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Jan 18

ELVIS VS JXL – “A Little Less Conversation”

Popular44 comments • 4,960 views

#930, 22nd June 2002

elvis jxl 2002 was the 50th anniversary of the charts, and Elvis had been dead for half those fifty years. The scale of the public reaction upon his death took media observers by surprise; the Elvis industry kept on rolling, turning a star back into an icon. By 2002 the name was still household, the face still instant, his life and death bywords for some kind of American promise, or tragedy, or comedy. What about the music? There, perhaps, was a problem. Was Elvis “relevant”?

“Who cares?” you might ask. To the people who stood to make money off it, that response was naive. But for some there was also a question of cultural propriety – Elvis was the first dead rock’n’roll icon whose work risked losing its audience, fading into a gentle twilight, respected but hardly heard. His partisans might not have put it so crudely, but the impulse was clear – Elvis mattered, and had to be seen to matter. The corpse must be re-powdered and kept on show.

Economic and cultural impulses diverged sometimes, converged sometimes. The 21st century has seen several projects of Elvis reanimation, some grislier than others. On Popular we’re spared the current slop of orchestral Presley versions, but in due time we’ll encounter the most emphatic of all the King’s posthumous headline-grabs. And then there’s JXL, whose “A Little Less Conversation” emerged from the same basic assumption as the current Philharmonic suet: Elvis’ music, without alteration, can’t do the job any more.

The original “Conversation” – Presley’s last US single recorded before the ’68 Comeback Special – is a bouncy, well-played trifle whose demanding come-ons have aged badly, but are at least undercut by the way the song accelerates into cartoon frustration near the end. Rediscovered as an Ocean’s 11 soundtrack cut, the song made its way to JXL with a certain amount of Presley Estate fanfare (the first official remix of the King’s work) and then went global after Nike got hold of it for their – admittedly magnificent – “Scorpion KO” advert featuring Eric Cantona as a referee of celebrity football matches held in a rusting offshore dreadnought.

Nike’s use of it drew the sting of the lyrics’ get-yer-coat-luv hustle, reframing the chorus as a sporting challenge – or simple consumer impatience for the 2002 World Cup to begin. Junkie XL’s springy, route-one beats were a natural fit for the fast-cut highlights-reel montages every football broadcaster was using to sell the game in the galactico era as faster, rushier, more full of tricks and shocks and big names. For sure, watching the World Cup that Summer was a delight, but that was more a novel trick of the time zones – football for breakfast! – than the marketing and staging. Little of its shine has rubbed off on JXL vs Elvis, which summons up the inane grabbiness of the sponsors and merchandisers, but not the game they were exploiting.

And considered as music now? As a track, “A Little Less Conversation” is a dumb-as-rocks interpretation of big beat, with a level of subtlety that makes Norman Cook sound like Brian Eno. But even though every percussion fill, whoop and scratch is calibrated for maximum goonish response, there’s none of the edge-of-disaster playfulness that made big beat bearable, none of the sense you got with Fatboy Slim that this music is being made by mates trying to entertain one another.

As for Elvis, pitched down in the mix and overrun by the party-hard production, he’s a presence here but not much more. “A Little Less Conversation” is a commercially huge dead end as far as the Elvis resurrection project went: it made the King sound like a sample, or worse, a mumbling old man hauled from the grave to MC a party he couldn’t possibly understand.

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Comments

  1. 1
    Tommy Mack on 23 Jan 2018 #

    Ah, the Korea/Japan world cup: just finished gruelling second year exams at Imperial. The earliest pints I’ve ever drunk without still being up from the night before!

    As for this, it seemed decent enough till you heard the (better but still nothing spesh) original. Now, it remains an unwelcome presence tacked on the end of the Elvis #1 album Kat bought me.

  2. 2
    Mark G on 23 Jan 2018 #

    The instrumental sections of this remix got used for “golden goals and action” highlights, and each time something used something of this, a little less Elvis.

    You can hear the influence in things like the “I’m a Celebrity, get me out of here” theme music, but by now the Elvis link is well forgotten.

  3. 3
    Mark G on 23 Jan 2018 #

    But for me, the weirdest thing regarding this track was realising (and it took me about a year) was that I’d written the drum track and guitar (or so I thought) for a seven minute indie-dance rumble that resembles this hugely, about ten years previously. The tape never went any place, so I’m not calling schenanigans (or lawyers), but I dunno.

  4. 4
    Rory on 23 Jan 2018 #

    Aw.

    I guess I’ll break my Popular silence not with a redundant comment about how great “Freak Like Me” was (missed the boat there), but with a defence of this. Lumbering commercialized zombie it may be, but it brings something new to the original, which was fine, sure, but hardly one of Elvis’s best-known songs prior to 2002. This brought a good tune to my attention, and to millions of others’ who hadn’t seen Ocean’s 11, and dressed it in the happier noises of the era, a welcome contrast with some of the dreary AOR alternative sounds I was listening to in the early 2000s. (Doves seemed so great at the time, but now…)

    I had no problem then, or now, with hijacking old unknown songs for an electronic/big-beat makeover, having enjoyed countless lounge/electronica hybrids released in the late 1990s by EMI/Capitol as it rode that wave. There was a whole album of Shirley Bassey makeovers in this vein, after the Propellerheads snagged her for “History Repeating”. Releasing “A Little Less Conversation” in 2002 was, it’s true, a little late to the party, but in the absence of a second Propellerheads album, it was something. And number one in 24 countries is some something. It’s a 7 from me.

