How NOT to write about music – 150. Hayley Williams

hayley-williams-makeup

Apropos of nothing, I came across this great review of an old Paramore single by Neil Kulkarni:

Ugh, yak, do you know what’s fucking up rock music in a big big way at the moment? Drummers. Terrible drummers. Drummers that can do impressive, can do the macho thing, can LOOK like they’re rocking out, let their hair fly, throw their arms into all the right ‘classic rock’ shapes, but have not an ounce of feel or humanity to anything they do. It’s not even about replicating machines being the problem, it’s that drummers seem to exist in a bubble, happy with the patina of ‘rock’ they visibly and audibly throw out around themselves and their kit, seemingly unaware or uncaring about whether they’re in any way helping out the band they’re in or the song they’re singing. ‘Daydreaming’ is not a terrible song (think Eve’s Plum b-side) but you can almost picture the cock behind the kit being so proud of his tumbles and rolls it damn near makes you sick, and derails any sense of flow or groove the song could’ve had. As bold and powerful and freespirited and rocking as a Primark AC/DC t-shirt. I totally blame Dave Grohl for this bullshit.

Well, she’s shed the drummer…

I first heard this last week on the home of all great new music, the Radio One Breakfast Show with Greg James, and absolutely hated it. Heard it a few times. Softened through partial osmosis. Unexposed to the challenge of challenging new music, stung into appreciation by its points of difference with Calvin Harris (say) and Lewis ‘grey’ Capaldi, secretly enjoying its grace and persistence. Over-performed, but that’s what she does, isn’t it? Heard it again. Thrilled by casual recognition and the long spaces between the silences. Cheered by the way that each time you think it might have ended.

It

hasn’t.

Simmering satisfyingly like a good brew of generic Sainsbury’s tea matched to a £3 box of Maltesers. Obvious but in a non-obvious way. Playful and a little dark.

Yesterday while I was listening to a guest lecturer talk about Gorillaz’s third album, and IammiwhoamI, I discovered this:

Last week, Twitter exploded with screenshots comparing Williams’ videos with those of Jonna Lee. People began to accuse Williams and her team of blatant plagiarism and artistic theft. The visuals are very similar, from the cocoon theme to the white morph suits. Many believe that Lee was subtweeting Williams and calling attention to the issue in the tweet below.

Capture

Seems somewhat tenuous. Not least because it seems to be Williams’ change of pace seems to be partly inspired by the continued rise of Billie Eilish. (“Give in” = “duh”. Loud/soft, up close breathing. No shouts. No calls. Easy slippage through beats and percussion, slight raise of tempo, slight release – dark, foreshadowed.)

Google asks, “Does Billie Eilish like Nirvana?”

As someone else argued:

Capture1

Love all this though. Saves me from having to describe the music.

It

hasn’t.

How NOT to write about music – 54. The 1975

The 1975 Brits

I’m increasingly of the opinion that The 1975 are the greatest rock band in the world right now. (Note: define rock.) (Note: I am using the traditional (male) definition here because of course there is no way that the greatest rock band in the world right now are male.) This 1975 song reminds me of XTC circa ‘Senses Working Overtime’. (Note: it sounds nothing like it.) (Note: I am talking about the way the vocals have been treated, and the modulations, the pauses for breath. Not the content.) Between this and the new Billie Eilish one, it can be quite exciting listening to the Radio One Breakfast Show these days. Fact of the matter is: politics, sex, a sense of belonging. Fact of the matter is: jarring, explosive, political, not pandering. Fact of the matter is: passionate.

Living on the edge. Nervy. Living on the edge. “Is this song your jam, dad? Is it? Is it?” I don’t know, give me a chance. I like the Billy Eilish one. Give me a chance. “Is this song your jam, dad?”

Give me a chance.

“We need to stay angry and we need to stay woke.”

Here is singer Matt Healy at the Brits last week:

“I just want you to listen to me for one sec. Just a couple of sentences that a friend of ours, Laura Snapes said this, and I thought that we should all really, really think about it,” Healy said before quoting Snapes as she described her written response after a misogynistic remark was made about her by Mark Kozelek. “She said that in music, male misogynists acts are examined for nuance and defended as traits of difficult artists. Whilst women and those that call them out are treated as hysterics who don’t understand art.”

I’m guessing Radio One didn’t play the opening lines:

We’re fucking in a car, shooting heroin
Saying controversial things just for the hell of it

Most people sing like they’re singing in the shower. Not Healy. He’s too intent on being intense. Fellow chart-botherer Lewis Capaldi sings like he’s been sitting on the toilet for 20 minutes now, unable to get relief. Strain. Reach those notes. Strain. Reach those notes.

I’m just sayin’.

I think this is a prime fit for sexuality. This song makes me want to go right back to their concert and hear them play this song all over again. It was the one they closed with and it left the biggest impact. Matty (the lead singer) asked for his little speech before the song to be kept a secret between him and everyone else at the venue and so I’ll do that for him. But honestly no matter if you’re watching the music video on youtube, seeing them in concert or watching them doing a live version on youtube as well, everything about this band is unreal. I could go on forever about how much I love the 1975 but I’ll stop now and leave this here.
“Being a sexually empowered woman doesn’t make you a slut or a slag” | Songs related to sexuality

I am just sayin’.

“You learn a couple of things when you get to my age.”

Like, community matters. Like, when the magic dispels and the glamour fades and the paper bag is finally removed from Charlie Brown’s head, no one is interested. A solo heartfelt performance witnessed by no one. Everyone has better things to do, more appropriate people to call. Like, why not give yourself a try? At the age of 29 or 57, it does not matter. OBSERVATION: that dude from The 1975 is like Brian Molko crossed with Harley Quinn. OBSERVATION: this song from The 1975 does not pander, does not talk down (except everywhere). OBSERVATION: killer riff.

“And what will you say to your younger self?”

Like, family matters. Much as you might like to pretend it doesn’t and that you can cut yourself adrift, run wild and free and with no thought for collecting friends or kudos or security. Much as you love to pretend you were early, you were late. OBSERVATION: killer riff. Seriously killer riff. You couldn’t be more wrong actually, I’m unbelievably sentimental. Have you missed me? I sure as fuck have missed you. Where did you go? Why did you go? No, wait. I think I understand that. OBSERVATION: The 1975 are great because The 1975 are both cliched and wrong. Wrong is always attractive in pop music ESPECIALLY when you are not exposed to pop music. When you are exposed to pop music, and in the context of Nick Grimshaw’s Radio One breakfast show, The 1975 are fucking GENIUS. How can they even get away with playing this shit? (Well, simply. It’s a killer riff and they can talk over the words.)

“And I was 25 and afraid to go outside.”

Every time, Daniel goes “You like this song don’t you dad?” as I’m negotiating another two cars parked on a blind corner, cyclists holding up a line of 30 cars treating the country roads like their own personal gymnasium, horns blaring in fading frustration, another couple of hundred quid added to the bodywork bill. And I’m like, “NOT NOW DANIEL” and then realise how I am too late and stutter an apology for my grumpiness, my lack of good humour. He’s right, I do like this fucking song. A lot. Killer guitars, Killer riff. And now I’ve listened to it eight straight times on YouTube I like it even more – smart lyrics. Smart, smart lyrics.
THE 10-MINUTE REVIEW – 25: THE 1975

I am just sayin’.