Thursday, 24 November 2011

Ultimate Pop Star Countdown: 40-36

The next batch of posts (counting down to number one) originally stemmed from participating in an Ultimate Pop Star countdown on the Popjustice message-boards, which has been one of the most fascinating and enjoyable pop discussions of the website's entire history.  Yes, I do post over there, under the alias Undisco_Me, and felt compelled to share my thoughts on the choices I made. The rules for submitting individual lists was to choose you favourite artists and select your favourite song by them (and a back-up song if the song was too obscure).  Had the idea been to choose favourite songs then it might be a very different list, but I have enormous affection for pretty much any composer or performer of the songs I love anyway. However, I forgot Madonna, which I am still kicking myself about.  Rather than slot her in, I am going to stay faithful to my authentic selection submitted, and have made additional comments where I have felt it necessary.  2012 will be an interesting year to sharpen my pen and re-evaluate my thoughts on Madonna's career so I will happily post-pone my decision on what is her best song for now.

36.   Tori Amos - Space Dog / Bliss

Like Front Row by her former headliner Alanis Morissette, Tori's technique is, at the arrival of the spiraling chorus, beguiling as two lyrical strands are combed through and delivered in parallel as a unit of sound together.  This gives the song a ghost like serenity, an echo to offer another tense.  It makes me think of the Margaret Atwood novel Cat’s Eye where the protagonist is haunted by a childhood bully Cordelia, which has many detailed observations that always manage to remind me of my own thinking with regards to friends I felt betrayed me growing up, or even the understanding of one's family. Tori's final breath “those girls are gone” still lingers with me. Actually, go read Atwood with Little Earthquakes on (although Space Dog is from the follow-up Under The Pink). The marble-glare, accumulating momentum of 1999's steady-as-it-comes Bliss is the nearest anyone will ever get to submit to the same scope and groove as Running Up That Hill, this I swear. Lifted from 1999's opulent electronica masterpiece To Venus & Back, the last truly special album from the songstress.

 37.   Ani Difranco – Shy
Vulnerable and defensive, but self-aware, emotional, naked, temperamental, a WOMAN, and stop me if you’ve heard this one before

38.   Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Zero
Revving up from the get go, this song is just a mad dash from start to finish. MapsHeads Will Roll and Turn Into are my other recommendations. Taking perspective from the outsider, the video follows Karen O take full command of the San Francisco landscape, and I'm proud to say I got an A for a paper I did on this theme with regards to an American Landscape History course I took in my third year at university.  All together now: oooooooooh.  It's the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, I'm allowed to boast.

 39.   Cristina Monet – You Rented A Space / What’s A Girl To Do

Cristina’s songs really have not dated (the song comes from my romanticised year of 1984), the only improvement would be to have her album Sleep It Off remastered as the sound quality on the CD re-issue from 2005 is terrible.  However, her biting lyrics and brilliant arrangements are undeniable.  I always enjoyed You Rented A Space so much as it’s like a soliloquy from the perspective of some love-stung, drunk-sounding southern belle. Cristina’s drawl makes her lyrics hang like chandeliers (Monet was English, but her stylized southern American accent adds such bruising to it all). What’s A Girl To Do would be the obvious song I’d play someone to impress them – no other pop star has set out to do something so sardonic and addictive, ever. It’s so impressive it sounds as if you’ve been waiting to hear it all your life. You Rented A Space is tamer by comparison, but my throat burns with vodka just thinking about it.  A hugely endearing quality about this song in particular, but her music in general, is that she articulates and conveys extreme emotions, but through her lyrics and clatter-tastic arrangements (only the chugging tale of a date with a misogynist banker on Ticket To The Tropics and the glossy guitar riff on Don’t Mutilate My Mink come anywhere near to sounding slick) and executes it all with a perfect balance that’s just relentlessly unflinching. Chic.

40.   Genevieve Waite – Pink Gin & Lime
Oh this one was mocked slightly in the countdown, but this song is so sweet, Gen is a true one off and thank god music reviewers never used the word “quirky” much in the 70s.  The song is gin-soaked and deliriously merry and slightly insance. “Pink gin and lime for a fake ballerina / Out of her mind from sniffin dry cleaner.”


QH said...

Interesting perspective. I don't agree that Tori didn't have a few special albums after TVaB, as SW and TB are pretty ace. I do concur "Bliss" is pretty epic. Again, another solid entry, looking forward to the rest of your selections. :) -Quentin

Diva Incarnate said...

Well, to me, it's the last start-to-finish amazing piece of work from her. Certainly, Bouncing Off The Clouds is way up there. I have to admit: I stopped buying her albums after Scarlet's Walk had all but a handful of 'nice' (albeit very nice of course) songs. So she's due more inspection, I'll give you that:)

QH said...

I'm not an ADP fan at all, you just mentioned the best song from that affair: BOC, but Venus is unique in the Amos log.-QH