    As for Junkie XL, this is the ideal place (indeed, the only relevant place) to mention his long involvement with movies, culminating in the score for the awesome Mad Max: Fury Road—which is amazing in the context of the film, but admittedly a bit of a slog on the home stereo. A little less orchestration, a little more action.

  5. 5
    weej on 23 Jan 2018 #

    This takes me back to having arguments about the track with friends at the time – “It’s just a big beat remix of Elvis” “But I like big beat and I like Elvis, so what’s the problem?” Actually, listening to it again, it isn’t exactly big beat, it’s that sort of odd microgenre that was around in 2000/2001, a sort of bubblegum big beat with the cheesy sfx from late 90s pop music and the build-up and release of trance music, but constructed very much in a sort of pop form. I used to have several examples of this (and loved them) but can’t seem to think of any now I’m afraid – the Propellerheads, Bentley Rhythm Ace and Mint Royale are all almost there, but not quite.
    Anyway, it is what it is, and I still like it, not revelatory by any means, but a different sort of idea about what pop music should be, and one I still have time for.

  6. 6
    Rory on 23 Jan 2018 #

    I was a huge Mint Royale fan at this point. Another decent album in a similar vein that I discovered in later years was 2001’s Gent International by G15.

  7. 7
    ThePensmith on 23 Jan 2018 #

    I think it’s not unfair to say 2002 was to Elvis what 1992 was to Abba – when the public at large rediscovered a love of him, nay may have been introduced to his music for the first time, as was the case for 13 year old me. It’s also not the last bunny he has a connection to in 2002 at least. With this release he also overtook the tie of 17 number ones he and The Beatles held to make it 18 chart toppers – and also to set the record for the longest span of number one hits.

    The release from his label of the ‘Elv1s’ hits album that autumn consolidated the success of the four week run of this single (which as Tommy Mack highlighted, ‘A Little Less Conversation’ was added to the tracklist of). For all that though, it’s forgotten now that RCA took the bizarre move, just as it began it’s fourth and final week at the top, to delete it for stores to order in more copies. They insisted a little too hard that it had nothing to do with the chances of the next bunny not making it mind. They doth protest too much etc (although it didn’t matter in the event anyway).

    A solid and contemporary reworking that made an unknown song of his a new anthem for a generation: overall an 8 for me.

    #2 watch – Kylie ‘Love At First Sight’, easily one of her finest second imperial phase singles to this day. Was backed with the ‘Can’t Get Blue Monday Out of My Head’ mashup from the BRITs that year as a B-side.

    Oasis ‘Stop Crying Your Heart Out’ on its second week at the top (which we’ve already discussed on ‘The Hindu Times’ thread. Incidentally that was also the same week that Nelly charted at #4 with ‘Hot In Herre’. Surprised that never made #1 but his next single would more than make up for that).

    The unusual sight of a climber to the #2 spot (for 2002 standards, anyway) happened on its third week when Scooter’s then several week old Eurorave reimagining of Supertramp’s ‘The Logical Song’ gave them their biggest hit to date.

    Then in its last week at the top, another band scored their biggest hit to date and started their most successful run of hits to date, as Red Hot Chili Peppers entered at #2 with ‘By The Way’. I know that single came at the point most people went off them, but I rather loved that album it was from, evidenced by the fact it gave them their first number one album.

  8. 8
    ThePensmith on 23 Jan 2018 #

    #4 – it was also the Propellerheads, of course, whose reimagining of Brian Fahey’s “At The Sign Of The Swinging Cymbal”, titled “Crash”, provided the theme music for the top 40 on Radio 1 from October 1998 until November of this year (although it was preceded for two months before its first use on the show by a similar remake, courtesy of a certain Fatboy Slim). Even hearing it now, I can hear Mark Goodier announcing that it’s down 7 places at #32 for (insert name of act and title of single here).

  9. 9
    Cumbrian on 23 Jan 2018 #

    The comeback is a tricky thing to pull off, particularly if you’re dead and thus not in control of how the comeback happens. The more I think about this, the more I think about all the other comebacks that happen and I can’t think of any that improve when it gets to the 2nd, 3rd, 4th iteration. Each comeback operates to diminishing returns, I think, but I’d be interested in hearing of counter examples.

    Of course Elvis had already made the platonic example of a comeback. Just look at the start of the 68 Comeback Special. I think that opening burst of Trouble might be the greatest thing Elvis ever did. At the start of the colour TV era, there he is, staring gun barrel straight down the camera, looking as lean and beautiful as he ever did, the verse sung in a sexy growl before the brakes come off and he leans powerfully into “my daddy was a green eyed MOUN-tain jack”. It is breathtaking stuff – I’m back, it says, and I am as vital and dangerous as you remember in your best memories of the pre-Army years; it couldn’t last of course, but still.

