Focus Group 1999

Nov 99

10. SHANKS AND BIGFOOT – “Sweet Like Chocolate”

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Average: 5.93 Controversy: 2.95
PB: There are no bad records about chocolate except “Chocolate Girl”. 10
TE: Orchestral cyberskank, the freshest dance number one this year. 9
IS: Rather sickly. 5
JM: Childish nursery rhyme for the luvdup. 4
MA: A lover’s record. For the single man, this sucks. 2
KG: The use of the word ‘joy’ by soul singers should be severely prescribed. 2

11. THE ALL SEEING I – “Walk Like A Panther”

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Average: 5.93 Controversy: 3.02
AE: A bitter, menacing slice of raw groove that deserves to go down in history. Try if you can to walk like a man. But YOU DON’T FOOL MEEEEE… sings the cuckolded nightclub singer. Take it any way you wish. 10
DS:Terrific song. Three brilliant singles, one disppointing album. Why Tony Christie? Could have been the one to revive Marc Almond’s career! 8
KG: A welcome intrusion of repackaged kitsch, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Tony Christie did, however, look like a sad tosser on TOTP, and for that I must penalise him. 7
FS: Unctious and repellent to the max. 3
MA: What the —? No. 2
AT: Not as clever as they think they’re being. 2

12. BLUR – “Coffee And TV”

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Average: 5.82 Controversy: 2.72
MD: Nowadays, even Madonna uses motorik, and not too shabbily at that. 7.1
NW:As irritating as Blur’s current rebranding of themselves as sensitive indie rock heroes has been, I must say that “Coffee and TV” is pretty loveable. 7
GE: Best Blur song for ages. 7
TE: Every Blur single sounds like it should’ve been on some other band’s tribute album. In the rush to applaud the first one where you can’t spot the copy toner smudges, nobody’s noticed that it doesn’t actually do much except chug along in sweetly diffident indie fashion. 5

13. SMOG – “Cold Blooded Old Times”

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Average: 5.67 Controversy: 2.35
JM: Nuts and bolts churning around in a tumbledryer. Great. 8
DS: I like Smog. I like the way he sings out the corner of his mouth, face all twisted up. 7
AT: Horrible rasping Bowie impression – sounds like it could have been recorded at any time since 1970. 6
MA: Destined for dialogue scenes in This Life wannabes. So not entirely useless: 5
PB: Some grandads playing “Brimful Of Asha” and not getting past the first verse. 4
IS: It sticks in your head and you have to chew your way through it. 2

14. DEATH IN VEGAS – “Dirge”

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Average: 5.38 Controversy: 2.15
FS: I don’t know if ‘lovely’ is really appropriate, but it’s one of the most alluring things I’ve heard this year. 8
MA: A lovemaking anthem. 6
NR: Nice, no more or less. 5
AT: Dance music for rock critics. 2

15. BRAN VAN 3000 – “Drinking In LA”

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Average: 5.42 Controversy: 2.39
AE: It’s very nice… every time I hear it I think about ROLLING ROCK yes ROLLING ROCK why don’t you DRINK some ROLLING ROCK and then you will meet a WOMAN. An INTERESTING/BIZARRE one. DRINK ROLLING ROCK. No, it’s okay I suppose. 6
DS: It advertised a beer, didn’t it? 6

16. NEW RADICALS – “You Get What You Give”

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Average: 5.22 Controversy: 3.29
TE: Look, if the fantastic fist-pumping bogosity of the Rads’ white soul doesn’t get you, just consider that he publically disses Beck, and rejoice. Amazing pop, no question. 10
NW: The kind of wonderful MOR pop that Billy Joel used to crank out with regularity, plus the baldfaced audacity to call out rawk’s sacred cows for a good old ass kickin’. 9
PB: This is a terrible record. Awful white-boy rappage, almost as bad as “I write the songs the whole world sings”. That said, 8
GF: As much as it galls me to admit it, it deserved its success. 7
DS: Perfect pop, yet not a great song. Go figure. 7
AE: It’s a man in a golf hat. He will kick your ass in. 5
IS: It tries to make you feel happy, in fact it makes you feel ill. 3
MA: You can be sure this tepid ballad will resurface on soundtrack albums for generations to come. 3
KG: Australian driving music in a beanie hat. If you like this record, your life could be better. 1
AT: They obviously gave fuck all, then. 1

17. SHANIA TWAIN – “That Don’t Impress Me Much”

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Average: 5.18 Controversy: 3.24
AT: Nearly takes the mantle from Sheryl in the drunk-woman-in-bar stakes. I want to see her duet with Bryan Ferry. 10
TE: Variety-show country: great material, good patter, sass, sawdust and showbiz. As instantly, professionally classy as pop gets. 9
MA: How deflating to be at the end of a cultural power imbalance. I’m clearly not up to scratch here, but Shania, you impress me very much indeed. 8
AE: Nothing does impress her much, except for a man who has ‘the touch’. Strangely, although she turns down Elvis, Brad Pitt and a man who owns a car, possession of one of the five senses is all it takes to win her love. 7
NW: After “No Scrubs” and “Bills Bills Bills”, it’s refreshing to hear a chica bash the men because of their insufferable attitude instead of their lack of money. 7
KG: Brad Pitt is a git, Richard Gere is a…..dear, what does this woman want? Tasty slice of chart longevity. 6
PB: Donald Sinden and Windsor Davies. 1

18. THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS – “Let Forever Be”

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Average: 5.03 Controversy: 2.71
PL: Ballsy Beatley pop for the 4/4 kids. 9
MD: As anti-climaxes go, it’s still pretty great. 7.6
AE: Fun. Lyrics are meaningless compared to excellent ‘Brothers Gonna Work It Out’ (i.e. “Leave Home” – Ed.), which were about some brothers, who would work it out at some stage in the future. Nice guitar howls. 7
IS: They can be great, but this has an annoying James-like air. 5
NR: Noel is Jesus Jones, coming to a theater near you…5
TE: “How does it feel like, to be a crystalline?” I rest my case, your honour. 4
PB: Sometimes tomorrow always knows. 1
KG: “Let Forever Be”? – fucking hippies! Noel’s ‘taking a shit’ voice strains its way over fairground music to migraine-inducing ends. 0
AT: Possibly the least sexy record of the year. 0

19. LOU BEGA – “Mambo No.5”

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Average: 5.01 Controversy: 3.06
FS: If it was an instrumental, it’d be higher. I just don’t buy Bega as a ladies’ man, and his attempts to be such are extremely repulsive. 5