Girls Aloud: Something New
Yay! It’s Nicola, Kimberley, Cheryl, Sarah and Nadine! They’re back! It’s an objectively-decided fact that Girls Aloud created the greatest pop music of the 21st century, possibly of all time. Yes, it is. And I know they came from a Cowell-inflected TV talent show, but it was back in the old days when the format was fresh and, crucially, they were launched with a sequence of tunes so astonishingly great they’re still pop benchmarks. Furthermore, their ratio of proper pop bangers to tedious ballads is a mighty 3:1 (yes, I did the maths), making them better than anyone ever. The songs are provided by ultraproducers Xenomania, of course, but Xenomania are behind lots of pop songs and none are as good as those performed by Girls Aloud. It’s kind of a perfect match. And one of their B sides was about the freaking Kronstadt* rebellion, because they’re a) awesome and b) really the last great working class band, now that you can’t be a musician on the dole. I haven’t really fleshed that argument out, but it’s 100% true. Who are our pop stars now? Mumford and Sons. Fuck’s sake.
OK, maybe it’s not the most appropriate song title, given that it sounds like a mash up of Sexy! No no no… and Something Kinda Ooooh, but sod it; it’s Girls Aloud, it IS new and I’m happy. There are shouty bits (entrusted to Nadine, who usually gets the ‘LOOK AT ME SINGING AND THAT’ bits), verses as good as your average chorus and an amazing final minute where everything comes together beautifully. As a statement of intent ‘We girls gonna run this show’ is as true now as it ever was. As with all Girls Aloud songs, though, you need to listen to it a few times before you realise that it is, in fact, incredible. I’m not kidding here, either. Every new Girls Aloud song gets the same response from me on first listen: ‘Well… it’s ok. But it’s not as good as [insert earlier GA song]’. Three plays later and I can’t get enough. It’s the best song ever. How did I live without it? I’m past listen three with Something New.
The video is, um, perfunctory. Too many words on the screen, not enough crazy costume choices. Not really anything special, which gets the whole affair marked down. So only 99 out of 100. Felt a bit like a Cheryl video, to be honest, though Cheryl is not as front-and-centre as you’d expect. I spent most of the time desperately trying to work out if the respective post-Aloud careers affected their screen time, and I was gratified to conclude that they did not. Nadine, a relative failure, was as prominent as Nicola, whose (brilliant) album may not have been a stellar success but it comfortably outperformed Nadine’s. No Girl Aloud is more equal than the others. The big communists. .
Chris Brown: Don’t Judge Me
There’s no need for me to judge you, Chris. A JUDGE HAS ALREADY DONE SO. Hahaha! God I’m funny. Anyway, I was just going to leave this review at that, my semi-traditional one-line dismissal at the end but hoo boy, this video.
For a start, the song is basically a non-apology for being a dick. Don’t judge me for what I did! It’s in the past! If you bring it up, you are in the wrong, not me. I can change, I can change! Don’t go there! I don’t know about you, I’m really not happy about that.
Then there’s the video itself. It would appear to be sort-of post-apocalypse, with Chris some crazy drifter hitching a ride with futuristic army men. It frequently cuts back to him and a girl in a blank room, clearly having a fight (not the usual sort Chris has, a verbal one). Then she disappears. Then he’s out on the road with a suspiciously large rucksack. I’M JUST SAYING, OK?
Then he starts to make preparations for something. A reporter comes up and asks him if he is really going to do what he’s going to do, but oh noes it’s a suicide mission (secretly yay). He replies that he has to do it, for the good of all mankind or whatever. So the message of the video and song is ‘Don’t judge me FOR BEING SUPER FUCKING AWESOME AND BRAVE’. Then he flies up into space and aims his ship into what I’m pretty sure could be seen without too much frowning from Freud as a giant space-vagina. In the process of becoming a being of pure energy, he plunges heroically into the spagina. Why? Because he is a cock of astronomic proportions, I guess.
Now, I liked the last Stooshe single. Fine, yes, the message was terrible beyond belief, but the song was catchy, well-produced, all that. Here they’re covering TLC’s classic song of drugs, AIDS and gang war and giving it… not much of a twist, to be honest. It’s all laid-back brass and mellow beats with the Stooshes harmonising pleasantly enough over the top. Singing the rap bit is a nice spin, but eh. I wasn’t a massive fan of the original and this does little enough that I’m not a fan of this, either.
