Top 100 singles of all time: 61 – Gwen Stefani – What You Waiting For?

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There was a moment at the turn of the century when pop music rocked. I don’t mean it wore spandex or threw horn-shapes, but it had the fire, the fury and lust that made guitar-based music sound very flaccid in comparison. It had a confidence and mischief that made guitar music sound very boring, and the sort of ambition that made rock sound weak and naff. There was a moment when I typed out “f*** this, I’d rather listen to Kylie” in resignation to my editor, to a backdrop of sounds like this.  Continue reading

Where did all the catchy tunes go?

At the video game forum where I hang out, someone linked to a rather stupid article from 2001 called “Where did all the catchy tunes go?”, in which Steve Sailer claims that – well – things ain’t what they used to be. I could have ignored it, could have walked away, but I thought there was a defence to be made for modern pop. I know this because I’ve been there: saying that there aren’t great songs out there only proves that you haven’t been paying attention.
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#musicmonday : Nicola Roberts – Beat Of My Drum

Nicola Roberts photo by Laurenski/Getty Images

Nicola Roberts was always my favourite member of Girls Aloud, who are probably my all-time favourite girl group. That’s probably heresy if I’m including the 1960s, but in terms of actual listens, the Girls Aloud greatest hits CD has had way more plays in this house.

There’s not a huge amount to be said about this song, which is equal parts puerile and sophisticated. There’s more of an 80s influence than the fashion, from the ferocious rhythms to the playground-shout chorus. Continue reading

Producers that make (or break) the band

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Band-members are like the ingredients of a cake: get it wrong, and the result is bland or sickly. It’s about getting people together who make each other feel comfortable, who can inspire the audience, and who can deflate the ego of an overindulgent songwriter. The producer is the mould. If you pour cake mix onto a baking tray, you’ll end up with a flat, sticky mess. Some producers are like old-fashioned round cake tins, providing a strong but subtle structure that simply allows the flavours to emerge. Others make fancy shapes, so vibrant and daring that its cakeness comes second to its art-form. Like the line-up, the right producer for your band is the one that fits your personal dynamic, and brings out the best in what you, uniquely, have to offer.

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#trendingtopics – Music Shuffle

From Facebook:
Time for another one of these.
Write down the first 25 random songs that come up on your MP3 player, iPod etc. I used Last.fm set to My Library station.
No cheating!
No editing!

I thought I’d give it a go, using Last.fm, just to see what would happen. I found it interesting because it was forcing me to listen to things that I hadn’t heard in a while or given a particularly fair listen, and playing things out of the context of how I usually hear them. There’s some good songs here …

1. Foetus – Verklemmt

Bit of a no-brainer for me, considering how much I’ve been listening to this lately. I find the video hard-going (made by Alex Winter from Bill & Ted, it’s got literally thousands of cuts), but it’s a great song from the album GASH.

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2. The Kinks – Dead End Street

Ah, I never tire of this song. I used to play it a lot when I was unemployed and starving-broke, living in a miserable bedsit in one of the rougher parts of South London.

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10 Great Pop Songs from the Noughties

It’s been a day for celebration as the Chilean miners have begun their ascent. My mate Kenny reckons he liked them when they were still underground – but now everyone’s talking about them …

Kenny’s weird. He doesn’t like pop. I mean, granted, most pop’s rubbish, but every now and then a pop song makes the charts that’s as weird and wonderful, complex and exciting as any other style of music. Here, to remind us, are some of the best.

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Gwen Stefani – What You Waiting For? (Love. Angel. Music. Baby., 2004)


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The story behind this New Wave treat goes that Stefani’s first day in the studio with the legendary Linda Perry was disastrous, with Gwen breaking down in tears of self-doubt. Perry played her a tune the next day, which Gwen really loved, and Perry said, “Well, what are you waiting for?” The pair then documented Gwen’s emotional state to form the lyrics. It is unknown whether white rabbits were involved in the proceedings.

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Sugababes – Stronger (Angels With Dirty Faces, 2002)


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Back when the Sugababes made truly excellent records, this ripped off Massive Attack’s Unfinished Sympathy to devastating effect. Lush strings complement the fine three-part harmony against a languid trip-hop beat. This song is a great reminder of how they used to sound before they lapsed into bland, shallow elevator muzak.
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