That Doesn’t Mean You’re Lazarus Yet, Boy
lbum chart notes: Van Halen best of at #15. We are spared 'Jump'. And at #7—THUH HAAAAAAAAHVES!!! They do a jingle but they sound very, very bored. But hey, here's 'Walk Idiot Walk,' which is nice. Robert Palmer dancing. Whoop.
Other than that, there's a lot of things going back up the album chart cos, well, something to do, innit? And The Streets and The Scissors alternate again, with the Brummie lad topping the pops this week. 'Fit But You Know It' is played. Booyah.
New Entries Outside The Top 20: Badly Drawn Boy #38 (handbells, children's choir—five months too early, in other words, and just rather too plodding and dreary for its own good—perhaps it works on the album, but it's too uneventful to stand alone); Matt Goss #31 (Like Eagle-Eye Cherry with odd George Michael-esque vocal echo. Not very good); The Cure #25 (blah blah Gay Dad blah blah blah); Marques Houston #23 (come to Marques' hotel. He has Eurosport); and Ash #22 (I always remember liking the slow stuff off 1977 best. Now, however, they just sound stunningly half-cocked, and Wheeler's voice sounds even more piss-weak than ever. Plod, plod, plod…)
THE UK TOP 20: UNFASTEN YOUR SEATBELTS
20) THE BLACK EYED PEAS – Let's Get It Started
It's a very slow week.
19) STYLES & BREEZE – You're Shining (NEW ENTRY)
Come to life.
18) FLIP & FILL ft. KAREN PARRY – Discoland
Come to Butlins.
17) KELIS – Trick Me
So yeah, basically, it's a ludicrously dull week in the top 40. We have three new entries left—Est'elle, Lou Reed and The Streets. I've already completely forgotten what Styles & Breeze sounded like. The skies have suddenly got all overcast and shit. I sway to this, partly cos it's great, partly cos I'm starting to fall asleep.
16) McFLY – Obviously
I thought I had something to say about this this week. I really can't think why, but last night at some juncture I think I did. I was watching CD:UK… no, that doesn't really help. I might say a bit more about the popular music television I've been watching this week, cos there's been a fair degree of it. I even watched the Channel 5 chart programme, but that wasn't terribly helpful, cos you only get to see about thirty seconds of each video. They charge you about 60p or so to text in and vote for the songs they have on their playlist in an attempt to propel them up the chart so you can see thirty seconds of them next Saturday. Which is quite fucking pointless really, plus which the whole thing's been hijacked by Rasmus fans. 'In The Shadows', which had the decency to get the fuck out of the proper chart weeks ago now, is still #3. Their new single is #2. Busted's Thunderbirds theme for the new millennium (i.e. Busted with strings) is #1. No.
15) GIRLS ALOUD – The Show
Actually, this is quite a decent run of singles, isn't it? Stop whinging, Swygart. You managed to sit through Damien Rice earlier.
Actually, perhaps there is something wrong with you…
14) EST'ELLE – 1980 (NEW ENTRY)
And suddenly, I'm in a really, really good mood. Est'elle is one of the wave of British female MC's that's getting pushed unto us this year, like I've probably mentioned before, cos someone up there is looking for 'the next Ms Dynamite'. She's got previous experience of chart flirtations, having guested on Blak Twang's #44 (or thereabouts) smash 'Trixsta', and then turning up to do some MC'ing on a Top of the Pops performance by 3SL, the boyband formed by three brothers of Lisa From Steps (She's The One With The Dark Hair), for absolutely no justifiable reason at all. This song here has Est'elle rapping about her deprived London upbringing, except… well, Est'elle's quite funny. The tone here is one of celebration and reminiscing more than "YOU WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND MY STRUGGLE", whether it be that lovely string bit in the chorus (which in itself is fantastic enough), or just her general style, relaxed and chatty as she tells us about what happened to her, more or less as she's remembering it (or that's how it feels), like how "Thought I was the Fresh Prince/Dynasty was reruns and Dallas was faded", or how "me & my cousin used to play Mel & Kim", then occasionally dropping in "My weird neighbours set their own house on fire," or "The man downstairs was dead for three weeks/His own cats start to eat him and the house starts to reek." '1980' remembers the bad times but doesn't bother getting all sanctimonious about them, remembering the experiences and how she felt about them back then, like how they'd go to church just to get saved then come home and play Connect 4 instead, or falling asleep on the bus cos she'd been woken up three hours earlier to start praying… put simply, '1980' is four minutes of Est'elle just being incredibly charming and endearing, and astoundingly uplifting with it. It feels… fantastic.
