Tears for Fears, Mad World
Not the most cheerful band, Tears for Fears. In fact, most of their early output focussed on repressed childhood trauma and Primal Therapy. Hence, probably not the ideal pop group to go for a night out with – unless you’re the kind who likes to end the evening with everyone silently looking down at a table, not wanting to be the first to leave. That said, at times they could be excellent. Such as above…
Level 42, The Sun Goes Down
A hugely underrated band, Level 42 were oozing with synthesized funk, especially Mark King on bass who liked to wear his guitar just centimetres below his chin. It was an impressive look, and above is one of their greatest moments.
Wham!, Wham! Rap
Some people seem to think that you can’t be glitzy and glam in this cruel financial winter, but as Wham! here prove, even being on the dole/game can be cool and sexy. That’s right, put your most shiny underpants on, it’s Super Disco Wednesday!
The Jam, When You’re Young
Look at you, sitting there in an office with an ironed shirt/blouse on. What happened to you, man/sister? Here’s Paul Weller and his well dressed friends to remind you what it was like being little. Great times.
Spandau Ballet, To Cut a Long Story Short
What a different place the world would be if Spandau Ballet had hit the charts under their original band name, The Makers. A name that they only changed because someone spotted “Spandau Ballet” scrawled on the wall in some German nightclub toilets and thought it sounded really cool. The rest is history, and above is their best song.
Small Faces, Hey Girl
Regulars to the site will have pre-prepared for today, it being the official day of sensuality and lustiness. They might have packed a spare pair of underpants in with their packed lunch, a few candles, some rose petals, a flask of oysters. Perhaps they’re off to the pictures later with a young Doris from accounts? After that they might enjoy a nice fish supper before getting a leg-over down by the canal. That’s probably how the above young smoothies did it back in the olden times.
Think before you start singing…
With the absence of Top of the Pops, and a confusing amount of radio stations to choose from, it’s hard to know where to listen to music these days. We tried jogging with synchronised Discmans, but the things kept falling out of our pockets and smashing to smithereens in front of other joggers – all of whom could clearly afford futuristic iPods and shorts that weren’t just an old pair of jeans chopped at the knee. Damn posers, with their cappuccinos. Anyway, we decided to try out The Box on cable television, so we all sat down together – extended family and neighbours – and first up it was Take That with their hit song Back For Good. This should be good, we thought – none of us had heard it before. Three minutes later, the cousins were crying hysterically holding pillows over their faces to protect their eyes from the nasty singing men, Grandpa was simply shouting “what is this?” over and over again like he was having a war flashback, and the neighbours quietly left the room, muttering something about how they weren’t coming “back for good”. It was a terrifying experience for everyone involved. We were disgusted, and here’s what your children would learn from these so-called gentlemen of pop…
1. It’s fine to be a stalker or a slob
First up, it’s raining in the video, and only Mark and Jason have sensible waterproof jackets on. Williams, for heaven’s sake, is wearing a fur. Ridiculous. But we let that go, because it’s the actual singing that really stings. “Got your lipstick mark still on your coffee cup,” croons Gary Barlow, bold as brass. This means one of two things: 1. He saw you drinking a coffee somewhere, he stole the cup – hence the “your” in “coffee cup”, on the assumption that shared bits of crockery are not specific to any one member of a household. Otherwise it would be “your lipstick mark still on OUR (or THE) coffee cup.” Or it could mean, 2. The man has broken up with his woman and become a complete slob. He hasn’t washed up for weeks, old lipstick marks are all over the place, he probably smells. Chances are he just prowls around the once-shared flat in revolting tracksuit bottoms and a vest, occasionally logging on to Facebook to change his status update to explain that he’s totally fine now, having a really cool time actually.
