Posts Tagged ‘noughties’

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[1] LCD Soundsystem, ‘All My Friends’

August 2, 2010

All My Friends

Junior says: “I used to give this one [thumbs-up], but now I give it two,” which is the point, really. ‘All My Friends’ improves with age, as do LCD Soundsystem, as does James Murphy, as do we all, even if it feels as if all that youthful vigour is slipping away along with our cool and our relevance in this cultural tumult. None of that periphery matters in the end, none of those mistakes, none of those false friends, and nor does it amount to a hill of beans if a plan comes apart or you’ve worn away your edge. Because in the end you’ve made it, and you can celebrate that with the other survivors.

‘All My Friends’ is brushed with regret, but its pace and build is thoroughly rousing. From the stabbed pianos – which immediately launch Junior into a pencil-straight staccato dance – to the warm, coaxing bass to the headlong, delirious clatter as it hits full stride, this is an anthem for pelting towards 40 at full speed. Bring it on. For once Murphy escapes his influences, sublime as they are (“Heroes”, ‘Once In A Lifetime’, yeah, ‘Love Vigilantes), because this is absolutely natural, no slavish imitation. As a piece of music it shares qualities as insubstantial as mood. As a piece of poetry it has its own heart.

Best bit: At each peak, another layer is added. Just when you think you’ve got it, it moves on and you’re left holding the first 10 years.


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[2] Girls Aloud, ‘Biology’

July 30, 2010

Biology

Of course, ‘Biology’ ruined Girls Aloud for me. The magpie brilliance of this record, chucking away choruses like confetti, switching devilishly between top-speed blues and sleek pop, it all makes for a dense confection that drips with kaleidoscopic flavour, a new taste every time you try it. Little wonder all their sterling singles in the five years since can’t hold a candle. Only ‘The Promise’ comes close, repeating some of those epic tricks with one-use choruses, but its patina of conventionality keeps it in tighter check. ‘Biology’ has no yellow belly.

“The way that we talk/The way that we walk”. How much of this is down to the girls themselves? Is ‘Biology”s strength just a matter of production and composition, with showroom dummies fronting the package? I like to think of Girls Aloud as Xenomania’s muses, their sass, attitude and talent for inhabiting a song encouraging the machine to reach ever higher. After all, if this kind of thing can be knocked off by any production team worth its salt, The Saturdays would be turning out pop alchemy too.

Junior says: “I love Girls Aloud,” with no clues, profoundly reflecting the number of times we’ve played this little gem. She then threw herself around the room for the entire song, expressing her boundless regard for the ‘Aloud.

Best bit: So many to choose from, but let’s go with “We give it up, and then they take it away…” It feels like a chorus. It never comes back.


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[3] Daft Punk, ‘One More Time’

July 29, 2010

One More Time

It’s Da Punk again, this time haring back with a filter disco classic that took everything Thomas Bangalter had learned from Stardust and made it harder, better, stronger, more soulful. Romanthony brings the testifying, grunting and working through an audacious, elongated breakdown that keeps your hands in the air until the blood drains out of them. Luckily, it’s all gone to your feet just in time for the final dance-off.

Junior says: “Look at my legs.” She’s crossing them and uncrossing them in time, alternating the leading leg. Later, she picks up the thread of the lyric and sings along to the big breakdown.

Best bit: That endless stop. It ought to banjax the song’s impetus but somehow Romanthony’s urgent vocal sustains a pace that isn’t even there. It’s a beautiful illusion.


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[4] Beyoncé featuring Jay-Z, ‘Crazy In Love’

July 28, 2010

Crazy In Love

When the Lord was handing out booty, Beyoncé asked for hers to come ready-slapped. It still reverberates to this day. Like that booty, ‘Crazy In Love’ shakes in all the right places, from fearsome horny fanfare to splashy drum fills, an epicentre of deep R&B sass, the perfect first rumble for that coming-of-age solo career. Let’s ignore the Austin Powers single ‘Work It Out’.

Although that was good too.

Junior says:
“Everything sounds great and beautiful and I like her name.” She says things with so much more economy. Because everything does sound great – even Jay-Z’s typically leadfooted show – and a just-reined-in-enough B sounds beautiful. Cool name as well.

Best bit: Take-no-prisoners intro. No messing, no fear.


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[5] Daft Punk, ‘Digital Love’

July 27, 2010

Digital Love

Everyone says this sounds like Buggles, and I think that’s because it does. Tune in each day for more searing analysis.

Daft Punk have a taste for the kitsch, but these machine dreams feel so genuine that the gorgeous whole transcends the jokey means. As the treble gets turned up at the beginning, thrills mount. Robot funk is submerged in electronic wash, a murky drift that’s patted down by the shrill verse before bass bounds in and sweeps it clear. From then on, just bask in ludicrous ‘guitar’ shapes and vocoder taken to nauseous extremes, but most of all in a pop song sweet as sugar.

Junior says: “He sounds sad.” I hadn’t thought of that, but there’s a touch of the Paranoid Android. Still, I think it’s about hope. Junior soon got over the melancholy and undulated back and forth, the way she deftly moves her hula hoop.

Best bit: The panriffic ‘guitar’ solo.


