Monthly Archives: July 2014

Pumpkin Soup

Hey, everyone! Remember “Oops!…I Did It Again”??? Oh boy, that’s a song I think of when I think of high school. Not that I listened to Britney Spears back then (not that I don’t listen to her now, haha) but it is just one of those many generation-defining pop songs that happened to come out in those years.

I bring it up because I wanted to compare it to Kate Nash’s “Pumpkin Soup.” Super great comparison, because they basically are about the same thing!

“I just want your kiss boy” is the chorus, and was almost the title of the song. It makes it pretty clear what it’s all about. I really enjoy a song that’s upfront about not being about love. That is everything that’s going on here. Listen for the line “Whoops, I think I’ve got too close.” I think it might just be a direct nod to Britney! Kate Nash knew what she was doing when she wrote this song.

I like that it throws off that stereotype that women are generally looking for love and men are generally looking for sex, because it’s clearly the opposite case in this situation. “I hate lookin’ like a fool” she sings about falling in love. “I’m not in love/I just want to be touched” she puts forth candidly later in the song. Yes! Fantastic!

I think the music video works really well for this song too. It’s very colorful and almost Valentine’s Day themed. And over the top cheesy with those giant fluffy white cats. That holiday can be rather cheesy. So can hackneyed expressions of love. When you listen to the song and watch the video, it seems like the lyrics and the visuals are almost at odds with each other. This is all the stuff Kate doesn’t want and yet she’s being forced to face it because this boy thinks that it’s what she does want. See the wedding scene and hear the lyric “I hope that you don’t think I’m unkind.” I love the frankness at the worst possible moment and place.

This is one of my favorite Kate Nash songs. It’s fun, it’s playful, and a little bit coy while being flirtatious. I like it much better than “Oops!…I Did It Again” even if it never reached the same meteoric level of fame. It deserves some credit though! Kate Nash has a talent for making relateable songs. This is one of her best.


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Hollaback Girl

I think a problem I have with this blog is that I write too nicely about everything. The idea of disparaging music that someone else might like doesn’t sit well with me. A little dig now and then is okay (who doesn’t enjoy making a joke about Justin Bieber every now and then? Oh, and remember Rebecca Black?) but I mean flat-out hating on something. I really try not to do that. Music just means too much to me. I can’t help but feel a little down every time someone rages about a song or artist I enjoy. I’m too sensitive, I know. So this will be my attempt at giving a bad review, I guess.

Besides wanting to write a not-loving review of something, I chose this song because of something that happened recently. I won’t get into specifics (it was all on social media and the evidence is gone anyway), but basically someone said something not so nice to me that I think may have been meant in jest but came off as totally stuck-up, rude, and passive-aggressive. It was pretty annoying. But I took the higher ground and ignored it. Still, this song came to mind a few days later.

Yes, love it or hate it, it’s Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl.” It’s super passive-aggressive, which is something I loathe on social media (if that wasn’t clear before), but enjoy in music. It’s a great outlet for when you’re feeling passive-aggressive but need to stop yourself because what, are you twelve? So at the barest of bones, at its very core, at its most honest this song is really nifty.

But that’s about it. The lyrics could have been sufficient, but the intro and hooks are so banal. Do I even need to go into “This shit is bananas/B-A-N-A-N-A-S”? I get that it’s a diss song, but even vocally, Gwen has done a LOT better. The production leaves a lot to be desired. That horn-synth sound is so bad. This song was a hit when it came out but I really don’t think it holds up well, even less than ten years later. It’s one of those songs where you go: “Hey, remember ‘Hollaback Girl’?” And someone else goes: “Haha, yeah, what the hell was that about anyway?”

It seems a lot of the critical response to this song involved people not knowing what a “Hollaback Girl” was. I think it’s pretty straightforward, really. In case you didn’t know (or forgot) the story, it goes something like this.

Courtney Love: “Being famous is just like being in high school. But I’m not interested in being the cheerleader. I’m not interested in being Gwen Stefani. She’s the cheerleader, and I’m out in the smoker shed.”

Gwen Stefani: “Y’know someone one time called me a cheerleader, negatively, and I’ve never been a cheerleader. So I was, like, “OK, fuck you. You want me to be a cheerleader? Well, I will be one then. And I’ll rule the whole world, just you watch me.”

And that’s what a “Hollaback Girl” is! What? Still not clear? Okay, it’s basically someone who doesn’t respond to insults. They don’t holler (holla) back. Even though that is basically what is going on in this song and is the ENTIRE REASON it exists. Think Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain.”