2. Just say sorry, even if you have no idea what you’re apologising for
“Whatever I said, whatever I did,” continues Barlow, now into the throws of the song, “I didn’t mean it.” That’s right,“WHATEVER I said” – he can’t even remember what he said, he doesn’t know what what was said, he just knows that he probably said something. “WHATEVER I did” – oh, he’s covering as many bases as possible now. He’s realised that if it wasn’t something he said, it must be something he did. “Did” being so non-specific that it could really apply to anything. “I didn’t mean it.” He didn’t mean to do whatever it was that he supposedly said or did, neither of which he is remotely aware of. Instead he’s making a weak blanket apology, simply asking you to assess what he might have done wrong, and accept an overall sorry for it. In short, it shows a massive lack of both empathy and personal awareness.
3. If you want to win someone back, do anything they demand
“Just tell me the song and I’ll sing it,” pleads Barlow – basically the only singer on this one, the others occasionally mime something in the background. With such a soft, flannel-like sentiment, he might as well simply tear out his spine and hand it to you on a silver platter, like a bony eel, flapping around. Here’s an idea – tell him to jump off a cliff.
4. Finish by sending out mixed messages to your ex-lover
To his credit, Barlow acknowledges that his ex is doing pretty well without him, thank you very much – “in the twist of separation you excelled at being free”. But then he goes on to ask – “can’t you find a little room inside for me?” At this point his puppy dog eyes are going tearful at the side. Has he really changed? That’s what his ex-lover is considering. After all, look at him, tail between his legs, asking for another go. He’s softened. AND THEN BARLOW RUINS EVERYTHING. In the final line of the song, after almost four minutes of playing the wounded animal, he has a change of attitude and simply demands another go. “I guess now it’s time, that you came back for good,” he growls, the underlying threatening nature of the lyric barely masked without the backing singers crooning away with him. He’s not asking anymore, he’s telling you what to do. He hasn’t changed one bit, girlfriend!
Here’s the video, should you be able to stomach it…
Drink Less, Miss Less
Bobbie Gentry – a woman – is turning 65 today. She was a really popular singer/songwriter in the 1960s, once even knocking Sgt Pepper off the top of the album charts in America. And, well, that’s all we know. It’s a rubbish day for birthdays, frankly. It was either her or Dick Van Dyke’s brother, Jerry. Pretty lame. Even so, we thought we’d get Bobbie a gift, so we all put hooded tops on and sat at the back of a bus whispering ideas to one another and occasionally glaring at people, until it boiled down to a toss up between a small bag of strawberries or a an anti-binge drinking video starring Lauren Laverne that a PR company wondered if we’d feature on the site. In the end we got her both. Happy Birthday Bobbie Gentry!
Wings, Maybe I’m Amazed
When it comes to the Lennon/McCartney debate, we rather unfashionably prefer Paul McCartney. That might be because our first ever single was Ebony and Ivory, it might be because he was the real genius in The Beatles. We just don’t know. Also rather unfashionably, we think that Wings were completely brilliant. Above is some proof of that.
No room for this gentleman…
In tragic music icon terms, Michael Jackson actually lived a fairly long and prosperous life. He made it to half a century, which isn’t bad at all. Elvis only got as far as 42, John Lennon made it to 40 before taking four bullets in the back, and Michael Hutchence was still a fairly youthful 37. Keith Moon and John Bonham made it fashionable for great drummers to die at 32. Then, of course, you have all of the rock stars who couldn’t make it past 27 – Brian Jones, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison. Gram Parsons was even younger at 26, as was Otis Redding when he died in a plane crash. Tupac was 25, Notorious BIG 24, Ian Curtis 23, and Sid Vicious and Eddie Cochran were barely grown ups at just 21. In fact, the list of tragic early deaths is relatively endless. So with that in mind, we thought it high time to select the four most unfortunate, as decided by us…
1. Jimi Hendrix, 27
It was a very sad day for music in 1970 when Hendrix apparently lay on his back, choking on his own sick, thanks to a few too many red wines. The whole thing still smells a little bit fishy, with rumours floating around that it might not have simply been the innocent death of a drinker. Either way, it robbed the world of a fantastic music man, who managed to mix rock, soul and psychedelic stuff really really well. He keeps the likes of Steve Marriott, Janis Joplin, Marc Bolan and Phil Lynott out of the top four, and, to really put things in perspective, without Hendrix we probably wouldn’t have Prince. What kind of rubbish world would that be?
