Monday, 28 February 2011

Lighthouse Family '(I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be) Free/One'

Chart Peak: 6

The first single from the Lighthouse Family's long-awaited new album brings together an unlikely combination of two classic songs - Nina Simone's '(I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be) Free' and U2's 'One'... Paul claims that a successful third album from the band does not depend on financial reward, "It's never been about money, we'd just like these songs to be heard... I'd love to play to play to 50,000 people and hear them singing these songs."

I suspect there might be an out-of-context element here, but I have to say that quite a lot of people had heard these two songs beforethe Lighthouse Family got anywhere near them. Indeed, this is the second cover of 'One' to show up on a Now album (though the U2 original never made it) and even if you thought you hadn't heard the Nina Simone track, you might know it as the theme from Film 92, Film 93, Film 94 or whatever.

To be fair, the intro to this track is actually quite pleasant, maybe thanks to the influence of producers Bacon & Quarmby. Once the actual singing takes over, though, the passionate civil-rights anthem drains into mediocrity, and by the time it's segued into one of Bono & Co's most affecting moments, it's a struggle to get through. The best thing I can say about this single is that there weren't many more after it: despite their chart domination in the later 90s, the Family struggled to cope with the new century, and after only one more Top 40 hit ('Run' - another track that's good for the first 30 seconds) and a couple of flops they were gone, pausing only to release the same Greatest Hits album twice within six months. Few seemed to shed tears over their demise, or indeed notice. Apparently they've just got back together though.

Also appearing on: Now 33, 34, 38, 39, 40, 41
Available on: Whatever Gets You Through The Day

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Gabrielle 'Don't Need The Sun To Shine (To Make Me Smile)'

Chart Peak: 9

Still in awe of her own success, Gabrielle says "I used to watch all these stars accepting their Brit Awards and I never dreamed back then that I'd win two of 'em myself. I was supposed to be a one-hit wonder."

The token new song on her Greatest Hits album, 'Don't Need The Sun To Shine' continued a run of big hits that would have seemed implausible after the weak performance of the follow-ups to 'Dreams'. Like the preceding track, it's a laid-back track combining acoustic guitars and gentle electronic backing. It aims for the same contented vibe as well, and is unsurprisingly somewhat more successful in doing so as Gabrielle is undoubtedly a more gifted singer.

All of which said, it still remains rather slight. This is how I feel about most of her music: I sort of like it, recognise the talent involved and feel warmth towards it (and her) but it doesn't really captivate me. Still, it's a nice change to have a new single on a Greatest Hits that's not the weakest track there.

Also appearing on: Now 25, 26, 27, 33, 35 (with East 17), 36, 44, 45, 46, 47, 49, 58
Available on: Dreams Can Come True - Greatest Hits Vol 1

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Emma Bunton 'Take My Breath Away'

Chart Peak: 5


In the sleeve notes, Emma Bunton seems very proud of this song which it's noted that she actually co-wrote (with veteran pop producers Steve Mac and Wayne Hector, the latter of whom has formed a long and lucrative partnership with Simon Cowell and his various contestants). I'm sure she was being entirely sincere, but the lyric - which I'd presume is her contribution - isn't really anything to crow about. Musically, the track completely fails to go anywhere and isn't even particularly catchy. It's not unpleasant and it's far from the worst thing ever released by a solo Spice Girl (in fact, not even the worst solo Spice track on this compilation) but it's a bit of a makeweight at best.

Also appearing on: Now 44 (with Tin Tin Out), 48, 55, 56, 57
Available on: A Girl Like Me

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Jennifer Lopez 'Ain't It Funny'

Chart Peak: 3


In addition to her blockbusting movie career, which includes starring performances in Out Of Sight, The Cell and The Wedding Planner, Jennifer Lopez can now boast a best-selling role in the world of pop - her second album grabbed the No1 spot in no less than 10 countries! Now officially off the market, Jennifer married her choreographer , Cris Judd, in California this year.
I'm not proud of my prejudices, but I have a tendency to resent people who are famous in other fields and feel like they can muscle in on pop music and be entitled to a successful career. J-Lo, as she liked to style herself at the time, always seemed to be one of those. Of course, some people agreed with her as you can see from the above success.

