Dec 14

WAMDUE PROJECT – “King Of My Castle”

Popular43 comments • 6,390 views

#842, 27th November 1999

wamdue A question that haunts a project like Popular is how you review things that have a very specific context – no, more than a context, a specific use – when you have never put them to that use. We’re now shifting out of the time when I was going, even occasionally, to clubs that played mainstream dance music, and a record like “King Of My Castle” is plainly built for those clubs. Not just in an “it’s good to dance to” sense. While the Wamdue Project obviously bring a hook or two, this is still one of the track-iest of number ones, built from the crunchy house beat out.

In a club setting, you imagine, the spidery synth line and the haughty vocals would be the sauce for that beat – memory and sense triggers to enhance rhythm and motion. But listening at home, the voice and melody jump to the foreground, taking on a weight of attention they can’t really bear. The result, in the unsympathetic circumstance of kitchen or desk, feels something like Eiffel 65 for grown-ups – remorselessly repetitive nonsense. Except “King Of My Castle” isn’t even designed to work as a song, and isn’t using annoyance as a deliberate aesthetic effect. It’s annoying because listening to it as a standalone single breaks the use of it.

That said, this track sold so excessively compared to the usual American house imports – it moved a few million across Europe – that it must have had some crossover appeal. Even if it doesn’t progress much in its single edit, “King Of My Castle” has a memorably cryptic hook – free in my what? – and enough sass in its stomp to pass muster as this year’s equivalent of The Tamperer: something you could strut to in party season. Still, it’s hard not to feel this is a neutered record, stranded outside a DJ set.



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  1. 31
    Erithian on 24 Dec 2014 #

    Since we’re onto trivia questions, here’s one – not relevant to this record, but if I put this somewhere more relevant it’d be too obvious. Where is Haus Schliechte, and why is it – almost – connected to Popular? (Clue – you’ve quite likely seen it in the last week or so).

  2. 32
    speedwell54 on 24 Dec 2014 #

    re 28 and 30.
    Assuming 30 is on the right track, I’ll see your 14, and raise you 15, with a Cheryl bunny earlier this year. There may be others, I don’t know a quick way to check.

  3. 33
    Mark G on 25 Dec 2014 #

    Oh, I thought at first it was ‘Biggest jump to number one’ but/and I looked it up and the week before it had charted on import at 61. So maybe that’s possible.

  4. 34
    hardtogethits on 25 Dec 2014 #

    Well done Erithian. Speedo, my mind is blown. Well done to you too.

  5. 35
    hardtogethits on 25 Dec 2014 #

    I know the answer to 31, but I have learnt lessons from something which happened 12 months ago (ed – checks date). See, you posed the question yesterday and I don’t think it would be right for me to share things freely within 24 hours. If I did, you might decide that in future you’d share things with other people, to spare you pain and torment.

  6. 36
    weej on 27 Dec 2014 #

    No memory of hearing this before but it’s not that bad, just a mid-tempo club track that does exactly what it was supposed to do, and in a fairly pleasant way with some few nice production touches. Seems a bit odd at #1, but doesn’t deserve to be marked down for that.

  7. 37
    ciaran on 30 Dec 2014 #

    The most unilkely Number 1 of the year (ATB aside). I found it decent at the time but it’s not something I’ve seeked out since. More like the sound of most people’s early noughites ringtone than a Number 1.

    Still though would rather have this than ‘Better off Alone’. ‘The Launch’ or ‘Freestyler’ if I had a choice.6

    Dont know if this would be a track that signals the end of an era for dance .There was still some proper stuff to look forward to in 2000/01. Sandstorm, Time to Burn,Zombie Nation, Chase The Sun, and at least 2 bunnies.

  8. 38
    Cheesyjim on 31 Dec 2014 #

    Must be a reason why I’m freeing my trestle?

  9. 39
    Erithian on 31 Dec 2014 #

    Must be a reason why I’m queen of my pretzel?

    The “crunchy” beat certainly stands out from the off, and yes the vocal is beguiling to begin with, but this is a 3.30 record that deploys its last idea at about 1.10, apart from the idea of engineering the verse to sound like it’s down a crackly phone line one time around. Tedious. (Actually 1.10 is good going by the standards of certain bunnies to come – thinking of one Steve Winwood-indebted bunny in particular.)

    Incidentally, if anyone is still puzzled by the question at #31, Haus Schliechte is the chalet in the Swiss ski resort of Saas-Fee where the “Last Christmas” video was filmed – although the interiors were filmed elsewhere. The chalet and resort held 30th anniversary celebrations earlier this month!

  10. 40
    Shiny Dave on 1 Jan 2015 #

    #37 The first of those bunnies barely counts as 2000s material, but we’ll come to that when we get there in a few months.

    This was enjoyable for me at the time, though it certainly isn’t an obvious crossover hit – maybe this getting to the top was as symbolic of how powerful club culture was on the charts at this point as any multi-week Eurodance run could be. Almost certainly at its best at rather higher volumes than I can stand to listen to anything, though. I don’t dislike it, and I can recognise I’m not in a position to appreciate it as much as I could, so it’s a solid 6 for me.

  11. 41
    punctum on 2 Feb 2015 #

    Apparently the biggest-selling single in the history of the pioneering House music label Strictly Rhythm, “King Of My Castle”‘s determined minimalism is more enervating than hypnotic; Wamdue Project was essentially Atlantean producer Chris Brann with singer Gaelle Addison adding the rather bored sounding four-line roundelay vocal. Its spaces are deep, punctuated mainly by grunts of “uh-huh” and ghosts of seventies funk flutes, but it plods along rather dully. “Must be the reason why I’m king of my castle,” she strangely sings, or signifies, going on to declare (over and over) that she’s “free in my threshold” and “making examples of you.” Since said reason is never revealed, and blankness is situated where there should be mystery, it sounds nonsensical in a am-I-bothered kind of way; not that such things matter at two a.m. in a suburban nightclub, having just downed one’s sixth Bloody Mary, where its hugely hidden majesty was no doubt revealed – and its sliding scale of biting-back, vaguely martial snare-cracking beats may have been the crucial factor. Since I indulge in neither, it simply remains a barely functional dance track; whereas a pioneering minimalist House track such as Mr Fingers’ “Washing Machine” from 1986 relies on even fewer elements, but I could both listen and dance to it forever.

  12. 42
    Gareth Parker on 2 May 2021 #

    I think this sort of works. A tad repetitive, but there is a weird kind of minimalism and a slight bounciness which I think is OK here. I would go 6/10.

  13. 43
    Mr Tinkertrain on 29 Jun 2022 #

    Comments #30 and #32, that’s a great bit of trivia.

    I quite like this – no classic, but plenty enjoyable. 6/10 is fair.

    This week saw a lot of 90s indie acts cram in one last hit before the decade expired – Blur, Lightning Seeds and Ocean Colour Scene all entered the charts lower down the top 40. Also Garbage narrowly missed the top 10 with their underrated Bond theme The World Is Not Enough – that one has the honour of being the first Bond movie I saw in the cinema, so I’ve a soft spot for both the film and the theme song.

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