2. Minnie Riperton, 31
One of the great female soul singers, Riperton died of the damn cancer when she was 31. But what a 31 years. She’ll always be remembered for Lovin’ You, a slightly drippy love song, but we’ll forever love her for the rock/soul numbers she did with Rotary Connection, Les Fleurs, and the rather graphic sex song, Inside My Love. With so many excellent soul singers to choose from, she has achieved the remarkable feat of keeping Marvin Gaye, Donny Hathaway, Otis Redding and Sam Cooke out of the top four. That’s a very big score for the sisterhood.
3. Keith Moon, 32
There were a few decent dead drummers to choose from, but Keith Moon just beat Dennis Wilson and John Bonham to grab a place in the top four. He edged it for being more of a total maniac. Famous for driving cars into pools, flushing explosives down toilets, and for being a completely brilliant drummer in The Who, he died after taking too many anti-alcohol pills in 1978. He’d just been out for dinner with Paul and Linda McCartney, which presumably had nothing to do with the overdose.
4. Big L, 24
The rap game has seen lots of premature deaths – Easy E, Big Pun, Tupac, Scott La Rock, Jay Dee, Biggie Smalls, Jam Master Jay, Ol’ Dirty Bastard. But the one that really makes us slam our fists and weep up to the heavens screaming “why?” is Big L‘s. We honestly think he could have been the greatest rapper of all time, but instead he took seven bullets to the head and chest one evening in 1999. The murder remains unsolved, which makes it double annoying.
No room on the list for this poser…
It’s always a complete joy to hear from a member of the growing Interestment family, and today Debs – a fantastic writer with a very arched eyebrow – thought she’d point her magnificent microscope at strange popstars who sound like they’re singing gobbledigook. She had this to say…
Many of us have had a special relationship with song lyrics at one time or another. Perhaps they evoked the memory of a loved one. Perhaps they recalled the time we were unceremoniously binned by that same loved one as they made off into the sunset, cackling and smearing Marmite onto our best friend. Whatever. The fact remains, lyrics have a magical power that can drag your emotions from exquisite joy to murderous loathing at the mere drop of a stylus. However, there are certain artistes who deny us this experience, simply because they open their mouths and a garbled string of consonants emerge. This lot are ideal listening material if you think the evening may become the sort of nightmare you don’t ever want to remember again…
1. Michael Stipe, R.E.M
If nasal slurring is the order of the eve, M. Stipe’s your man. Interesting fact – the title is the only regularly intelligible part of his repertoire, resulting in that embarrassing tendency to start singing along with zest only to fade off in garbled shame: What’s the frequency Kenneth!! whatc – er – shuh huh huh…Ahem.
At best: sounds like a distressed child trying to talk mid-tantrum but who can only gasp out certain words due to wrenching sobs. At worst: it’s the vocal equivalent of shredding a dictionary through a powerful ceiling fan. And an Icelandic dictionary at that.
3. Caleb Followill, Kings of Leon
“Spainjer in the spoon gee cow!” strains Caleb at the beginning of Closer, sounding in desperate need of a pint of WD40. Followill manages to enunciate only one word in eleven – somewhat like those drunks who mumble constantly apart from the swear words that they manage to bellow out with all the clarity of a top-grade elocution graduate.
4. Sean Paul
Is, when slowed down and fed through an expensive piece of audio equipment actually reciting from the Yellow Pages: Romford and Ilford Districts. True story. Perhaps.
The Cure, Boys Don’t Cry
The Cure looked like a gang of Edward Scissorhands impersonators making records, and that’s just one of the reasons that we think they’re great. Above is their most popular song, which is also a bit of a fib. Some boys cry all the damn time.
20 Best Karate Kicks
Jessica Simpson, the brainy stateside mathematician, is turning 28 today. And what a 28 years she’s had. She’s solved problems, come up with solutions for global dilemmas, and made people weep just by saying moving things at the exact right moment. She’s also churned out numerous pop records, none of which we know the names of, and married and divorced someone – again we have no idea what his name might be. If we’re being totally honest, we’re not entirely sure who Jessica Simpson is. Is she Britney Spears? No? Okay, no matter, we thought we’d buy her a gift nonetheless, so we all put on bikinis, and sat by a pool smearing lotion deep into our hungry thighs, before it boiled down to a toss up between some great big sunglasses, or a bunch of sexy karate kicks. In the end we got her both. Happy Birthday Jessica!