To be honest, 'Ain't It Funny' isn't a terrible record, in a sort of turn-of-the-century Latin pop way, but it's one that I always found curiously unappealing. And is that even her singing the chorus? Possibly the most notable thing about it is that the following year she had another hit with what was called a remix of this, though all they had in common was the title: all the other lyrics and even the entire sentiment were different, as was all the music.

Also appearing on: Now 68
Available on: J.Lo

Monday, 21 February 2011

Travis 'Sing'

Chart Peak: 3

Uplifting track 'Sing' scored a No. 3 for Scottish band Travis in June following hit singles 'Why Does It Always Rain On Me?', 'Turn' and 'Coming Around' into the UK Top Ten... the second Travis LP "The Invisible Band", recently won the much-coveted prize for "Best Album" at the 2001 Q Awards.

Now, I'm not the world's biggest Travis fan but even I know The Invisible Band was their third album: ironically enough it was called that as a reference to the band's anonymity, despite the ubiquity of their music around the turn of the century. Still, this is their only appearance on a Now album and it proved a logical time for that to happen as it was their highest-charting single and the culmination of a run of seven hits which each outpeaked its predecessor (only one of their first eleven chart singles had failed to do this, in fact).

Back when they first emerged in 1997, all the fuss was about a big, daft, glammy band who could take over as Oasis started to take themselves too seriously. Then they had their first Top 20 hits with 'More Than Us' and 'Writing To Reach You', and suddenly a formula was born: well-produced, sensitive, jangly semi-acoustic tunes along the lines of a more photogenic Teenage Fanclub. Their biggest hit of all is almost a blend of the two traditions, another harmless strumalong but with a somewhat inane chorus lyric that mentions the song title over thirty times (possibly a throwback to the aforementioned 'Turn' which pulls a similar track). Credit is due to produer Nigel Godrich for making the best of it and appending plenty of sonic trickery to try and distract from the fact that the song itself has so little to it, but the addition of banjo hardly disguises the resemblance to the theme from The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy; ironically the single was released shortly after Douglas Adams died.

Whilst it's difficult to find anything much actually wrong with this track, as time goes by it becomes harder to understand why there was so much fuss about it. 

Available on: Singles

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Wheatus 'A Little Respect'

Chart Peak: 3


I suppose it's a little bit surprising that we don't get the two novelty cover versions right next to each other. Wheatus only ever had three Top 40 hits in the UK, but they managed to spread them out at roughly six-monthly intervals, and the second was this attempt on the Erasure hit (the original can be found on Now 13).
Whilst I could give the Alien Ant Farm record some credit for enthusiasm, this is just awful. It's completely unimaginative, and suffers from the typical karaoke mistake of odd phrasing because the singer didn't seem to know the words to the later verses until the last minute. And since the semi-falsetto voice is so deeply irritating to start with it was something of a struggle for me to get through the whole thing. At least it's given me new admiration for the voice of Andy Bell. In fact, I'd even rather have heard Andy Bell from Ride/Oasis/Beady Eye singing it than this terrible effort.

Also appearing on: Now 49
Available on: Wheatus

Friday, 18 February 2011

Sum 41 'Fat Lip'

Chart Peak: 7


Green Day have a lot to answer for. It seemed as if there was an inexhaustible supply of young pop-punk bands emerging with anthemic songs of textbook rebellion. In fact, there probably still are but the fashion's gone another way for the time being.

'Fat Lip' (a title that to the best of my knowledge doesn's appear in the lyric) isn't the worst of these, it is at least competently performed and carefully laden with many a hook line. But I hated it then and I still dislike it now.