The video is nice, though. I like the video. It’s nonsense if you spend any time analysing it, but it is punchy, colourful and lively. Bold eighties styling, which is weird because literally none of Stooshe will have been alive in the eighties. I could’ve done with seeing longer shots of the dancers, they seemed to be doing good work. The surviving members of TLC turn up at the end, too, looking a bit older (if I’m honest) than I would’ve expected. I don’t mean that unkindly, it just made me feel a bit old.
The Wanted: I Found You
This is like the worst remake of Lock, Stock you’ve ever seen, or maybe it’s like the TV spinoff and you have seen it and oh god you poor bastard. I’m getting ahead of myself, in that I should be talking about the music, but it’s basically a slightly less upbeat version of their one from last year, Glad You Came, so that’s that covered. It’s even got an accordion in it, which is a great signature instrument if you’re a saucy Frenchman or Toby Dog from Abney and Teal, less so if you’re the East 17 to One Direction’s Take That. Now there’s a cultural metaphor we can all believe in.
Right, video. Clearly someone had an idea, which was, as I say, that Lock, Stock idea. Slightly washed-out palette? Check. Londonish setting? Check. Some sort of crime caper? Yeah, check, sorry.
It’s rather a silly idea to try to squash a story like this into a four minute pop video, something is going to get left out. If, perhaps, they hadn’t spent half the video throwing people around in slow motion – not proper fighting, just throwing people around while wearing a camel coat, like Cockney Judo – it might make a bit of sense when they leave The Girl (there’s only one girl) tied up, still kidnapped. See if you can follow this bit. They took a key she had. She said something to one of them. He was INSANELY creepy when he found her, while doing his ‘Lee off of Blue’ wailing. There was a box. It had paste jewels in it. Everyone was happy, except the unconscious men and the tied up The Girl. I’m calling it – the plot holes were just too big to sustain the story. Through four whole minutes.
Christina Aguilera: Your Body
My interest in pop goes back quite a long way but I really started being fluent in music videos around 2002, at which time Christina Aguilera released her best ever single – Dirrty. Everything about it was aces, from the title through the music to the bit in the video where Redman punches a giant rabbit and looks so damned happy he could burst. Britney was, at that time, dead in the water so that particular battleground was cleared. Christina was on top of the world. It’s been pretty much downhill from there, though Ain’t No Other Man was bloody good, all round.
When looking for reasons for her decline, one could point to her decision to take a ‘family break’ from music, which would be fair enough if Britney hadn’t taken time out for pretty much the same reason (and for being as mad as a stoat) only to return in triumph. Personally, I think it was just that her follow-up albums weren’t that good. Also all the concentration on being a ‘real’ singer, which seems to mean making your voice go a bit wobbly. That’s not much fun. Whatever it was – the sexism inherent in the system, the songwriting skills of Linda Perry – this is a hopeful sign that things are looking up for Xtina.
Your Body is a decent pop song in a fairly old-school sense. I mean, it isn’t dubstep or whatever, but it doesn’t sound too dated up against the rest of this month’s offerings (the Girls Aloud song, incidentally, definitely sounds dated but I’m spinning that to mean vintage). The video, well, my heart sank when it said ‘no men were harmed in the making of this video’ at the start, because I’m sure I saw that on a Geri Halliwell video one time, or something. Not good, anyway. But it’s fun! It looks great, the idea of Christina as a colourful serial killer whose murders are marked with glitter and paint is well, uhm, executed and it all hangs together nicely.
Little Mix: DNA
Another video, another kidnap. Another example of psychopathic behaviour from pop stars. The difference here is that, unlike the Wanted, the song is actively terrible, like a fifth-rate photocopy of Girls Aloud.. And unlike Christina, the styling of the video is awkward and ugly. Sin City was a while ago now, and none of Little Mix, with their undercooked faces, really suit the look. Sin City wears them, not the other way round.
It ends with ‘To Be Continued’, so I’ll definitely be looking out for that. Sure.
*possibly this is an urban myth. If anyone can locate an mp3, I’d be grateful.