No room for the Fresh Prince…
Something about the sunshine and the outdoors can make certain records sound magnificent. Only a few years ago there was that Macarena song – a repetitive number, with a vocal delivery from two grown men who wouldn’t make 10p busking in the middle of Covent Garden on Australia Day. And yet, the combination of heat, cold beers, heavy drugs, and an semi-erotic dance made it the hit of the Summer. Hence, this list is not about summertime hits, but songs about the Summer itself. After much debate, the top four ended up looking like this…
1. MFSB, Summertime
An up-tempo instrumental take on the sultry jazz classic, we love this. MFSB stands for Mother, Father, Sister, Brother, which lends this track a wholesome family appeal, and it’s great for dancing around to in a field full of borderline trustafarians. At, say, The Big Chill.
2. Roy Ayers, Everyone Loves The Sunshine
When Roy Ayers was wondering what people might love, he eventually hit the nail on the head. Everyone really does love the sunshine. Except perhaps for Stephen Hawking that time his girlfriend took the batteries from his wheelchair and left him to crackle and burn in the sweltering heat (true story). But robotronic genius aside, this is one magnificent ode to the weather.
3. The Style Council, Long Hot Summer
For a brief period in the 1980s, Paul Weller – the Modfather – became a little bit camp, and this video catches him riding the crest of a slightly pink wave. And it’s no bad thing at all. In fact, we much prefer his Style Council days. Hence Long Hot Summer can be found rotating at around 45 rpm on the Interestment turntable with startling regularity during the sunshine months. Make no mistake about it, this is a classic record.
4. Alice Cooper, School’s Out
It’s hard to find a decent rock record that encapsulates that Summer feeling, probably because most decent heavy rock bands are made up of people who prefer the night time. This, by a strange woman/man called Alice Cooper, is one of the few exceptions. Sadly, grown men in leather get little chance to celebrate the school holidays in these increasingly suspicious times.
The Stone Roses, Fools Gold
For a strange period in the 1990s, everyone thought it was cool to talk in a Manchester accent and walk a bit like Charlie Chaplin. That was mainly thanks to the Madchester explosion that started with these guys and ended with the shaved gorillas in Oasis. Above is a Stone Roses classic.
Apparently this guy died… or something
No doubt the next seven or eight months are going to be taken up with newspapers really trying to figure out a few Jackson mysteries. How did he die? Did he really monkey around with those kids? Did he actually do it with a woman to make babies? All questions that we can’t answer, so we won’t be wasting your time by even remotely trying. When it comes to Jackson, we know two things: 1. Waking up with the man must, even just for a nanosecond, have given you a glimpse into what it’s like to be Ronald McDonald’s wife. And 2. These are the four best cover versions of MJ classics…
1. Billie Jean, Shinehead
A slower version of the classic song about a deranged stalker, this one even features a big doff of the cap to spaghetti westerns. A brilliant reggae track. Just brilliant.
2. Thriller, Ian Brown
Ian Brown has never had the most syrupy voice in the world, but his drawling monotone somehow works when singing Thriller. An unexpected masterpiece.
3. Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough, Derrick Laro and Trinity
Another reggae interpretation of a Jackson classic – this time Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough from Off The Wall. This very nearly, but not quite, improves on the original. Excellent.