Also appearing on: Now 51
Available on: All Killer, No Filler

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Alien Ant Farm 'Smooth Criminal'

Chart Peak: 3

It might seem rather strange that a hot new nu-metal band would choose to cover a Michael Jackson track, but Alien Ant Farm's front-man, Dryden Mitchell, claims that the band are "all big fans of Michael Jackson"

Actually, I don't find the idea of a metal band covering a song from another genre at all surprising. These novelty covers are something of a pet hate of mine, and so when they released this as the follow-up to the irritating Lamacq Live favourite 'Movies', I hated it. Actually, listening now it's by no means the worst of such efforts and there's some energy to it. It does sound like they might even like the song, though not enough to have learnt the words properly. I wouldn't want to hear it repeatedly though.

Predictably, the commercial gain from this track was short-lived: a re-released 'Movies' went Top 5, but they haven't come near the Top 40 since.

Also appearing on: Now 51
Available on: I Am Working Out

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

The Dandy Warhols 'Bohemian Like You'

Chart Peak: 5 (42 in 2000)


There's a possibility you might have heard this song before. Years ago I remember somebody writing a joke article about how anthropologists had discovered a remote tribe who didn't think they'd heard too much of this song.

The temptation to shirk actually writing about this one was strong, but I decided to do my duty anyway. I actually remember the first time this single came out: they'd had a few indie hits off the breakthrough album Dandy Warhols Come Down, including the surprise Top 20 'Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth', and the first single from the follow-up album just about scraped into the Top 40. When the second single, a fairly obvious take-off of the Stones' 'Brown Sugar', failed to make the grade, I thought that was about the last we'd hear of them: a year later, a ubiquitous mobile-phone advert prompted a re-issue, continuous airplay on AOR radio stations and canonisation as a great slacker anthem. Which I suppose it sort of is, as it's now such an obvious choice.

Like their other big hits, the song has a rather sneery tone. Part of this must come from Courtney Taylor-Taylor's voice, but there obviously is a degree of intent there. The lyric is half a conversation ("So what do you do? Oh yeah I wait tables too" and even if you took that at face value it feels slightly mocking. Once you get to the sting in the tail of the later chorus "Just a casual casual easy thing... it is for me", you lose even more sympathy for the narrator; when he says "I like you" it's not really a compliment, just the minimum possible positive comment. It's as if he's so fond of himself that you should be utterly flattered by the fact that he even likes you. Of course, this is all intentional but the trouble is that the somewhat studied attitude of the songwriting becomes almost as irritating as the protagonist's own with repeated hearings. And we've all heard this a lot. It's actually not as bad a record as it seems though.

Also appearing on: Now 64 (with Mousse T)
Available on: Best Of The Capitol Years 1995-2007

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

OPM 'Heaven Is A Halfpipe'

Chart Peak: 4

YouTube [uncensored version]
'Heaven Is A Halfpipe' has been described as a "chiming skater's anthem" - and it gave OPM an impressive UK chart debut at No.4... Matthew (AKA Shakey L The Kreation Kid) describes the band's slacker style as "nothing too complicated" and John E. Necro adds "We're not trying to blow up your brain, we're saying 'Hey, cool out a bit.'"
Even without the irritating compulsory-fun quotes and the you-don't have-to-be-mad-to-work-here stage names, there's something about most skater music that tends to get on my wick. It's not just that I have no interest at all in the sport; I'm not interested in surfing either but it never stopped me enjoying the Beach Boys. In fact, I don't really even know enough about the culture as a whole to have an opinion on it at all, but it seems to attract a lot of really awful music that combines the worst elements of rock and hip-hop, with an extra order of self-satisfaction. You'll struggle to find a better example than this rather weak novelty single, in which they imagine skating in the afterlife (I neither know nor frankly care exactly what a halfpipe is), although for the sake of a rhyme they say at the start of the second verse that there's a sign saying "DO NOT SKATE".
All this is delivered over the much-used sample of 'Impeach The President' by the Honeydrippers (not the Led Zep spinoff act, obviously) which means that at least this record is slightly less irritating musically than vocally. But the only other claim it has to notability is that they managed to sneak the phrase "Jesus packing my bong" past the compilers uncut.

