What. The. Fuck? - dedicated to honest and complete bafflement in every possible direction.
There could only be one name under this, and it is Britney Spears, for her cover of Bobby Brown's 'My Prerogative'. As surreal cover versions go, this is pretty damned amazing - and for added WTF? value she's taken one of the most irritating songs of the last twenty years and, true to her already near-flawless form, made it sound sordid and incredibly good. As she reveals that everybody's talkin' all this stuff about her, she writhes and flirts and grinds her way around a hotel in a way that suggests that the stuff they're talkin' is probably completely true, even if it involves camels and an apple corer...
No award would be complete without a runner-up, though, and the consolation prize - the Simon Le Bon Award for most bizarre lyrics, if you will - goes to Robbie Williams for his single 'Radio'. For your delectation, the lyrics that won him this award are here. "I’m searching for something beyond my understanding" - well, that explains it then. It is, however, an excellent song in every possible way; well done, Robbie, after 'Swing When You're Winning' I thought I was going to be able to loathe you for eternity. But it was not to be.
Best Thing So Far This Month
This has to be Delays and their utterly stunning song 'Lost In A Melody'. It is absolutely gorgeous, sounding like The Music at their best with added glitter from an irresistable synthesiser line. Out next month, it's much more upbeat and compelling than anything off 'Faded Seaside Glamour' and I hope they can catch the wave of dancefloor indie that's building at the moment, because they deserve success for this.
There is another song I want to mention here - a song that should be called 'All Dressed Up And Ready To Go' but that is, as yet, untraceable. It is fantastic dirty besuited American (probably) indie and I will do my very best to get hold of more information about it soon. I'll keep you posted.
Taking Me Entirely By Surprise
Dirty Vegas are a great band. We knew this - they were responsible for the powerfully moving dance hit 'Days Go By' a couple of years ago - but they've been pretty quiet since then, and so it was with surprised joy that I heard their new single, 'Walk Into The Sun'. It sounds like someone has given New Order some drugs that made them very, very happy, in a delicate, look-at-the-sunlight-through-the-clouds kind of way, and it's absolutely beautiful. The video, also, is mesmerising (and available here). Wonderful stuff.
The other band I'd like to mention here is, tragically, Rooster. They were godawful on Top Of The Pops and I dismissed them from my mind as yet another band trying to be Reef (why would anyone want to be Reef, for god's sake?) but having heard the recording of their single 'Come Get Some' I suspect they just have problems playing live - it's really quite good, in a low-down, dusty denim sort of way. If I were really cruel I could say "Listen for it, coming your way on a chewing-gum advert soon". But I'm not, so I won't. :)
Nice Video, Shame About The Song
Hands-down winners here are Good Charlotte, the loveable American punk
Coming second due to actually having a half-decent song - because that's just the way I say this works - are Auf Der Maur with new single 'Taste You'. Auf Der Maur are the band formed by the former bassist from Hole (and, I think, briefly the Smashing Pumpkins) and their first single was the unbelievably good 'Followed The Waves'; I've heard nothing since and was looking forward to 'Taste You', but I should have known better. Melissa Auf Der Maur now knows she can get away with whatever she likes - she survived Courtney Love, it gives you that kind of freedom - and so she's written an uneven, grating song...in French. Mostly. It's not *bad* as such, but it's certainly not good. The video, however, is a wondrous flickery French Romantic chiffon and satin paradise and should be watched by pretty much everyone.
I pause here to insert a companion piece to the above - Nice Song, Shame About The, Er, Song - which has been created especially for Interpol for the toweringly intellectual 'Slow Hands'. The lyrics are, depending on your point of view, appallingly pretentious or wonderfully pretentious, but alas, all the creative energy went into writing those, and the music of the song is left to wander up and down three notes accompanied by a loud and jerky guitar. Being nice like I am I've found the lyrics for you - don't bother listening to the song, just lay back and revel in the beauty of lyrics like "I submit my incentive is romance - I watched the pole dance of the stars...we rejoice because the hurting is so painless from the distance of passing cars". Marvellous.
You know how it is. The song you know you shouldn't like, or the band that you know are awful middle-of-the-road American drivel but you can't help being moved by. This month it's Taking Back Sunday. I don't even know which song of theirs I was listening to, but they moved me to tears - the singer's voice held so much honest emotion (rather than the forced pain of, say, Adema or Hoobastank) and the music was, well, kind of inoffensive, but lovely with it. I should like to hear more.