Taking many, many (many, many) steps back from “Hollaback Girl” I actually feel okay comparing it to “You’re So Vain.” I think it could have had the potential to become the “You’re So Vain” of this generation, but somewhere along the way it fell in a ditch and pissed itself. Why is that the analogy I come up with? I don’t know, but somehow it’s fitting.

One other thing that really gets on my nerves. At the beginning of the music video, Gwen Stefani says “Aww, super kawaii!” and it just makes me CRINGE until I want to barf because it reminds me of the most weeaboo of weeaboos (like this song, I don’t think anyone uses this word anymore, but it fits in that way).

I really can’t say much positive about this song. I don’t hate it, but I can still say it’s not great. It’s still fun to listen to if you can acknowledge it for what it is (pop music not taking itself seriously). The beat has the potential to get you really riled up, but the rest of the song falls flat. Let’s just acknowledge that Gwen Stefani has done a lot better than “Hollaback Girl” and move on.

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So the last time I talked about Goldfrapp, I talked about Black Cherry. And there was this interesting review of the album I came across that summarized it as “a soundtrack to excruciatingly banal seduction.” That review came from Pitchfork (ha) so take it with a grain of salt.

I admitted that it wasn’t their best (or worst) so what is their best? Personally, I feel like it’s a tie between Tales of Us and this week’s subject, Supernature. (It’s hard to pick one over the other because they’re so different. Apples to oranges, for sure, and I’m not just saying that.) If Black Cherry was an “excruciatingly banal seduction” then its follow up is certainly a more successful one. Supernature is a far superior album to its predecessor (which I still like!). Its sound is more consistent, more accessible, and overall, the production is just superb. The tracks flow from one to the next just perfectly.

We start with the FANTASTIC opener that is “Ooh La La,” the group’s first song to use an electric guitar. Which was definitely the right decision. It gives the song it’s rough, slightly dirty feel. This track is straight to the point. It’s simply seductive, through and through. There’s no question what Alison means when she croons “Switch me on/Turn me up.” Some of my favorite lines include “Teasing your poetry” and “A broken heel like a heart,” which I read somewhere that she wrote when she read about how Marilyn Monroe supposed broke one heel on every pair of shoes she owned so that when she walked, the swaying of her hips would be more pronounced. I would normally find a video like this one underwhelming (I’ve spoken before about my views on the music video as an art form) but I kind of enjoy the blend of disco fashion and glam rock stylings. Plus, Alison just looks so damn good. I do wish they had done more with it though.

“Lovely 2 C U” keeps up the dirty sound with more electric guitar. I love the distorted sound that comes in at about 2 minutes. Sooooo dirty. And I don’t mean dirty in a perverted way (well, maybe a little) but just…gritty. A dirty sound so in stark contrast to Alison’s clear, ringing vocals. Favorite lyrics: “The glittering lights of Hell/I’m missing sin.” Oh my, yes.

And how could I miss a chance to write yet again about “Ride a White Horse”??? GOD, I love this music video. I don’t know how anyone will ever make a better music video. I just go nuts when I think about it. It’s easily my favorite, and I’m including all of Björk’s work. I KNOW. Guh, anyway, what can I say that I haven’t said before? It’s a great track. I get pumped every time that opening beat comes on. Favorite lyrics: “I want blisters/You’re my leader” and “In the whirlpool/We’ll go deeper/In this world that’s/Getting cheaper.” I feel like the music video may be a nod to those last two lines.

So the next track is “You Never Know” and I feel like this was the song that was playing when I was driving my parents somewhere and they said she sounded like a mermaid. She does. She sounds like a siren and this song makes you feel like you won’t care if you drove your car off a cliff to reach her on the other side (the modern day equivalent to sailing your ship into the rocks, I guess). I love how it’s very stop and go in the beginning. It’s got this very steady rhythm that just picks you up and sways you back and forth. So graceful.

The album eases into “Just Let It Take U,” which is a nice respite. It’s like a song you would meditate to. Or post-coital snuggle to. I think both would be the same for a Goldfrapp fan. It’s heavenly and surreal. And yet it fits in with the theme-sound of the rest of the album. A soft electric beat pulses throughout, keeping you anchored to the song, as Alison croons dreamily.

I remember hearing “Fly Me Away” in a Target holiday-themed commercial. Kind of a weird place to use it, but I liked it enough at the time. It does have a wintery sound to it (in spite of the “Miles and miles of sun” line). It’s also very playful, happy, and innocent, even with Alison’s breathy vocals.