13) SHAZNAY LEWIS – Never Felt Like This Before
Still buzzing from Est'elle even now—progress interrupted for dinner and relatives looking for things on eBay, so it's all retrospective from here on in. This sounded OK this week, but then it usually sounds OK. It's just that it never rises beyond that, does it?
12) MORRISSEY – First Of The Gang To Die
As mentioned earlier, I watched a lot of the popular music programmes on terrestrial telly this week, and on TOTP there was a 44-year-old Mancunian teddy boy with a song about Mexican gang members' machismo leading them to early graves at number six in the charts, up onstage in front of a crowd of baying youths and Tim Kash and Fearne Cotton. He was cracking up like quite the bastard. Dear me but this single is brilliant.
11) MARIO WINANS ft. ENYA & P. DIDDY – I Don't Wanna Know
Tomorrow, please go and buy a copy of 'Decent Days and Nights' by The Futureheads. They're so very good but I fear their album missed the top 75 and (even worse) the Indie Chart Top 40. They flip the skills, though, very much, and it would be quite a shame if people (their label) thought no-one liked them. (Oh, and get the album as well. "The liveliest and most entertaining thing you'll hear all year." – William B. Swygart, five seconds ago)
10) LOU REED – Satellite Of Love 2004 (NEW ENTRY)
Lou Reed is kidnapped by some hamsters and is a bit scared. "Satellite… of love…" he trembles as he finds himself surrounded by the trumpets off 'Sweet Like Chocolate' and loose members of The Polyphonic Spree—"Sadd uh light… luh-uh-uh-uh-uvv!" they beam. Lou isn't quite sure what to do. It's great.
9) NINA SKY – Move Ya Body
This, like Kelis, is one of those records that I'm gonna have to listen to lots of times in the coming weeks and months, and I'm really going to enjoy it very much, but I'm not going to find much to write about it. Don't take that as any kind of slur, cos this is nice.
8) O-ZONE – Dragostea Din Tei
And now, the children of the revolution. Back up the chart this week, still not on Top Of The Pops. Top Of The Pops is going to be having a one-hour outdoor special in Gateshead this week (a competition for tickets was trailed with "WOULD YOU LIKE TO STAY IN GATESHEAD'S FINEST HOTEL?"). Hope it rains, eh?
7) BRITNEY SPEARS – Everytime
In the meantime, did I get this one wrong or what? Dangers of judging a song by its video, I suppose, the whole "I am in A HOSPITAL" thing, but actually it's a slightly more delicate ting than all that—the woodblock and piano tinkles are lovely, the song sounding all ragged and lovelorn—her voice is bloody horrible, as it always is, far too grumbly and forced (perhaps Billie Piper really was the British Britney after all), but this song… I dunno, I sense that examining too closely would cause it to fall to pieces, but when you're not quite paying attention, it's very good.
6) JAMELIA – See It In A Boy's Eyes
Not the live version, thank Christ. No, instead it's the quite good version, the Chris Martin piano ripple intact, Jamelia being Jamelia atop it, all sweet in the chorus, nice organ noises… It doesn't really grab you, no. But it's pretty solid all the same.
5) USHER – Burn
This isn't very good, no, but then you knew that already. It's just… mildly hilarious. Usher wants his baby back, not cos he's missing her or suffering any emotional detachment, he's just slightly confused that she hasn't come running back to him. Bet she's gone to that bastard Timberlake instead. Ooh, bloody Timberlake! Anyway, cos Dom probably meant to ask for it:
4) J-KWON – Tipsy
And now onto the one we didn't hear last week, as we get J-Kwon recounting his exploits of stumbling about drunk one night. The beat and the "here comes the 4 to the 3 to the 5" bits are all very good, engaging and stuff. It rides well. Trouble is that he's a touch mumbly (Fabolous-esque, nearly), and, well, he quite blatantly wouldn't get served. Good though.