And what else? I'm going to commit heresy here and talk about The Prodigy and their single 'Girls'. I know it's not what the Prodigy are supposed to be about. I know it's not good in a way that they've ever been good before. But I think it's brilliant; I just think it's brilliant Electroclash. What on earth has led the Prodigy to move in an Electroclash direction I can't for a moment imagine, but if that's the way they want to go they'll get no complaints from me. 'Girls' is so powerful, like a woman in army uniform and high heeled boots and perfect hot-pink lipstick ramming a pile-driver through your chest. And I for one enjoy that kind of thing.
Apparently, I Like Female Vocalists Now
...but only if they're singing in metal bands. This month particular joy has come from the new Cradle Of Filth single 'Nymphetamine'. True to form it is a) overblown, b) very silly, c) actually rather good and d) aided and abetted by a woman singing the only comprehensible lyrics. The video is lots of fun too, with standard snow, goth lesbian action and Dani Filth standing on a box - looking a bit guilty for having done away with quite so many pies, actually.
But the real eye-opener for me has been Nightwish, whose single 'Nemo' has had me in tears. I won't go on about them because I'd imagine most of you know about them already, but if anyone could suggest anything else which has extravagant guitars and soaring female vocals (if anyone mentions Evanescence I'll shoot them) I'd be much obliged. Especially if they can track down the other, similarly beautiful song I heard yesterday - a video with barn owls and white horses and a woman in white singing "she goes on her way". Google is cruel and will not help me.
You Are Not Who You Think You Are
Has anyone heard The Ordinary Boys yet? I've seen their name touted around as being proper, down-to-earth British lad music, but I've just heard their song 'Seaside' and I must say I hadn't realised that the British lad they had in mind was Morrissey. For god's sake, You Are Not Morrissey! Morrissey is hardly even Morrissey any more! And it is not up to you to take his place. Please, please find your own sound. Seriously, they could be great in all the ways they've been proclaimed to be. I wonder if forcibly ramming a bunch of gladioli up the singer's backside would make him realise that perhaps being Morrissey isn't the best thing in the world after all...
And I know I mentioned Kasabian last time, but while I wasn't looking they've become even more incredibly like the Stone Roses than they were before. It's infuriating, because now that I've had a chance to listen to them properly I can tell that they could be really good, but at the moment they're only as good as the limitations of their influences will allow. Break free! Ian Brown is not where music begins and ends! Let fly your soaring Eastern-spirited indie-rock! It'll do you good, I promise you.
Thou Shalt Not Cover Thy Neighbour's Ox
Oh, Ronan. When are you going to stop this ill-advised foray into country music covers? Why, why must you choose the most implausibly sickly and terrible things to grace with your honestly rather lovely voice? 'I Hope You Dance' was terrible - really, staggeringly awful - the first time it came round, and you've taken out the dance beat - the only thing that ever made it listenable - and held forth with it like it's the most meaningful thing in the world. And the video! Little children dancing around in outdated clothes! You really should know better.
Speaking of people who should know better, I'm also disappointed in Rachel Stevens, whose run of absolutely fantastic pop singles has just ended gracelessly in a horribly limp cover of that dreadful disco hit 'More More More'. She avoids singing most of the high notes and refuses to give it anything remotely resembling human emotion, reflected in the video which is a miserable virtual reality dancefloor with overchoreographed people half-heartedly getting down to a song they probably hate because it's one of their mums' favourites. Just ghastly, and such a shame after the brilliance of 'Some Girls'. Sigh.
Oh, For Christ's Sake
The worst thing I've heard this month? Duncan from Blue teaming up with Keedie (potentially worse than Charlotte Fucking Church) to sing (and release as a single! God help us!) 'I Believe My Heart' from the new Andrew Lloyd Webber musical The Woman In White, showcasing perfectly in just a couple of minutes why the show has had such bad reviews. It is - it really is - so hugely, and fundamentally pointlessly bad that I can't quite think of what to say about it. Duncan from Blue, with an appalling brainless classical singer, singing an Andrew Lloyd Webber song, in a video in which they prance around in formalwear in caves. I can't believe how awful it is, even just as a concept. The reality is much more horrible.
Go on, listen to it, I dare you. :)
I promise I'll stop doing this if you ask. ~grin~