog, someone who had no involvement in chart-topping hits in the previous decade. Until then there’s a sequence of familiar names – comebacks, one-offs, and the dregs of earlier albums – all of which helps to reinforce the sense that this is a decade that hasn’t quite got started yet. Much of it, too, is pitching for a mature market, buyers for whom the pedigree of BRIT Awards is reassuring. This, at the time, was what I fretted meanly against – now Gabrielle’s sensible soul-pop seems a lot rarer than it did then. More sympathetic, too. But not, unfortunately, all that much more interesting.

5

Comments

  1. 1
    wichitalineman on 6 Feb 2015 #

    I would’ve had this down as coming from several years earlier. The sample is a weird hook – would it work at all without its instant familiarity? The half-length bridge is the only musically interesting thing about Rise, while the delivery is (I think, unintentionally) quite emotionless: “Do you still think of me at all?” is a line that you can’t deliver without any emphasis at all, it needs to sound like a shrug or a question but Gabrielle’s performance is as one-dimensional as the arrangement. It’s a terribly dull record without being a bad one.

  2. 2
    JLucas on 6 Feb 2015 #

    Much is made of the Dylan sample on this song, but perhaps due to the fact I was less familiar with the original when I heard this, I’ve always found it much less distracting than the near Fast Car sample on ‘Dreams’. As I recall, Tom described that song as “trying very hard not to sound like Fast Car”, which is fair. Because KOHD is an official sample, that burden is lifted, and the record feels more organic and comfortable in its own skin as a result.

    For me, it’s Gabrielle’s performance that’s really the making of this song anyway, rather than the recognition factor. Never a showy vocalist, at her best her lived-in tone allowed her to communicate a tremendous sense of dignity on record. Compare this to Britney’s desperate performance on the previous number one – this is obviously coming from somebody older and wiser.

    The best part of the song is undoubtedly her reflective “Look at my life / look at my heart / I have seen them fall apart.” She may not have been a Mary J Blige style soul belter, but it feels like a much more British version of gravitas – pragmatic, free from self pity, pick yourself up and carry on.

    It’s worth noting that in a year with a high burn-rate of #1s, this was a rare two-weeker. True, it was in January, but I definitely feel this was one of the defining hits of that year, and it revitalised Gabrielle’s career after a few years of water-treading. Some of her hits from this era have aged terribly (When A Woman, Don’t Need The Sun To Smile), but I think this one survives its one-time ubiquity, and I’m a big fan of the less remembered single ‘Should I Stay’, which is another of her loveliest, most sympathetic vocal performances.

    8

  3. 3
    Rory on 6 Feb 2015 #

    First listen to this, and it’s awfully dull; “Dreams” was far more interesting. I gave that a 6 in the end – this, 4, tops.

  4. 4
    lockedintheattic on 6 Feb 2015 #

    There’s something about Gabrielle that has always made me like her far more than I would do based on the records alone. She’s just something about the warmth of her personality that shines through, both in interviews and on record (it helps that she has such a distinctive voice, too) that help her punch above the quality of the songs themselves. I figure this would be about a 5 if it was anyone else here, I’m minded to go as high as a 7 (also helped by the fact I’m in a good mood today).

  5. 5
    Inanimate Carbon God on 6 Feb 2015 #

    The artist formerly known as Patrick Mexico is ready to rise again.

    Belated Happy New Year to you all.

    Sorry to create a new username but I felt as we entered a new “real life” year/decade, I should draw a line in the sand between my past posts. Though they provoked some fascinating debates, I often over-egged the pudding, either a) cramming in too many pop culture references and indecipherable puns – see the Return of the Mack thread for its zenith, b) trying too hard to frame things in the context of my (well, interesting, but not exactly always Hollywood-exciting) life (for ROTM read Think Twice), and c) setting all the dials to “cod-sixth form common room semi-ironically reading the Daily Mail angst (for Think Twice read 9 PM Till I Come) – and d) far more problematically, belied the fact for much of my Popular lifetime, in real life I was having some quite serious mental health issues. I’ll not depress you with too many details, but they got me arrested a couple of times, put a serious strain on family life, and made a university degree I’d worked my arse off to get accepted on go up in smoke.

