Saturday, December 29, 2007

1001 Greatest Pop Songs Of All Time - #29 - All The Things She Said by TATU

Claire: It's fair to say that the world, like Pop, needs controversy. Without it, all bands would be like Westlife, Il Divo, or worse, Boyzone. Tedious, safe and pre planned and market researched down to the nth degree, even to the second they got off the stool and everyone would buy "Motown cover" albums and sound like Jane Gazzo. It's not a world for me, and it's not a world for you either.

TATU's world was always morally dubious and a world away from such boring concerns - lesbianism for profit and faux lesbian at that and all that stuff that kept the Daily Telegraph letters page churning on, but it was fascinating and interesting, the kind of things you can't imagine Western Culture will produce in the current boring climate (how do people make it through High School Musical? Surely that boys neutered?). If nothing else, TATU's brief and emphatic period as the most talked about band on the planet was something different, it was sleazy and it was grimy, but it was also an important nod to pops never ending history of svengalis and masterminds seeking to stir up controversy for a fast buck.

Actually, it wasn't anything to do with the controversy (after all, All About Us had a bloody murder, and no one remembers that video) as to why All The Things She Said was a massive hit (it helped, but it's not why it topped the charts, and the outrage seemed weary at first, more justified later at some of the stunts from the dying days). It was to do with the fact this is one of the best songs, never mind debut singles, of all time. It's a nervous breakdown on record, insane and urgent, confused and erratic, chaotic melodrama packed into 3 and a half minutes, Trevor Horns kitchen sink production and background countdown ticking clock meeting the girls panicked, wailing and imperfectly translated vocals (although it's impact was still great on the original Russian track, translated as "I've Lost My Mind"). It could have been about two girls running away from summer camp and it would have been a great song, but it works in context of the lesbian gimmick, infusing it with a desperation and believability. The video clip was designed to court controversy and nothing more, but without the great song, it would have slumped through the cracks.

Of course, it couldn't last, that's the trouble with the gimmick running out of steam and later sleazy stunts, but this song is still a perfect song for anyone in love and driven insane by it. Whether with boy, girl or band-mate...


Alyson: It eventually got really tacky in the TATU world, once the e-mails started to come out advertising that they wanted 14 year old girls in underpants to line up on a bridge. But that was more to do with Ivan than TATU, once he got mixed up as to what the success of TATU was about. The controversy was always, arguably, secondary to song quality once All The Things She Said was dropped on the public. And for the questions of moral bankruptcy, they weren't any worse on that charge than The Pussycat Dolls, the most morally bankrupt band of this decade.

After all, commercial radio, not the most open minded forum, found a place for this song on heavy rotation. It is only arguable though, since it owed a lot to old fashioned publicity stunts, tabloid stirring and a deliberately provocative video clip. That they got away with it is down to the heart stopping brilliance of the song, particularly the time clock ticking down, and it's hard not to love the sheer brass neck of everyone involved. And yes, it was a much, much better time than now, when people are buying High School Musical...


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