    As comebacks go, JXL can’t really compete, though I’m not sure that the problem is necessarily JXL with this song – Elvis doesn’t sound anywhere near as energised on the vocal track as he does on the 68 Comeback Special, so I just can’t hear it taking flight. All the things that others have raised (Propellerheads, Mint Royale, etc – do we reckon Utah Saints are in this sort of lineage?) are much better to my ear, either getting better vocal performances or using better source material than this.

    Anyway, the next comeback is probably bunnied but I’ve a low opinion of what was going on there. Not heard any of this orchestral stuff Tom is referring to. I did see a double bill of Blade Runner/Blade Runner 2049 last Friday at the Prince Charles Cinema though – maybe that’s the next stage of the comeback (for those who’ve not seen it, Elvis features as hologram in residence in a run down version of future Las Vegas – that might be the best place for him nowadays)

    There’s a big wodge of content in Tom’s post that could be talked about too. As ads go, that Nike advert on the container ship is perhaps their high water mark; there was a period where they went through trying to top it but it feels like they’ve given up somewhat now. Nowadays, you can see all kinds of this sort of stuff being put together, albeit by non-conventionally famous people, on YouTube, so I don’t know how they could go after it. The other good one was from 1998 – Brazil in the airport.

    I think we got into the 2002 World Cup on another thread – possibly the one around the time England spanked Germany 5-1 in Munich. I’d just finished my finals, so totally reset my body clock and watched a lot of football whilst drinking in the morning. I am also a Sven apologist.

    Ocean’s 11 in amongst that lot too. Is it terribly gauche to admit I actually really like that film? Doesn’t take itself too seriously and gets in and out well enough. 12 and 13 were OK, not as good as 11, but I’m looking forward to Ocean’s 8 and will probably spring for a ticket to it.

  10. 10
    Tom on 23 Jan 2018 #

    The fact I won’t be writing about Scooter just makes it worse.

    BTW, my harsh mark here is actually a sizeable jump from my feelings at the time – I recall at least once holding forth in the pub about how this was the worst single ever made. It was the ubiquity talking.

    I had completely forgotten than mini-wave of boshed-up soundtracks (Propellerheads et al) – I would put it late 90s rather than early 00s, my brother was very keen on all that stuff. I never minded it, it was cheerful fun, which I guess this would also be to most.

  11. 11
    Andrew Farrell on 23 Jan 2018 #

    I don’t really recognise the idea that Elvis has any cultural weight these days, and I think the original of this was holed below the waterline by Ariana Grande’s reference in her tragically unbunnied Into You, “A little less conversation and a little more touch my body”; even the most threadbare of euphemisms is more euphemism than is appropriate – come over here and bring your hands.

    (obviously no-one worked harder to destroy Elvis’s legacy than the man himself)

  12. 12
    Andrew Farrell on 23 Jan 2018 #

    The remix video makes the claim for Elvis’s stature (that he’s a fundamental influence on all of the music you love) better than the song, largely by demonstrating that you can dance to it in a lot of different ways.

    The ‘video’ for the original on Youtube is the clip from the original Elvis film (Live a Little, Love a Little – renamed from the original book Kiss My Firm But Pliant Lips) where Elvis, wearing a white polo neck and navy blazer, tries to take the lady he has his eye on home from a party with hippie dancing. It is not good.

    (though one of the things that watching them back to back has made me realise is that not only has the outro where Elvis repeats “Satisfy Me!” been shortened, a nip and tuck has shifted the balance to his female backing singers’ reading of the line too)

  13. 13
    katstevens on 23 Jan 2018 #

    Fave football commercial is obviously the one with FOCUS soundtracking Wayne Rooney living in a caravan.

  14. 14
    cryptopian on 23 Jan 2018 #

    I… actually really like this. And reading this review, I feel like it’s exactly the sort of song I should hate. Maybe it’s childhood nostalgia or maybe I’m just a sucker for energetic, torrent-of-syllables songs.

  15. 15
    flahr on 24 Jan 2018 #

    I was 9 when this came out, but I don’t think I have any conscious memory of this from the time* – maybe I have a subconscious one though, or maybe I just don’t find the idea of Dead Rocker Elvis chart-topping in 2002 mortally offensive, because I can’t really share the po-faced disgust at this single’s existence evinced elsewhere. The most likely explanation is a dumb love of noise, applying here due to the “Setting Sun” style spirals of electronic SFX**, although the horns are very pleasing too. [7]

    *or of the World Cup actually – I remember it being discussed across primary school tables but I wouldn’t be surprised if I never actually watched any of it

    **I’m sure everyone else was already heartily sick of this sort of video game pew-pew schtick by now, but I didn’t actually listen to music until circa 2008 (because I was playing video games instead) so I haven’t had time to be, and though I may not be nine years old any more in a physical sense I am probably still there aesthetically and thus find anything that goes bleep monumentally exciting

  16. 16
    Shiny Dave on 24 Jan 2018 #

    Of course, the credit of “Elvis vs JXL” was itself classic Presley brand management, for “Elvis vs Junkie XL” would have been a most unfortunate credit.

