Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Not that cool

On the topic of (musical) guilty pleasures, can indie/alternative/rock bands really hold the moral high ground? Here we examine a series of potential faux pas and career-wreckers that can sit comfortably amongst the uncoolest guilty pleasures.

The Cure, Friday I'm In Love (1992)
Like the Roman Empire, they were struck by crisis at their peak. Perhaps under pressure to top superstardom with megasuperstardom, Robert Smith & Co. came up with this cheese-oozing hit that threatened to destroy their legacy while spelling out the days of the week. Followed by Wild Mood Swings, The Cure never quite recovered from that.

Paul McCartney, My Love (1970)
Why does Phil Collins has to endure so much stick and Paul McCartney can get away with gorgonzola-style balladry? You listen to My Love at your peril, but if you do, just make sure you have a bucket within reach. Soppy, schmaltzy and complete with syrupy guitar solo, it surely represents the bottom end of an otherwise legendary career. Note the Cilla Black-inspired mullet.

Led Zeppelin, All My Love (1979)
The lyrics are a touching tribute to Robert Plant's dead 6-year-old son. The music, however, sounds more like a Scorpions b-side and the worst of hair-metal power ballads, courtesy of a wince-inducing synth solo and industrial doses of drippy keyboards. An alarming indication of what Led Zeppelin may have sounded like if they'd carried on, along with Robert Plant's 80s hairdo perilously bordering on mullet-territory.

R.E.M., Shiny Happy People (1991)
The musical equivalent of Fearne Cotton and Mr Motivator's lovechild, it was soon disowned by R.E.M. themselves. Too late, unfortunately. Because by summer 1991, it was threatening to bring about global insanity. What the fuck was Michael Stipe thinking? It also contains what is possibly the most annoying section in music history: the bit coming straight out of the middle eight, "dep dep dep dep dep dep".

David Bowie, Little Wonder (1997)
Another example of a legendary artist getting away with 20 years of absolute manure. Little Wonder was David Bowie's worst. Shamefully riding the drum'n'bass tide of the 1990s, it's like your dad walking in on you and your mates proudly announcing that he just bought 'The Best of The Radiohead' to prove that he's in with the kids. "I dig that record, you know?" Beastly.

Suede, Positivity (2002)
A lesson on how to annihilate a promising career in one go. Desperate to hold on to the Top 20 but probably aware that their drive was slipping away fast, Suede took three years to produce this whimper complete with crass video where Brett Anderson is busy freeing white doves out into the air. They split straight after.

Blur, Country House (1995)
Damon Albarn loves to pose as some kind of intellectual, independent, socialistic maverick but Country House is evidence that he would have fisted his own mum to beat Oasis to Number One and become 'as big as U2'. Everything about this one is diabolical, but the video -in particular- is direct proof of human brutality.

The Clash, Overpowered by Funk (1982)
The sound of a band falling apart. In his latter-day interviews Joe Strummer owned up to having lost the plot towards the end of The Clash. This naff, worst-of-the-80s, exercise in slap-bass and funk-jazz drums is the musical equivalent of morning breath.

The Jam, Absolute Beginners (1981)
The dodgy curry to the Style Council diarrhoea, it's another exercise in egomania and the notion that an artist can safely crosscut all genres without looking ridiculous.

Sting, Sacred Love (2003)
Such a good chunk of Sting-solo career seemed strangely focused on mashing The Police legacy. Sacred Love, however, really takes the biscuit. For his Top of the Pops appearance, Sting turned up with a 25-piece band complete with smiling rhythm section, bongos, yelling backing vocals and a mess of a wannabe ethnic tune. Abysmal.

Morrissey, Ouija Board, Ouija Board (1989)
An abrupt end to his initial run of form as a solo artist, it's Morrissey's clumsy account of how he stumbled upon a ghost in the middle of the night. The video looks like a sixth form assignment and it features Morrissey pretending to fall over, pass out and regain consciousness. Johnny Marr must have been grinning with delight.

Guns'n'Roses, November Rain (1991)
These people call themselves "rockers". Remember the video with Slash fooling around the top of a hill with an electric guitar in toe and Axl Rose in a wedding dress? The worst thing about this tacky, never-ending pile of crap is how serious it all was. Guns'n'Roses may have had many talents but irony wasn't one of them.

Madness, I'll Compete (1986)
Had the European Court of Human Rights been in place back then, Madness would still be in the nick. Not that we endorse torture, but this jumbled up mid-80s aberration would make for an excellent tool. They disbanded the moment it was released.

No Doubt, Don't Speak (1997)
Sick inducing, it's probably even more nagging than Gwen Stefani's latter solo stuff. That acoustic guitar solo in the middle is like having your head pressed into a nit-infested smelly pillow. It raises the question of why No Doubt are still considered 'alt rock' and the Jonas Brothers aren’t.


Anonymous said...

Here we are with anti-Morrissey slur on this blog again. You are just obsessed with him. Oujia Board is a great single about establishing contact with a dead friend and only someone as insensitive as you could turn it into pisstaking material. Plus, Kathy Burke was on it and she's awesome.

claude said...

I'm sorry. I'll go to Hell and savour the Flames of Shame for not being keen on Ouija Board. Will three Hail Marys do?