Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Worst 200 Songs, Part VI: #100-81

*And of course, if you'd like to read this with the offending videos intact, then head over to Tom's magnificent blog here.

'The highest as the lowest form of criticism is a mode of autobiography'
Oscar Wilde, Preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891 (Norton Critical Edition, 2007, p.3)

100. Mick Jagger - 'Let's Work'
(1987, #31, TM)

DL: Reminiscent of and from the same period as George Harrison's seminal 1987 cover version 'Got My Mind Set On You', only totally dreadful. Somehow not as hilarious as his current guest spot though.

AN: Thatcherism dressed up as a rootsy work-song. I often ponder over the mystery of how The Stones’ best singles (‘Sympathy for the Devil’, ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’, ‘Gimme Shelter’) were so gloriously transcendent, when they were clearly such massive twats.

JG: Somewhere in the depths of a dark cellar, Iain Duncan Smith is assessing the potential of this shite as the soundtrack to a workfare advert near you. Scrub that toilet you lazy fuck!

TM: A personal bête noire: a ghastly paean to Thatcherism from the new establishment’s Stakhanovite ‘rebel’. This is a millionaire haranguing the “lazy”: like a triumphalist Tebbit speech set to ‘music’.

99. Templecloud - 'One Big Family'
(2011, #24, TM)

DL: One of many stripped back, 'haunting' and rubbish 2011 cover versions of middling rock records alongside Birdy and Charlene Soraia's efforts, this time flogging KFC. Really, who covers Embrace?!

AN: The remarkable credibility of cabaret in the 21st century: how did it happen? Quite liked the original though. In fact, I’ve just revisited All You Good Good People and can confirm that it’s actually definitely better than completely mediocre. It uses the pentatonic scale, which is the magic one. I hope to speak more about this in future.

JG: This was complete toss when Embrace did it. What’s the point of a new version from a karaoke Winehouse?

TM: Slushy middlebrow song in symbiotic relationship with KFC advertisement shock! This is more fraudulent family championing in Cameron’s Britain, appropriately harking back to late-90s insipidness.

98. The Thrills - 'Big Sur'
(2003, #17, DL)

DL: Typical of much charting indie-pop of the noughties. Backwards-looking, empty, ironic pretentions of musical authenticity. Oozing with desperate West Coast clichés at every turn. You're not American!

AN: The Thrills are Irish, so I forgive them. Almost everything about Ireland is good. Except Bono obviously. And sectarian violence. And the conservatism of the Catholic church. But I stand by my point.

JG: Right, I see. Shoehorning completely unwarranted Kerouac references into song is the way forward, is it? What’s next? Wipe those Dharma bums?

TM: Merely another sort of middlebrow; this is in the Top100 ahead of Viva Brother due to its higher chart placing. This embodies dull competency and the line about “monkeyin’ around” is undeniably irritating.

97. Heather Small - 'Proud'
(2000, #16, DL)

DL: Takes me back to 2003 again, and a bleak pub jukebox on very narrow rotation when no one fed it with money. What have you heard today to make you want to rip said jukebox off wall? Insipid bullshit.

AN: Don’t mind this. Black female Londoners scarcely need criticising, even if this isn’t particularly brilliant.

JG: The main issue here (other than its contribution to the commodification and cheapening of the amateur sport of athletics) is with the appalling grammar – “What have you done today to make you feel proud?” Yourself, surely?

TM: The message of the ‘motivational speaker’ in song form. Emblematic of the wilful self-delusion and ‘feel-good’ cajoling of the management culture that has served us so well in recent years...

96. Tonedef Allstars - 'Who Do You Think You Are Kidding, Jurgen Klinsmann?'
(2006, #13, TM)

DL: Have there ever been any good unofficial football records other than 'England's Irie'? As a footballing nation, we really don't do sophistication very well. The musical equivalent of a tabloid spit-roast.

AN: Another football novelty song. Nowt more to say on this meme, I’m afraid.

JG: No. Just fucking no.

