Saturday, January 07, 2006

1001 Greatest Pop Songs Of All Time - #4 - Some Girls by Rachel Stevens

Claire: When we did this list, it was, as we said, partly down to that stupid waste of trees that was Toby "Oooh, me obscure jazz collection!" Cresswells book of 1001 great singles that totally ignored all Pop totally, but it was also in tribute to let some popstars know someone, anyone, loves them. For too long, classic pop songs are overlooked on these kind of lists, despite their intrinsic brilliance lyrically and musically, just because people want to look cool when they show off their playlists or musical lists. This list, of course, only wears it's pop credentials, so let it be said - Rachel Stevens = fucking brilliance. A lot of this website is going to end up with me yelling I think, but Rachel Stevens career woes are just as baffling to me as Calendar Girl by Sophie Monk entering the chart at #35. I'm almost at the point of despairing at the charts, I really am. But enough of the ranting, for now, let's take a look at Some Girls.

Rachel, formerly the pretty one in S Club 7 (and also the one in S Club Miami who's boyfriend was always whining at her to come home), as I'm sure you would know if you are in anyway interested in this website, is bewilderingly struggling with her career, held up as something of a sinner for daring to make a brilliant pop album, while lessers like Franz Ferdinand (Yawn) mock her for her failure. It's not right, and while I only hear about Rachels trials 2nd hand from websites and my friends in London, who all say they like her, but of course, didn't buy the album. Hmmm...

Some Girls came from shinier times, getting to #2 in the charts, though I have no idea what "Sport Relief" is or was, but it explains why Colin Jackson (who would love pop) and Pat Cash (who doesn't) were doing in the film clip getting doused by water pistol wielding femmes. Pat Cash of course is just as much of a jinx as Greg Norman, so that might explain the problems - as best as I can tell, and forgive this if it's wrong, it seems to be about oral sex, and the fact that the "girl" is stuck being a giver, and not a receiver, if you follow (if that's not right, tell me what the champagne makes taste so much better?) in order to help her career. I'm always a big fan of what you might call a "strutting" beat, that is one where you can see the singer with a lot of nodding defiantly back up girls strutting down the road in the film clip. Some Girls definitely scores high on that score, it's got a positively skipping beat to be honest. As I said above, it scores highly on the subtly filthy lyrics score - and when people say Rachel is a "blank canvas", this surely plays to her strengths. Like the best word of Kylie Minogue (hardly a belter herself) in Better The Devil You Know, there's no knowing wink - the best popstars will sing anything, but do it with a coy grin that suggests the singer is much smarter than you give them credit for. Kylie knew what BTDYK was about, do you really think Rach is singing without knowledge, regurgitating other peoples words without taking it in? Rubbish, that's all I can say.

So why don't people like her? Who would know - this is a world that values James Blunt and Lee Harding for some reason, it's a cruel, wrong, awful world.

Alyson: Pop is in difficult times right now - I can only think that Pop relies on the sale of singles, and now we all download things, rubbish that sells few copies can get higher in the charts. Certainly, it'd be wonderful if this generation found it in itself to embrace Rach, but it just doesn't seem to be possible.

I was a pretty big rap for S Club, so I do have a soft spot for Rach, and I think the last album saw several songs which improved on Some Girls - but I've almost come to accept with a sigh that the best pop songs generally fail, that people are now buying based on hearsay and what they should buy that the papers tell them too - either that or the only people not downloading are old, and the charts are going to be nana cuffed for the rest of time.

Some Girls is of course fabulous, and a revelation whenever I play it to people here in Oz, so all I can suggest to Rach is to possibly immigrate? Personally, it's all Pat Cashs fault you are on struggle street anyway, so you could smack him while you are here....


Edward O: One of my favourite memories of 2004 was, in the midst of wondering why amazing pop singles like this never found easy purchase in the soft, fleshy part of the charts (i.e. the top), was taking a bus ride in my then-hometown of Canberra, and seeing a pair of 13 year old girls with an iPod between them, both listening to the same song and singing along. I don't think they realised they weren't alone on the bus as I was behind them and had been slumping. But they were having the time of their lives, probably wondering the same thing I was; why did they have to go to the internet to get this song? Here they were, two kinda grubby bogan girls listening to Rachel Stevens, not hearing the layers, the levels, probably not knowing who Richard X is, not knowing anything about glam, about schaffel, about the history of pop this song is now woven into, they just loved the exciting video game sounds and Rachel's guileless, sweet-as-sugar vocal delivery. But the intelligentsia have claimed Rachel for themselves, and the arbiters of taste and radio play have said "You can have her", let's play Usher instead, idiots.

I'll concede that some Rachel Stevens may be too polite and British to dent any other charts. But "Some Girls" endures with a universal charm - it starts in the shoulder and the neck - moving up to the head and infecting the brain causing other parts to move. A foot tap, a campy outstretched arm, a look towards the heavens... an aural glimpse into the land of pop perfection.

For the duration of this song, the kids get it, and all the analyses and backwards-glancing can't affect that. This is, above its complexity, a brilliantly simple pop song. The extended mix, with Rachel talking about "big platform boots" is fantastic too.


Blogger said...

Rachel would most likely do OK here in OZ I think - most people I speak to only have fond thoughts of the "pretty one" from S Club 7, and pretty much everyone I play "Some Girls" or "So Good" to loves it.

4:44 AM  

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