Oct 09

H TWO O – “What’s It Gonna Be?”

FT5 comments • 677 views

Obviously when bassline house poked its way into the 2007 charts what I hoped – and I wasn’t alone – is that this heralded UK Garage 2.0, one of those convergences of dance music trends, pop, and sales that lights up the Top 40 for a year or so. Didn’t happen, and there are a lot of reasons why that even a barely informed observer like me could pick up on: the scene is a regional one and lacked really committed metropolitan support, the follow-up singles weren’t always up to much, and importantly the bassline scene didn’t need chart success, whether as sales indicator or ‘validation’. As The Lex pointed out when the subject came up on Poptimists, there was no failure here.

Perhaps there won’t ever be that kind of insurgent scene again: if making money off deep fans seems actually easier than trying to skim it off a broad support base, why would any big niche players ever want to crossover?

Anyway, this track at least was a rush, pleas and ultimatums tumbling over one another, trying to make themselves heard over the flexing, wobbling bass. Because the bass does so much of the physical work, the top end of bassline – the melodies, singing, etc. – often seemed deliciously flighty to me: its big commercial hits (this among them) following up on that twee strain in pop-garage from “Sweet Like Chocolate” to “Babycakes” – itself probably a lift from happy hardcore’s mega sweet tooth.


  1. 1
    M on 8 Oct 2009 #

    Yeah! I like “Love Shy” a lot, too. “because the bass does so much of the physical work, the top end of bassline — the melodies, singing, etc. — often seemed deliciously flighty to me” — this is the big appeal to me.

  2. 2
    Kat but logged out innit on 8 Oct 2009 #

    Awesome video too. I still love this track to bits :)

  3. 3
    Andy Pandy on 9 Oct 2009 #

    The truth of the statement that ‘one of the reasons for bassline’s lack of sustained national success was a perceived shortage of real “metropolitan” support’ revolves around the use of “metropolitan”. If “Metroplitan” is shorthand for the London dance music population in general it may be to some extent true as by virtue of its sheer size alone the London club music scene has always had such a large influence on clubbing tastes in the country as a whole.
    And as it had been basically invented in London as speed garage around 1996 and then in its purest form abandoned a year or two later it was never going to be thought of as something London producers were going to want to get involved in 10 years later.

    However if “metropolitan” in this context translates (and I think it probably does here) in its more pejorative meaning as a cipher for the trendy London media and its camp-followers the fact that they never really took to it it seems largely an irrelevancy as hardcore was never anything but villified by the capital’s media but took the country by storm.

  4. 4
    Tom on 9 Oct 2009 #

    That’s absolutely true but notice I’m not talking about national success – I’m talking about success IN THE CHARTS which is a different thing: correlated for sure but the correlation is very far from perfect – hardcore post-92 has had national success but very little chart success.

  5. 5
    AndyPandy on 9 Oct 2009 #

    I did actually think after posting that in the light of the original post mentioning HAPPY hardcore that my mention of hardcore could be misconstrued as that of the “happy” variety but I did actually mean the period 1991-92.

    And in this period I wonder if there’s ever been another instance when the charts have been colonised to such an extent by any underground form of music* (which was almost completely shunned by mainstream radio). And as it often said once the facts that a large proportion of hardcore (and other forms of dance music) records were sold in specialist dance record shops (which were very unlikely to say the least to be chart return shops), that a large proportion of fans only brought mixtapes or compilations it becomes apparent just how total the domination could have been if the scene had conformed to others (nb Acen’s “Trip II The Moon” reputedly selling 40,000 and getting to about no 38.

    I suppose the closest might be reggae from 1969-71.

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