Incidentally, after severall minutes of thought I've come up with the only two skating songs I think are any good: 'Kick, Push' by Lupe Fiasco and (to make my brother happy)'Skateboard Song' by Kenickie.
Available on: Menace To Sobriety

Monday, 14 February 2011

Nelly Furtado 'Turn Off The Light'

Chart Peak: 4


I hadn't realised until recently, but this is a slightly ironic song to be posting about on Valentine's Day, because it's all about loneliness. She garbles it rather, but the chorus is "they say that girl she acts so tough, but it's till I turn off the light." There's a bit more to the track than initially meets the ear in other words, and it's a bit of a shame that I was too annoyed by all the hype around 'I'm like A Bird' to pay any attention.

Which isn't to say that this track isn't at all irritating in its own right; I have limited tolerance for the overdone showy scat singing and this album (probably accidentally) exacerbates things by using the album version rather than the shorter single cut. But I can admit now there's a decent song hidden in here, and the luxuriant production on the intro is a nice touch.

Also appearing on: Now 48, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68 (with Timbaland and Justin Timberlake)
Available on: Best Of

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Blue 'If You Come Back'

Chart Peak: 1 (1 week)


London lads Duncan James, Anthony Costa [sic], Lee Ryan & Simon Webb are the members of 2001's hottest new R&B/pop sensation Blue... The band's first single 'All Rise' made an unprecedented debut at no4 while follow-up, 'Too Close' gave the boys their first no1 - their "crazy and exciting" year looks set to continue with the release of the hotly-tipped 'If You Come Back' in November.
I thought I should probably reproduce all that to give you some context for a song that already seems rather forgotten: it's probably the least-remembered of their three chart-topping singles, although it happens to have been the only one ever to make a Now album. But then almost all their hits seem to have dropped off the radar surprisingly fast, which is presumably why their attempts to reunite and make a comeback seem to have been going on longer than their original career did. It's probably also why it's so rare to go into a charity shop that doesn't have at least one copy of their debut album in it. Even the band's name is generic and of course unoriginal - they were unsuccessfully sued by the identically-named act who had a Top 20 hit in the Seventies with 'Gonna Capture Your Heart'.

'If You Come Back' is the only one of those three Number One singles that wasn't a cover version, althoughit wasn't written by the band themselves either. It's straight out of the boyband sausage factory (one of the people who did write it was an ex-member of 911) and betrays nothing of the "street" sounds of a lot of their songs. Which is no bad thing, really, because that was usually quite cringeworthy, but then again it doesn't sound like anything else either, it's just totally inert.

As for that comeback, well at time of writing their years of circling around Eurovision have finally paid off and they're representing "us" in Germany this year. Unfortunately, the song won't be about a lovely horse.

Also appearing on: Now 49, 51, 53, 54, 56, 57, 58, 59
Available on: All Rise

Friday, 11 February 2011

City High 'What Would You Do?'

Chart Peak: 3


In what I think may be a unique event in the history of Now albums, we get two consecutive songs about the moral questions surrounding women who need to turn to the adult entertainment business in order to make ends meet. Indeed the connections go further because Wyclef co-produced this track and makes a cameo appearance in the video.

The sleeve note quotes them as claiming that they "talk about issues that occur in everyday life... without preaching". If so, I'd hate to think what they'd sound like if they were being preachy. This song always rubbed me up the wrong way, and listening back now I think part of the problem is that the seriousness of the subject matter sits uneasily with the often gimmicky production, including an odd chunk of Dr Dre's 'The Next Episode': this song first appeared on the soundtrack to the 1999 movie Life (me neither) but presumably without the Dre element. The edited version featured here doesn't help matters much by dropping not only the swearing but some of the drug and sex references as well, thus making the lyric barely comprehensible (the official video I liked to above is less sanitised).

