Music and I have a strange and somewhat strained relationship. I fail to appreciate it fully by being blatantly and undeniably unable to dance but also having occasion to enjoy it for being funny rather than being… well… of any discernable quality.
In fact, it would be fair to say that I have developed a small collection of music that I listen to purely because it is shit. Much in the same way that I like Teletubbies or Professional Wrestling: because they are both so shit that they are funny. There’s a certain quality to shitness that has to be appreciated. If executed properly, shit can be every bit as entertaining as excellence. In my honest opinion, there has been some excellent shit produced.
I’m inclined towards the opinion that people take their music too seriously. I remember at school being forced into the centre of arguments surrounding whether Rave/Dance was better than Rock/Metal. I know where I sit on that issue: the fence.
I grew up, through my teenage years, listening to Billy Joel, Queen and Peter Gabriel. I had an abominable detour one year, during which I listened to Celine Dion but I don’t talk about it anymore – those were dark times. Suffice to say, I have met enough people with closed minds about my taste in music (those who hate Celine Dion being justified) that I have developed a distinct sense of humour about my music in general. I remember one kid at school who thought that jokes about Freddie Mercury being gay and dead were the best thing ever to wind me up. I didn’t care. I knew he was wrong. He just didn’t appreciate the fact that Freddie was bisexual and dead. He was a little prick, anyway. I hope he’s dead too.
So, yes, annoying kids and Celine Dion aside: puerile music. By this, I mean pop. I’m not talking about your mass-marketed, over sexed pop like Britney Spears defines but rather just the stupid jump-around-like-a-fourteen-year-old-fool variety. It’s not for the reasons that fourteen-year-olds love it either. I have no desire to sleep with these people (much) and I have no illusions that this music is “cool” – a transient definition if ever there was one (but one that, through the ages, will never encompass Celine Dion). No, my liking for this music is that it is just not good. It’s generally meaningless, happy, crappy, clappy pop shit. It’s a stark contrast to the usually oppressive, I’m-going-to-kill-myself, I-hate-my-parents Marilyn Manson, Korn, Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park, ho-hum music that presides over the “Goth” movement and the shitty, gangsta, pimpin, gun-culture, criminal-activity R’n’B/Rap music that seems to be the musical counter point of that first cross-section. Yes, shit pop music generally has no pretensions. You’re meant to listen to it and tap your feet, bob your head and generally feel better. And if you really, really listen to the lyrics, you can spot some real gems. So, yes, during periods that I am feeling depressed and aggravated, I can listen to some of the following to smirk at their musical retardation and feel superior (without any real qualification to that sensation).
“GROOVE IS IN THE HEART” by Deee-Lite
I’m starting here because the case is probably the thinnest. I can’t put my hands up and say in all honesty that this song isn’t a classic. It is. Undeniably, it has passed through a generation and is instantly recognisable to all. It is also universally acceptable for parties of all kinds. This doesn’t actually escape the fact that it’s shit. I remember two things about this song when I’m not listening to it: the baseline and the video – not a good start. I seem to remember white faces, red hair and a cat suit and a swirling acid-trip backdrop.
Lyrically, it’s very nearly a re-hash of “You’re The One That I Want” from Grease; this is a fact that scares me deeply. This can be argued away due to the fact that the song is help up by the most bizarre backing track that I can call to mind with constant breakdowns, synth-brass and one of those annoying sliding whistle things. It would be better if it had no rapping in the middle – but artists completely fail to realise that rap is just not mandatory in pop. Artists suck.
Summary: An awful lot of fun and I want to jump around my flat dancing like a certified moron even as I listen to it while writing this article.
“ROLLERCOASTER” by B*Witched
A girl-group, following on the coat tails of the Spice Girls, who failed to realise that Denim Jackets had actually gone out of fashion in the 1980s and that they looked like a bunch of jerks came up with squeaky-to-the-point-of-annoying tunes that annoyed a whole nation but kept dropping in at number one in the charts.
There was no attempt at depth or meaningfulness in B*Witched, they were just cheesy pop princesses who topped the charts with just about every single they had. As artists, I almost reach the point of taking their single “Blame It On The Weatherman” seriously – if only a serious act had performed it.
Never-the-less, Rollercoaster was the second single off their debut album and… You know what I’m going to say… It’s shit. In fact, it shares much in common with “Groove Is In The Heart”: I can only really remember the baseline, a few scattered (and stupid) lyrics and the ridiculous dancing in the video.
Summary: “Come and sit beside us, We’ll give you such a thrill; We’re not nice, we’re cool as ice; We’ll give you quite a chill”. Invitations from four Irish lasses rarely come in much more laughable or shit formats. But, you still have to smile at how happy they all seem to be doing this, all the while unaware that a record exec was pocketing the cash and ruining any chance they had of a career in entertainment. Poor deluded fools.