TM: Not just deluded, but odious in its xenophobic idiocy. English ‘pluck’ is embodied by Warden Hodges and Frank Bruno. You think it can’t reach lower depths... and then the “It’s a Wayne’s World Cup!” sequence rears its repugnant head.

95. LeAnn Rimes - 'How Do I Live'
(1998, #7, TM)

DL: Celine Dion-lite late-nineties hit penned by restraining order pop architect Diane Warren. I'm sure it has tugged at the heartstrings of people with no personality the world over. Haven't missed it.

AN: LeAnn Rimes was a poor woman’s Shania Twain, whose ‘I’m Gonna Getcha Good!’ is one of the all-time great pop tunes.

JG: Conservative US music culture is all arse over tit, no? Here’s a good honest clean-living 15 year old girl from the flyover states wondering how she “gets through a night without you”. Oreos and soda pop, presumably.

TM: Rimes’s singing is incontinent in its deployment of melisma: “bab-e-eh-e-eh-y-aiiirrrrrrrr!” “no-o-ow-ow-ow!” Tedious, routine, compliant: monumentally unappealing in every conceivable way.

94. Barenaked Ladies - 'One Week'
(1999, #5, JG)

DL: I will get into trouble, but unfunny, annoyingly smug surprise UK hit that really must have worked better on the other side of the Atlantic. Pre-cursory caution for future rap-rock chart hazards.

AN: Don’t mind this either, largely because of some neat little harmonies in the bridge. As with ‘Teenage Dirtbag’, I feel like this is open about its frivolity, unlike, say, Ed Sheeran, who dresses up frivolous shite as bankable emo-lite pseudo-art.

JG: Not even the late Scatman John (clearly the template for this vapid nonsense) would have allowed a line such as “chicken de China, the Chinese chicken” to slip through quality control.

TM: There is an exasperating conceit in the singer’s delivery; you can practically hear the goatee beard. This is ‘zany’, but sadly not the Marx Brothers. It at least keeps its twaddle within 3 minutes.

93. East 17 - 'Thunder'
(1995, #4, JG)

DL: Particularly low ebb from a band approximately a billionth as treasured as their one-time equals Take That. It's this kind of lineage that leads up seamlessly up to N-Dubz. May sound good on 12 Es.

AN: Yeah this is pretty crap. I live right next to Walthamstow now. Weird.

JG: This song starts: “When the thunder calls you / From the mountain high / Better spread your wings and fly.” It’s all downhill from there.

TM: Pompous piano chords. Egregious Brian Harvey posturing and gesticulating in the video, alongside scantily clad ladies. “When it calls you!” “Whoah-oh-oh!” Plus, a silly backwards-vocal bit. Cretinous.

92. Mike Batt with the New Edition - 'Summertime City'
(1975, #4, RC)

DL: Oh such luck! There's a reason that some of these seventies hits haven't endured. Maybe sentimental and nostalgic for some, but surely vacuous, cheap and vacant to everyone else. I hate the 1970s.

AN: A pretty shockingly cynical co-option of the vitalism of funk and disco that quickly descends into MOR froth after an attention-grabbing intro.

JG: Bloody hell, did this flaccid, uninspired, sub-Mike Love crap really get into the Top 10 when The Beach Boys’ own Surf’s Up album sold about five copies?

TM: Carrot-topped Tory songster produces wimpy, inane ode to the weather, the city and a baby. He was later responsible for a preposterous science-fiction concept album and TV-musical (as brilliantly featured here).

91. 50 Cent - 'Candy Shop'
(2005, #4, TM)

DL: Misogynist 50 Cent really is a caricature of an absolute penis isn't he? After Eminem, such a shame to see Dre back something so cliched. Worst euphemisms for blow jobs in the history of music too.

AN: 50 Cent is so, so fucking terrible. For me he will always epitomise the awful mood of 2003, the year casual venality broke: Bush, Blair, Iraq, reaction in the air; The Darkness on the radio, Jonathan Ross on the box, Mohican haircuts, and just around the corner was the next entry …

JG: This is the sound of 50 Cent ordering a young woman to perform sexual favours for him. Hideous.