And then to cap it all, at the end of the song they all go "Mmmm" in a way that I've always found insufferably smug and self-important, as if they really want to hammer home that they've been all challenging.

Also appearing on: Now 51
Available on: Ultimate R&B

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Wyclef Jean 'Perfect Gentleman'

Chart Peak: 4


In addition to the hit singles 'A Perfect Gentleman' [sic!] and 'It Doesn't Matter', Wyclef's latest LP also features an interpretation of Pink Floyd's 'Wish You Were Here'... Wyclef recently contributed to the internationally televised, celebrity fund-raising event for the victims of the terrorist attacks in America where he performed Bob Marley's 'Redemption Song'.
It's as if the sleeve note there is trying to get away from the subject of the track that it's actually about.Which is curious because whatever you say about it, it's memorable. 
One-off appearances are a bit of a feature of this album; I presume they were able to persuade Sony and BMG (still separate companies in 2001) to join the party, but only briefly. So it is that for all his success with the Fugess and a long list of solo hits, he only really shows up on here with this idiosyncratic ode to an exotic dancer. That's a subject hardly new to hip-hop, but we get a slightly different perspective as Wyclef's protagonist sees tears in her eyes as he goads her with his money. Rather absurdly, this leads into Pretty Woman territory and they decide to e-e-e-e-e-lope to Mex-i-i-i-i-i-i-co, as a result of which he has to call up his mother and say he's in love with a stripper, yo.

The woman gets to have her say in a rapped verse, explaining that she only does this to pay her tuition fees, although she seems curiously unaware that motorised transport has reached south of the border. And it seems slightly to go against the intent of the song that whoever did this vocal isn't actually credited anywhere very prominent. None of this is quite as subversive as I suspect he thought it was but it's catchy. And indeed it was a record that became very annoying at the time, though now I hear it so rarely it's sort of fun.

Also appearing on: Now 65 (with Shakira)
Available on: Greatest Hits

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Sophie Ellis-Bextor 'Take Me Home'

Chart Peak: 2


It's 5 years since Sophie Ellis-Bextor began her pop career but she's already experienced a dramatic change of direction - Sophie originally fronted super-slick indie outfit The Audience [sic], but it was her guest vocal performance on Spiller's 'Groovejet' that really propelled her into the pop limelight... Now Sophie is on her own - and cool disco number 'Take Me Home', originally an American chart hit for Cher, gave her a UK Top 5 hit.

I don't know why, but something about her solo career has never quite gelled with me. I saw theaudience live a few times, and I've still got the coloured vinyl 7" of
'A Pessimist Is Never Disappointed' - indeed looking up that clip reminded me how much I used to love the band. I don't think it's just the fact that she went in a different direction when she went solo: I'd enjoyed her star turn on 'Groovejet' but extending the same style to her subsequent records never seemed to have the same magic. Maybe it's because she can't write music and is thus at the mercy of collaborators, but I think the big problem is that there's always an atmosphere of self-conscious kitsch about her music that seems to spoil the fun somewhat.

All of which said, I had cause to listen back to 'Murder On The Dancefloor' a couple of weeks ago, and found it had aged rather better than I expected. This relatively forgotten debut hit has too, it turns out. Only for the purposes of this post have I ever listened to Cher's original, never a hit in the UK. It's surprisingly similar in style, although the lyrics were partly re-written for this version. It's more pleasant now I don't hear it with the same air of disappointment, but I still feel like it's not the best music she could make and worse, it seems like she knows it too. The fact that she's made effectively the same record for the subsequent ten years  is a bit gruelling too.