    Count me amongst the defenders of this one. Elvis might be half-mumbling a misogynistic hustle, but throw it in as texture on a big beat track and the focus turns to how he sounds, not what he’s singing (heck, half of the latter is almost indecipherable, which is probably just as well) – and how it sounds is gloriously inviting of mimicry even (especially?) if you only had a vague idea of who this Elvis chap was. (I was 15, I think that was me at the time – I knew the name, but more as a concept than as a pop star IIRC.) When this got picked from the Spotify playlist I was listening to at the time while I was walking to the supermarket a few weeks ago, I had enormous fun singing along to it.

    I can concede that it’s completely goonish and not as clever as, say, “The Rockefeller Skank” – and it’s certainly not an all-time classic like the advert it soundtracks – but this is positively glee-inducing to me. I can’t blame anyone for hating it, but personally I’m 8-ing it.

    #9 Yup, I managed to inadvertently completely derail the thread for the number 1 at the time of Germany 1-5 England thus turning it into a debate about Svengland. (To be fair, it was the last of multiple 5ive bunnies, a third #1 for a frankly very silly ephemeral boy band was always going to be high on the list of derailable Popular comment threads.)

  17. 17
    Phil on 24 Jan 2018 #

    in due time we’ll encounter the most emphatic of all the King’s posthumous headline-grabs

    ??? Per Wikipedia there are no posthumous Elvis bunnies – just this one.

    Just noticed the Elvis impersonator in the “Crash!” video (I guess they couldn’t afford a real Elvis). Must have been something in the air.

  18. 18
    James BC on 24 Jan 2018 #

    Big plus 1 for both Love At First Sight and Scooter. They are both a sight better than this, and it’s a shame we’re denied the ultimate Popular Scooter Thread picking over all the KLF references. Nessaja was even better than the Logical Song in my view.

    A Little Less Conversation doesn’t do a lot for me. The overriding feeling is smugness, which isn’t the greatest way to fill a dancefloor. Also there isn’t a lot of Elvis’s Elvisness in it – if I didn’t know, I wouldn’t necessarily pick up that it was him, and you could get Olly Murs to sing the vocal and get basically the same song, if not a bit better. Not like Bassey vs the Propellerheads.

  19. 19
    Sausagebrain on 24 Jan 2018 #

    Welcome back Tom – this entry has been worth the wait.

    Re: comment #7

    ‘Then in its last week at the top, another band scored their biggest hit to date and started their most successful run of hits to date, as Red Hot Chili Peppers entered at #2 with ‘By The Way’. I know that single came at the point most people went off them, but I rather loved that album it was from, evidenced by the fact it gave them their first number one album’.

    Funny thing – RHCP seemed to lose a lot of fans but gain a zillion more in the UK with By The Way. As you say, it was a run in which they scored a number 1 original album (which has sold over 2 million copies), a number of a big selling singles, plus a greatest hits, and they broke attendance records (their 2004 run at Hyde Park – playing to 240,000 people over three nights – I think remains the largest paying audience for a concert series here).

    I remember the backlash starting in 2006 with Stadium Arcadium (the point at which I got into them, and an album which I love to this day – a great final flourish from Add to dictionary before he returned to making obtuse solo records).

    Whenever it happened, RHCP seemed to have entered that rarefied category of bands that some people love to hate (and that many people are too afraid to admit they love), alongside Coldplay , Nickelback and later period Oasis.

    Back on topic – was it Elvis’s original or the JXL remix that was featured in the rather fine Nike advert?

    My memories of World Cup 2002 all involve missing out on the most exciting games in the first rounds because they clashed with end of first year exams at University. With almost 16 years hindsight, I can now see how little either the exams or the World Cup actually mattered.

  20. 20
    Rory on 24 Jan 2018 #

    #17: Wikipedia must not be counting three Elvis hits that enjoyed a second spell at number one a few years after this. Elvis also had a posthumous number one the month after he died, “Way Down”, which Tom gave a 5.

  21. 21
    Lee Saunders on 24 Jan 2018 #

    Big beat lives! Thanks to a $100,000,000 Nike World Cup campaign by the name of ‘Secret Tournament’, featuring, like several notable football ads*, a look-how-many-famous-faces football game, the Elvis estate granted permission for the first offical Elvis remix, and Junkie XL was the lucky DJ behind it. (At least this is the order of things I’m led to believe. Wouldn’t surprise me if it started out as a bootleg that then got the green light, though I’m just speculating). “A Little Less Conversation” was no Elvis classic but it had several things going for it in this context, namely that it was just in Ocean’s Eleven, its lyrics (which could mean sex or could mean dancing) were easily adaptable, and Elvis’s voice gets quite theatric where needed, building up to an urgent “come on, come on” boiling point before simmering back into the chorus again, giving the song A Little More Action even if his subject isn’t giving him any. Already a hooky number, the last thing alone could give the remix a memorable moment.** And of course, they could probably work it well into the advert too, during a climatic goal..

