Sunday, September 18, 2005

NME Chart Show

Having grown up with the ITV Chart Show as my only real source of pop videos (that being: one hour a week, slavishly watched no matter how bad it was the previous week), nothing puts me in a cosier frame of mind than a top ten of music videos. Fortune must favour the easily pleased, as every night I can watch the NME Chart Show (MTV 2, 7pm).

Since I haven't read the NME for several years, I am unschooled in what their tastemakers suggest viewers vote for on the MTV2 website. So the chart is generally a nice surprise when I catch it. Indie music invariably marches to one or two different drums at any time, with a few incongruities thrown in to confuse and bemuse (usually foreigners of import). It was like that in 1991, when every song on the indie chart was entitled the "Hypnoflowerlovewheel (Forever) EP", and today of course there is a general leaning toward young men with wiry arms in polo shirts playing their guitars quickly.

The music video is arguably a distraction from a song. In some cases, it improves your view of the music - I doubt anyone would have clasped their hands in rapt joy at the White Stripes' phoned-in "My Doorbell" if the video wasn't a charming period tour de force. On the other hand, the sight of Hard-Fi's eminently slappable singer renders me utterly furious.

What is on the chart this week? I know, i know!

10. Clor – 'Good Stuff'
I was washing up when this was on.

9. Hard-Fi – 'Living For The Weekend'
This is music aimed at the youth market, or as some people call it, "London". Male model fronts faceless shape-formers.

8. Mystery Jets – 'You Can't Fool Me Dennis'
This is brilliant! They are trying to pretend that the old chap in the video isn't in the band, but I saw them live, and he was.

7. The Subways – 'With You'
That chap from the Vines has asperger's syndrome and is too plum crazy to tour. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Subways. Awful.

6. Sigur Ros – 'Glosoli'
This looks like a ringer to me! I can't imagine that the kids are sitting at home, thinking, what I need to vote for is some Icelandic post rock sung in a made up language. These chaps are signed to Parlophone now, who anticipate big returns. Some say "cocaine" is a problem in the music industry!

5. We Are Scientists – 'The Great Escape'
Or rather "We Wish We Were The Killers". I wish the Killers weren't the Killers.

4. Franz Ferdinand – 'Do You Want To'
The best British indie single for years! I can't buy the album because there's no way it can touch this.

3. Editors – 'Bullets'
The best British indie single for years! I can't buy the album because there's no way it can touch this pt 2.

2. Bloc Party – 'Two More Years'
Someone, soon, has to come out and say it: the most boring, pedestrian band plying their trade at the top level today. No melodies, no excitement, flat singing. They look great though!

1. Arctic Monkeys – 'I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor'
WHAT IS THIS? WHAT IS THIS THING? Video recorded on an audio tape; four lost schoolboys, frightened for their lives. I can't tell whether this is genius on the level of Pavement's early singles or a guileless stumble into a state of musical grace. Something is happening here.


Jay said...

You should do this more often, I enjoy hearing your views on the modern musics -- even if I think you really made up #1.

But your life is busy enough without asking you to start writing music reviews on a regular basis.

(you should though)

Bee said...

I think my tastes must be becoming more and more conservative and MOR as I grow old, because I actually like all these things that people constantly tell me are boring pedestrian crap (Bloc Party, Hard-Fi, etc etc).

Still, it could be worse. (It could ... couldn't it? Yes, of course it could.)

With you on Franz Ferdinand and Editors though. They are hecks of songs.

Oh and I have seen Sigur Ros. Actually "seen" is probably not the most appropriate word, since they caused me to sink into a deep coma of boredom from which I did not recover until they left the stage. "Was subjected to" is probably more accurate.

John A said...

Bee, maybe living in Blair's Britain for 8 years has lowered your musical expectations.

Sigur Ros are good, I think (personally), but surely that's an esoteric sound with narrow appeal. Iceland's music scene is strange though. Their version of Pop Idol (I believe) is judged by musicologists and academics and 95% of the country vote every week! It's meant to be brilliant but you'd have to go out of your way to find out.

Jay, I used to be a music writer, I got sick of writing reviews, because there's so little to say. That's why I have boiled music writing down to this brutal style.

Liam said...

I am sad to say that I cannot agree with you on Franz Ferdinand. I am sorry. But it is okay, since we all have our different opinions and suchlike.

I like Arctic Monkeys a lot though! I especially like their song "Mardy Bum" , and "Sticking to the Floor" is nice because they are basically taking the mick out of the very people they are playing their music too. You have to be brave to do that I think.

Also, an Australian friend of mine is fairly in love with the young lad's accent. She thinks that is what all Englishmen should sound like.

John A said...

Are Arctic Monkeys being funny? That is really disappointing, I retract my comments, they are not idiot savants at all but just some chavs rocking out.

Tom said...

Your a terrible cynic and clearly no longer in touch with the "kids".

Go on. Touch a kid.

Liam said...

Maybe they are. I don't know really. I just kinda like listening to them. Some of their songs have daft lyrics, but the sound is quite nice, so I don't really mind.

Don't worry John, there will music to warm your cockles just around the corner.

Ray said...

The Chart Show was only ever any good when the specialised chart was the one which paid homage to the god that is RAWK! Or, Rock, as it's sometimes spelled.

Actually, I'm lying. The Rock chart was just as crap as every other week because they'd always play some crap like Bon Puking* Jovi.

*I promised my Mother I'd cut down on the swearing.

nerd2thend said...

Is it sad that nearly all of these bands are unheard to me? From what I’m hearing (thank you Google), they're infinitely better than the pop that dominates mtv2 and the similar in the US. I consider it a mixed blessing when the local college radio is playing old Spoon and Bell & Sebastian.

Red_Dog said...

Yet to find a new band who are actually better than the late 70's/early 80's bands they are trying to emulate. It's all good for "da kidz" though, so what does my aging cynicism matter?

Oh, and the Arctic Monkey video (or at least the one for 'I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor') seems to be a direct rip-off of those classic 'Old Grey Whistle Test' sessions we all know and love, which to my mind marks them (or maybe whoever directed the video) as having at least some merit for that crucial nostalgia/comedy interface...

leigh said...

really? THAT franz song? to me it's the weakest i've heard out of them in quite a while.

the other day i was riding a bus with a crowd of schoolboys bearing a roughly 10-year-old age, and one of them started going on about how excited he was for the new franz ferdinand. his friends all looked at him like he was a bit touched, muttering "franz who?" and "what's he talking about?" but i so swelled with pride i nearly hugged the child.

which of course would have had me arrested in all likelyhood.

James said...

Oh come now, Mister Allison, Bloc Party have some very nice melodies. I'm not so keen on that new one, though.