Posts from 23rd May 2000

23
May 00

PET SHOP BOYS – “Always On My Mind” (I Hate Music)

I Hate Music3 comments • 1,107 views

In a perfect world, if a generically ironic dance-pop duo decided to make an irritating, irrelevant cover of an overrated country song, a giant hammer would descend from the heavens and smite them before the first TR-808 pattern could be programmed. Unfortunately, we don’t live in that perfect world and no one thought to stop the Pet Shop Boys from giving us this wretched piece of tripe.

Where can I begin to describe the deep hurting inherent in this song? How about the singing? Neil Tennant isn’t known for his dulcet tones, and this song highlights everything that is wrong without his voice without playing to any of his strengths. Emotional content is supplanted by a reedy whine that has neighborhood dogs howling for mercy. Clever lyrics are eschewed for banal country cliches. By the time he gets to “Teeeeeell meeeee…”, any right-minded individual has either run screaming from the room or ruptured her own eardrums.

And can we discuss how horrible the music is? Apparently K-Mart was having a sale on tacky synth modules the week before the Boys went into the studio and Chris Lowe just couldn’t contain himself. How many overblown, blaring fake horns does one song need? In the words of my little sister, “Mommy, make the bad men stop!”

All of this might be salvageable if something interesting was going on in the rhythm section. Unfortunately, octave leaps on the root of the chord framed by the 4/4 beat that comes out when you press “Disco” on your mother’s old Casio doesn’t quite qualify as “interesting”. “Unforgivable” would be a better word.

If you must listen to a PSB cover, get “Where The Streets Have No Name/Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You”. This is also a terrible song, but at least it does something that improves on the source material. (Of course, twelve minutes of farting would be an improvement on U2’s “Where The Streets Have No Name”, but that’s a rant for a later day.)

The Beginning Of The End

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The Beginning Of The End: and another one bites the dust, wearied by the end of the century and the decline (yeah, yeah) of Pop. But it’s not about the musicians: it’s about the listeners. And so this is the most exciting time since 1988 (or ’92 or ’95 or whatever you like), and yes, that is because of MP3s. The real reason critics are feeling so tired now is that the new technology tears their playhouse down far more surely than it does the artists’.

OK COMPUTER, surely

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OK COMPUTER, surely. Everybody from Q Magazine to Your Flesh gave it fifteen out of ten despite the fact that its a PISS-POOR LOAD OF OLD HORSESHIT. Let’s take as example the following ‘deathless’ lyrics:

Ahhhwarrhwarrrrrhwarrh
Ahhhwhaaarrr
Warrr

My God! The HUMANITY! Or not. The worst thing about this is that students everywhere treat it like the second coming of Christ and EVEN THEY DON’T LIKE IT!! “Oh God, it’s so… good, man!” Yes, but why? “Um… it’s just… powerful… ah…” Go and fill your lungs with the acrid hash smoke you depend on to form your pathetic ‘thoughts’, you Doctor-Seuss-Hatted Assbiters! Pah! Everyone who picks up a guitar immediately learns five songs off of this terrible excuse for a record. Do they learn any Motown? Do they shite! In the more enlightened times that will arrive when the bombs go off and the Ant Men inherit this planet, Radiohead’s OK COMPUTER will be remembered as the one time when they did fool all of the people, all of the time, because all of the people were very ‘deep’ and ‘meaningful’ and had names like Tarquill.

AIN’T NOBODY KNOWS HIS TROUBLES WITH GOOD

I Hate Music1 comment • 509 views

AIN’T NOBODY KNOWS HIS TROUBLES WITH GOOD

Never in the field of human artistic endeavour has anyone sold out quite so utterly and completely as Moby has. Cleverly, he has done this at the precise moment in the history of human artistic endeavour when nobody gives a flying fuck about ‘selling out’ anymore. But hold! As with most human customs, there are excellent evolutionary reasons to be concerned about an artist’s outselling status.

The possession of a relatively obscure record, particularly one in a trendy, yet not overground, genre like electronica, increases ones self-confidence, which in turn leads to an increased self-assurance in the realm of sexual display. The ‘alpha male’ in taste terms may thus flaunt his record bag with brashness and aplomb, secure in the knowledge that its contents are beyond reproach: his goatee is perter and his thick-framed spectacles shinier, he makes in every sense a more attractive mate for his female counterpart, who will in turn ‘put out’ more readily for a boy who owns cool records (unless they’re by The Fall. Then it doesn’t work.)

But when a record like Moby’s Play becomes an ‘overground success’, the sexual-selection carpet is swept out from under its owner’s sandal-clad feet. Now the presence of the record in its owner’s collection says only, “I do not understand electronic music and desire easy-to-grasp ‘human’ signifiers”, or perhaps “I aspire to mid-range yet stylish car ownership.” Both of these are, basically, turn-offs.