4. Human Nature, Miles Davies
A few rock versions almost took fourth spot, but in the end we plumped for this Miles Davis trumpet version of Human Nature. Not because it’s particularly good, but because it’s Miles Davis doing Michael Jackson. Yes, Miles Davis doing Michael Jackson. That’s Miles Davis doing Michael Jackson. The legendary trumpeter Miles Davis doing Michael Jackson…
James Brown, Michael Jackson and Prince
Much is going to be written about Michael Jackson for the coming weeks, after he finally lost out to a bastard heart attack or some such. He was only 50. And what a life. Brilliant Jackson Five records, often overlooked but completely fantastic tracks during the band’s young-adult incarnation as The Jacksons, and then all of the solo magic – particularly Off The Wall. Obviously the whole thing was slightly marred by his weird monkey, the melty-face stuff, and the eyebrow-raising sleepovers. Still, we thought we’d get him a couple of gifts as a thank you for the music, so we drank heavily until we became forgetful, and it soon boiled down to a toss up between a James Brown gig clip in which Michael is invited on stage, shortly followed by a far more overconfident Prince, or a dodgy recording of Rock With You… ahhh, or the James Brown clip! In the end we got him both. RIP Michael Jackson!
Michael Jackson, Rock With You
The Crystals, Then He Kissed Me
As they used to say – thank goodness it’s Thursday. Not only because it signals that the weekend is looming just upon the horizon – in this case it’s Glastonbury weekend – but also because it’s the sexiest day of the week. So if you’re at work, unbuckle your trousers, dim the lights, perhaps loosen up that blouse. If you’re at a festival take all of your clothes off and smear sensual ointments into your chest. People will love that. Free love, guys. Free love. Today, here’s an ode to snogging from the early 1960s.
The McDonalds McDLT
It was always going to happen, George Michael was going to turn 46 eventually. He’s tried to fight it for the last 45 years or so, but today he couldn’t fight it any more. And what a 46 years. He’s been part of a brilliant pop group, he’s enjoyed tremendous solo success, he’s been caught feverishly caressing himself in the bogs. What left is there to achieve? We’d like to say that he could fall asleep in his car in the middle of the road, but he’s even managed that. Amazing. Hence, we decided to get him a gift, so we all put on flowing white shirts and wandered the evening streets in the rain discussing ideas, our shirts becoming see-through and showing our nips. Eventually it boiled down to a toss up between some grapes or a clip of the man who played George Constanza in Seinfeld doing a McDonalds advert from years back. In the end we got him both. Happy Birthday George Michael!
Three Little Pigs, by Christopher Walken
It’s a strong day for the sisterhood, a very strong day indeed. Meryl Streep turns 60, which would normally be the biggest news imaginable. And yet, she’s been pipped at the post by Cyndi Lauper, who we prefer by a fraction. She’s 56 today, she’s a loon, she’s the one we’d like to spend the evening smiling widely at as she thrashes her head around in a gigantic chocolate cake. Hence, we thought we’d buy her a gift, so we bought four walkie-talkies from a nearby toy shop, then ran around town, hiding in bins, behind walls, in toilets at the back of poky Italian restaurants, simultaneously pretending to be on the run from some bad Transformers, and also discussing present ideas. It boiled down to a toss up between some peach coloured sandals or a clip of Christopher Walken doing a story. In the end we got her both. Happy Birthday Lauper!
Elton John, Amoreena
And so another Thursday rolls around. We’ve only just recovered from last week’s near-crippling sensuality. But here it is, so unbutton your work slacks and allow the soft whispers to echo around your underpants, perhaps wink at that colleague you’ve always fancied, then suggest that you get together and rub oil into one another’s thighs sometime. It is, after all, the sexiest day of the week. Above, Elton John explains that he misses his woman. He wasn’t gay in the 1970s.
Some gems missed out…
Hey man, the 1960s. How about those! Everyone was naked in a field, smoking grass cigarettes using little tweezers. Then, in the evenings, they’d all pile into a camper van to drive up to a lake to guzzle loads of acid and have group sex on some rocks – all the while quoting Revelations to a screaming guitar backing track. It was far out. Everyone had long hair, man. Everyone. Pretty cool times. Can you tell that we weren’t there? We have, however, seen most of the films, and coming up with a top four was a very unhip and, at times, emotional experience. Just missing the cut were Easy Rider (pictured), Bonnie and Clyde, The Ipcress File, Planet of The Apes, Midnight Cowboy, and The Guns of Navarone…
1. Rosemary’s Baby
A completely terrifying film, even the trailer is chilling. Rosemary – played by Mia Farrow – and Guy move into an apartment building in New York, and it isn’t long before she’s been date raped by Satan, and his career is on the up and up thanks to a spot of soul selling. Farrow is career peaking throughout, as she grows more and more gaunt and spooky, craving raw meat through a very unusual pregnancy. A Polanski classic, and one of the scariest films ever. Interestingly, Jack Nicholson was almost cast as Guy, but just missed out.