“MMMMMM-BOP” by Hanson
Yes, I have to admit, I fucked the girl in Hanson. I just needed to open the critique with that. Rarely do things shock me but the return of diabolically-shite Hanson in recent months did astound me. In fact, I found myself asking not “Where’s the love?” but “Where’s my gun?”
The song Mmmmm-bop was meant to represent the fragility and brevity of life: “In an Mmmm-bop, you’re gone. In an Mmmm-bop, you’re not there”. Okay, they were all something like twelve when that song came out which only serves as an advert for legislation to prevent pubescent kids from becoming Pop Stars. But they have so much fun going on about it. What’s not to like or get caught up in?
Summary: This song was one of those songs where the artists thought they were being deep. Obviously, we can forgive them some of that because they were nine or something but no one says, “I was hit by a truck and mmm-bop I was out like a light”. This song is definable as such: catchy, terrible, laughable shit.
“YEAR 3000” by Busted
Busted. One of those bands that tried to corner the teeny pop/punk/rock market. Year 3000 was (probably) their breakthrough track – I wasn’t paying that much attention to them but their songs are just puerile dross at its best. Truly, I worship them as the gods of this ilk. For US readers (they never made it that far), their songs include “Crashed The Wedding”, “What I Go To School For”, “Air Hostess” and “Thunderbird”. Mostly, they can be likened to the Bloodhound Gang with inane lyrics and references to being geeky. They do, however, lack the vulgarity that the Bloodhounds cherish.
So, this particular song pays homage to numerous Sci-Fi style movies (not least of which is Back To The Future) and refers to how the band are told of the Year 3000 by their neighbour. He informs us that little has change but everyone lives underwater, there are three-breasted females swimming around in the nude and your nearest relative (presumably being one of this girls and whom you cannot sleep with) is “pretty fine”.
Summary: Yes, indeed, was the guy only to come back and tell us all about the fine laydeez that we can fornicate with, this song would probably not have made this list.
“OOH, STICK YOU!”/”U.G.L.Y.” by Daphne & Celeste
One of those acts that only the Japanese could love for more than 5 minutes at a time. That’s probably where they are now, I don’t know. This was, however, like Eminem for 5 years old: a crash course in how to be mean and controversial in the most pathetic of ways. U.G.L.Y. is a lyrical catalogue of some of the most original and hilarious insults conceived of man, woman or, in this case, beast(s). I developed a kind of respect for this pairing in their ability to teach the younger generation to articulate their thoughts in a series of complex, cunning and brilliantly conceived metaphors that leaves the intended recipient in no doubts as to what they are being told.
That’s not to say that Daphne & Celeste are, or should ever be considered to be, any good. They suck in ways that had not previously been discovered. They’ve got some horrible rap/pop hybrid style that is neither musical nor rhythmic and they’re a couple of dogs. No one in mass-manufactured pop music should ever be U.G.L.Y.; it’s a defining principle!
Summary: So, yes, in terms of pop music, Daphne & Celeste embody a contradiction, they’re lyrics are entirely to brilliant to be pop and they are entirely to ugly to be popstars – this only makes them funnier given the inherent hypocrisy of their “U.G.L.Y.” track.
HONOURABLE MENTIONS (by no means an exhaustive list):
- Anything by The Bloodhound Gang
- Everything else by Busted
- The Sponge-Bob Squarepants Theme
-“You Eediot” by Ren & Stimpy (Album)
-“The Laughing Gnome” by David Bowie
- Really, really early Madonna
-“Rock Your Body” by Justin Timberlake (just for the simulated beat-box at the end – evidence of excellence in shit music)
-“A Little Respect” by Erasure
-“No Way, No Way” by Vanilla (Hahahahahahahahahahaha)
-“Stop” by The Spice Girls
-“P-I-M-P” by 50 Cent feat. Snoop Dogg
To conclude this piece, I would like to first start with this point: what the fuck do I know? I mean, I’m just some random British guy who used to listen to Celine Dion at one point and, the funny thing is, to each their own. There’s no real reason why Celine Dion is any better or worse than, for example, Slipknot. Indeed, there are stark similarities to both. Both over-egg their instrumental pieces with over-zealous string/orchestral and drum/bass arrangements respectively and both have vocals which sound remarkably like (albeit different kinds of) yelling.
But, if you consider yourself deep for listening to the above acts or, indeed, any other act liable to warble on about love, injustice or something that is meant to make you think, just spare a thought for those acts that make no demands of you.