Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Noughties By Nature #95: Girls On Top – We Don’t Give A Damn About Our Friends

Whilst thinking about tracks to nominate for this list, I did try to consider any major leaps or bounds which occurred in musical styles throughout the decade. The more I thought about this, the more I came to the conclusion that the main noughties trend which appeared to be without precedent (bar a couple of jokey examples towards the end of the nineties which set the ball rolling) was the mash-up.

Taking the melody of one record and splicing the vocals (or other aspects) of another across the top of it has become an online phenomenon, although the limits of such an idea meant that the whole affair appeared to have totally lost the interest of most record buyers by early 2005 (and I remain convinced that I first heard somebody say mash-ups were 'over' in 2001). From starting life as a bold way of crossing genres and making people realise that everything is, as Andy Partridge once said, pop, then becoming a worn and tired gimmick, it's perfectly possible that people will actually be nostalgic about mash-ups next year if things move fast enough.

This really was the deserved pinnacle of the phenomenon, a Richard X track which merrily spliced Gary Numan’s Are Friends Electric with Adina Howard’s Freak Like Me, and managed to turn Numan’s alienated, distraught paean to the collapse of a relationship into a sassy, savage little declaration of intent, flipping the concept almost entirely. Unlike many mash-ups which seemed to have brief moments where the tracks obviously clashed and jarred slightly, the pair seemed absurdly made for each other, and this became something of an underground favourite.

Of course, the natural upshot of the track’s fashionable cultish following was that the Sugababes ended up covering the mash-up in an example of post-modernism gone utterly, utterly mad, and their first number one was assured. In fact, there’s not an enormous degree of difference between the two versions, and this entry could just as easily belong to them – but the original has a bit more rawness and punch to it thanks to Adina’s vocals, and still sounds astonishing even now whilst the trend seems passé.

As for the inevitable question of what the trend of recycling old material and splicing it with other old material really said about the state of pop as the 21st Century began, I actually quite like the fact that, right at the starting block, we had a phenomenon that claimed that all music was just pop, and could be listened to as such - that artists who seemed to exist at polar opposites to each other actually weren't as far apart as one might suppose, and could co-exist happily. It's perhaps not the terrible start to the century some would say it is, and reflects the rather more open approach to music which has been instigated as the Internet has allowed people to sample a much broader range of styles for free. Now though, perhaps it’s time to move on to the future, whatever that may be.
Dave Bryant

[Part stream from Richard X's Black Melody site]


thommo said...

This is something i would have chosen actually. i am, i'm afraid, already nostalgic about the 'bootleg' scene at around this time as, although it still goes on, a lot of them at this sort of time just seemed to be better. i guess now that technology means that even i could go and stick whatever song i wanted over the other, it's meant a lot of the spontaneity, surprise and creativity - rather than just novelty - has worn off. i think Soulwax said sometime in 2002 that the tracks do have to work together, be in the same key, that sort of thing, and if it's shoehorned together it will sound like it.

But yeah, i think my favourites are this (although i do kind of prefer the Sugababes version...Anita has a great voice but i think it's a song mutant that benefits from huge production) and his I Want To Dance With Numbers as well. Strokes Of Genie-ous by Freelance Hellraiser and Destiny's Kennedies by...i think it was Kurtis Rush?...were great too. i think by the time it got to being Eminem over Mrs Mills and Nelly over the Grange Hill theme tune it was getting a bit silly (!)

ps. i think Evolution Control Committee's Whipped Cream Mixes from years earlier were probably the foundatin of this particular 'genre'...discuss.

23 Daves said...

I agree, Thommo - I remember hearing Evolution Control Committee on the John Peel show in the nineties and thinking it was a clever gimmick, but not much more would happen with it. Wrong as all hell, obviously!

ECC finished highly in his 1998 Festive Fifty too - I think it's safe to say that it planted a seed in a lot of people's minds.

Chris Rice said...

Yeah, but that Nelly over Grange Hill tune was one of the earliest tracks, on the Freelance Hellraiser collection that was knocking around, long before the Boom Selection CDs. It was always deeply silly, but that was part of the fun.
I'd definitely have this track in my top 100, this and Overload were the tracks that finally made me realise that modern pop didn't necessarily mean crap.

thommo said...

i should have pointed out that i actually really like the Nelly/Grange Hill and Eminem/Mrs Mills tracks, i just think that a lot of the stuff that appeared after it had properly gone overground - maybe Kylie performing in collaboration with Soulwax at the Brits or something -was either depserately trying to be wacky (regardless of whether it sounds good or not) or just being a bit uninspired. Anyone can fit a rap track over another piece of music because they're usually in the same time signature and not in any sort of key (i know, modern music eh?) so to not take advantage and experiment a bit after a while made it seem a bit tired. A shame there weren't more people about like 65daysofstatic: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TK_EHjYrdZo