    I wasn’t even quite 5 years old yet but I remember it being unavoidable. The song, not the advert, which I don’t remember.*** I have good, later day, memories of it being tacked onto the end of spring 2003’s Hits 55 despite (presumably) being out of the charts by then (incidentally, the next number one featured belatedly on a hits compilation released in spring 2003 too), and also watching the music video TV and trying to figure out whether that was Paul Weller dancing entirely in black (..well, was it?)

    An easy reference point is Fatboy Slim. Though not as idiosyncratic as Norman’s own remixes from his 1998 peak, the guitar riff rings and rubs up with sticky, giddy sound effects in a way that recalls him. The horns, those gospel-lite female backing vocals, those day-glo synth whirs, and especially the part about 2 and a half minutes in, where the burbling bass (or vocodered voice?) that is one of Fatboy’s trademarks slips in. What should accompany this part of the video? A smiley-shirted whistle blower dancing while JXL, looking quite a bit like Fatboy Slim, bounces up and down around his gear (while some cheapo psychedelic effects lava-lamp behind them). If anything I thought it was a case of JXL wanting to be Fatboy when I was younger, if not quite a pisstake.****

    Often like when Norman presses in singers from much older recordings into this tracks, Elvis’ slightly muffled, low register is still made the focal point of ALLC that almost everything else seems to punctuate. While there is the obvious contrast – his low, another-era voice and the skittish, contemporary music (contemporary enough, anyway) – it still feels like everything going on in the track is making a point about his voice being there, bouncing off his presence excitingly as if to say that 25 years after his death, Elvis is still worth getting excited about. “Come on baby I’m tired of talking” is punctuated by a few hits of brass. “Satisfy me” and “Come on, come on” are greeted with those gospel singers doing the same. 4 weeks at the top, 25 years after his death, I can see it made Elvis exciting again.

    So its worth mentioning that ELV1S (30 #1 Hits) came out a few months later with this as a “bonus track” (though I’m inclined to believe it was supposed to be there all along), which was a Über-success worldwide, in a reach beyond the Nike advert, although the background here goes beyond ALLC. After trying and failing for 3 decades to present a worthy “best-of” style compilation for the Beatles, EMI released The Beatles’ 1 in 2000 – the band’s canonical 27 number one hits of the UK and US wrapped up as one immacuately and attractively packaged single disc primer – and it sold in the shitloads. How it was a commercial triumph of such size (and it was, being one of the major commercial triumphs in early 2000s pop that Popular doesn’t cover whatsoever) is a bit beyond me despite being well overdue (this was a post-Anthology era where the shortest full 1962-70 Beatles compilation was spread over four discs you had to buy as two separate albums).

    But the effects on the under-analysed veteran comp market boom were immediate. The identically themed (though incomplete) ELV1S, despite compiling an singer with an endless string of compilations, was RCA/BMG’s opportunist response for the King and sold at least 8 million copies worldwide. The Rolling Stones dished out Forty Licks, their own response, the same day, and that sold at least 5 million. 1 had virtually become the template for the artist overview compilation. Nirvana’s eponymous disc was another direct descendant. Other number one packages, like those of Michael Jackson and the Bee Gees, would follow to similar success. I’d once considered reading into this early 2000s compilation sales boom for a college project except in terms of writings I couldn’t find virtually anything on it (nothing out there or the wrong places?)

    What Elvis had that the others didn’t was a sequel. 2nd to None seemed to be just as ubiquitous on the shelves of Tesco and in my parents’ friends’ CD collections as the first one, and despite naturally selling less, it did provide a sequel to A Little Less Conversation, that of Oakenfold’s remix of another relatively obscure Elvis song, Rubberneckin’. I never heard it outside the context of Huge Hits 2004 but I loved it at the time.

    So um, ALLC. A 7 from me, probably a 7. Was it the first big football hit that had nothing to do with football? The football connection didn’t die down for some time as I recall it being on Virgin’s “England: The Album 2006”, with mention of the 2002 advert. (I really had no intention of writing a comment this big but I kept thinking of things I wanted to add).

    Also speaking of big beat living, in this song’s final week at #1, the Prodigy’s BBC-banned comeback single “Baby’s Got a Temper” debuted at #5 but lived an extremely short shelf life, not just in the charts and (I imagine) on the radio but also with the Prodigy himself. BGAT is to Liam what The Way You Are is to Tears for Fears and It’s Called a Heart is to Depeche Mode, that is, a non-album single that was airbrushed over almost immediately by the author in a state of regret, and it takes one listen to realise all the reasons why. / And speaking of dance remakes of old tracks, Scooter’s 2002-03 chipmunks-and-Red-Bull commercial resurgence in the UK began when The Logical Song slipped behind ALLC at #2 IIRC.