3) RACHEL STEVENS – Some Girls
Now, at points during the past week, I found myself wondering if I just like this record because I can write lots about it. I mean, I have got a fair tendency to prattle cos I get anxious about whether or not I'm being proper and so on, and by God did I ever prattle about this one last week. Anyway—I ask the question, and that chorus more than fucking answers.
2) SHAPESHIFTERS – Lola's Theme
And yet—fuck the Rasmus or whoever, here's your new 'Bring Me To Life'. I may have written otherwise before, but this really is the first time that something's moved me that much this year. It's such a simple equation. Get yer trumpet. Get yer vocals. Touch of the bang. Is this the first time? Will it be the last time? It doesn't matter, because this takes the formula and executes it dead-fucking-perfect. The timing, the timing, the shift from "I'm a different person" through and up into the arousal of the trumpets, "turrrrrrrn my world around”. Sure, the track on its own is easily good enough, but but put Cookie's vocals upon the top and we're playing a whole different ball game, cos she has got pipes-a-plenty, fully taking this and owning it, "Cos you and I know THEY-ETTT!!!" So good, so good, so ridiculously fucking good. You could try this a thousand times and fuck up every one, but the Shapeshifters have got it, bang on, and for that they are blessed. Plus which, seeing them on Top Of The Pops, it felt like… it felt like Top Of The Fucking Pops, didn't it? Not the mass-marketed global synthesis gloop with offshoot brands across the fucking globe that competes in the modern media marketplace with audience share and Tim fucking Kash and the astoundingly uninformative news segment (B&S; to win the Mercuries, by the way, and I hope James Cannon fucking chokes—lemme know if you want the explanation to this) that appears to think Gary Lightbody is the only member of Snow Patrol and the MASSIVE COMPETITIONS and the general sanding down until it's barely fucking recognisable as anything to get excited about any more and become just another waypoint on the bloody promotional schedule, not something you earn a place on but something that your PR or A&R; or label or whoeverthefuck arranges you a place on three weeks before your single is even out so you do what you did on CD:UK and on T4 and on Popworld and on TRL and on BBC Breakfast News or WHATEVER THE HELL IT IS… you know that? Cos The Shapeshifters didn't appear to be on that programme, no, The Shapeshifters and everyone that was up there on that stage with them was just stood there thinking… "Number one! Us! We're number one! Number Fucking One! Fuck!" As they looked out and just adored it, the fact that they genuinely could never have dreamed of this—sure a TOTP appearance was possible, but as Number One? I mean, Christ, we're all so fucking meta now, aren't we? Hell, maybe it was always this way and I was just too fucking young to realise (or naïve or stupid and hell I probably still am now), but all the nod and the wink and it just gets so bloody dull sometimes, no? The fact that We All Know What's Going On With Everything Now And You Can't Fool Us—fool me! Fool me! Fool me fool me fool me! Don't give me your "Doesn't everyone like Jamelia's lovely long legs, eh?" Don't tell me how impressive The Calling's second-quarter seventy-fifth percentile of 16-29 and a half-year-olds in the Baden-Wurtemburg district week-on-week figures are! Just give me this, give me this trumpet, give me people who are fucking amazed to be here, people who are genuinely fucking honoured to have done this, people who fucking love it and aren't so fucking blasé as to think that it doesn't matter (I DON'T CARE IF IT SOUNDS LIKE I WRITE FOR MOJO AT LEAST THOSE CUNTS GET FUCKING PAID)—just, in other words, give me this record, give me 'Lola's Theme'. Thank you so much.
1) THE STREETS – Dry Your Eyes (NEW ENTRY)
Well then. Well then, well then, well then. It did make it after all, after all those weeks of saying "No, obviously it won't," trying to work out all the many, many ways it would fail… Mike Skinner is Top Of The Pops. See everyone now rushing to claim you heard it there first. Everyone loves Mike Skinner. "MIKE! MIKE! MIKE!"
