Posts from 7th September 2000

Sep 00

K is for…..”Kids”

New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 325 views

K is for…..”Kids”, which is the new Robbie Williams single. It’s a grievous heap of arse. Robbie Williams is, as everyone loves to remind us, a Proper Pop Star, who is Entertaining yet still Down To Earth as well as being a bit Cheeky. He does Proper Pop Star things like going out with other pop stars and getting a little unwell, and he says controversial things and he is, all told, a bit of a National Treasure.

The only tiny thing – well, no, it seems rude to mention it really, just forget it, he’s great. What’s that? No, no, really, it’s nothing, terribly unimportant. Really? Well, if you insist…the one minuscule bit of being a Proper Pop Star that Robbie can’t quite do yet is the ‘good records’ bit. All his records are, to some degree, ham-fisted derivative shit. “Rock DJ”, his last single and an avowed throwaway (such high standards the boy has), was the nearest he’d come to producing good pop, if only because its bouncy verses were half-inched from M’s “Pop Muzik”, a track I’m rather obviously fond of.

Sadly with “Kids” we’re back to the usual formula – tiresome pop-rock sludge, like a third-rate Cheap Trick sung by a fifth-rate Elton. It has Kylie on it, and a rap wherein Rob says naughty things. I feel a much, much lesser human being for hearing it. However I meant what I said about the songs stuff not being important – Robbie is a modern icon because he exemplifies a culture where you don’t have to be particularly good at anything you do as long as you do it with attitude, which Robbie has by the skipload. As cultures go it’s better than one centered on deferential forelock-tugging, to be sure, but the choice was never that simple and it certainly isn’t now.

Josh points out

New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 241 views

Josh points out this Motion review of Aaliyah’s fine “Try Again” single, which is well-written but does rather make you agree with Simon Reynolds’ suggestion in the latest Wire that ‘intellectual’ pop writers are now chronically incapable of writing about innovative studio-based music without mentioning dub. It seems pretty obvious to these ears that disco is at least as much an influence on Timbaland as dub is (“Try Again” is pretty much an acid house track, and check the gorgeously discoid string frissons all over tracks like “Love To Love U” and “Up Jumps The Boogie”), but everything studio-bound apparently has to spiral back to dub sooner or later.

Gareth Metford’s argument seems to boil down to: there’s loads of stuff going on in a Tim production, and you have to listen hard to catch it all. Which is true, but I don’t particularly see any socio-economic implications in that suggestion (This being Motion, maybe he just needs an excuse for listening hard to a Top 5 single). As for “Mosley’s stripped-back soundworld provides the listener with plenty of ‘affective headroom’ into which his or her subjectivity can flow” – well, sure it might, but this ‘affective headroom’ can hardly be a constant, can it? One moment you might want Tim and Aaliyah’s spacious approach, the next it might do nothing for you at all. You can’t in other words suggest an objective cause (stripped-down-ness) which creates the conditions for subjective interaction, because all interaction is necessarily subjective.

Good review, though, still.

Hyacinths And Thistles

New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 209 views

Hyacinths And Thistles: my review of the latest Stephin Merritt side-project. For once the hosannas are muted.