TM: Can he sound anything other than arrogant and unpleasant? Ah, what great days in 2005: Bush and Blair; the public lapping up sub-prime mortgages, thinking they can live the 50 Cent life. Fuck 'bling'.

90. The Libertines - 'Can't Stand Me Now'
(2004, #2, AN)

DL: Self-mythologising, glorified demo from band who were for the most part pure image over substance. Typifies the gaping universe between their popularity and rather non-existent cultural contribution.

AN: Thankfully I feel like I don’t have to go to any great lengths to convince people why The Libertines were so vastly obnoxious any more. But I would just like to remind people that Pete Doherty once tried to justify his heroin habit by saying that his mum would rather he was a drug addict than a vicar.

JG: I appreciate the autobiographical nature of this song, but I never really got the Libertines. It all sounded like a bit of an East London in-joke to me. Plus, that Carl Barat is an offensively earnest little runt, no?

TM: I wouldn’t put this higher than #108 or #102, but it is bog-standard stocking filler from Hexham’s most improvident son. Just a bit dull, really; sign of the undue sway of folk like The Strokes.

Well facking futile, indeed.
89. Adele - 'Chasing Pavements'
(2008, #2, BB)

DL: Can't say it does much for me, but it doesn't drive a grinding churn into the very pit of my stomach like the opening notes of 'Someone Like You'. Big hit, but now dwarved by omnipresent successors.

AN: Adele is just so boring isn’t she? Even FATM has some vaguely interesting arrangements. Watch barely human Guardian journalists attempting to justify their complete lack of conscience/consciousness here.

JG: The more I think about it, the more this song is basically a reiteration of Shed Seven’s ‘Chasing Rainbows’. At least choose ‘Getting Better’, if you must.

TM: Is she a one-woman boon for UK exports or a selfish objector to the 50p tax rate? Either way, the grain of the voice has always agitated me; this is so fucking tasteful and wearisome: leading nowhere.

As captivating as a crime scene in an ITV cop show

88. True Steppers & Dane Bowers, Ft. Victoria Beckham - 'Out of Your Mind'

(2000, #2, DL)

DL: Seems this was to the underground garage movement what Skrillex and Nero are to dubstep now. Hook-less arsewank that was deservedly beaten to the punch by Groovejet. This tune's still punishing me.

AN: I loved UK garage, hence I have a soft spot even for its more risible commercial incarnations.

JG: Somewhere in the bowels of deepest hell, Satan is assessing the potential of this shite as the permanent soundtrack to an eternity of being hosed down with Bernard Manning’s diarrhea.

TM: Particularly early-noughties pop stylings here. Misapplied drum ‘n’ bass and techno tropes; dismal vocals from ‘Posh’ and Dane: “Ice cream, you’re out of your mind”. Maddening, airbrushed opulence.

87. Oasis - 'All Around the World'
(1998, #1, DL)

DL: Ah, we meet at last. Thankfully I'm only having to endure the 5 minute edit (!) and am saved the 2,000 key changes and extended sense of coked-up, bloated aural violation of its 9-minute plus form.

AN: I am a committed and long-standing Oasis apologist, but my argument hinges on the fact that, post-Morning Glory, they did absolutely nothing of any worth whatsoever. Except for ‘Stay Young’, which is quite good. And ‘Where Did It All Go Wrong?’ which is a nice Neil Young pastiche (listen to the harmonies on line “alone under stormy skies” about half way through).

JG: The remarkable sound of Oasis ripping off their previous ripping off of Badfinger’s ripping off of The Beatles.

TM: Epically bloated farrago from their disastrous folly Be Here Now. With every 8/10 review and sycophantic comment, you could sense people’s musical horizons narrowing. “Yeah I know what I know!”

"Yeah I KNOW WHAT I KNOW!" / Aye, all too little...

86. Little Jimmy Osmond - 'Long Haired Lover from Liverpool'
(1972, #1, TM)

DL: Why would you adopt a Scouse persona to snare some paedophiles somewhere? It's again an utter enigma as to why anyone would have not only wanted to listen to, but pay actual good money for this.

AN: Everyone knows this is shit, and why.

