KID SHIRT

Sunday, November 14, 2004

POP ROUND-UP

Some confessions: I really (really) like "Walkie-Talkie Man"...dumb, bubblegum pop-punk but really great in a Dickies kinda way. And the video is boss, with the woollen guitars, amps and mixing-desks, and the giant hand that rips a band-member in two so that his woollen guts spill out.

The new Blue single's not bad either (sound of panic-stricken readers shrieking en masse: "Arrrrgh! Does not compute! Does not compute!"). Now just calm down the lot of you and take a deep breath...

Not sure what it reminds me of: "Gangsta's Paradise" maybe? Dunno. I like that stiff-sounding (but slightly unsettling) minor-chord string progression; with a bit more thought on the production/programming front this could've been a really futuristic-sounding record, but their management are obviously trying to gently manoeuvre the fans towards a 'farewell' tour/greatest hits LP/final payday package, not provoke a mass stampede for the fire-exit, so they've reined it in to just the right side of Pop. The lyrics are portentious, shallow and contrived (but in a good way)...that's portentious, not pretentious (but they're shaving it bloody close and that's part of the fun); it's got exactly the right amount of mock 'Depth' and the band's delivery is totally impeccable. I've not really had much time for Blue prior to this, but they're really come thru this time: their performance reminds me a little of Brad Pitt or Keanu, who can't act for toffee, but when a bland, hollowed-out cypher of a character is required then they fit the role as perfectly as a hand-stitched glove. Blue bring exactly the right amount of Flattened Disinterest to this song, a subtractive matt-sheen of artificiality that seems to bend light or gravity or emotions or something...and this has the curious effect of actually adding pathos (or something that smells a lot like it) to the performance. It's all very odd, and slightly disturbing: the band achieves its intended effect, but completely by mistake. It's difficult thing to describe, but it's like something has softened and collapsed at the core of the group; a personality cave-in and this creates a sense of hightened drama about an otherwise toss song.

Finally: You don't lightly fuck around with "Boys, Boys, Boys" by Sabrina; as Eighties Euro-NRG-Pop goes, it's pretty much perfect (apart from the BMP-count, which is low by today's standards). Still, pleased to report that The Cheeky Girls have done it proud. A pointless cover-version of a pointless song, certainly, but one that brings a pang of palpitating pleasure to my world-weary old ticker, and isn't that the main reason why we love music (and life) so much?

With The Cheeky Girls, it's their voices, their hesitent eurobrit pronounciation, that does it for me every time; they bring a smidge of east european exotica to the cheesiest of choons. They're too skinny; too anorexic and androgenous to be physically sexy (though some weird, young people undoubtedly disagree), but, forcibly detached from their withering, malnourished bodies, their accents become strangely arousing in the same way as Nina's when she slurs the phrase "Jet Fie-tuhhrs" on the English version of "99 Red Ballons". Maybe they should consider a career in Disembodied Phone Sex (but with a generic Euro-Pop backdrop)? Or am I just being kinky here?