30 day song challenge: day 12 – a song from a band you hate

You know what I really hate? Lots of things, really – that’s why I tend to blog about things I love, because there’s just too much crap in the world. I used to get sent dozens of CDs per month to review, and a good 80% of those were absolute bobbins. Do you have any idea how depressing that is? We got to the point where we’d whip the CDs out of the player and throw them hard against the wall to see if they’d break – partly from frustration, and partly to make sure that no other poor bugger had to suffer the misfortune of listening to that putrid bilge.

Even without those obscure slabs of twaddle that (thankfully) never got anywhere, there have been many extremely popular acts that I’ve hated with the fire of a thousand desert suns. Even so, I generally allow them one song. You know, the one that makes you at least appreciate why anyone else might like them even if you think they’re absolutely f***ing dire.

Example: Take That. I don’t need to even begin to explain what was so teeth-gratingly, nerve-shreddingly awful about them. Even so, hearing Back For Good for the first time, the devil’s advocate that sits on my shoulder had to concede that on its own terms the songwriting and structure was unusually good, especially when apparently written by one of the gormless tw*ts in the band.

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Then, of course, the angel on my other shoulder kicked his ass and made me swear never, ever to even come close to liking this sub-Elton snorefest. I assure you, I will never like Take That.

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Who else do I hate? Oasis are an easy target – but much as I’d like to blame them personally for being entirely despicable human beings, a lot of the damage they wreaked to music in the 90s was actually the result of Alan McGee waking up sober one day and yelling, “S***! I’m broke!”

I’ve always had a particular loathing for The White Stripes – perhaps the ultimate example of a band who only ever got anywhere because it was fashionable to like them and not because they had any redeeming qualities whatsoever. They were essentially just a s***ty pub rock band that got lucky, featuring a drummer … well, I know it’s the passion, not the technicality, but when I could play better than that after one hour of practice, for f***’s sake, there are limits. I’ll allow them Seven Nation Army, which being quite catchy for the whole of its signature riff makes it better than anything else they ever did. (3 minutes 58 later: good grief, that song’s terrible.)

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Yup, there’s a lot of unremittingly, staggeringly, eye-wateringly bad music out there.

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(did Chris Brown just sing “girl, I’m about to attack”? Because I’d report that …)

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Still, while we’re on the subject of eye-poppingly tasteless threats to womankind, I’ll introduce you to my numero uno Bête Noire de la Musique:

The Spice Girls.

I’ve always hated them more than any other pop act in history because of what they represent. Back in the mid-90s, we’d had two or three decades of interesting, self-assured women making memorable music. We’d had a female prime minister and female entrepreneurs like Anita Roddick and if you wanted to choose a female role model, you just had to close your eyes and point in any direction. If I looked around anywhere – at work (music industry), at the magazines I freelanced for, at the PR agencies and record companies – it was about 50% women. An indie band with female members was more normal than novelty, and likely the promoter putting the gig on would be a woman, too. It just wasn’t something people put much thought into – any more than you’d count how many people in the office were Irish or had brown hair.

Then this.

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I get a kind of stack overload of objection when I consider the Spice Girls. Really, where to begin? For a start, it’s the insipid girliness of the band. If I was always faintly irritated by Shampoo, then the Spice Girls were ten times more obnoxious since I was 19 and Ginger Spice was pushing 30 when the band came out. And she lied about her age and everyone knew it. And there they were acting like helpless, lisping teenagers, running and giggling and … Baby Spice, for f***’s sake, with her weak voice and limp pigtails like some parody of Baby Jane.

There’s the overexcitable energy and gratuitous backflips like some Saturday morning kid’s TV programme that any self-respecting toddler would find patronising. There’s the blatant, jarring, toe-curling lack of any kind of singing ability. There’s the cloying sentimentality and skipping and hand-holding. Most of all, there was “Girl Power” – a mutant, grotesque pastiche of empowerment presented in Barbie-style branded cellophane and peddled to small infants to coax them into believing that in order to find personal fulfillment they just need to simper subserviently and buy this cheeky range of action figures.

Somehow, this garish freakshow of a pop act managed to brainwash a generation of pink-clad princesses to the point where conversing with anyone even five years younger became a lot like trying to explain the concept of assertiveness to a particularly thick 1950s housewife. At this rate, by the mid-2020s, we’ll be culturally back to the point we’d arrived at in 1994. Simon Fuller has a lot to answer for – but everyone else does, too, for falling for that bulls***. I mean, seriously, what were you thinking?

Plus, their songs were f***ing awful.

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One comment on “30 day song challenge: day 12 – a song from a band you hate

  1. Via Facebook:

    ET: I take much pleasure in this desire to let you know that I love Oasis, the White Stripes, and the Spice Girls (Spice World is my guilty pleasure movie…I was in 5th grade at the time. sue me) And I really don’t give a f*** that you loathe them. I almost feel like a trollololol. Guess nobody is perfect ;D (I’m just messing with you, but I really do like them xD)

    MM: I love the Spice Girls tooooooo!!! ♥ Not so much Oasis or the White Stripes, but I love the Spice Girls precisely because of the reasons you hate them. Give me sugary bubble gum pop over Music That Is Very Important any day. I WILL turn up the radio and sing in car when I hear the Spice Girls.

    KO: There’s certainly some merit in your objections to the group themselves but I very much disagree that the songs were *awful*. Appalling R’n’B inspired third album aside, there were some pop classics in their output. “Spice up your life”, “Wannabe”, “Viva Forever”, “Mama”, “Stop”, “2 become 1” – great tunes.

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