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Friday, December 28, 2007 

The most disappointing and worst music of 2007.

2007 has turned out to be a somewhat paradoxical year where music is concerned. It has both shown signs of a revival in genuinely exciting, increasingly experimental indie-rock - Battles and Foals, for example - while "dance" music, derided as dead just a couple of years ago has re-emerged Lazarus like, energized by the likes of Justice, Digitalism, Simian Mobile Disco and Soulwax, with the Kitsune and Ed Banger labels leading the field.

Conversely, 2007 has also seen the musical apocalypse accelerating, such has been the success of so many either unbearably average or completely shit bands, with the View and Reverend and the Makers, both so breathtakingly, mind numbingly dull and insipid, careering up the charts, while Jam rip-offs the Enemy have been similarly bewilderingly welcomed. The shadow of the Libertines, the most overrated band since Nirvana, who released a best-of this year despite only producing two albums, still hangs heavy over the "indie" scene, if you can now perhaps call the genre of music which seems to be the opiate of teenagers across the country in any way independent.

Something is also seriously rotten at the very core of music when an album of cover versions of songs only released in the last two or so years is the 4th biggest selling of the year. Quite why anyone would want to hear Oh My God by the Kaiser Chiefs as much as once more, let alone covered by Lily fucking Allen, would pose an unanswerable conundrum to even Wittgenstein. Granted, Amy Winehouse's cover of the Zutons' Valerie isn't too bad, but one song does not an album make. Never before also has the money grubbing of formerly big bands or groups reforming been so apparent or shallow: Take That's return encouraging both the Spice Girls and All Saints to reform, even though no one wanted either. The only two bands that anyone would really like to see back together again - Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, both of whom have played one-off live shows in the last few years - are so riven with their petty hatreds that comeback tours are inconceivable.

Here then is both the most disappointing and very worst of 2007 in music.


The Coral - Roots and Echoes

Bursting through in 2002, the Coral showed signs of being the possibly greatest band to emerge from Liverpool since the La's, while some even went as far as imagining that their brilliant mixture of Captain Beefheart style psychedelica, folk and peerless indie-pop was comparable with a 21st century Beatles. Their self-titled debut is undoubtedly one of the records of the decade - so head and shoulders above everything else that when it didn't win the Mercury music prize it seemed fitting, as so many other great albums failed to win to what are now viewed as vastly inferior works. The follow-up, Magic and Medicine, while not a patch on the debut, was by no means bad; and ignoring the mini-album Nightfreak and the Sons of Becker, the Invisible Invasion was also a decent effort. Roots and Echoes however showcases either a band in terminal decline or one simply not trying - most of the tracks are lifeless, almost parodied images of their first attempts. The energy which was synonymous with the debut had completely decayed, and while the singles, Who's Gonna Find Me and Jacqueline are reminiscent of previous triumphs like In the Morning and Leizah, the rest is limp and pedestrian.

The reasons for the decline, which vary from acrimony between members of the group who had been friends since childhood to the copious amounts of drugs which they have infamously consumed, none still really explain why a group which oozed vitality has come so apparently far from their roots. Unlike other bands that stop innovating and ruin their best material as a result by keeping going, you have to hope the Coral split rather than take the Oasis route.


VA - Radio 1 Established 1967

How better then to celebrate 40 years of the greatest radio station on earth than to get today's best bands to cover songs from over the entire 40 years' of its existence? What could possibly go wrong?

From the Kaiser Chiefs, who only have one song and have recorded it now around 30 times, who cover the very first song played on Radio 1, The Move's Flowers in the Rain, the whole 2cd set doesn't just stink, it's the equivalent of rotten potatoes, onions and decomposing flesh all mixed together and then thrown at the Fratellis for so much as daring to cover All Along the Watchtower. The irony of covering a cover of a cover, in that they attempt to perform Jimi Hendrix's version, and fail in such a way that you truly wish they had never set eyes on a guitar is quite obviously completely lost on a band that also only have one song and it's one that is chanted on football terraces, a usually sign of creating a monster. Someone must have been laughing in a similar way when Razorlight were asked to cover Englishman in New York - a total twat singing a song written by a total twat. While few of the songs are as offensive as the above examples, there's something truly staggering about how the View were either asked or decided to cover Don't Look Back Into the Sun by the Libertines - that'll be a band that are an exact clone of them except even worse and whose best known song is based around how the singer has been wearing the same jeans for 4 days going completely through the motions.

