When Daisy and I got together, we realised pretty quickly that we have some common ground in our music taste, but there are areas where we diverge in our tastes a great deal. Like, to the point that there are a number of bands that one or the other cannot stand whatsover. I was reminded of this most clearly at Nuis@nce the other week, when there was a twenty-to-thirty minute section of the night where there was a succession of songs that I really couldn’t stand. It’s amazing how quickly I can vanish from the dancefloor when that happens.
Anyone, this may offend the odd indie kid. To redress the balance, I’ve asked Daisy to come up with ten bands that I love that she hates. Her list was rather longer than mine, I have to admit, but the final ten are at the end.
Jake Shillingford’s band are the one band, more than any one other, in Daisy’s collection that I really, really hate with an absolute passion. Smart-arsed, knowingly grandiose orchestral pop that tried far too fucking hard to become popular. Like the irritating kid at school who desperately wants to be popular, I recall Shillingford’s interviews in the music press in the nineties to be a succession of quotes about how huge and popular he wanted his band to be, and how fabulous a songwriter and singer he was. Like so many who have big ambitions and shout their mouth off about it, it never quite worked out like that. A number of minor chart hits, and then the law of diminishing returns kicked in – there were four albums in total (I was only aware of two until I researched this), and the obligatory reunion/anniversary gig that every band seems to think they deserve. Some things are better left forgotten.
I am, of course, apparently in the minority at nights like Nuis@nce when it comes to bands like My Life Story. Everyone else goes mad for 12 Reasons Why I Love Her (or if I’m really unlucky, the seven-minute-plus 17 Reasons Why I Love Her version) and Sparkle, apparently, but it is like nails down a blackboard to me. Shillingford’s oddly-flat vocals that try and hit heights that he clearly can’t reach, and the songs themselves are wannabe anthems that are little more than poor-quality knock-offs of the sixties orchestral pop meisterwerks that he so wanted his songs to be judged against.
Maybe it is just this kind of music – smart-arsed, knowing indie-pop music with highbrow aims – that I really hate. The Divine Comedy are in similar realms to My Life Story, I guess, although I will concede that Neil Hannon normally gave a good interview in the press, at least. Well, better than his unbearable music, which reached its nadir for me in pap like National Express – a “jaunty” song that to me felt like the arch-fop Neil Hannon looking down at the “proles” on the coach and having a laugh at their expense. This also struck me as a grab for fame rather than anything else, after much of his earlier output (with countless literary references) seemed destined for critical praise and not a lot of sales. Remarkably, there have been ten albums by the band now. They are another band I could probably name one of them at best, and if I hear no more from this band ever, it will be a good thing.
A classic example of a band becoming popular purely due to hype (and a few comments in the music press at the right time), they faded as the genre they were so part of – Britpop – vanished from view. A triumph of marketing rather than good songcraft, Menswear had perhaps two or three singles of note and the rest was entirely forgettable. Still, their ways with marketing weren’t wasted – Simon White became a successful band manager in the years following the band’s demise. Here’s hoping a reformation never happens, eh?
A Lo-fi, cheesy indie pop band with a Ramones fixation (and an unexpected love of Atari Teenage Riot), none of this helps in making me love a band that are really rather twee. I recall hearing them an awful lot on the Evening Session and John Peel shows on Radio 1 back in the nineties, but they never, ever grabbed me. Even if the vicious skewering of the Britpop scene in Long Live The UK Music Scene is quite funny to read, if not listen to. They are apparently, to their fans, endearingly lo-fi – which means they record everything on the cheapest equipment possible, and it shows. Lo-fi to me was always about bands having no aspirations, and no desire to evolve and improve.
I’ve been asked by Daisy to specify that her love of this band only stretches as far as the first album, rather than the second album. Well, no matter – I dislike both. I was always rather uneasy about the whole idea of “new rave”, and I didn’t really understand what it was meant to be. What it actually appeared to be, rather than being a revamp of the cheesy, early-90s rave scene, was a bunch of indie bands who had clearly discovered the rave scene by reading about it, took skiploads of pills and decided that adding a few “ravey” synths to their lumpen indie rock would be a good idea.
What it actually did was to show just how bad a fit these two were in the wrong hands. If you want the perfect distillation of indie-rock and rave culture, the bar was set rather high right back at the start by Primal Scream, with Screamadelica. This band, and others like them, don’t even get close. And don’t even get me started on that fucking awful cover of It’s Not Over Yet. The original used to make me want to stick pins in my ears, this version makes me want to gouge my eyes out too.
Maybe I’m just not meant to get Pink. After all, I’m male. Although to give her credit, despite being a mainstream pop star at least she tries to subvert things a bit. But even given that, I think I’d rather just not listen to music at all than listen to a whole album of this. It is manufactured pop given a rock makeover, and it’s only saving grace is that it might get a few teenagers interested in something other the usual conveyor belt of teen-pop stars.
It was clear from the start that Daisy and I had very different tastes in dance music. While my taste heads more into electro, “big beat” and drum’n’bass, at points Daisy has had something of a taste for more, er, commercially successful dance stuff. Like Faithless, for example. Something of a dance supergroup (a prominent DJ in Sister Bliss, a prominent producer in Rollo, then vocalist Maxi Jazz), they had a seemingly endless succession of massive dance hits that very much stuck to a formula that worked. The thing is, it wasn’t just those dreary, identikit dancefloor “anthems” (Insomnia, God Is A DJ, etc), but also the drippy, boring ballads like Bring My Family Back. If something by this band comes on TV, I’ll just as quickly turn it off, and find something, anything, more interesting instead.
Here’s another that I never understood. But then, covering a Pink Floyd song is usually a pretty good way to raise my ire – I can’t stand Pink Floyd in the first place – and hearing a disco-fied version of Comfortably Numb was, well, fucking awful. I can’t actually think of a single redeeming feature of this band – they are pretty much standing for everything in (semi)mainstream pop music that I can’t stand: endless rehashing, repackaging and mining of the past, keeping popular music in a collective stasis rather than daring to do anything different.
I’ve had a love of certain Ninja Tune artists for some years, but for some reason Mr Scruff is not one of them. Generally I find his music rather inconsequential, the kind of music that for me doesn’t even work as background music. It just gets ignored totally, as there is nothing of interest. Yeah, there are references to fish, to tea, and the kooky drawings. Great. There are also dull-as-dishwater electronic workouts that never seem to go anywhere, and a seemingly never-ending stream of albums all doing the same thing. Still, I like the idea of the tea stall at his gigs.
Finally, I’ve mentioned Daisy’s love of dance music being rather different to mine. This discourse is at it’s widest when it comes to the music Daisy has to go running to, or listen to at the gym. The cheesiest, commercial house music, the kind of thing I’d hope I’d never hear in clubs, ever. Or on TV, or on radio, but these latter mediums can be rather more difficult to escape. My hatred of this kind of music is best described by songs like DJ Sammy’s The Boys of Summer – one of those many summer hits that is simply a dance beat chucked under a bad karaoke version of an eighties hit. What’s the point?
Still, I should be thankful we both hate ska.
For balance, here are ten bands Daisy can’t stand that I love:
Asian Dub Foundation
Stone Temple Pilots
My Bloody Valentine
Sleepytime Gorilla Museum