    *including Nike’s own Parklife ad from 1997 and Carlsberg’s ‘Old Lions’ from 2006
    **Though I’d have never known he was saying “don’t procrastinate, don’t articulate, girl, it’s getting late, getting upset waiting around” in the JXL version if I’d never heard the original.
    ***Happy early memory: The first advert I remember was a month or two later, a T-Mobile ad featuring an image of a baby on various posters, billboards and unlikely places around the city (like Black Eyed Peas and Bon Jovi would later do in music video form), the ad announcing the innovation of picture messaging to the sound of, crucially, Royksopp’s So Easy. In the If Tomorrow Never Comes thread I mentioned getting ‘Songs to Make You Feel Good’ was a 5th birthday present. The main reason behind that is that I loved So Easy and had no idea what it was called but I saw it on the TV ad for the compilation and asked for it.
    ****Another, more obvious place I heard Fatboy Slim around this time – or a year later, rather – where he wasn’t to be found was the Holiday Showdown theme music.

  22. 22
    Lee Saunders on 24 Jan 2018 #

    Also, count me in as a fan of almost any strand of big beat, Love at First Sight (which is my favourite Kylie song and would have been the finest number 1 of the decade IMO, should it had been so lucky enough) and By the Way (this was also the point I got into RHCP, in the sense of my mum owning that album and by the time Stadium Arcadium – which is distressingly average for an album of its length – came around, I was collecting all their albums)

  23. 23
    Shiny Dave on 24 Jan 2018 #

    By The Way and the resultant early-00s second peak of RHCP was all over my sixth form common room, and as an autistic student finally coming out of my cage (and I was doing just fine)* and actually wanting to talk to people, but still dealing – or, more often, not dealing – with sensory overload, I came to slightly resent that big rock sound played at a volume I really couldn’t deal with. I’m pretty sure I got Sarah McLachlan (and I’m not talking “Silence” here!) onto the common room soundtrack more than a few times just to give me some sort of relief.

    Played at my own preferred volume, it’s a solid +1 for Nessaja for me too. I’d probably have given that a 9, same as Logical Song. Scooter are still going at what seems like a relentless one-album-per-year rate, though they’re a lot less exciting and a lot more misogynistic than their early-2000s imperial phase. (There’s a track from one of their last couple of albums called “Mary Got No Lamb” which pulls their chipmunk-chorus-steal trick with “Arms of Mary” and sounds like it’s taking off into a massive return to Scooter form, until H.P. goes off on one of the squickiest raps I’ve ever had the misfortune to hear. It was so much better when he was just shouting stream-of-consciousness WTFery.)

    * Surprisingly, The Killers do not trouble Popular, at least not yet. They do, however, have five chart-topping albums (the most recent in 2017!), going 3-2-3 with the lead-off singles from them.

  24. 24
    Lee Saunders on 24 Jan 2018 #

    Always liked the Logical Song but my Scooter hit of this era of choice is Weekend

  25. 25
    ThePensmith on 24 Jan 2018 #

    #21 – I always thought that looked like Paul Weller too! Glad it wasn’t just me.

    #19 – I totally agree with you on RHCPs being in that small group of rock bands that are used as whipping boys by certain sections of critics and music fans a la Coldplay, U2 etc. I had heard the ‘Californication’ album a year before through my eldest sister’s copy (not to mention All Saints’ version of ‘Under The Bridge’ that hit the top in 1998, which I still rather love).

    I’ve always found that a curious mentality amongst fans of rock and also rap music, specifically when artists from that genre cross over with a huge album or single as “By The Way” was, and are accused of being ‘sell outs’. Then again, I can think of a few artists from the contemporary pop field in recent years whom I’ve enjoyed a far sight more when they were a niche act, whom we do meet on a few bunnies 10 years from now.

    Where ‘By The Way’ was concerned, it’s success and the success of records like Coldplay’s second album coincided neatly with the start of a period when Radio 1 was undergoing it’s biggest shift in personnel since 10 years previously, and duly awarded them blanket airplay.

    Mark Goodier had vacated the chart by November (although we don’t meet his first of multiple two year wonder replacements to that slot until we get to a much talked about February 2003 bunny), and there was now a great desire by its bosses to focus even more firmly on so called ‘cool’ and ‘hip’ DJs that were down with ‘da yoof’, one of whom was responsible for breaking several bunnies in the latter part of the 00s. By the time we did get to that period, out and out pop was all but filed under ‘Chart’ on their webpage.

    Although how the subsequent hiring of Vernon Kay and Colin and Edith fit that quota is beyond me. Needless to say neither of them lasted long.

  26. 26
    Lee Saunders on 24 Jan 2018 #

    I must admit I haven’t heard By the Way (the album) in some years but reading about the album’s production was a “oh, what could have been moment” for me. John was apparently taking great influence from the disparate likes of Andy Partridge, Vini Reilly, Andy McGeoch and Johnny Marr, but his desire to drift the band astray from funk was stopped by Rick Rubin who, to put it simply, wanted Californication 2 (it’s not too unreasonable IMO to say Stadium Arcadium counts for 3 and 4).

    In my recollection, the singles were the highlights of the album, especially Can’t Stop

  27. 27
    James BC on 24 Jan 2018 #

    By The Way is a phenomenal album and surely RHCP’s best. Just about every track could have been a single (without it being toooooo much of a stretch). Apparently Flea wasn’t happy because there was too much melody and not enough interminable funk churning. It was too good, in other words.