Surely if you're going to do a cover version you might as well do something almost interesting with it - and most of the bands here that will have been completely forgotten in another 40 years don't even bother trying. It's an indictment of the vast majority of so-called "indie" bands featured that it's Girls Aloud doing Teenage Dirtbag and Corrine Bailey-Rae producing an inspired version of Steady As She Goes that come out with the most credit from the teeth-pullingly painful 2 hours plus length.


Mika - Life in Cartoon Motion

Just where do some of these people come from? Mika emerged from absolutely nowhere, with no hype, no MySpace fame, no apparent huge PR push to blanket radio airplay and to be one of the biggest selling artists of the year. If even a slight, tiny amount of that success was warranted, you might just accept it; as it is, with Mika being the bastard spawn of the Scissor Sisters and the Bee Gees, squealing like Aled Jones before his balls dropped, and dumping such pure shit on our heads as "Big Girls (You Are Beautiful)", a cynical ploy if there ever was one, you're inclined to demand to know where he was prior to the beginning of this year. Is he illegal? Is he an alien? Is he Satan himself? After suffering him, we deserve to be told.


Scouting for Girls - Scouting for Girls (Although, primarily, She's So Lovely)

Unlike with Mika, we do know where Scouting for Girls came from: namely, the wilds of MySpace. We were sold the internet as being great for learning, for removing the hierarchical access to knowledge which the privileged had exercised for decades. In practice, it's unleashed a cavalcade of hardcore pornography, allowed office workers to poke each other electronically on Facebook, let nerds have arguments in their own bedrooms about whether an image can be legally used or not on Wikipedia, and given the great unwashed access to all the terrible bands that previously would never have been noticed and quite rightly never got anywhere. Last year MySpace gave us the delights of Sandi Thom and Lily Allen; this year, Scouting for Girls were discovered. I could now spout some further venom about how SfG are the worst group to have ever decided that they could play instruments, or I could just paste the lyrics to She's So Lovely:

I love the way she fills her clothes
she looks just like them girls in Vogue
I love the way she plays it cool
I think that she is beautiful

She's so lovely (7x)

She's pretty
a fitty
she's got a boyfriend though
and that's a pity

She's flirty
turned thirty
aint that the age a girl gets really dirty

I don't know (3x)
how we'll make it through this
(3x)

I don't know (3x)

I love the way she bites her lip
I love the way she shakes her hips
I love the way she makes me drool
I think that you are beautiful

She's so lovely (7x)

A stunner
I wonder
was she this fit
when she was 10 years younger?
come see me, discretely
she said she's got a trick or two
to teach me

I don't know (3x)
how we'll make it through this
(3x)

I don't know (3x)

I think that you are lovely (7x)
I think that you are beautiful

She's so lovely (7x)

I don't know (3x)
how we'll make it through this
(5x)

I don't know (3x)

Oh oh oh oh...



Kate Nash - Made of Bricks

Admit it: you knew this was coming. There are very, very few music artists that manage to put me in such a state of apoplexy that I consider it would be good therapy to go to one of their gigs and throw rotten fruit/bottles filled with piss/pint glasses/house bricks/grenades at them. Sandi Thom, with her conflation of punks and hippies was one. Kate Nash is another.

Unlike Mika, you can at least see why Nash has been successful. After Lily Allen's emergence last year, a whole legion of "mini-Allens" were identified who performed much the same interminable "aren't I street" act, all who had previous asshole boyfriends that they wrote songs about. Unlike with Allen however, who despite her famous father did have something slightly genuine about her, Nash was a middle-class chancer who'd been to the same drama school as the Kooks had. At least the Kooks didn't pretend to be anything other than middle-class kids who could come up with a half-decent melody; Nash, however, portrayed herself as anything but, calling herself a "chav" and reacting angrily to accusations she was anything other than "4 real". Again, this could have been excused if like Allen her songs were at least bouncy: my main complaint about Allen was her terrible lyrics. Nash however manages to combine being completely phony with dull as dishwater music, a fake accent and, you guessed it, terrible lyrics. The very worst of her output, from her biggest hit Foundations:

You said I must eat so many lemons
'cause i am so bitter.
I said
"I'd rather be with your friends mate 'cause they are much fitter."

Except, in Nash's patois, it isn't bitt-er and fitt-er; it's bitt-ah and fitt-ah. Ignoring that lemons aren't bitter, they're sour, which is a common misconception, there can be few lines that sum up the emptiness of teenage life so effectively: we don't care about it when it happens to our friends, and we sure as fuck don't want to hear about it in song form. She even sings

Oh, my gosh, I cannot be bothered with this

exactly like Catherine Tate's Lauren, and she doesn't seem to be paying homage.

