Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Thank God we're not in 1998.

I've decided to take a break this morning from Depression 2007 to talk about British pop music. Because, why not? I've got opinions, damn it, and access to the Internet, so I might as well bore you with something that doesn't involve me being crazy. Can I do that, Internet? Thank you.

American pop music is usually entertaining enough that I can overlook the general shittiness, but British pop music makes absolutely no sense to me. I really just don't get it. When I was in college, I asked a British acquaintance to help me come to terms with the state of his country's pop music. I said, "Please, will you just explain to me why people keep listening to Robbie Williams? I don't understand." He replied, "You know that Crazy Frog that's always on MySpace? Well, that song was a number one hit in England." It sort of made sense after that.

Anyway, I bring all of this up because over the weekend Christina ("WHY DON'T I HAVE A BOYFRIEND?!" Boucher) was singing "Never Ever" by All Saints, and - again, thank you, Internet - we searched for the video on MySpace. Please, indulge yourself:

This song blows my mind because it's so weird. It's such a strange pop song, even for its time and place. (This is 1998 we're talking about, when British pop had infiltrated our country with the Spice Girls.) I found this website that ANALYZES the song as a reworking of "Amazing Grace," (which, now that I have "Never Ever" STUCK IN MY HEAD, I can totally hear) and drops references to JAMES JOYCE. I don't know any other songs from the period (God, I'm talking about 1998 like it was HISTORY) that starts of with a monologue. And clunky lyrics? Oh boy, are those lyrics clunky. Look here: "My head's spinning / Boy, I'm in a daze / I feel isolated / Don't wanna communicate / I take a shower / I will scour / I will roam." You're going to shower and scour? That's not very poppy. And then there's my favorite: "Sometimes vocabulary runs through my head / The alphabet runs right from A to Zed." What? "Zed" isn't even a letter! [UPDATE: Matt tells me that "zed" is how British people pronounce "Z."]

And then there's the video. I'm not talking about the one above, which is the European video. That one's very basic and boring: the girl(s) reminisces about her relationship with some dude while looking very dramatic and airbrushed. And then her apartment blows up. It's pretty typical and literal, but for those of us who liked more explosions and nonsense in the late '90s, there is a second, American video for the song:

HOLY BALLS, I miss the '90s. This one has it all: a church blowing up, that kind of '90s stand-in-place-but-bop-up-and-down-at-the-same-time dance, slow-motion and backwards action (clearly this influenced that Coldplay video), slow-motion BREAKDANCING, fire, and, finally, THOUSANDS OF ALL SAINTS stand-up-bopping around and being generally sassy. And then, just when you think it's over, a huge sheet comes down to reveal a helicopter. Brilliant.

Please check back tomorrow for my analysis of "The Boy is Mine" by Brandy and Monica.


Katie said...

I lived in England for a semester, and A to Zed never ceased to provide amusement. That's how they refer to the alphabet. And travel books/maps? See here. Also the a-zed.

Anonymous said...

I was fully aware of the "a to zed" thing, but every time I hear it I can't help but think that "Zed" sounds like the name of some alien overlord in a bad sci-fi flick.