Also appearing on: Now 51, 52, 53, 56, 57, 66
Available on:Read My Lips

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Five 'Let's Dance'

Chart Peak: 1 (2 weeks)

YouTube [starts quietly]
Many hearts were broken across the UK this autumn when super-boy-band Five announced they were going their separate ways... Sean, Scott, Ritchie, Richard & Jason can look back on a career that includes sales of over 6 million albums, 8 Top 5 UK singles and a host of top awards including "Best British Band" at the 2000 Smash Hits Poll Winners Party.

Like the Steps track before it, this is a penultimate hit; but whereas the disbandment of Steps was very obviously planned (and ultimately announced on Boxing Day for maximum publicity), Five seem to have stuttered to a halt around the time they released this lead single for their third album: indeed Sean Conlon was already unavailable at the time of the video shoot for this track (supposedly for health reasons) and is replaced by a cardboard cut-out. Other injuries and absences befell them in the subsequent weeks, and since the band name would make it harder for them than most boy bands to survive losing a member or two, they and their management saw the writing on the wall before they reached the intended ending. A farewell single was rushed out and a Greatest Hits by the end of year, before the stage was set for the usual decade or so of failed attempts to reform and make comebacks.

Much as a found them annoying at the start of their career, I did develop a bit of a soft spot for Five over the years. No, they weren't the best band ever or even the best of their times, but at a time when there were a lot of very samey boy bands, they stood out for their reluctance to sit on stools to sing slow songs where they stood up for the key change, and for their hints of a sense of humour (remember the cardboard cutout?) which certainly set them apart from the American boy bands of the time who ploughed a similar furrow, but did so with a sense of earnestness and protestations that they were really serious RnB acts. Even things like their cover version of 'We Will Rock You', which is of course rubbish by any sensible yardstick, were most often rubbish in a memorable way. 'Let's Dance' isn't one of the songs they're really remembered for now, and if I had to pick one of their songs to listen to it wouldn't have been this one; but for what it is, it's not actually that bad, an upbeat pop record you actually could dance to, if you so desired.

Legend has it that Russell Brand unsuccessfully auditioned for the band. Maybe they should have got him in as the replacement.

Available on: Greatest Hits

Monday, 7 February 2011

Steps 'Chain Reaction'

Chart Peak: 2


One track that wasn't quite a Number One, although at least it is a cover version of one: Diana Ross was of course at the top of the chart 25 years ago next month with the Bee Gees-penned song. It's not a totally comfortable fit for the more dayglo style of Steps, as the lyrical content is actually quite saucy when you listen to it but they don't seem entirely ready to sex-up their image as some comparable acts would at this stage in their career. The one exception is that rather disturbing grunt about 17 seconds in, which it's probably just as well they didn't follow up elsewhere on the record.

The production here is reminiscent of their other big Gibb-sourced hit, 'Tragedy', with a lot of the same percussion effects. If I had to listen to a version of this song (and fortunately I don't most of the time) I think it'd have to be this one. At least it doesn't have the screechy backing vocals.

Also appearing on: Now 39, 40, 41, 42, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 51
Available on: Gold: Greatest Hits

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Bob The Builder 'Mambo No. 5'

Chart Peak: 1 (1 week)


Westlife, DJ Otzi and now Bob The Builder... they must have been worried about loading so much serious, heavyweight material so early in the sequence there.

The claymation construction worker's second Number One single is of course a parody, if that's the appropriate word, of Lou Bega's summer hit of two years earlier, which is in turn based on a Perez Prado instrumental, hence the otherwise confusing title which supplies at least one joke in this version. For obvious generational reasons, I don't know much about the characters here other than Bob himself, but I always had something of a soft spot for this, and not least because it seemed to wind up the sort of people who believed the chart belonged to people aged between about 15 and 30, and anything that was popular with people of other ages didn't belong there. And I find it slightly amusing that Neil Morrissey has had two Number Ones and Stephen Morrissey hasn't had any.