But how weirdly alone he stands. What we have here is a song with superficial similarities to 'Burn', a man whose woman doesn't want him anymore, and he can't bring himself to accept it, though he knows he must. But this is different (Christ knows no-one'll ever be saying that about Usher). One-man bands been done before, the lone soldier and their electronic unit thing… and…
See earlier this year, we had Eamon, and him telling his girl to go fuck herself. That offers a happy ending because, you see, ahhhhhhhh, she's a fackin' slaaaaag innit. Then Frankee does the same thing, cos ahhhhhhhh, he looks like Michael Reiziger, innit. It united the nation. Don't you remember? If not, don't worry, Gina Yashere'll be along to remind you in about six years or so.
But 'Dry Your Eyes' doesn't offer an ending of any kind. Just "you've got to walk away now…" Then a void. You can have your strings all you want. But what now? So what now?
Because your man here is fucking desperate. It's riven with the language of Trisha and the Big Brother psychologists—"I can change or I could grow and we could adjust… we could even have an open relationship if you must." Get a lie-detector and some ironic students… Skinner talks in the words of others, the words we're told to say now, because he finds himself hurting that badly he can't quite express it in any other way. I… oh dear. It hurts listening to him, as his feelings get bent so badly he just doesn't know what to do or say, the inarticulateness of the verses cuts as the loser hunts round for any route out, any kind of thing that could just salvage it. He goes through everything he's done before to get himself out. Sometimes, when he turns the palm up to face the sky, he describes everything in such minute detail—recalling what's happened in the past, or in the films, and describing it step by step in the hope that if he follows that then the result works and she magically loves him again. It doesn't. Anger, the row, try and intimidate her but it'll never happen cos she's just not interested anymore… she stares at her feet. Skinner isn't Eamon because Skinner is still in love, still noticing all the things he loves about her, he tries to shift the blame but he's half-hearted, he can't bring himself to do it cos he can't believe it and maybe knows he's wrong (I have the album but haven't listened to it—"Because that's how fucking good The Futureheads are"—William B. Swygart, just now), looking at himself and wondering just how the fuck he's ended up here in this mess. Have they done it before, then? Hmm.
And then the chorus, or 'the football highlights wet dream' (obviously written for that because he is a bloke and blokes like the football Hello I'm Vernon Kay and welcome to HeadJam). The structure… always drawn to the structure, you can write about the fucking structure can't you, but hey… The chorus, "Dry your eyes mate, I know it's hard to take but her mind has been made up, there's plenty more fish in the sea…" it's like when your parents talk to you, isn't it? Paternalistic. The man in the chorus isn't the man in the verses. The man in the chorus just wants to calm him down, stop the crying, y'know? The chorus is just there for now. Not a solution, he knows verse lad's still torn up. The chorus is as vague as "The wicked thing about us is we always have trust," just the panacea, cos this will hurt and keep on hurting—there's plenty more fish in the sea, but he wants her, don't you see? Why don't you listen, why don't you understand? He wants her…
Then the brief flight of fancy in the middle—"I know in the past I've found things hard to say, telling you things but not telling straight…"—this'd be where the hero gets the girl, kills the baddies, saves the entire planet, as he takes her by the hand and they walk across the sand into the sunset… "But the more I pull on your hand and say, the more you pull away…"
It just… ah dear, you know? We have sad, we have plenty sad this year, the sad all over. This redefines sad. Hype my arse. This record is a killer, and it's number one, but I've spent too much effing time talking about number ones, I don't even know that that matters, got a million things to be pulled up on all over this bitch no? It isn't gorgeous, it isn't beautiful, it's a huge gaping wound in your heart. 'Dry Your Eyes' is probably the kind of thing everyone else has done before. I haven't heard them, or if I had, I don't remember them, and I haven't explained it at all again. But this record is on its own. It's something else.
By: William B. Swygart
Published on: 2004-07-26