    Fortunately, since May I’ve been living back in my native East Lancashire and since October things have been on a big upward curve. I have a much quieter, less booze-and-social-angst fuelled but generally happy life these days, working from home on databases and spreadsheets for various companies, and I am so thankful that I still have family and friends who are very close to me, some of whom I’ve been getting on with better than ever before this year. Thank you to everyone here who wished me well this time last year when I was deep in the mire – it doesn’t matter that we’ve never met in person*, in these circumstances every little does help. And you will continue to help in future, as I was made aware of this site in spring 2012 when I was at one of my lowest ebbs – both in life in general and faith in pop music – and it eventually went a long way to help both turn a sharp corner.

    So what does this mean for Popular? Well, I think I’ll get to the point more, adapt a brisk, breezier pace and with New Year in mind, make a gallant (though perhaps doomed) effort to trim every ounce of fat off my writing.

    This one then? Like everything else I’ve heard of Gabrielle’s, it’s just.. pleasant. Warm, honey-sweet, somehow-nasal-in-a-good-way vocals, good affinity with her genres, I can’t really get terribly excited over it. I’ll give it, like all of her other singles, 6.

    Apart from Give Me A Little More Time, which is quite astonishing (as other commenters have mentioned on past threads) in how much it sounds like a Motown standard straight outta 1966. That’s a 9.

    Next!

    * One day.

  6. 6
    Mark G on 6 Feb 2015 #

    It’s sort of a cross between “No Distance Left to Run” Blur, with some lines from George Harrison’s “Got my mind set on you”

  7. 7
    Tom on 6 Feb 2015 #

    Just to say – we are currently losing the war against the unspeakable formless forces of the outer darkness known as spam comments. I’m having to manually approve everything, so please do comment on this or other recent posts but expect a little wait for moderation until we get the problem sorted out!

  8. 8
    mapman132 on 6 Feb 2015 #

    10th consecutive UK #1 that didn’t make the Hot 100. “Dreams” had been a US Top 40 hit in 1994, but I’m not sure if “Rise” was even released in the US. It’s okay: 5/10 sounds about right.

  9. 9
    JoeWiz on 6 Feb 2015 #

    I really like this. It’s a bit montage fodder at times, but it’s got a lovely wintry feel to it (very January, Tom!) and it glides along beautifully.
    This was a big album for Gabrielle wasn’t it? Even though it was only her third album she felt like a bit of a veteran at the time I recall, maybe because she was surrounded by so many starlets at the turn of the decade, but nothing much happened for her after the fourth album did it? That took four years to complete and the she seemed a bit obselete by then. There’s but nothing since 2007 of course, apart from a 2 CD greatest hits which features a rather generous seven tracks from her last album ‘Always’. Clearly she felt it Twas a bit overlooked…

  10. 10
    chelovek na lune on 6 Feb 2015 #

    I liked this greatly at the time, and bought her greatest hits CD off the back of it (on which there are a few, just a few, really, really, great tracks, and a lot of stuff which is merely pleasant, and a few fillers). Coming back to this now, however – – I am bored, the song drags and doesn’t really go any place much (at least: not as much as the lyrics suggest it should or might), and the Dylan riff is a bit overplayed.

    5, or maybe a mean 4.

  11. 11
    weej on 6 Feb 2015 #

    Bang on the money with the ‘mature’ signifiers here, it still sounds way too grown up for me to listen to, and as I’m now in my late 30s, married with two kids and a job in management, I’m not sure that there’s any chance at all for this to change. Either I’m forever immature, or this sort of thing is a sham to allow people to feel like they are serious adults. I suspect the former is more likely. In any case, it’s the very definition of a 5.

