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August 11, 2004

Who the fuck is Adrian Grenier, and doesn't he know that Piven was in "One Crazy Summer"?

I like to think that I'm immune to the stuff. But I might as well face it that, occasionally, wily label-side image-sculpting succesfully deflects even my critical comment into a harmless, out of the way holding pool. Don't worry, fans - I'm still batting like .320 on the year, and hitting in the AMG lineup provides plenty of protection. Still, Fefe Dobson 's self-titled Island debut was a Johnny bamboozle of the highest order. "It's her willingness to inject pop with pluck and rock as much as she flutters that makes Dobson's debut much more than a popternative clone", I said in the December 2003 review, praising songs like "Stupid Little Love Song" and "Unforgiven". Now, I'm not one for self-revisionism. At this volume that's impossible - all I can do is go out there and play my game, and hopefully we'll all come out with a win. But what does a critic say when he sees an artist he praised for treading cleverly the line between commercialism and craft get re-launched in a blatant push for in-the-next-few-seconds relevance? Fefe Dobson was essentially an Avril clone, chocked with electric guitar crunch and chest-beating lyrics about bad love and self-worth. For whatever reason this sound didn't resonate with da kids, and suddenly Fefe is frou frouing all over the network in a drop-shoulder sweatshirt and lending a yelping Cyndi Lauper impersonation to the chintzy synths and generic hook of "Don't Go [Girls and Boys]" - a song that wasn't even on the original pressing of her album, and is currently (in America, anyway) available only as a digital download. How plastic is that, and how was I duped so completely the first time around? I mean, fucking Tone-Loc guested on her record! Oh well. At least I was right about No Secrets.

Another strange occurrence is One Little Indian servicing Polly Paulusma's "Dark Side" to AAA radio in America. There's no question that Paulusma's dusky 21st century hippie charm will have some play with those Pottery Barn shoppers just now wearing out their Norah Jones records. But Scissors in My Pocket is much rawer and looser than the output of Jones or Katie Melua, both of whom find favor with oldies and yuppies thanks to their lush vocals and polite, non-threatening arrangements. We'll see how much headway Polly makes in the States - somewhere, right now, an ignored Toby Lightman is nursing a beer angrily - but it's interesting that at least a few of those notoriously fickle US radio programmers have taken a chance on "Dark Side".

Those same AAA radio stations love filling up lunchtimes with 1980s faves, but they'll likely never play the new record from I Am the World Trade Center, even if The Cover Up "is accessing what it sounded like to be cool back then - not just popular."

Yow! That's it. I'm growing in my 80s mullet.


Posted by Johnny Loftus at August 11, 2004 10:17 AM