by Mr Moth
I last wrote Mostly Pop back in September 2011. It’s 2012 now – how things have changed! We have jetpacks and robot servants, I’m writing this while tucking into a bowl of food in pill form (mmm… roast chicken and yorkshire pudding pills!), the NHS is finally going to be destroyed (at last, eh?) and the pop scene has moved on to an unrecog… oh, wait, it’s One Direction again.
One Direction – One Thing
So, the band with the biggest hair in the world, what do you have for us? A video packed with studied wackiness. Marvel s we follow the boys around in their open-top bus for some impromptu, heavily-rehearsed, zany goofing around. Look at them jump! Bounce bounce bounce! They’re such fun! They do that walk like the Monkees do! Wow, they must be as fun as the Monkees*! Look at how they’re dressed! Well, ok, I guess it’s an improvement on their former look. I can imagine the meeting with the stylist now: ‘You! You’re dressing like Doctor Who! You! You’re dressing like one of those blokes from that Richmond sausages advert! You! You’re also Doctor Who, but the other one! You! You’re… you… I… er, DOCTOR WHO!’.
Lyrically, I continue to have my doubts about your attitude to the laydeez, One Direction, if I’m honest. It’s obvious that Harry Styles (whose hair, you mark my words, has been made as much like a mad helmet of back-combed carpet felt as possible just so someone would make a ‘Hairy Styles’ pun in a teen mag profile) is a little, uh, Neanderthal, but the song seems to be slightly annoyed with the object of its affections. She shot you out of the sky, she’s your Kryptonite, she makes you climb the walls (and doesn’t even NOTICE, the div), etc. I mean, yes, analysing pop lyrics is always going to reveal trite emotions and thoughtless sentiment, but this is part of a bigger picture with previous effort ‘What Makes You Beautiful’, which was frankly obnoxious towards women.
Basically, I’m fucking watching you, One Direction.
The Ting Tings – Hang it Up
The Ting Tings return, after being massive babies about making their second album. Having said that, I do actually think it’s good that people take their time over an album, rather than bashing out a follow-up within the year. So, what could those years of hearbreak, trauma and agonising have given us? What exciting new pop directions will the Ting Tings take us in? Exactly how much will the new song fry our synapses and make our brains squirt out of our ears in gouts of aural delight?
It’s not changed at all! They took all that time to just do the same thing again! Never mind, I’m happy with that. I liked the old Ting Tings stuff. It’s bouncy (in a way that One Direction will never be), it’s got a bit of an edge without being edgy and it’s fun in an uncomplicated, shoutalong sort of way. Effectively, they’re doing as the White Stripes did – delivering the same entertaining thing over and over. Which is not necessarily a bad thing in pop, although how Status Quo fit into this theory is a bit of a worry.
The video is obviously no great shakes, but it’s notable for one very obvious detail – He’s smoking a fag! You can’t do that in a pop video!
Dappy ft Brian May – Rock Star
Wow, Dappy, you’re bollocks. Swanning around in your video like you’re Eminem circa 2003, all moody and mean with a beanie on. But listen to the music, Dappy man. It’s literally the same shit you’ve been peddling since you dragged your shaved-rat carcass onto the scene in 2009, backing up Tinchy Stryder’s mostly failed bid for stardom. It’s pap. Unimaginative, pseudo-emotional, boring grime-lite.
Put it this way – the highlight of this Colin fucking Tilley video is Brian May turning up, looking like someone’s Nan, and playing a guitar solo that he will immediately be striking off his CV.
Madonna ft Nicki Minaj & M.I.A. – Give Me All Your Luvin’
Watching Madonna’s new video is like watching a mist roll back and seeing a galleon at full sail breeze triumphantly past. I know it was released near the start of the month, but what kind of pop column am I running here if I ignore Madonna? It’s pleasing, too, not to have to bother analysing Madonna’s new ‘look’, because frankly she looks like she did in the video for Four Minutes.
Her past few albums have been mostly unremarkable, but Give Me All Your Luvin’ hints that MDNA, painfully outdated drug reference aside, could be worth a listen. Sure, it is held back by Madonna’s never-much-good singing (note to my editor: no, she is not), GMAYL nevertheless has an awful lot going for it. The cheerleader chants (which are, like, totally ripping off Nicola Roberts’s Beat of My Drum) (note from the editor: no, they are not), the hooks in every verse and chorus, and not one but two guest spots from brilliant, off-centre artists.
Yeah, that was the best idea – both M.I.A. and Nicki Minaj bring something good to the track. Minaj’s sugar-coated-acid rapping counters M.I.A.’s drawled cynicism nicely (though that final ‘I don’t give a shit’ would prove problematic at the Superbowl. Oh, you Americans. Aren’t you funny?), and though they only turn up near the end, they make the wait worth it. There’s a version with M.I.A. replaced by LMFAO. That brings precisely as much joy into the world as you’d expect*.
The video, too, is slickly entertaining. The inventive choreography is often breathtaking, bringing to mind the mid-nineties work of Gondry and Jonze (though without that extra flourish which marked those directors as mad geniuses) and Madonna would appear to be having a ball. She isn’t, of course, because she is made of steel, sinew and ambition but still.
Cher Lloyd ft Astro – Want U Back
Someone capable of expressing the nuances of human emotion with their voice might, possibly, have made this song work. Lyrically, it’s monstrous. The gist is, basically, ‘I didn’t like you, so I broke up with you. Now you appear to be happy with someone else. I wish to put an end to this by getting back together with you.’ Like, seriously, WTF? Now, when Lily Allen gave us Smile, which is thematically very similar, she managed to give it a brittle brightness to undercut the nastiness of the words. This might be because Lily Allen is actually a human being, capable of feeling. Cher Lloyd, well, jury’s out. Maybe they are sequestered in a Jury’s Inn, where they can enjoy informal and stylish dining at affordable prices.
The video gives us ample opportunity to enjoy Cher Lloyd’s Gallery of Facial Expressions™. There’s ‘sneer’, ‘gurn’, ‘grin’ and, my personal favourite, ‘vacant’. Any time the camera lights on her, Cher is compelled to pull one of these faces. Can’t think of an expression? Look wide-eyed into the lens! Need to convey a sense of loss tempered by wounded pride? Sneer like the world’s worst Elvis impersonator!
Eventually though, you get bored of seeing Cher being unpleasant to her ex for no reason. Now it’s time for Astro! The amazing rapping child! Personally, I can’t believe we’re forcing our toddlers to work in the music industry like this. It’s like Dickens, or something. In a few months, Astro will be dead of the Croup, mark my words. We have to stop this terrible exploitation before Simon Cowell ends up with blood on his hands!
*ie Fuck all.