  12. 12
    enitharmon on 6 Feb 2015 #

    Another one that I know because it’s found its way into my collection.

    I don’t mind it at all – 5 or 6 would seem a reasonable score, it’s pleasant but I wouldn’t go out of my way to hear it.

    Just one thing niggles me. I have nothing against sampling; done well it can be very effective of course, but in this case you can hear the join, and that’s like squeaky chalk to my ear. Either it’s very ham-fisted for a professional production, or it’s done deliberately, and if deliberate I can’t for the life of me think why!

  13. 13
    Izzy on 6 Feb 2015 #

    I can’t recall this record at all, and yet surprised as I am that Gabrielle scored a no.1 in 2000 I simply cannot get up the enthusiasm listen to it right now. Sorry Popular.

    I just wanted to say glad you’ve pulled through, Patrick, and I hope it all keeps hanging together for you.

  14. 14
    thefatgit on 6 Feb 2015 #

    Without the necessary YouTube prompt, I had a terrible time recalling this one. Even with the helpful KOHD hints, it just seemed to become less easier to grasp. Once I had seen the video, oddly homoerotic as it is with sweat-drenched, pummelled boxers doused in water and dabbed with vaseline, the song itself just glides over serenely, without anything remaining…water off a duck’s back. It cycles and circles politely, which make the visuals all the more jarring. Deliberate, perhaps?

    Anyway, Gabrielle’s “Rise” is a cup of Horlicks for me. I’ll say a 6 and turn in early for the night.

  15. 15
    AMZ1981 on 6 Feb 2015 #

    Rise got a fair bit of mainstream media attention at the time due to the relatively long gap between this and her first chart topper (some uninformed journalists even said it was her first single since). It’s interesting that both her chart toppers were based around a sample (albeit one that never was in the case of Dreams) and both to my ears are ditch water dull – Give Me A Little More Time is far superior to both. Perhaps she owed something to a coincidental narrative; `dreams can come true` said the first hit that turned her into an overnight sensation, `I’m ready to rise again` went the second after seven years that had seen her career ebb and flow, get caught up in a murder investigation involving an ex and collaborate with East 17 just before Brian Harvey incurred the wrath of the tabloids.

    It was, of course, a two week runner and held down the runner up position for the two weeks that followed so – if not for a sudden run of big name releases – we could have been looking at a four weeker. Given that the year 2000 is remembered for the rapid turnover of number ones it’s worth noting that the chart was relatively stable until insanity set in during the Autumn. This was a contrast to 97 and 99 where we saw a rapid turnover in the new year before stability set in.

  16. 16
    swanstep on 7 Feb 2015 #

    Single three-chord pattern beaten into the ground is very dull. I keep trying to hum changes into it, at which point ‘Rise’ wants to become ‘Baby I Love Your Way’! Listening to the (same name-d) album on Spotify, it’s not bad, and almost every track has more going for it than ‘Rise’. I basically dig Gabrielle’s decorous pop but this track’s appeal (which got it to #2 in NZ and 9 weeks in the top-5, so this isn’t just a UK thing) eludes me:
    4

  17. 17
    Auntie Beryl on 7 Feb 2015 #

    This is the chart week that R.E.M. reached their highest position in the UK – “The Great Beyond” debuted at number three. I imagine it’s not one of their ten best remembered songs amongst the GBP.

  18. 18
    23 Daves on 7 Feb 2015 #

    A friend of mine used to be a session musician for Gabrielle, and this provided me with my one and only “Look, a mate of mine’s on Top of the Pops!” moment. For that reason alone, I’m glad she had a strong career. It helped to pull him out of his financial doldrums for one thing, as it was the start of him getting all kinds of valuable and useful work. This getting to the top was a bloody good thing for him as it indirectly brought all sorts of much deserved success his way.

