So imagine you’re one of, say, five members of a girlband called, let’s say for the sake of
Posted by Popjustice on
Jul 22 2011, 07:42
argument, The Saturdays, and imagine you’ve spent the last half decade or so quite pleasantly trilling your way around the world (but mainly the UK let’s not make this something it’s not) belting out a variety of hits resulting in a variety of chart positions, and imagine you’re knocking together some tunes for what will be your third album. “Third album?” some people might exclaim, “isn’t this the fourth after that sort of extended reissue thing?” Perhaps, but strictly speaking this will be your third proper album. So you’re thinking about this situation – and the fact that it’s all been a bit hand-to-mouth, and the idea that you haven’t yet scored a hit huge enough to give you a bit of breathing spacd – as you’re on your way down to Kent to work with the hit production and songwriting pop powerhouse Xenomania. You’ve been down here before, to do some bits and some bobs, and it hasn’t quite worked out for one reason or another, but you’re down here again to record what may or may not be a hit single. You’re excited because of course when Xenomania are on form they are completely unbeatable. When they’re on form, they’re the best there is. And you know they’ve been concentrating a lot on Florrie recently which is probably the best thing they could have done because of that massive explosion of acts they came out with a few years ago, and you know it makes perfect sense that they’d want to scale it down a bit and have a proper sense of focus when, at the height of the Mini Viva/Alex Gardner/Pageboy/Nightvisions/Vagabond bunfight there wasn’t really the demented sense of single-minded abandon that gets the best work out of Xenomania when, as mentioned before, they really are firing on all cylinders. So you get off the train at Oxted and you get your cab, or you step out of the car that’s driven you door to door even though it’s quicker to get the train, or you parachute in from your helicopter, or you just get there however suits you best, and you walk in and some of the people who made all those amazing Girls Aloud hits you never quite got one of for yourself… Well, some of those people aren’t at Xenomania any more, but there’s still the feeling that something pretty amazing could happen at this place. So Brian’s still there obviously and Miranda’s there, and there are other people there too: Space Cowboy’s on board, and because you’re in The Saturdays and these things don’t really bother you that much you might not really know who he is or what he’s done but if you heard some of the more wildly euphoric bits of his back catalogue you’d be feeling pretty happy about him working on your new song. And there’s a guy called Tim Deal and this boy giant called Mnek who seems like a nice sort of chap, and he’s there too working on bits. And then imagine that the song you come away with doesn’t really sound like anything any of those people have done before. It doesn’t sound like a Girls Aloud song, for example, although it has the sort of piledriving, relentless momentum of, say, a raved up ‘Sexy! No, No No’, and it has hints of Tony Lamezma’s finer moments. But it doesn’t really sound like what you would generally expect to come away from Xenomania with. Although, it occurs to you, Xenomania’s best songs have often sounded unexpected and unsecondguessable. Mainly, you think, as you head back to London with the tune on your iPod, and you’re gazing out of the window wondering if the video budget is likely to stretch to a realistic club scene, it sounds like a hands-in-the-lasers club track by someone like Tiesto. And yes, you say to yourself, it has a kind of middle eight bit. Yes, you accept, there are conventional chorusy sort of bits. And yes, you agree, the very final extra chorus of “keep me on the radar, keep-keep-keep me on the radar” makes you feel brilliantly wobbly every time you hear it. But the feeling you really get as you listen to this song, again and again on repeat because despite seeming quite simple it keeps giving a little bit more every time you hear it, is that it doesn’t sound like lots of other pop songs. It sounds exciting and fresh and like a bit of a romp. It strikes you that this is probably the most confident single you’ll have released since ‘Up’. And you start to think about the lyrics being about speakers and DJs and being in a club and that sort of thing. And you sort of know deep in the back of your head that maybe some people are getting a bit bored of the whole “ooh I’m in a disco and it’s pretty agreeable you know” sort of thing, but mostly you’re just pleased that it sounds like it could be a biggish hit in the 2011 pop charts, and you’re fairly sure that lines like “I put my hand against the speakers”, “all fired up, I feel alive”, “I came to party, super-naughty” and “we’re all animals, so get your claws out” are the sorts of lines you’d have found in a fair few Girls Aloud songs. So maybe you have got what you went down there for after all. And then weeks pass, and it’s decided that this is going to be the second single off your third/fourth/whatever-it-is album, and that makes sense because it does definitely continue what was started with ‘Notorious’, but it shoots it all off in a far more extreme direction. And you think to yourself, actually, that this could even be the massive raveathon you know everyone always wanted ‘Missing You’ to turn into in its final chorus. Better late than never, you say to yourself. And you smile to yourself. Not because of what you’ve just thought about but because you’ve got wind. But that’s not the point. And then more weeks pass and you find out that Scott Mills is going to be getting the first full play of the song on a Friday night during the Ready For The Weekend bit of his show and you think to yourself, “yes, this is the right place for people to hear my new song for the first time because it very naturally sounds like a proper raveanthemular sort of song in the first instance then gradually more and more like a proper pop song on second, third, fourth, eight hundredth listens”. And you know that, of course, some people are going to say “oh that’s not really a proper song”, and some people are going to say “this has got no tune”, but you also know that they can fuck right off because ‘All Fired Up’ is very brilliant indeed.