JG: It is patently ridiculous for a nine year old child to be singing a song such as this.

TM: What is ‘cute’ about this infernal little tyke singing a post-coital ode to a Scouse hippy? It is about as appealing as the prospect of a nuclear winter spent in Slough within earshot of Lee Newell.

85. Boyzone - 'You Needed Me'
(1999, #1, TM)

DL: It's constantly hard to comprehend that the people who identify with these teeth-grindingly blank records on any level are capable of fully-functioning emotions. Thank God boy bands have evolved!

AN: ‘Love Me for a Reason’: magic. Everything else they ever did: black magick.

JG: Isn’t the point of these slow schmaltzy songs for the singer to admit to a feeling of vulnerable dependence on another? Rather than the other way round?

TM: Hubristic and hyperbolic: you just know that it won’t end happily. Pedestals and human peculiarities don’t mix. He apparently ‘lies’ but is somehow redeemed by her God-like influence.

84. The Killers - 'Mr Brightside'
(2004, #10, DL)

DL: Yet another cheesy noughties indie-disco number totally inferior to the records it alludes to. Very popular this one, possibly more so than anything else so far, so reactions will be interesting.

AN: Hmm. Controversial. The Killers were obviously an utterly pernicious cultural force but it’s difficult to argue with this tune taken in isolation. The bass line in the chorus is particularly nifty.

JG: This song would be improved with the following lyrical amendment: “But it’s just the price I pay / Destiny is calling me/ Open up my eager eyes / Cos I’m Norman Whiteside!” Youngest goal scorer in World Cup history, I’ll have you know.

TM: Another entry damned by ubiquity. Not that it stands up that well to aesthetic criteria in its contrived ‘uplift’ and early-80s pilfering: having ‘influences’ doesn’t make your music interesting.

83. The Woolpackers - 'Hillbilly Rock Hillbilly Roll'
(1996, #7, TM)

DL: The most successful line-dancing hit our shores have ever produced? Or simply: the only one? The thing is, Emmerdale is shit, and God knows I've persisted with it. Stood no chance with awful genre.

AN: I never did try line dancing.

JG: Do you know, I think I preferred 'Old Pop in an Oak' by the Rednex to this. At least that had a (very, very) faint whiff of anarchy about it.

TM: Foreign influence can sometimes embed backwardness, as with this silly Emmerdale spin-off. As Meades argued: ‘Insularity and rural indigence prompt the same emotional landscape wherever they’re found’.

82. Paul Oakenfold, Ft. Shifty Shellshock - 'Starry Eyed Surprise'
(2002, #6, JG)

DL: As you may have gathered, rap-rock makes my skin crawl in a way not much else can, and even when one of its vocalists takes his dubious talents into other waters, the delivery continues to grate.

AN: Not great, but not all that bad.

JG: By the early 2000s, superstar DJs were the Rick Wakemans of their day, living comfortably in the sticks, inviting Crazy Town to appear on their half-arsed songs and pilfering the opening lick from Harry Nilsson’s sublime ‘Everybody’s Talkin’’ like right bastards.

TM: The inane flipside of dance music’s utopian dreams. Nilsson’s sampled ‘Everybody’s Talkin’’ is stripped of its splendour amid the downright gormlessness. “Seeing stars! Seeing stars! I’m seeing stars!”

81. Curtis Stigers - 'You're All That Matters to Me'
(1992, #6, RC)

DL: Some of these 'love' songs really are soulless. Said it before and I'll say it again: the only romantic love worth penning a song about is that of the dark, sadistic unrequited variety. Total shit.

AN: Crazy midi percussion track. Bizarre.

JG: Jesus, this is boring shit. Have we got any Michael Bolton songs coming up?

TM: Neutered horns, smugly clicking percussion, sanitised ‘gospel’ backing vocals, a waist-coated man earnestly emoting: is anything less liable to connect with me than an early-90s AOR ballad? So humdrum!

If you enjoyed this, why not catch up with...

Part One: 200-181
Part Two: 180-161
Part Three: 160-141
Part Four: 140-121
Part Five: 100-81

No comments:

Post a Comment