    But… judged fairly, “Rise” to me seems like perfectly pleasant but easily ignorable pop and little more. At the risk of getting told off for gender stereotyping or turning into a Nick Hornby tribute act, I do think that slick, bittersweet songs sung by women which are lyrically focused on being brave and coping after a relationship break-up will often be enormously popular among many casual female record-buyers – the “I Will Survive” factor. Not all efforts, obviously. They have to be carefully handled and contain just a hint of optimism for the future and a lot of hints towards strength as well. I also think that a lot of men find the success of these records slightly baffling, purely because the message, especially if sung by a woman, isn’t as likely to hit any targets for them. Men seem to generally prefer break-up songs which sulk and brood and contain very few elements of hope at all, or if there is hope apparent it tends to come from other people in the lyrical narrative telling the singer to pull themselves together.

    I’m sure there’s the odd man out there who has taken inspiration from “Rise”, but for every one of those there’s probably fifteen women (I know a few myself) who bought this because it told them what they needed to hear at a very difficult moment. At least one family member of mine adores this record. The tune itself gets away with being minimal, because it brings this mournful, obsessive, brooding gospel quality to it, while the lyrics try to tug everything out of the despair and into the new day. I can understand how it was a huge success if I try to rationalise it in this way, but it has no real effect on me, unfortunately.

  19. 19
    AMZ1981 on 8 Feb 2015 #

    #17 I’d forgotten that – The Great Beyond at number 3. It’s possibly relatively unremembered because it was a standalone soundtrack song falling midway through the third phase of REM’s career which tends to divide fans. It’s a shame we never get to discuss them – I’m a massive, massive fan and The Great Beyond is probably my second favourite song of theirs.

    At four that week was another great song completely forgotten now – Glorious by one hit wonder Andreas Johnson.

  20. 20
    Kinitawowi on 8 Feb 2015 #

    Glorious got played to death. I seem to recall Sky Sports using it for bumpers for years.

    The Great Beyond was off that Man On The Moon soundtrack, wasn’t it? Pretty good, although there’s plenty of other REM songs I’d rather listen to.

    Rise? Wallpaper. I think I’d have more to say about the comment lockdown than the song. Nice, pleasant, a whole lot of other words which basically amount to “generic”. 5.

  21. 21
    Inanimate Carbon God on 9 Feb 2015 #

    I watched Man on the Moon on VHS that summer, with my 14/15 year old friend, who, like me, didn’t care one bit then about being “hip”, and our 13/14 year old sisters and my mum. Our consensus was, “hmm… interesting.” I genuinely can’t remember if it was a great film but it did get me into Andy Kaufman and “alternative” comedy that sometimes bordered on an alternative to comedy…

  22. 22
    Mark G on 9 Feb 2015 #

    #18 Funny I had a similar, a mate of mine was a session/live musician for a famous singer: it was very weird seeing him projected in a huge screen at the British Music Experience. (she died. Now you know who.)

  23. 23
    Martin F. on 9 Feb 2015 #

    Since “Glorious”, Andreas Johnson has attempted to represent Sweden at Eurovision no fewer than five times. He’s making a sixth attempt this year.

    Meanwhile, Gabrielle strikes me as precisely the kind of person the BBC might turn to for Eurovision duties one of these years…

  24. 24
    lonepilgrim on 9 Feb 2015 #

    Bob Dylan’s critical reputation had been revived during the 1990s thanks to better quality material and a return to his roots in folk, blues and country. As he enjoyed success with new songs so he seemed more relaxed about sharing his back catalogue (previously, ‘The Basement Tapes’ was released in the wake of the success of ‘Blood on the Tracks’).
    The original KOHD is concise – a brief meditation on grief – but by 2000 many contemporary listeners were more familiar with the overblown version by Guns ‘n’ Roses (who I have heard some people claim wrote the song).
    Gabrielle’s song repurposes the sample to capture a different kind of loss but returns the tune to its roots in Gospel. For me the use of repeated sample contradicts the title and lyrics – the mood is static and fails to rise.