Also appearing on: Now 48
Available on: Bob the Builder - the Album

Saturday, 5 February 2011

DJ Otzi 'Hey Baby!'

Chart Peak: 1 (1 week)


Described as the "ultimate party record" DJ Otzi's 'Hey Baby!' topped the UK chart in September 2001 - following a summer of storming charts all over Europe... the top holiday tune of 2001 is based on Bruce Channel's 1962 hit 'Hey! Baby' which has been a big dance-floor success since it featured in the movie "Dirty Dancing".

"Based on" seems a bit of an understatement, really, considering that it is a cover version version of Channel's hit, although it does dispense with the most distinctive feature of the original, namely Delbert McClinton's dockside harmonica which famously inspired John Lennon to apply a similar sound to the early Beatles singles. It also ups the tempo and still goes on for almost twice as long. It's not a record I have a lot of time for, but at the same time I realise it's not designed to be taken seriously (I presume it's an intentional joke that he announces it as "Hey Baby von der Seventies") and I can see how it might work in the right mood. A little goes a long way.

This track also has a minor place in history as it set a new record for climbs to the top of the chart: it officially went 45-1, although this was due to sales of an imported CD single being combined with the domestic CD and cassette formats.

Available on: Hey Baby (Uh Ah)

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Westlife 'Uptown Girl'

Chart Peak: 1 (1 week)


And froma record that it'd be contrarian not to like to one it'd be contrarian to enjoy. The official Comic Relief single for 2001, according to the sleeve note it raised "thousands of Pounds" and became their eighth Number One single out of nine, if you include the collaboration. It marks their first ever appearance in the Now series though, and even then it's a bit late, having been a hit six months earlier than the preceding Kylie record.

Of course, it's a fairly faithful cover of Billy Joel's only chart-topping single, which was one of my favourite records when I was about five. It doesn't sound quite so good to me now and therefore I'm not so offended by this version. Or maybe I'm just relieved every time I hear Westlife do a song that isn't a slowie but either way I don't really mind this one too much. It has nothing to recommend it musically either, unless you give it a bye for being a charity record, but it's harmless.

One thing I'd never noticed until I looked up the video for this post: Claudia Schiffer shows up in the video but it's actually quite blatant that she was never in the same shot as the band themselves. Presumably scheduling issue were to blame, but it's tempting to assume she just refused to be on a set where a Westlife track was playing. 

Also appearing on: Now 62, 63, 65, 68.
Available on: Unbreakable: the Greatest Hits Vol.1

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Kylie Minogue 'Can't Get You Out Of My Head'

Chart Peak: 1


Two things I don't often do on here are albums from the 21st century and requests. But I'm making a double exception here because an anonymous tipster (at least I assume they're anonymous, they're free to reveal themselves should they so wish) has actually supplied me with a copy of the discs, and invested almost two pounds sterling in the hope of seeing these tracks covered - see image at right.

We start with one of the most famous records of 2001, a track that was so widely and instantly recognised as a pop classic that I've scarcely ever been able to listen to it. The one previous time I've had to write about Kylie round here, I floundered somewhat for fear of the true believers who can't accept that anything she does is ever substandard. Whilst this wasn't exactly her comeback hit - she had of course had a Number One single the previous year - it feels like the very start of that idea. Rarely in the history of music has there been a record where I've felt that my own opinion is less valued - it seems like anyone of any musical taste or attitude is obliged to love it, just from different angles.

It's only the best part of a decade later that I've been able to listen to the record instead of hearing it. Actually, it's not bad musically, but I always found those girly chorus vocals a bit irritating. I don't really know whether I'm allowed to only like it a bit though, and in any case I feel like I'm a bit tired of it now. But I can restrain my contrarian impulse to pretend it's no good at all.

Also appearing on: Now 11, 18, 19, 21, 29, 46, 47, 48, 51, 52, 53, 56, 57, 58, 60, 61, 68, 69, 70, 76, 77
Available on: Fever