Monday, April 21, 2003

ainslie, again: "I'm a sort of anti-popstar"
I thought - way back - that no one would buy the first Hear'Say record - that the people would recognise PopStars as the manufactured sham it was and STICK IT TO THE MAN &c. &c.; I wasn't exactly right, you may recall. So Hear'Say did their thing and vanished.

I was watching the Fame Academy documentary earlier- Ainslie: "I find the whole notion of celebrity pathetic and ridiculous." And there was a shot of him posing with a flower and he looked like Richey Manic or something, and then he ate the flower, which was funnier than anything Richey evah did..

But okay, I thought at age fourteen or whatever that the thing about the reality pop thing was that it would spoil whatever reality the charts had left (would reveal fake pop as fake and get people back to THE RIGHTEOUS FORCES OF INDIE ROCK ahem hem) but that didn't work. I like a lot more music now than I did then, I like music a lot more now than I did then.

Ainslie again: "A number one single, what is that? that's, you know, Mister Blobby.."

hear'Say imploded, didn't they, and one of them spoke out against the notion in interview? Liberty X are still going, and are playing with the idea- what reality pop does is open up the charts to, uh, manufactured pop stars who then must MAKE AN ISSUE OF their manufactured-ness..

Another part of this authenticity thing would I suppose have to be the current spate of rock bands - I saw the White Stripes last week and I thought Jack White was the most punchable person I've seen in aaaaaaaages, you know - and he is very obviously playing a part; so is Karen O, I suppose; the Strokes? I dunno. who are they, again? this is pop, two years is a long time. But take this as a backlash - on the part of consumers, not the bands, I doubt anyone from new york cares about this - and it's interesting that it's the biggest purveyors of image (jack white THANKED THE AUDIENCE FOR MAKING HIM NUMBER ONE) who get the prize..

What I think I'm arguing for is that there's some sort of new pop paradigm emerging. Daniel Bedingfield, Mike Skinner, and Ainslie Henderson are all in their own way on the front lines. I'm not sure what I mean here.

Bedingfield is fascinating, isn't he? thirty and unattractive and capable of making himself into a pop star. Could this have happened five years ago? he'd have fronted some crap late-britpop act, I suppose.. Not a singer-songwriter. ie. that to get himself on top of the pops was maybe a more valid self-expression. Well. What do you make of that?

Saturday, April 05, 2003

junior senior

d-d-don't stop the beat of a beating heart our luv is number one in the chart oh if you can't shake my brother if you can't shake my sister let me be your tambourine man c'mon shake me c'mon we'll be white trash YEAH

some records it feels like dancing is the only rational kind of criticism

Thursday, April 03, 2003

teen spirit/it's the 90s scene

I was going to write something about Nevermind but after spending the day listening to St. Etienne and Junior Senior I'm finding that particular record a fair bit harder to care about.

(oh well)

[sung:] I've come a long way. / [spoken:] I've come a long, long way since the day you walked into my life. [sung:] You walked into my life. / [spoken:] You smoothed out all the rough edges with your sweet love and devotion. [sung:] I was tired, / in love like a fool. / [spoken:] I was tired of living the life of a fool, I was wondering where I'd gone wrong. [sung:] But I know / it's gonna work out fine. / [spoken:] But I know it's gonna work out fine, when I see that look in your eyes. [sung:] Yeah!
(written longhand whilst actually listening to the record, hence possibly less coherent than usual)

I'm not sure I entirely get the deal with Foxbase Alpha. The only other St. Etienne I've heard is Smash The System, which some days Hug My Soul or Hobart Paving or He's On The Phone works and connects and just HITS YOU but most days doesn't. More so since I went looking for interviews and found the band themselves don't like half those songs - correction - that Stanley and Wiggs don't like half those songs. That's something important, maybe. The back cover of Foxbase Alpha has Ms. Cracknell looking not the opposite of the indie-unattainable thing but something maybe at right-angles to it, and Stanley and Wiggs behind her - she's looking at the camera, and they look like they're trying to avoid eye contact, or like they're trying to make it not-obvious they're looking at her - look left out of the loop. This might be key.

So the record. It feels sort of foreign to me; so English its foreign, I guess. "Get ready for today's countdown conundrum!": I recognised that one, and the French radio thing I get because I read an explanation of it somewhere, but there are all these bits of sound from films or radio or television or something and possibly maybe if I'd grown up twenty years earlier and been living in London in 1991 I would but I don't know what these bits of sound are supposed to MEAN

(and I'm listening to this as it finishes and oh god Like The Swallow is gorgeous and for the life of me I cannot explain why)

Cracknell's vocals. Stanley and Wiggs - I remember it being Stanley and Wiggs saying this, in some interview - Stanley and Wiggs think that Join Our Club is corny nonsense but the way its sung it seems harder to believe Cracknell does: we all want to - kiss the sky - join our club - WE'RE GOING TO TRY - and, you know, YES - you do know - right?

Cracknell's vocals on Foxbase Alpha - there's a lot of the switching between singing and talking thing, Nothing Can Stop Us Now being the best example - which I think was maybe intended as oh-look-how-corny-this-is but (THANK FUCKING GOD) doesn't come across that way at all. I've come a long way since the day you walked into my life ... I've never felt so good - I've never felt so right - nothing can stop us now - and those horns or woodwinds or synths (who cares?) are spitting in the face of everyone who wouldn't want to feel like that. or wouldn't want a record to feel like that. who'd WANT it to be ironic, whatever that means. I think.

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

nas - i can

what sets off the jollity of that piano, that children's choir - yes, a CHILDREN'S CHOIR - is that this advice, good or not, meant or not, hypocritical or not, is so horridly ill-phrased: when she leans in for hugs people hold they' breath / becuz she smells of corrosion and death: well, would you leave your kids with him? you don't have to be gangstas or hos he claims, and well, what do you make of it? you can hear in his voice an awareness of every difficulty and limitation of the other route, surely? well you CAN, can't you? aren't you LISTENING?

and that last shot of the video - I AM THE AMERICAN DREAM, his shirt says - is the most powerfully ambiguous image i've seen in music video since earth song..

god's son is about - amongst other things - trying to make sense of where a life of being a gangsta will get you - there's a curious sense of banality (like, Beckett or something) to all of nas's more regular boasts, and if what's haunting i can is the knowledge of every time the violent route was taken, the most gangsta moments are haunted by the awareness of every missed opportunity: career resumé last real nigga alive ("last thoughts on shawn carter" maybe, except, obviously, not) finishes a verse with there's more shit than this wanting to be king of new york shit and it doesn't sound like he's just talking about the past.

more thoughts on this when i've heard the whole thing, maybe.