Manufactured pop? Yes! Let’s have more of it. Words: Neil Cooper
nce upon a time. there were three little girls who went to stage school. Desperate to be famous. they auditioned for a pair
. . Girls Aloud: ol hit-makers on the up.
Convinced they could be movement? top of the pops. the girls ~ signed contracts. rush released records and within 1
weeks were in the charts. Less than a year later. alas. it was all over. 0m hapless trio were yesterday’s pin-ups. lly-posted over by the Next Big Thing. It happened to Hear‘Say. Probably will to Girls Aloud. And does anyone here recall B‘i‘witched‘.’ lixcept. while the above may sound like a fable of 2 1 st century micro-celebrity life. it actually tells the rags to riches and back again tale of the all too appropriately named Paper Dolls. Who? Quite. Because these particular pop moppets were spewed through the music industry machinery some 25 allegedly-more-innocent years ago. Over three singles and a sole album of chicken-in—a-basket lite. they only ever reached the di/./.y heights of number I l. The Suprernes they weren’t.
The point here is that. while some today bemoan the plethora of ‘marnrfactured' acts. it‘s actually always been run by an unholy alliance of
managers. producers and writers. But. as
recipes for genius go. think of Phil Spector saints
and New York's Brill Building. where ‘ ’ songsmiths plied their wares. conveyor-belt Pure Shores
fashion. for rnake-believe groups they is one of
became the meat and two veg for.
And the same rules apply. All Saints beSt ‘Pure Shores‘ is one of the best pop singles singles ever ever made. Doesn‘t matter who wrote it. d Likewise Sugababes ‘Round Round'. ma e crafted by the man who created the hen night-tastic ‘Sound of the L'nderground' for (iirls Aloud. Atomic Kitten's ‘Whole Again‘ was classic enough to merit a cover version by misanthropic drunks Arab Strap. who also performed Sugababes‘ ‘.\'ew Year".
Queen of them all. however. has to be (‘athy Dennis. Herself a former chart star. her CV includes S (‘lub‘s ‘Two in a Million‘ and Hear'Say’s 'Pure and Simple’. though she really hit paydirt with Spiller‘s Sophie lillis Bextor—fronted ‘(iroovejet'. and. sublimely. Kylie‘s ‘Can‘t Get you Out of my l-lead‘.
Formulaic. disposable bubblegum produced by corporate whores. sure. But no one‘s pretending otherwise. and it's a way safer bet than (iareth and Will’s karaoke cover versions. And besides. wouldn‘t you rather have an old Spice (iirls single made by professionals than live abysmal self-penned solo efforts”?
Because when the lunatics take over the asylum. that's when you know it's over. After Brill Building hack Carole King and co started singing their own ditties. the me generation was invented and pop was ruined for years. Atomic Kitten are rubbish now because they've started to believe they‘re in charge. Likewise. serious artists Appleton. while Pete Waterman was spot—on to deride Darius for getting ideas above his station. Best — and worst — of all. however. is lame Academy" winner David Sneddon‘s woeful self-penned debut. The title'.’ ‘Stop Living the Lie.‘
Suddenly. keeping it real has never looked so unappealing.
10 THE LIST 3:) Jew—‘3 tht; 2233
Film Art or pornography? Gaspar Noe may think he's made a comedy but the audience know this is sordid. anarchic and crucial filmmaking. See review. page 27. Selected release.
2 The West Wing
TV Jed Bartlet returns for a third series looking to fend off MS. Republicans and Chris Tarrant. See review, page 104. Channel 4.
Music Finally getting around to some headline dates. Scotland’s debonair yet thrashy janglemeisters promote their lovely album Hate. QMU, Glasgow.
4 Catch Me If You Can
Film In his finest film for an age, Steven Spielberg tells the bizarre yet true story of 19603 master of deception Frank W Abagnale Jr. See review. page 27. General release.
5 Mr Placebo
Theatre Young Scottish playwright Isabel Wright cements her thriving reputation with this dark tale of ethics in science and medicine. See preview. page 61. Traverse, Edinburgh.
6 Dylan Moran
Comedy The so-called grumpiest man in comedy returns with a bundle of laughs and a sleeveful of surprises. And jokes and observations and stuff. See feature. page 14. Tron, Glasgow; Traverse, Edinburgh.
Film A digitally restored print and soundtrack make Fritz Lang‘s political sci-fl a vital experience once again. And not a hint of Giorgio bloody Moroder anywhere. See review. page 29. Filmhouse. Edinburgh.
TV BBC Choice makes way for 8803, a channel aimed at disenfranchised 25 to 34- year-olds. Edgy animation and drama are balanced by star names such as Dom Joly. Vinnie Jones and Zoe Ball. See preview, page 97. 8803.
9 New Territories
Theatre/Art Low—tech, silly, inventive. surreal. demanding, improvised. Yep, it's Glasgow‘s annual dip into the avant garde. See feature, page 24. Various venues, Glasgow.
1 O Metroid Fusion
Games This sideways scrolling combat platform adventure game is stylish, clear and colourful. We‘re assured it’s an experience not unlike dipping your hands in honey. See review, page 103. Nintendo.