    #25 If Vernon Kay didn’t last long on R1 it certainly didn’t feel that way to me. His average show must have been, what, four or five years long? I liked Colin and Edith though.

  28. 28
    weej on 25 Jan 2018 #

    Aside from the superb “Love At First Sight” that’s a pretty grim #2 watch @7

    “Stop Crying Your Heart Out” – the most infuriatingly mawkish thing Oasis ever did, I was working in an office while this was Chris Moyles’s track of the week and would happily never hear it ever again
    “The Logical Song” – really not sure why it’s so pro-Scooter around here, but surely not Ironic? Anyway, sounds unpleasant, main guy reminds me of insufferable Dutch guy I used to know, not the worst here I guess.
    “By The Way” – have written before about being stuck for a whole summer with a girl next door playing the whole of Californication on repeat at ear-splitting volume, but can’t imagine I’d have much time for them even if that hadn’t happened.

  29. 29
    Tom on 25 Jan 2018 #

    I can’t speak for the rest of the FT crew but I like Scooter because I like rave and hardcore music and Scooter made a wonderfully over-the-top version of it.

  30. 30
    Lee Saunders on 25 Jan 2018 #

    I second what Tom says, though for the Scooter of this era its a thin line. I have a big liking for happy hardcore so their relevant mid 90s stuff suits me fine, but the Scooter of 2002-03 belong more to the (I suppose its hard house) that filled the early Clubland comps and found a home with DJs like Lisa Lashes. Not a style I particularly like but when it works, it works (Scooter, Operation Blade, Special D’s Come with Me, a few other things)

  31. 31
    Tom on 25 Jan 2018 #

    Yeah the best of they put out rapidly to capitalise on the “Ramp!” moment, anthologising their 90s singles, really is most of what you need by them. All killer no filler! “Get off your shirt and wait for further instruction.”

  32. 32
    Tom on 25 Jan 2018 #

    OMG they had an LP out last year and it features a SPARKS COVER https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwGgBYI-Ku4

  33. 33
    katstevens on 25 Jan 2018 #

    Scooter of course making the genius move of nabbing a #1 album by bundling in a greatest hits disc in with Jumping All Over The World (itself a pretty solid 8/10 ft THE QUO of course). But yeah one of the original dudes left about 5 years ago and the tone of the lyrics def got a bit sleazier after that. I would cautiously say the latest album is a ‘return to form’.

  34. 34
    flahr on 25 Jan 2018 #

    “solid” and “return to form” in the same post but not adjacent :(

  35. 35
    Shiny Dave on 26 Jan 2018 #

    Just noticed: apparently the Scorpion KO/Secret Tournament/The Cage adverts were directed by Terry Gilliam! So Monty Python do have a connection to a bunny.

    (“Always Look On The Bright Side of Life” peaked at 3, which is also where this re-entered in the 2005 re-issue spate that does trouble Popular when we get there.)

  36. 36
    Cumbrian on 26 Jan 2018 #

    #35: Re: Gilliam – because Brazil, presumably.

  37. 37
    AMZ1981 on 26 Jan 2018 #

    As has been noted above, 2002 was the year there was a resurgence of interest in Elvis. However I remember one commentator at the time made the interesting point that one thing you didn’t see much of was the image of Elvis. The 1s album didn’t have a photo on the cover and it did seem to be more about rediscovering the music. I was one of those who bought the compilation and heard a lot of songs that I knew as massive hits by reputation for the first time. It goes without saying that there are paragraphs that could be written about Elvis, who for all his influence and huge success was arguably also one of rock music’s most wasted talents – the most haunting three minutes on 1s, in more than one ways, is In The Ghetto, not only an extraordinary song in its own right but a tantalising hint of what might have been.

    A Little Less Conversation itself is nothing particularly special; we’ve had plenty of examples of songs dug up from the archives, remixed for the clubs and moving into the charts. The fact that it was Elvis and allowed him to snatch the title of all time chart champion from the Beatles added a bit of wider interest. The Beatles had taken Elvis’ lead in 1969 and held it for eight years, followed by fifteen in a joint tie. An 18th Elvis chart topper was never an impossibility but for many years it looked more likely that the Beatles would score again or that Cliff Richard would overhaul both. We will have to have a discussion as to whether Elvis stopped at 18 or carried on until 21 at some point but we can probably park it for now.

  38. 38
    AMZ1981 on 26 Jan 2018 #

    I’d intended to make the post above a `part 1` concerning Elvis before moving on to the non bunnies but there is a footnote to the Elvis discussion. I’m not sure anybody has mentioned that there was a follow up in late 2003 when Paul Oakenfield remixed the equally obscure Rubberneckin’ in an obvious attempt to repeat the trick. It made number five which was good going for a belated follow up to a chart topper with an element of novelty involved.

