[13] Shura, ‘What’s It Gonna Be?’

shura-2016

This song; Grimes at her softest; that track I can’t remember the name of right now on the recent Ellie Goulding album – it’s a strain of tick-tocking, quivering, ultra-catchy electropop I find instantly loveable. Obviously it’s not hard to love the improbably great tunes that Shura and the rest fill that template with, but I’ve got an unusually low guard here. Possibly comes from having early Depeche Mode take me by the hand and guide me through my pop awakening. Or something less sinister and seedy than that.

Junior says she knows this and likes it, adding to the weight of forensic critique we tend to bring here. J2 is singing it all, lyric sponge that she is. J3 says, “I’m sure-a I know this,” revealing a hitherto untapped talent for tabloid headlines. A hit for Shura! That’d be nice.

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[5] CHVRCHES, ‘Clearest Blue’

chvrches-15

Junior’s mum is singing Blondie’s ‘Union City Blue’, the rest of us (and CHVRCHES) are bashing out the riff to Depeche Mode’s ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’. Genius steals. OK, genius lightly reappropriates and misses out a note.

Junior herself is surprised this is so high because it’s “one of those songs you don’t hear much”. This, in turn, is mainly because Junior only listens to Kiss. I blame George Ergatoudis.

[3] The Human League, ‘Don’t You Want Me’

The Human League

As a chart statistician (hobby), I always felt a bit sorry for ‘Don’t You Want Me’, which comfortably outsold the bestselling singles of both 1981 and 1982 but – because it did its business over the turn of the year – appeared in neither year-end sales chart.

Maybe that’s just me.

It’s an exciting record for other reasons too, of course: a whopping great hit that everyone knows the (possibly vaguely real-life?) words to; that forboding synth riff with the rubbish arpeggio at the end; a rare meeting of flat vocals from both protagonists; being the most obvious hit yet the fourth single to be released from the stupendous Dare. Oh, and my two piano party pieces are the refrains from this and Depeche Mode’s ‘Love In Itself.2’. I imagine they’re yours too.

Juniors 1 and 2 didn’t give two hoots about the music this morning, preferring to play with their baby dolls. Hmmm. Junior 2 wanted 1’s baby. Hmmm. So she did “want her baby”. Hmmm.

Ohhhhh-oh-oh-oh:

[6] Depeche Mode, ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’

Depeche Mode

Junior’s searing assessment of Vince Clarke’s last Depeche Mode hurrah was “Baaa” – which at least makes the sentence rhyme. I pressed further, asking if she actually liked it, and was hit with the hammer blow: “No. I like The Beatles and Girls Aloud.” So we’re closing the blog.

Before I go, I’ll make some grand claims about this irrepressible little number being the Essex root of Detroit techno, and mention how Vince left the band after penning it because he didn’t like the direction they were headed in. Presumably he’d seen Martin Gore’s leather skirt. As he wavered at the door he wondered if they’d like to record his new tune ‘Only You’, but – for better or worse – we were spared Dave Gahan attempting to emote on us. It would’ve been funny at least.

Dear me: I almost forgot The Saturdays, when the poor girls have got at least another couple of months in the public conscious. It’s a breathtakingly faithful cover, somehow tinnier than the original and all for good causes. Will that do?

Slippin’ and slidin’:

[4] LCD Soundsystem, ‘Someone Great’

LCD Soundsystem, ‘Someone Great’

Met with gentle swaying from Junior, James Murphy’s song of profound loss is warm in its stark simplicity. It’s the aching heart of a quite brilliant album – Sound Of Silver – an album that engages the feet and the emotions, a remarkable forward step from the admittedly fine new-waveisms and punk funk of their debut.
 
Built on burbling, prodded keyboards reminiscent of early exercises by Depeche Mode and The Human League and propelled by a hopscotching beat, ‘Someone Great’ tells an unadorned tale of the death – we assume – of a beloved friend. It is powerful in its lack of histrionics, but anguish seeps through in the final chorus. Tough but beautiful.
 
The sentiments won’t reach Junior, but she dances with care and sticks around for most of its six-plus minutes. As it fades, she asks me to “put the girl on”. And so to No.3.

[2] Yazoo, ‘Only You’

More humanity in machines. Even Alf’s nasal, masculine drone finds some emotion, tripping over itself in the later lines, cracking and interrupting itself. It’s a great performance; she finds more rhythm in her tone as the song goes on and Vince ups the tempo as all the feeling comes pouring out. Gives Junior’s old dad a bit of, erm, hayfever.

The girl herself raises her arms in the air and sways them from side to side. This is a reaction I haven’t seen, more typical of Rod Stewart fan during ‘Sailing’ or a Foreigner fan during, well, anything. Junior’s calling ‘Only You’ a soft rock ballad. Hmm. Swap the synths for power chords, and what have you got?

Right. Depeche Mode, Yazoo, the Assembly, Erasure, countless productions/remixes: where’s Vince’s Outstanding Contribution Brit? Sign my petition now.

[2] Depeche Mode, ‘Personal Jesus’

Depeche Mode

I ditched Smash Hits for Record Mirror in 1986, and had it delivered until its demise in 1991-ish. Nothing ever lived up to it, nothing seemed to cater for me after that. In the late 80s it hooked itself onto the new rock/dance crossovers in its superlative BPM section alongside the usual house and r&b reviews, ahead of the game with early warnings about unexpected remixes and bewildering new directions. ‘Personal Jesus’ was one of these blindside dancefloor monsters.

The pervtastic ‘Mode (© Smash Hits) were big but somehow still niche. I reckon this single – with its swampy swagger, twanging groove and stomping beat – made it “OK” to like them. It topped Record Mirror’s Cool Cuts chart on its white label release, and went on to storm the clubs and excite indie kids and pop kids alike. ‘Blasphemous Rumours’ didn’t quite have the same broad appeal.

I’d been buying their singles for years – a dubious inheritance for Junior – but ‘Personal Jesus’ was the first one that I thought was really great. The tight, pulsating Violator album was pretty special too. They peaked here, I reckon, before Dave Gahan started on all that dying and being resurrected caper. Junior hasn’t got time for all that showing off; she’s only here for the music, and the glam stomp grabbed her right from the off. A leather-skirted hit for the Basildon boys.

OK, viewers, your turn: guess the Number One, choose the next year, suggest a new theme, throw in some bad puns on Martin Gore’s name, slag off the songs so far and gnash teeth at the absence of Technotronic.