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[6] Missy Elliott, ‘Get Ur Freak On’

July 26, 2010

Get Ur Freak On

Here’s something we prepared earlier:

What makes ‘Get Ur Freak On’ so great? Is it the much-imitated-but-then-truly-original bhangra shake turning hip hop inside out? Is it Timbaland’s beats cutting up sharp enough to slice through Run-D.M.C.’s gold chains? Is it the punctuating “holla”s that stop the record stone dead to let you catch a breather before the nagging resumes at twice the power? Is it hindsight – or even prescience – that Missy and Timbaland have reached their creative peak here and all that’s left are old skool retreads and a steady stream of career revivals for Furtado, Ciccone and whoever’s next? Is it the “hach-TOO” flying in your face? Is it the pie-eyed mix of vocal tics and screams rubbing up against punishing techno twangs that makes you think you’ve stepped into some sci-fi jungle nightmare, shortly before you realise you actually have?

Yes.

Junior says: “I need more fingers.” She means thumbs; two thumbs up isn’t enough for this, apparently. It is also “good”.

Best bits: “IN YOUR FACE.” Although it’s one big good bit of pop culture, so picking a particular moment might be slightly, erm, reductive.


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[7] Kanye West featuring Jamie Foxx, ‘Gold Digger’

July 23, 2010

Gold Digger

Is Kanye a dick? Let’s look at the evidence: spoiling poor Taylor Swift’s big moment; giving airtime to the horrific Mr Hudson; the gauche title of Diamonds From Sierra Leone, disguising its content; banging on for 10 whole minutes about his record deal on The College Dropout; an inappropriate – but, yeah, funny – takedown of George W. Bush… well, it’s small beans, isn’t it? In the pro column are great tunes and generous sprinkles of wit. In context, his flow is as good as it needs to be.

On ‘Gold Digger’ he deserves his moment for the trickster’s gambit of getting Jamie Foxx to reprise his Ray Charles, legitimising the sample and giving him a fly mate for the video. And what a video – it’s utterly made by Kanye’s jerky throw-your-torso-back show-off dance, stamping surplus cool on an already deeply funky record. ‘Gold Digger”s lyric is amusing, but to call it uncharitable would be praising it with faint damnation. Still, go on, Kanye, you can have this one.

Junior says: “I like your dance.” I nicked it off Mr West. Somehow I look sillier. She tries it too, and dammit if she doesn’t get her groove on with way smoother coordination than me.

Best bit: “WE WANT PRE-NUP!” Yeah.


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[8] Los Campesinos!, ‘You! Me! Dancing!’

July 22, 2010

You! Me! Dancing! in 2007

It’s not really my bag, but I’ve loved this ever since I had to review it for Orange Music (eat your heart out, NME). All of Los Campesinos!’s songs are wordy, complicated, it’s just this is where lyric and tune come together to make something truly satisfying – touching, even. Of COURSE they “can’t dance a single step”, they’re indie kids! They flail about with their thumbs through the cuffs of their outsized jumpers. And boy are they indie kids; namechecking Twisted By Design, scoffing at the very idea of “dance heroes”, larking about in fountains at the end of the night. It’s twee, it’s niche, it just works.

To be honest, you probably wouldn’t tire of punching Gareth Campesinos!, but let’s not incite violence. Maybe a prod in the chest.

Junior says: Nothing, just lets it hurtle by. Junior’s mum asks, “This is a bit high, isn’t it?” Yeah, well.

Best bit: Backing vocals under “It’s sad that you think that we’re all just scenesters…”


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[9] R Kelly, ‘Ignition (Remix)’

July 21, 2010

Ignition

For the purposes of this blog picture, we’ll take “ignition” to signify the means by which one starts up one’s chosen mode of transport. After all, R Kelly wouldn’t want us to get bogged down in innuendo now, would he? Nor extended metaphor. Still an A-grade nutpiece, smoothly does it here, as R gives R&B slow jamz a good name. ‘Ignition’ sparkles, lithe and lewd – if “not trying to be rude” – boasting not an ounce of fat as it sticks around just long enough to leave you in the hotel lobby, weighing up your options.

Junior says: “It doesn’t make sense!” No doubt it will one day. Sort of.

Best bit: “Bounce bounce bounce bounce bounce…”


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[10] Sugababes, ‘Freak Like Me’

July 20, 2010

Freak Like Me

A cover of a mash-up. Of all the lazy, half-arsed singles… Good though innit? Sugababes were flunking hard after the diminishing chart positions of a host of sterling singles from their debut, then Siobhan Donaghy’s “I’m just popping out for a bit” act and the final indignity of having to co-opt a failed Atomic Kitten – but 80s geek Richard X slouched in to rescue them, and how. ‘Freak Like Me’ wrings some sexiness from the sullen minxes and its pummelling production keeps it young, fresh and new.

Junior says:
“I know this song so I don’t have to say anything about it.” I’m getting the feeling Jukebox Junior is reaching a natural hiatus. Perhaps in nine songs’ time. On the upside, Junior confessed to being a bit of a fan of the Sugababes’ career-changer.

Best bit: The second wiggly Star Trekky sound effect leading to full-force bass blast.


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