    Of the non bunnies there’s nothing I can really say about Stop Crying Your Heart Out that I didn’t touch on during The Hindu Times thread. Love At First Sight would be one of my favourite Kylie songs and she’s done a lot of stuff I like. Let’s not overlook the other disco stormer in third place that week; Get Over You by Sophie Ellis Bexter which sounded equally fantastic at the time but hasn’t aged quite as well. The Logical Song was the biggest selling non chart topper of the year outside of the Evergreen bubble that may have been increasing footfall in record shops generally. It gave us a top two of reworked old songs and in all honesty it was the superior of the two.

    Summer 2002 was generally a time of optimism for me and the By The Way album very much soundtracked it. It seemed at the time an almost universal success story; raved over by critics and a huge commercial success that not only crossed genre boundaries but – helped by the `supermarket era` of record buying – even attracted the non record buying demographic. Fifteen years on I appreciate that not everybody rates it; the Chilis’ fans who wanted the funky punky stuff would have considered it a sell out and I can understand why those unaware of what the band had to go through to be able to make such a record in the first place would just have seen it as the epitome of mainstream. By The Way; like a lot of records before and after it became a victim of its own success.

    Despite those huge sales and the fact that it remains one of my ten favourite albums ever By The Way hasn’t quite become the abiding classic I thought it would. It also looked like RHCP were now on a par with the Rolling Stones and U2. That was another thing that didn’t quite happen and maybe that’s because the band never wanted it. Under obvious pressure to deliver By The Way II they delivered Stadium Arcadium where the sprawl was a polite way of pointing out they couldn’t recapture the spirit of 2002. By the time (the forgettable) I’m With You came out in 2009 those who had By The Way on repeat play seven years before didn’t care any more (that includes me).

    And yet, and yet. I’m listening to Dark Necessities now, an album that sounds better every time I hear it. It’s not By The Way but it could have been the follow up. It’s a bit like meeting an old acquaintance who you once had great times with, the conversation is awkward at first but then it all starts to come flooding back in a `fancy another pint` kind of way. Which probably makes it a good time shut up!

  39. 39
    James BC on 26 Jan 2018 #

    I’d compare By The Way to Parallel Lines, in that both are albums where the band is trying a ton of different things, many of them fairly risky, and everything comes off. Even what should be the sillier moments (Cabron, Throw Away Your Television) turn out somewhere between good and great. Sixteen tracks on an album is usually too many, but every song on BTW has a strong idea behind it, a reason to be there, and you can imagine each one being somebody’s favourite.

    The fact that such a great album came out of such an obviously awful idea as funk-rock must be one of the major miracles in music history.

  40. 40
    Fivelongdays on 27 Jan 2018 #

    The By The Way discussion reminds me that this must have been around the time that Idlewild’s GLORIOUS The Remote Part came out. Very, very briefly, it looked like they would be the next British band to go absolutely supernova. It didn’t happen, sadly…but for a few weeks, the weird, artsy, chaotic band that I loved looked like they’d make the really big time. And that was worth SOMETHING.

  41. 41
    Lee Saunders on 27 Jan 2018 #

    Sorry for commenting yet again but I regret my 7. I’ve had this in constant rotation since the review and I really should have gone for an 8.

    While I’m here I’ll sing my praises for Doves’ The Final Broadcast. The Doves were knocked somewhere already in the thread but I find that album lovely (There Goes the Fear was also a #3 hit a few months before this, their joint highest single since they were Sub Sub 9 years before).

  42. 42
    Rory on 29 Jan 2018 #

    #41 Yes, I regret my offhand dig at Doves earlier – it prompted me to listen to The Last Broadcast again, which reminded me why I loved them at the time; “There Goes the Fear” is quite the epic sound. I think it was albums 3 and 4 that lost my interest. Possibly they’re fine too, though, and it was just my attention wandering.

    Re: By the Way: you lot are going to make me listen to a RHCP album all the way through, aren’t you.

  43. 43
    Phaser on 30 Jan 2018 #

    In retrospect, this is a basically-unremarkable version of a basically-unremarkable Elvis song, but at the time I (in all my barely-pubescent glory) was a fan of it because it kept Scooter, which I hated, off the top of the charts.

    I couldn’t remember quite why I hated Scooter so much, so I subjected it to a re-listen, and yep, still not a fan. Largely it’s the singing, a combination of chipmunk irritation and the low-pitched, almost bro-country-esque (at least in the first verse), vocals of Scooter himself.

    As for the RHCP, loved By The Way (the album and the single) at the time and still like it (them) a lot. I tend to see it as the second stepping-stone in a road leading, via Under The Bridge, away from their earlier funkier stuff and towards a more surf-rock, melodic, kind of output, which I honestly like a lot more (full disclosure, I’m With You may be my favourite RCHP album). Much of this has to do with this being the point where Anthony Kiedis apparently lost the conviction that a) he was funny and b) rap was the appropriate medium to express how funny he was.

  44. 44
    lonepilgrim on 9 Feb 2018 #

    It seems appropriate to rework a song from one the movies Elvis sleepwalked through. Half present then his contribution here is a karaoke distillation of familiar Elvis tics. It’s vaguely compelling but I can’t imagine seeking it out or choosing to listen to it

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