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Tue, 05 Feb 2008

Commercial Women

Not so long ago Britney Spears had a new album out and there were quite a few nice words written by critics in the everyday media - angst of artist leads to best effort in years - that sort of thing. And then there were people who wrote something like - Jeez, gimmie a break, the Spear had as much to do with the creative content of the recording as she did with the weather in Moscow.

Well, I can't say I've ever taken her seriously but she did deliver a part of the performance and this puts me in mind of Marianne Faithful and Broken English. That was a wonderful raw and ragged thing that was written up as an MF effort. It wasn't. MF remains good at the same things as Paris, Britney etc, yawn, etc - that is to say, self-publicity and kiss-and-tell and that sort of thing. In fact Britney's latest is straight out of the MF playbook. Who was it behind Broken English? Barry Reynolds.

And then there's Kylie, who apparently had a fair bit to do with her own effort and received little credit for it except for being on the UK's Honours List - which might have been for being a Gay icon but I think it was for being entertaining. Yes, well, why not? I remember a few years ago being totally amazed at the amount of hatred and invective that was being heaped on her by her fellow Aussies (who make a fine sport of mean-spirited envy). That's like hating a daisy - not the most interesting flower perhaps, but one with a little charm and one that wouldn't rouse too much passion with normal people... either for or against. In a way, she's an update of Olivia Newton whatsit, who a Rolling Stone reviewer once described as "the sound of white bread singing". chortle.

Are these two the mainstream? Are we there yet? I don't know really but they are certainly more mainstream than most anything else I've talked about lately. They certainly are commercial.

And then there's Amy Winehouse. She's newer than the other two but is travelling a very old road just the same. She's allowed of course even if that road seems headed for the Devil's Crossroads ... or is it away, after? Lots of people are liking her atmosphere anyway, and the tabloids are happy to have someone else to write about. There is something there too. When she was first around there were mentions of Janis Joplin and I wrote a few scathing words at the time as her voice isn't in the same league as Big Brother era Janis. But that comparison was odious anyway, and a red herring. 2008 could be interesting as Mark Ronson has talked about "wall of sound". Updated Phil Spector, with some roughness and soul could be interesting. (thunderfinger)

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