“Slide In” is probably the most on-the-nose track. Well, second to “Ooh La La,” considering how forward THAT one was. But read that title again. “Slide In” sounds like something that would have been on Black Cherry. I love the way the song stretches out every time she sings “Sliiiide in.” In general, I just love songs that manage to aurally match the lyrics, and this song does it!

“Koko” is probably my least favorite track on this album. Which isn’t to say I don’t like it. It just doesn’t do much for me. It’s still a well-rounded, well-produced track, so I’ll give it that!

“Satin Chic” was described by Goldfrapp as being their favorite track off of this album. I like it a lot too! The honky-tonk piano fits perfectly with the song. It gives it this cabaret feel. I can’t get enough of it! Something about it reminds me of flappers. I can’t explain it. I guess it has something to do with that piano-cabaret feel. Favorite lyrics: “Lip gloss bold as blood.”

We get another respite before heading into the finale with “Time Out From The World,” a song that sounds just like that. It’s soft and dreamy, like “Just Let It Take U” but not as minimal. It’s got a foggy, yawning sound to it. Very soothing. Maybe not so post-coital though, as it features some sensual sighing toward the end. Favorite lyrics: “We changed the world, just you and I/I make a shrine for you.”

The closing track is “Number 1,” a very pleasant song full of longing with just a touch of sadness. Not boo-hoo-I’m-going-to-cry-this-is-so-tragic sadness, but it’s-a-shame-this-won’t-last-but-I’m-going-to-enjoy-it-anyway sadness. Because that’s what this song is about. With lines like “You’re my favorite moment/You’re my Saturday” and “Sunset only seconds/Just right then it’s gone,” Alison pines about loving someone while knowing (and accepting) that it probably won’t last forever. Maybe sad is the wrong word. Maybe it’s more like “Let’s just enjoy this while it lasts, yeah?” Carpe diem. The music video is clearly inspired by the line “I’m like a dog to get you.” (Also, how sexy is Alison acting like a dog? I’m including the part where she scratches her rear like a dog would, but with her hand instead of her foot.)

BONUS!!! If you have the bonus track version of the album, you get “Beautiful,” a lovely, seductive song. “Number 1” makes a better closing track, but this one is still a great add-on.

If you’re a first time Goldfrapp-listener, go for Supernature! It’s a super smart pop/electronica album (if you don’t like the slightly snootier, more specific labels of electroclash and synthpop, because that’s what it really is). I don’t like to use the phrase “It’s a thinking person’s [X]” for the reason that [X] is implied to be stupid, banal, and lesser. And it makes you sound like a pompous, stuck-up ass. But…if I WERE to use that phrase, I’d say Goldfrapp is a thinking person’s Madonna. I still like Madonna. I would just take Supernature or anything Goldfrapp in general over anything Madonna has (or possibly still will) put out any day. ANY DAY.

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Bring Us Together

I wasn’t expecting to write about The Asteroids Galaxy Tour again, but apparently this has been sitting around on YouTube for the past two weeks and I only just found out about it.

I have to say, while I’m a fan of the wild horns that dominated Out of Frequency, I am LOVING the piano in this new song! It’s got this sort of Motown vibe to it. It keeps the song anchored throughout AGT’s signature psychedelic-futuristic sound. It sounds like this might have been recorded live – unless they just recorded cheering from one of their concerts – so I’m hoping the sound doesn’t change too much when the album comes out. Some songs performed live have a tendency to that, and it can be good or bad…

AGT has always had this sort of hippie vibe to their sound, but I think here it’s most prominent, both in the sound and the lyrics. It sounds like we’re being delivered a message of love and peace and enlightenment by some patchouli-wearing alien through a haze of LSD. And then we wake up right next to Mette Lindberg! “I had this crazy dream, man.” “Yeah, me too!” And then she tells us all about it, or rather sings about it in that gorgeous lilting voice. (We’re still working our way through the LSD, of course.)

I’m looking forward to this new album. Like I said, I loved the horns SO MUCH, but I also love this new song so much, I don’t even notice their absence. The last song I can think of that featured a piano this prominently was “The Golden Age,” which I mentioned before is one of my all-time favorites. Though, it has a more playful sound, it serves the same purpose, that is being the song’s anchor. It works really well.

I can’t wait to hear more from AGT’s next album (also called Bring Us Together.) Uber-mellow yet trippy is a good combination for them. I’m gonna have to see these guys in concert!

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