  25. 25
    AMZ1981 on 9 Feb 2015 #

    One final point; for Rise’s second week the record at number two was Adelante by Sash – the fifth and final time we don’t quite meet him. Even in a record breaking year for number one singles Mr Unlucky couldn’t make it.

  26. 26
    Lazarus on 9 Feb 2015 #

    Truly, he’s the Jimmy White of Popular.

  27. 27
    mapman132 on 10 Feb 2015 #

    #25 Almost missed the final chapter of my Sash review! Listened to “Adelante”: not bad, but not his best. Not much else to say. Maybe 6/10 on a good day. As for my favorite, that guy who keeps yelling “Ecuador!” puts you-know-what over the top. Final ranking: 1) Ecuador, 2) Mysterious Times, 3) Encore Un Fois, 4) Adelante, 5) Stay.

  28. 28
    wichitalineman on 10 Feb 2015 #

    Sash as Jimmy White? Then this one will be the Stephen Hendry final where White led 14–8, but Hendry then won 10 successive frames to dash his hopes. Both so close to ultimate glory. Adelante is a pretty dull affair though, I must say. Stay was always my favourite.

  29. 29
    katstevens on 10 Feb 2015 #

    We should definitely do a Sash! poll. My top 5: 1) Encore Un Fois 2) Stay 3) Ecuador 4) La Primavera 5) Mysterious Times.

    The video for Adelante is hilarious tho, the poor dude trying to play his keyboards while they’re swinging from the ceiling…

  30. 30
    lockedintheattic on 11 Feb 2015 #

    1) Encore Un Fois 2) Mysterious Times 3) Ecuador 4) Stay 5) La Primavera

    Favourite Sash! chart fact: the first (and only? has anyone else come close?) artist to have four consecutive top ten singles sung in four different languages

    (edited because I can’t believe I left out the exclamation mark)

  31. 31
    Erithian on 13 Feb 2015 #

    Wichita showing a startling depth of Jimmy White knowledge there!

    And from me too, regards to you Patrick and best wishes.

    Re the use of the sample, I found myself thinking of a 90s favourite, “Hippychick” by Soho, where a sample (How Soon Is Now of course) is used as a base for the song, but the song goes in a different direction altogether. Many a sample is deployed lazily, but when people find another use for it in an entirely different context it’s perfectly valid. Never intended to be exciting, but “dignity” is a nice word for its quality, and it’s a quality number one.

  32. 32
    ciaran on 18 Feb 2015 #

    It was a surprise that Gabrielle was back again as the Walk On By cover from early 1997 seemed to be an end in itself but a 3rd phase began in late 99 with the not too bad ‘Sunshine’. In general her music was a bit inconsistent and for every classic ‘Give Me A Little More Time’ there was a mediocre ‘When A Woman’ to bring it down.

    I’ve a soft spot for this one and in spite of it being a staple of radio for quite a while it’s quiet defiance is something that I can enjoy every now and again. It certainly fitted a rather chilly 3 to 4 weeks of early 2000 just fine.6

    After Out Of Reach it was the end of the road commercially. The easy listening soul sister songstress of the early 00’s was a crowded market by then.By the end of the year we’ll encounter one of the newcomers in as strange as environment as you could imagine….

  33. 33
    Lazarus on 18 Feb 2015 #

    #19 – re: REM, there’ll be an opportunity to discuss them in 2010 I believe;

    #23 – Surely Steps are the UK’s Eurovision entrants in waiting, it seems hard to believe they haven’t done it before now.

  34. 34
    Inanimate Carbon God on 28 Feb 2015 #

    Izzy and Erithian – sorry it’s taken a while, I sometimes get lost in the blizzard of new Popular posts, but many thanks for your kind and sympathetic comments. Much appreciated.

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