Despite all this, the majority of the critics still didn't see through her, apart from the usual snobs on the internet review sites. The Grauniad's Alexis Petridis was about the only one who gave it a sour, sorry, I mean bitt-ah, review. Nash even went so far as to claim that the follow-up single Mouthwash was err, about the Iraq war:

“With ‘Mouthwash’ I read this play called Guardians about a female soldier who was pictured torturing Iraqis,” Nash explained to DiS.

“There’s a monologue from her and the one thing she says she couldn’t get out of her head was these women buy toothpaste, like they’re in a totally different world but they’re the same as her.

Perhaps not as ridiculous as some might first think, Nash explained:

“When you strip away everything from someone you have the same basic needs like brushing your teeth so this was saying don’t judge me... it’s a bit of a protest song really.”

The lyrics to which were:

This is my face, covered in freckles with an occasional spot and some veins.
This is my body, covered in skin, and not all of it you can see
And, this, is my mind, it goes over and over the same old lines
And, this, is my brain, it's torturous analytical thoughts make me go insane

And I use mouthwash
Sometimes I floss
I got a family
And I drink lots of tea

I've got nostalgic don't know
I've got familar faces
I've got a mixed-up memory
And I've got favourite places

And I'm sitting at home on a Friday night (2x)
And I'm sitting at home on a Friday night and I hope everything's going to be alright (2x)

This is my face, I've got a thousand opinions and not the time to explain
And this is my body, and no matter how you try and disable it, I'll still be
here
And, this, is my mind, and although you try to infringe you cannot confine
And, this, is my brain, and even if you try and hold me back there's nothing
that you can gain

Because I use mouthwash
Sometimes I floss
I got a family
And I drink lots of tea

I've got nostalgic don't know
I've got familar faces
I've got a mixed-up memory
And I've got favourite places

And I'm sitting at home on a Friday night (2x)
And I'm sitting at home on a Friday night and I hope everything's going to be alright (2x)

You can definitely see where she was coming from. This isn't to even mention other songs on her album, such as Dickhead:

Why you being a dickhead for?
Stop being a dickhead
Why you being a dickhead for?
You're just fucking up situations

Why you being a dickhead for?
Stop being a dickhead
Why you being a dickhead for?
You're just fucking up situations

or We Get On:

Saturday night
I watched channel five
I particularly liked CSI


If there was one person who you wouldn't shed any tears over if they were to be caught up in a suicide bombing, Ms Nash would be it.

To conclude with the words of John Brainlove:
I think the Iraq War was actually influenced by Kate Nash because she's so fucking brain splittingly awful in every possible way that she brings out the human genocidal impulse.

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I whole-heartedly agree about the Coral.

Back in 2002 they were a fantastic band - as shown by how varied their debut album is.

Since then they seemed to have gone down the dad-rock route. Ugh.

I have to say that I never really understood what the big deal was with The Coral. There were one of many, many bands at the time that churned out cod-60s psychedelia, all of which was crap. In fact for me they were the early 2000s equivalent of say, Razorlight. But then I am an Insufferable Music Snob!

And Kate Nash? My word. Sometimes there aren't enough shovels in the world. Mostly because I've bent them all smacking Mika repeatedly in his tiny gurning face. It's immensely stressful carrying around this much hatred for so many people. One thing you could say in Sandie Thom's favour is that she at least seems to have fucked right off for the time being.
And one positive aspect of all this bile is that I have developed almost cat-like reflexes from having to turn the tv over/radio off every time Mark Oxygen Thief Ronson appears in case I suffer a fatal aneurysm, which is a very real possibility. Myspace certainly has a lot to answer for.

Oh, the Coral have never ever been as obnoxious as Razorlight. Their debut was superb, but it's been downhill from there. It's a bad sign that they appear to have started hanging out with the Gallagher brothers, having recorded the last album in their studio I think.

I find it funny that Sonofajoiner thinks that Razorlight and The Coral seemingly come from two different time zones...

FYI I saw and owned music by both bands back in 2002, the year the coral's debut was released, incidentally. They weren't the "early 00s equivilent" of anyone.

I agree though...I was well disappointed by the latest coral album...so much so i havent managed to listen to it in one go. I thought the debut was a 10/10 record, one of the best this decade. i think 'the invisible invasion' will be seen as their next best. although it got a luke warm reception initially, i think at least half of it is great, much more interesting than magic and medicine. overall, theyre a great band who've always threatened to become boring very quickly...seems like theyve finally managed it, sadly. their guitarist has just left too, and in my opinion he was the most talented british guitarist since john squire.

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