Another farewell to a long-running strand, it’s Mr Moth with the final Mostly Pop.
I debated how to approach this, the last Mostly Pop. Should I just pick out some new releases (at this time of year?)? How about the Christmas Number One contenders (ahhh… the delicious overlap of mediocrity, over-familiarity and outright tedium)? How about my favourite songs of the year? Well. OK, they’re here, here they are. ENJOY THEM THEY ARE ALL GOOD:
Bad Liar – Selena Gomez
Sign of the Times – Harry Styles
Perfect Places – Lorde
Big For Your Boots – Stormzy
Woman – Ke$ha
Boys – Charli XCX
Boyfriend – Confidence Man
Los Ageless – St Vincent
…Ready For It? – Taylor Swift
Lost Maps – Marnie
And now we’re back in the room for some reviews. That’s right, it’s the Christmas Number One contenders, because I hate myself!!
Wham! – Last Christmas
I reviewed the paper-thin Carly Rae Jepsen cover of this a couple of years ago and concluded that it made me respect George Michael just a little bit. Now here we are with the original and, ahh, it’s tinged with a bit of sadness now, isn’t it? I guess I’d better double the respect, because fuck I’m not going to speak ill of the dead am I*?
Happily, Andrew Ridgeley is alive and he can do one. Floppy-haired prick. Look, I grew up hating Wham, you have to give me this.
There is – as there always is this time of year – a campaign to get this to number one in time for Christmas, a feat it famously did not manage on initial release. although in fairness it lost out to Band Aid which is like your novel not doing so well compared to Harry Potter. It’s a nice thought, and as we now know all the royalties go to the Band Aid charity it’s even a good cause, though it’s obvious that’s not the reason it’s doing so well. When George Michael died last year, it was the final big shock death in a year that felt like a very specific rapture had come. He was young and, the odd vehicular sleepiness incident aside, he seemed in decent health. Having said that, I don’t see any campaigns to get Prince to Christmas Number One. Gett Off, maybe? I feel “Last Christmas for Christmas Number One” lacks imagination. You know?
There’s not much to say about Last Christmas, you and I know it as well as know the inside of our own eyelids. I will point out that there is another campaign associated with it, though; #Whamaggeddon on Twitter is a game involving the active avoidance of Last Christmas for as long as possible. Not because it’s disliked, just that its ubiquity makes for an interesting challenge. I can’t help but feel this is on a direct collision course with the Number One campaign. Once again, our fair nation finds itself divided.
*Please ignore the many times I have done so in the past.
Ed Sheeran – Perfect
Look, I’ve gone over the “abandoned sex muppet” weirdness of Ed Sheeran before, this isn’t a greatest hits compilation. So let’s start by saying that this looks and feels like the sort of content one finds at the very end of the list of music channels on Sky, that is to say Channel 389, “Keep It Country”. Yes, after 29 channels of ad breaks, you know it’s time to flip back to the start when the too-smooth video of some godawful contemporary country music video turns up. IT IS NEVER AN AD BREAK ON KEEP IT COUNTRY. Never. And if it is, it’s an advert for a country music song that is functionally identical to a video so who knows?
Anyway, that’s this song and video, that is. Lots of medium shots of Ed looking quote-unquote adorable around a young woman he’s supposed to be madly in love with but… He is super not into her. I was expecting there to be a twist where he’s in love with someone else, but nope. He just doesn’t like her. Every time she’s not looking at him, his face kind of falls a bit, or he just stares off into the distance like “Oh, fuck, I’m stuck here now, this is a fucking SKI LODGE, why did I try to do a cute homage to Last Christmas?”. So yeah, he’s made a bad choice or he’s a terrible actor.
Meanwhile, I don’t think she likes him much either. She tries to get him to do karaoke and he’s all “Haha, no, no, I couldn’t” which I read as “Not for free, love, I’m Ed Sheeran, these chumps can pay for a ticket at the O2 like everyone else”. Then later he busts out the acoustic guitar and, while she smiles at him, it’s the exact same expression I saw EVERY TIME someone got out their acoustic guitar at university. Oh great you play guitar! Greaaaaaat. Woooooo. Yes, that’s very… very heartfelt. Shall we put on some mu- no, no, you carry on, ahah, you ARE our entertainment for the night! I guess!