Moby’s Play is so overground it is the ground. Every track has soundtracked a thousand adverts and “Porcelain” has been adopted by three Eastern European countries as a new national anthem. The lazy children of Generation Y, united in their criticism of the inescapability of teen-pop, have still flocked to buy this landmark in ubiquity, perhaps because it is the first ever ever in the whole world ever to bring REAL EMOTIONS to electronic music. It does this by a simple method. It takes an old blues record, loops it a bit, and puts some drumbeats underneath (nothing you could actually dance to, that would distract). Then the blues bit stops and some big synth chords come in, then the blues record comes in at the same time as the synth chords. How did he think of that one? It’s a miracle! Where Moby departs from this formula the results are equally mindblowing – on “Bodyrock” he sounds like Fatboy Slim without all that annoying ‘groove’ stuff or ‘beats’ or whatever it is those punk-ass ravers like to call it. On another one he sounds like Massive Attack without any ‘soul’ (Jesus! It’s the 21st century! Soul is SO 1970s), and on ‘Southside’ he addresses real situations without any of the irritating grit or lack of melody so-called ‘rappers’ would bring to the track.

People used to criticise Christian Rock not because it was overtly preachy or didactic but because it was a nerveless, nervous, enfeebled version of the ‘real thing’. They were, by and large, right. Moby is a committed Christian, and Play is, most certainly, Christian Techno.

Oasis Noel quits tour

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Oasis Noel quits tour: how much longer can this tottering sham of a band continue?

Too Many Wine Gums

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Too Many Wine Gums: “The prose is supposed to be ‘liquid dub poetics’ but, shit, all that means here is no upper casing, no full stops, and lines such as: ‘watching the buzzcocks / the powder fuse / pumping sizzle through the veins electric ‘ – enough! Has any schoolboy whose eaten one too many wine gums ever written anything as bad as those last six words?” – absolutely glorious Rob Lo review of a new Jeff Noon novel. I picked it up in Waterstone’s this lunchtime myself, and shuddered. Club music is great. Clubs are great. ‘Club culture’ is, let’s be frank, an unending stream of piss, bottled up and sold like alcopops.

Kelis: Kaleidoscope – PopMatters Music Review

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Kelis: Kaleidoscope – PopMatters Music Review: I kinda like PopMatters, but this review falls flat. Not because of what it’s saying (though as usual there’s a sense that deep-down the reviewer feels members of oppressed groups should only make records about their oppression) but because it misses one important point about the record. Kelis doesn’t, to my knowledge, write the lyrics, the Neptunes – airily dismissed in a parenthesis – do. Still the most interesting review of Kaleidoscope I’ve read.

And to return to NYLPM’s favourite topic:

New York London Paris Munich1 comment • 129 views

And to return to NYLPM’s favourite topic:

Oops, she’s doing it again!: from the new Salon (which is slow-to-load and now looks entirely undistinctive) an insightful look at the Britney phenomenon. The sub-editors take the predictable kiddyp*rn angle*, but the article is worth more than that, and until the very end manages to neatly articulate a lot of the doubts that even the pro-Britney contingent may well have felt. The final message is that rather than treating Spears as an exception, she’s best understood as representative of a culture which has become sexually supersaturated, and that it’s possible to analyse that culture without being repressive or a moralist. Criticism is not censorship.

*(I can well understand why stuff like the “Baby One More Time” video is disturbing to some, but it looks to me less like ‘child p*rn’, and more like mainstream smut in the teen tradition of Porky’s and Screwballs. A friend’s first reaction to it was that it was an adult dressing as a schoolgirl, in a kind of Carry On film style. The revelation of the singer’s true age makes some difference to that impression, but not, for me, enough. An instructive comparison would be between the Britney video and images like Blind Faith’s album cover (pre-pubescent naked girl pouts while holding big aeroplane), or the original logo for Virgin records, both of which are far less acceptable. And Max Martin has nothing on Malcolm MacLaren, whose original promotional plans for Bow Wow Wow involved the production of a magazine celebrating pubescent sexuality, entitled Chicken. Lovely.)

**(Apologies for the annoying vowel-replacement in parts of this post, but there are some hits even NYLPM doesn’t want to attract.)

The Lars dance

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The Lars dance: Bjork’s Cannes winner is “a middlebrow film, for people with posters of Björk on their bedroom wall” – ouch. I have to say that I’m pretty much put off by the phrase “Bjork’s childlike performance”, though.

DUEL!

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DUEL!: And today, it’s Kid Rock vs The Cardigans. Not that I want to influence you unduly or anything, but Kid Rock (allegedly rubbish new single aside) is boss, whereas the Cardigans are as their name suggests a heap of neutered shite.