Archive for Kylie

40. ‘Real Late Starter’ by Nerina Pallot (2009)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 12, 2011 by G.K. Reid

Through the course of his excellent Then That’s What They Called Music project, The A.V. Club’s Nathan Rabin has repeatedly coined the phrase “secretary rock” to handily sum up the commercially palatable confessionals of your Sheryl Crows, KT Tunstalls and Vanessa Carltons.  We all know how this stuff goes.   The workaday emotional dilemmas of the everywoman embedded in unfailingly catchy melodies.  There’s nothing challenging or even interesting about these songs but, without them, society as we know it would alter dramatically, and for the worse.  What would soundtrack Underappreciated-Working-Gal Kate Hudson as she bustles down a busy New York street and adorably spills latte on herself and gets her pants splashed by a passing cab? If secretary rock just STOPPED, then so too would Kate Hudson’s motor skills.  And how is Self-Centred-Careerist-Gal Kate Hudson ever going to learn to love (repeatedly) or raise her dead sister’s mongoloid children if she can’t even MOVE? And what about Anne Hathaway?  If it wasn’t for secretary rock, she’d still be stuck in a thankless job getting sighed at by Meryl Streep and having her scenes stolen by bitchy British girls.

And it’s not just Hollywood starlets that would suffer.   What are people in sofa ads going to kick off their shoes to as they fall beatifically upon their plush new, life-changing purchase? What would daytime radio stations organise their inane chatter around?

I’m only half-joking, here. It’s interesting how, going back to the Rabin articles, “secretary rock” is initially a pejorative, but as the project goes on, it’s deployed less dismissively and invoked more as an acknowledged subgenre.  The subgenre may essentially amount to constant rehashes of songs off Tapestry but, like any other, it has it’s good and bad practitioners. And, as far as I’m concerned, everyone needs at least one deeply unhip female singer-songwriter in their corner, be it Michelle Branch or Norah Jones or, as it’s increasingly been for me over the last couple of years, Nerina Pallot.

I was vaguely aware of Nerina Pallot when she first surfaced with that catchy (of course!) but borderline-offensive-in-its-naivete song about the war, and quickly dismissed her (of course!) as yet another guitar-jangling, kooky Vega-lyte. And then, one dreary day in the office (of course!), the neverending blandness of Steve Wright in the Afternoon was briefly brightened by the jaunty momentum and oh-so-resonant lyrics of this track, which essentially functions as a 9-to-5 for bemused and directionless late-twentysomethings (the album it led is aptly titled The Graduate).  Inspired to dig a bit deeper into the Pallot output, there was some honest-to-God first-rate songwriting to be found, and she’s been playing heavily on my iPod (albeit mostly when walking to and from work) ever since.

Given the airplay-friendliness of her material and that she’s Kylie’s current go-to girl for quality album tracks, it’s strange that a bonafide hit has so far eluded Pallot (although the video below evidences that she understands the paradox of having such a strong pop sensibility but not quite being able to convince as a popstar). But without that one hit, I guess that’s the deal with secretary rock; hierarchically, you’re always going to be the hoop-jumping Hathaway to Radio 2’s imperious, glowering Streep.

Bonus points: It helps that Real Late Starter is a total self-affirmation-but-not-really anthem.

Best & Worst of 2010, Part 4

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on February 12, 2011 by G.K. Reid

Best Singles of 2010 

from 5 – 1


5. Broken Bells – The Ghost Inside

Slinky, understated funk is the last place I expected James Mercer to flourish, but he’s never sounded better (or, dammit, cooler) than with the not inestimable assistance of Dangermouse here.  His pained falsetto neatly doubling up for both observer and subject, compromise and deep disappointment are evoked in spades. But, most importantly – those handclaps!

 

4. Alicia Keys – Empire State of Mind, Part II


Keys gives her much-mythologised hometown another anthem, albeit one that cops to the prospect of failure as much as the promise of success, and simultaneously gifts the world with one of the most lush, resplendent vocals in recent memory.