2. Jason and The Argonauts
If you’re a Ray Harryhausen fan, and stop-motion animation is your thing, then this is quite possibly the greatest film you will ever see. Jason and his squad of Argonauts are on a mission to find a really expensive golden jacket (or fleece), but the Gods are angry, so their paths are littered with great big monsters, flying things, and skeletons with swords. A brilliant, brilliant movie, adventure films are rarely better. It keeps The Guns of Navarone and One Million Years BC out of the top four.
3. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
The 1960s heterosexual version of Brokeback Mountain – in that the two stars were lusted after Hollywood hunks, playing cowboys. There was no mutual man activity, however. No fishing trips. Instead, Redford and Newman play bank robbers, who mess up and have to go on the run from a posse. Cue lots of action, sexy brothels, famous bike rides, and Burt Bacharach doing a fine job on the soundtrack.
Of course, this being the 1960s, there were plenty of freaky psychedelic movies to chose from – Barbarella, Pych-Out, Easy Rider. But this one takes the biscuit for being totally weird, occasionally excellent, and for proving that The Monkees were actually a pretty fantastic pop group. It was written and produced by Jack Nicholson, and features cameo appearances from Dennis Hopper, Frank Zappa and Sonny Liston. It was so-called with view to making a sequel “from the film makers who gave you Head”. Or so they say.
Bananarama, Cruel Summer
Before they were all Stock Aitkin and Waterman-ised, Bananarama were basically punk rockers, at various stages doing backing vocals for The Jam, Fun Boy Three, and Iggy Pop. We liked their crazy dungarees and their hair. Plus we particularly adored the above track, immortalised by The Karate Kid.
Some excellent rock and rollers just missed out…
Unlike disgruntled old men who refuse to board buses driven by women because they might crash, we completely embrace equality. We even celebrate it. In fact, we barely even consider equality to be an issue, because we simply presume it. Not just in the bedroom, but in the workplace, in the kitchen sink, and on stage with hard rocking bands. It’s a shame that, Beth Ditto aside, there seems to be a dearth of exciting rock and roll front women at the time of writing. But, even so, coming up with the four greatest was an emotional and tricky process, with Grace Slick, Bjork, Chaka Khan, Chrissie Hynde and Siouxsie Sioux all just missing the cut…
1. Janis Joplin
Without a doubt, the queen of all front women. She lead Big Brother and The Holding Company, then Kozmic Blues Band, then Full Tilt Boogie Band. And then she died of a heroin overdose. It was a total shame, because she was probably the greatest white soul singer of all time, and could challenge Jagger and Prince as the greatest front PERSON ever to take the stage. A genius.
2. Patti Smith
You can probably thank heroin and cocaine for Patti Smith’s rather sinister looks – back in the 1970s, it was still considered at the height of sophistication to shoot a load up down an alleyway, or on a bench. Yet, drugs aside, she made for an amazing front women for the inventively named Patti Smith Group, which rode the crest of a creative wave from 1974-1979. If Keith Richards were a singer and a woman, he’d be Patti Smith.
3. Debbie Harry
A former Playboy bunny, Debbie Harry was the sexy face of punk rock. Her band was Blondie, and they were at their peak in the late 1970s and early 1980s. And it’s a testament to how good she was that nowadays pretty much every angular young oik giving music a bash is fashioned on Harry in her prime. A very beautiful woman.
4. Stevie Nicks
A tiny little thing at just a fraction over five foot, Nicks put a magnificent stamp on Fleetwood Mac from 1975 until the early 1980s. She was strange and alluring, with her mystical jewelry, nasal voice, and whispers that she appreciated her cocaine in a rather unconventional manner. Rumours also went around that she might be a witch.