Mostly Pop March 2016

Mr Moth returns with his usual mix of cheap jokes and even cheaper knowledge of popular music.

Get The 1975 in here now.

James Bay
Best Fake Smile

Do you sometimes feel that Ed Sheeran is a bit… edgy? That perhaps his forays into hip-hop (he won a fucking MOBO for Christ’s sake, somehow) put him off-limits? Do you ever long for the return of Paolo Nutini? Have you ever thought “If only there was a CBeebies version of Jack White about the place!”? You do? All of that? Brilliant, you’re the target audience for James Bay!

Not James May, he’s the tiny tiny man from Top Gear (honestly, I’ve queued behind him in Marks and he’s a head shorter than I am. IMAGINE how small Richard Hammond is. He might actually be the size of a literal hamster). James Bay. He keeps turning up at the Brit awards looking like he needs a wash and winning Best Newcomer. He’s a newcomer a lot. Maybe there are clones, maybe his basement looks like the under-stage area of Hugh Jackman’s theatre in The Prestige (uh… spoiler, I guess, but it’s an old film now, and shit). Maybe he’s just constantly up-and-coming, and will never be up-and-come.

On this evidence, he’ll do middling ok then vanish like a common Owl City. Yes, I remember Owl City. Someone has to. I have built a little memorial and I light a candle every year on the anniversary of Owl City getting to number one.

The 1975
The Sound

I’m trying to find something to say about The 1975. What genre is this? I don’t even know any more. Synth pop, I guess? I’d better not be too mean about them, though, or I’ll show up in their next video! Oh noes, that would show me, having my cruel words about The 1975 flashed up on screen in a way that shows that they, actually, own those words. They have taken the power from their critics!

Nah. You have to be worth punching to get punched. This is as calculatedly inoffensive as ol’ James Bay there. Can anyone say they feel anything more than a bleak sense of ennui listening to this? The heart is not set racing. It plinks and plunks along then it doesn’t. The 1975 are, however, clearly doing well in The Cube. Pip Schofield must be getting very excited.

Years & Years ft Tove Lo

Well, I mean this certainly isn’t blandly inoffensive as the previous two songs, but I can’t really find anything to like in it particularly. You? By all means watch the video. Come back to me. See what I mean? They’re trying something here, and I always appreciate that. It’s not something I like, but it’s something. It’s a bit like *flips through chart of bands to compare other bands to* uh, Bloc Party? Sounds a bit like Bloc Party to me. Bear in mind that I’ve not heard Bloc Party since about 2005.

And, you know, kudos for filming so much of the video in a Homebase car park on a Sunday morning. That’s also trying something, although in this case it’s trying to save money. Presumably to spend on grey t-shirts! Grey t-shirts highlight the diversity of the extras, I just thought I’d point that out. Hey, we’re all wearing the most neutral clothes so you can see that, actually, we’re all very different types of person! Wows.

Fifth Harmony ft Ty Dolla $ign
Work From Home

TO BE HONEST, after Worth It, I was expecting a bit of a banger here, and this is, well, it’s not even a slow jam. It’s a mid-paced jam, like a not-quite-set jam that you jar up and hope will firm up in the fridge. I’m… yes, I’m using jam making analogies in my pop reviews. I’m down with the kids. Anyway, this very much fails the push test (cue peals of laughter from my jam-making homies).

And the video! No wonder these ladies got fired from their high-powered jobs in the financial heart of popland. They now have to work on a building site (which isn’t working from home, it just isn’t, at least TRY to relate to the song title), and look at the health and safety breaches going on; from unsafe footwear to a lack of protective goggles and hardly is wearing trousers. Unless they’re men, in which case they’re not wearing a shirt, so you can see their sweaty abs. Unless they’re Ty Dolla $ign, in which case they’re dressed like my infant son, with lovely blue dungarees over a vest top. Can we talk about Ty Dolla $ign for a second, by the way? Why call yourself Ty Dolla $ign, like that? The fact the the S is a $ shows that you can clearly find the dollar sign on your keyboard so WHY NOT CALL YOURSELF TY $? It’s MUCH quicker and MUCH LESS FUCKING STUPID. Well. Not that much less,  I suppose.

Anyway, this is trying to be all ironically saucy and cheeky and manages to hit only “So painfully suggestive it’s a bit creepy”. A seaside postcard artist would watch this through their fingers, screeching “Oh god stop wanking off that hammer!”.

All Saints
One Strike

This is the one that’s been playing in my head while I’ve been reviewing the other songs – sorry, other songs. You’re mostly shit, anyway. Dang, could’ve saved a lot of reading by skipping straight to this, couldn’t you?

All Saints were always the cooler girl gang; the Stones to the Spice Girls’ Beatles, the East 17 to their Take That, the N*Sync to their Backstreet Boys, and you get the picture with that. And they had the tunes to back them up,  too – I bow to no one in my admiration for the Spice Girls, but Never Ever is better than any of their songs. Black Coffee, too. Even their cover of Under the Bridge made it a slightly less awkward song.

As with all bands who have a bit of edge, obviously they imploded out of the public eye. One reunion down already (which produced Rocksteady, possibly the best tribute to a Ninja Turtles villain ever penned), they’re back once more again with this! Which as I have implied already, is a bit good. Stripped back, graceful and catchy, it’s the missing link between their debut and the William Orbit-heavy Saints and Sinners.

Just one thing, just one. This video, whose decision was it? Because oh boy. Looks innocuous, right? Black and white minimalism blah but first of all why are there three Appleton sisters and no Melanie Blatt? The grain and wash have made them all alike (you can tell the difference when they sing, mind. Melanie has a rich, clear voice and the Appletons cut through the song like a sponge pudding through granite). And it really looks like an effort is being made to disguise the state of Shaznay Lewis’s skin. She looks like a Faces of Meth poster! And yet if you Google her she looks FINE, completely normal. This is one time black and white really isn’t flattering.

About Thom Willis

Thom is the curator of #microwrites - - and writes his own stories for He lives in London because, given the choice, who wouldn't?

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