 

3. Cee-Lo Green – Fuck You!


There were many joyful, hilarious things about Cee-lo’s (second) breakthrough, aside from the song and video themselves: the initial confusion amongst many that Mr. Gnarls Barkley had apparently changed his name for some reason (‘This guy sounds like that guy who sang that crazy song!’, ad infinitum); the inventive/lazy censoring; the use of ‘fuck you’ as a noun; the X-Factor finalists doing this. Hell, this song even single-handedly restored humour and public fondness to Hollywood’s least-favourite aging starlet! Cee-lo Green is nothing short of a miracle worker. We should all bow before him.

 

2. Kylie Minogue – All the Lovers

A blissful, exultant dancefloor anthem tinged with emotional ambiguity. We’ve been here before with Kylie, sure, but if we’re to assume (with good reason; it’s certainly what she represents to her fans) that she’s motivated by a pursuit for something like purity – or, perhaps more accurately, transcendence -then All the Lovers is arguably the closest she’s come. I mean – shucks – in the gorgeous video, she’s the figurehead of a skyscraper constructed entirely out of interracial omnisexuality. Let’s all just take our clothes off and be friends!

 

1. Kanye West feat. Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj & Bon Iver – Monster

The single greatest thing to happen to music in 2010 was Nicki Minaj’s rip-roaring, bracingly dexterous contribution to this track. I don’t think a star has ever been so violently born, nor a show so emphatically stolen. To this day, having listened to it countless times, I am stunned into rewinding the last three minutes of the song every time. It’s almost enough to make you forget just how phenomenally engineered and replete with choice moments and turns of phrase the rest of the track is. And it’s still only my third favourite song on the album! (Unfortunately it’s difficult to find the seemingly excellent video in decent quality anywhere on the damn internet)

 

 

Some also-rans: Kelis – Acapella; Tinie Tempah – Pass Out; Marina and the Diamonds – Oh No!; Dark Dark Dark – Bright Bright Bright; Example – Kickstarts; Rihanna – Rude Boy; Scissor Sisters – Invisible Light; Patrick Wolf – Time of My Life; Nicole Sherzinger – Poison; Professor Green feat. Ed Drewett – I Need You Tonight; Hot Chip – One Life Stand; Arcade Fire – The Suburbs; Lady Gaga feat. Beyonce – Telephone

 

And with that, I’ll resume whatever it was I was supposed to be doing in the first place.

50. ‘Ready for the Floor’ by Hot Chip (2008)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on August 11, 2010 by G.K. Reid

 Although Kylie Minogue (who, pop legend has it, this song was originally destined for) could have given this the sublime crying-in-the-disco treatment in her sleep, it would have been at the expense of the jaggedness and the idiosyncrasy that make this song (and Hot Chip generally) something to cherish. 

Kylie couldn’t have pulled off the repressed Englishness of the ‘perchance/dance’ rhyme, nor could she have queried ‘Why don’t you open up, we talk?’ with such anxious, geeky tenderness.

And I doubt she would have slapped on half a Joker-face and danced like a five-year-old in the video either.

Bonus points: That having been said, I’d still LOVE to hear a Kylie version.

79. ‘Wow’ by Kylie Minogue (2008)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on January 12, 2010 by G.K. Reid

‘Get me into the shade’

Upon first hearing this song, I thought it was almost aggressively camp, and so cynically squared at Kylie’s G.A.Y. market as to be unbearable.  Admittedly, this was in a gay bar in Manchester, where they played the song four times in the space of 45 minutes. It wasn’t until I got some distance from it and it popped up unexpectedly on the radio many months later that I realised its towering brilliance. It may be camper than Christmas, but that’s one of the marks of its greatness; it’s unashamedly so. In a decade where pop has grown more sophisticated and, with it, more self-consciously hip, it was refreshing to hear such a cool-eschewing, hook-laden, flat-out pop song. And it’s fitting that it’s Kylie who delivers it, as she’s perhaps the most perfect vessel for such contraptions that there’s ever been (and it was also she who, with Can’t Get You Out of My Head, helped usher pop into the future).

Bonus points: That the simple echo of a word in the chorus (in this case, ‘rush’) should be so thrilling is one of those unshakeable mysteries of pop music.