So they should break up, for Christmas. Maybe she could go off with Andrew Ridgeley. Oh but! They find a cat! A kitten, in the snow. On the side of a mountain. At night. Outside an isolated ski lodge.
I don’t know how to say this, especially at Christmas, but someone wanted that kitten dead.
Eminem – River
This is a contender for Christmas Number One? Why? It’s not good, is it? Eminem has decided to do a bit of a deeper voice, which sounds like he’s just eaten a bar of Galaxy and someone’s just unexpectedly phoned him up. Rrr, growl, glurp. He’s like a Gorg pretending to be a Fraggle, or the other way round. I don’t know, I’m not an expert in quasi-Muppet creatures. EXCEPT HELL YES I AM BECAUSE HERE’S ED SHEERAN AGAIN HOOOOOOOOOO <slams basketball into the net so hard the glass backboard shatters and all the car alarms in a 2 mile radius go off>
Anyway, fuck Eminem, he’s not been good since 20 seconds after My Name Is.
Michael Ball & Alfie Boe and Loads of Smashing Clebs – Bring Me Sunshine
I feel bad attacking charity singles, especially ones that put the beneficiaries in the video, but. I mean. Fucking hell. Look at this, if you can, and despair.
Wait, wait, rewind a little, let’s talk about the song. I absolutely hate this song, Bring Me Sunshine, it can absolutely fuck right off and what the hell is it doing in the Christmas Number One contenders list? It’s about sunshine! OK, the bringing thereof, which is kind of what you want in midwinter but still. It doesn’t have a very Christmassy vibe (But how many songs on this list do?), and there’s nothing in this to suggest “Christmas”, except maybe some bellends in novelty jumpers. So, ok, I’m already in on this, please please disregard the charity which is obviously trying to do a lovely thing, I have nothing against them.
But Ball and Boe. Christ, Look at them, having their fun. Larking about in the recording booth like great pals, great showbiz pals who are deadeyed money-seeking missiles (no bad thing for a charity fundraiser I guess?), just having the best time. And what’s this? Some fab biz chums have turned up to add a bit of sparkle with no notice? Wow! And look, see how some of them really have amazing and unexpected singing voices (Mel off of Bake Off particularly showy in this regard, ok ok you have had voice training sheesh) and are all absolutely cracking sports!
PLEASE JUST GIVE THE CHARITY SOME MONEY, WRITE IT OFF ON YOUR TAX BILL AND SHUT THE FUCK UP.
Ralph McTell – Streets of London
Mariah Carey – All I Want for Christmas is You
Now we’re talking. This is proper Christmas music, hard-wired to stick in your brain and make you feel festive for at MINIMUM a week. It’s remarkably dated in production (whatever has been done to the vocals is VERY early-90s; have a listen to, say, I Love Your Smile by Shanice for a similar effect by a totally different producer) but in a way it’s as timelessly Christmassy as the Slade and Wizzard standards, or indeed Last Christmas or Shakey’s Merry Christmas, Everyone. In isolation, all of these songs reflect the fashions of their time. In an Xmas playlist, they melt into an era-transcending “Christmas” feeling. And, to be fair, this does has jingly bells and such. It’s arranged to be a Christmas song, it doesn’t just do its usual thing with accessories, The Killers.
I’d love it if this made it to number one. It won’t, but I’d love it to do so because I think we kind of deserve a full-fat Christmas Number One. Do you know when we last had a song that even referred to Christmas as Christmas Number One? 2002, with the dreck that was Band Aid 20. Band Aid 30 didn’t cut it, just so you know. Last year it was Clean Bandit, and no Christmas Number One should feature Sean Paul.
I’d also settle for something from Sia’s Christmas album but that seems… Unlikely. Still, I’ll leave you with this, Ho Ho Ho, which is kind of a riot.