366 Songs 209: Shame

I’m sure there are people who’d make fun of me for liking this song, and I can see why; there’s little original about it (The first time I heard it, the opening actually made me think “Oh, it’s like ‘Blackbird’ by the Beatles, but less new”), and it’s over-produced to a degree that almost feels impossible past the 1980s, and yet… And yet, it’s very sing-along-able, and it’s funny. It’s that last part that really makes it work for me – I’m not sure how much of the song is actually meant to be funny (The “So I got busy throwing everybody underneath the bus/And with your poster thirty foot high at the back of Toys’R’Us” part, definitely), but there’s some comedy for me in lines like “My tears could fill the Albert Hall/Is this the sound of sweet surrender?” nonetheless.

And, dammit, even though the vocals are weirdly transAtlantically flattened and the instruments over-produced, I still like the melody of this, deep down. No matter how much it owes to “Blackbird.” Which is, admittedly, a lot.

(Points to both Robbie Williams and Gary Barlow for the “Brokeback Boyband” video, too.)

366 Songs 125: Kids

I read Feel, Chris Heath’s book about the weird and wonderful life of Robbie Williams (Note: It does seem weird, but not so wonderful, in the book), the other week, and as a result, I’ve been thinking about Williams’ music a lot recently. Williams is one of those acts that you kind of like, because you kind of like parts of his songs, even if the whole thing never quite sits right, but “Kids,” his duet with Kylie Minogue, has enough good bits to make it one of my favorite songs of his – Not least of which for the sarcasm and snark that comes with a chorus that sees such big-in-the-UK pop stars singing “And we’ll play it by numbers/Til something sticks/Don’t mind doing it for the kids.” That sly humor? Singalong choruses? That’s what I want from my pop music, thanks.

“It’s A World of We’re All In This Together And A World of It’s All Just A Game, Isn’t It?”

The most amazing and telltale thing about the conversation is not Jason Frazer’s nerve in initiating it, but his blase assumption that it would be alright. It’s another sign of how deeply he, and huge parts of the modern entertainment world, have internalized a set of values in which all parts of the business – and in particular the artists, the tabloids and the paparazzi – have more in common with each other than anyone else outside their world, and in which, despite occasional tensions, they recognize their common interests. It’s a world of we’re all in this together and a world of it’s all just a game, isn’t it? A world of gloss and desperation where fame and money are the only lubricants, and the only goals. In this new pop world, the tabloids and the paparazzi are no longer an ancillary nuisance that comes with success, they are your co-workers in the celebrity corporation, and you are expected to recognize and acknowledge them as such.

– Chris Heath, from Feel: Robbie Williams.

There’s a comic book editor who shall remain unnamed to avoid his seemingly unstoppable Google search who, on social media and message boards and comment threads and now, it seems, in print, can’t stop himself from baiting comic journalists and critics who’ve said anything other than blanket plaudits; he’ll jump in, perceiving personal slights where there aren’t any and throwing out award-winning examples of passive aggression in response, instead of actually addressing what’s being said (I’ve been the… target, which isn’t really the right word, of his ire more than once, but I generally fail to get mad enough, which I think ruins it slightly for him).

The oddest thing about him, though, is his insistence when challenged on his behavior that he’s just having fun and people should stop taking him so seriously. Every time I see that, I think that he’s misjudged the room, so to speak; that what he thinks is happening and what is actually happening are so amazingly different that there’s something wrong, somewhere. Then, this weekend, I read the above passage and thought, Ohhhhh. That’s what he’s thinking.