[22] The Ting Tings, ‘Great DJ’

The Ting Tings, sort of

For me, ‘Great DJ’ is all about tempo, switches, segues and glorious banality. At heart it’s a true indie dance record with euphoric peaks and measured breakdowns, an exercise in peerless timing with a chorus that bursts through with the clarity of a new morning. It’s the second most-played song on my iPod (April 2008 to about now) because it’s always as fresh as Kool & The Gang, and Mel & Kim (at the weekend).

Junior says: “Ah-ah-ahh-ahh ah-ah-ah-ah.” But that doesn’t quite express the enthusiasm. She smiled the smile of a girl pleased that pop stars know the power of simplicity.

Best bit: Ee-ee-eee-eee ee-ee-ee-ee. We can’t all like the same things.

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[2] The Ting Tings, ‘Great DJ’

The Ting Tings

“Ah-ah-ah-ah ah-ah-ah-ah”, “Ee-ee-ee-ee ee-ee-ee-ee”. It’s what purest pop is all about, isn’t it?

Mind you, this is all about dance music, but performed by an ostensibly rock act. Hands across the divide, people. The Ting Tings can pull this off because they’re tight enough to run a groove, and they capture what it feels like. Strings (ee-ee-ee-ee) and drums (drums, drums, drums). House music in a vague nutshell, right?

Above all this is a brilliant pop song, monstrously catchy and annoying in the wrong ears. Katie White and Jules De Martino (IF that’s your real name, Jules) could only take it No.33, even on the back of a No.1 hit (which I’m calling a 2007 release), but when have the record-buying public ever known a thing? When I was buying lots of singles, that’s when.

Junior knows when a chorus is a sop to a young child, but she happily sings along and – crucially – gets hooked by “the drums, the drums, the drums [etc]”. Suddenly everything in the room is fair game. She looks at her table: “The book, the book, the book…” She’s going out with Grandad for the day: “The Grandad, the Grandad, the Grandad…” No way this’ll get wearing.

[16] Cliff Richard, ‘We Don’t Talk Anymore’

Junior insisted she knew who this was: “He’s got black spiky hair and he dances like this…” She crouched down, stood up slowly and lifted her arms in fifth position, then rocked back and forth, bending at the waist. It looked like a balletic version of The Ting Tings in their ‘Great DJ’ video. There you are – Junior thinks Cliff is a member of our premier Mancunian flash-in-the-pan guitar/drums duo.

Is it any more outlandish than Cliff hitting No.1 at the pinnacle of New Wave? That’s the thing with musical movements; they’re never as all-encompassing as history tells us. Punk washed away the dinosaurs!!! Meanwhile ‘Mull Of Kintyre’ became the biggest selling single of all time.

This is the most astonishing of the great man’s later chart-toppers – coming 11 years after ‘Congratulations’ – because it isn’t hung on festive schlock or Young Ones larks, and it’s a good record. A truly solid pop song, with Sir Cliff emoting, falsetto and all, and a chunky synth foundation presaging any number of ‘80s FM hits. If it seems naff, it’s only the fault of the cloak he can’t shake off – and he wouldn’t care anyway. You need the hide of a rhinoceros to plough bloodymindedly on, held up by a dwindling yet voracious fanbase. If the mask ever slips, the mums stick it firmly back on.

2008 Top 20 Singles?

Halfway through the year, always looking for delaying tactics and ways to ramp up the tension for the year-end countdown, here’s a minor indicator – the Top 20 Most Played 2008 Singles on my iPod thingy.

[1] Martha Wainwright, ‘Bleeding All Over You’
[2] The Ting Tings, ‘Great DJ’
[3] Laura Marling, ‘Ghosts’
[4] Alphabeat, ‘Fascination’
[5] Fleet Foxes, ‘White Winter Hymnal’
[6] Coldplay, ‘Violet Hill’
[7] The Ting Tings, ‘That’s Not My Name’
[8] Death Cab For Cutie, ‘I Will Possess Your Heart’
[9] MGMT, ‘Time To Pretend’
[10] Lykke Li, ‘I’m Good, I’m Gone’
[11] Coldplay, ‘Viva La Vida’
[12] Santogold, ‘L.E.S. Artistes’
[13] Portishead, ‘Machine Gun’
[14] Vampire Weekend, ‘Oxford Comma’
[15] Laura Marling, ‘Cross Your Fingers’/’Crawled Out Of The Sea’
[16] Hercules And Love Affair, ‘Blind’
[17] The Shortwave Set, ‘No Social’
[18] Goldfrapp, ‘A&E’
[19] H ‘two’ O featuring Platnum, ‘What’s It Gonna Be’
[20] Foals, ‘Red Socks Pugie’

Admit it. You’re astonished.

The Ting Tings, ‘That’s Not My Name’

As the 1969 Top 20 hobbles to a thrilling conclusion, we’re hop-skip-jumping all the way to the present and a record that Junior went loopy for when it appeared on one of those new-fangled MTV channels last week. We’re even a bit slow off the mark here, as it’s been toppled from an unlikely chart summit by hit machine Rihanna, but it’s still the breakthrough smash of the year – a grand departure from its achingly hip, limited 2007 run.

You’ve heard the comparisons – Blondie (yes, the cool-eyed Katie White is indeed blonde and, in a slightly darkened room, stunning), ‘Mickey’ (the star-jumping rhythm and lairy rap-song straight off Toni Basil’s much mis-(or not)-construed 1982 chartbuster), The Knack’s ‘My Sharona’ (that rhythm again, really, also massaged for Girls Aloud’s ‘No Good Advice’) – but, like the best pop puffery, ‘That’s Not My Name’ blends influences to form a monster that stomps, jerks, twitters and rocks in its own nation-enslaving way.

We’re mad for it right now, pure victims of hype if you see things through those spectacles. Sometimes there’s no hype without fire. As the record builds to its multi-layered, full-rocking coda, Junior’s reaction is a spinning, leaping, head-shaking frug from dining room to living room – pop star in infancy.

And while we’re sojourning in 2008, here are some of her other recent pop moments:

– “She’s got hair like me” to Diana Ross gamely keeping it all together in the ‘Chain Reaction’ video
– “Black and gold, black and gold, black and gold – that’s your favourite, Daddy” (not sure who’s feeding her these lies)
– Sticking her hand in the washing machine for the nth time one day, she’s told to leave it alone before defiantly reaching in again and pulling out the new Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan album

For Junior, music is everywhere.