B is for Baxendale
B is indeed for Baxendale, who had the marvellous wheeze of flowing up the triumph of their You Will Have Your Revenge album by releasing a fan-club only summer single, free to whoever mailed them a photo or a drawing of themselves having a crap summer. 'Summer Of Hate' was a terrific slab of self-referential Pop (the line 'It's staying light 'til really late' is from last years' positive summer anthem 'Hanging Out With Her') that summed the whole summer up perfectly. When Senay comes in with the 'summer summer summertime' bit after the complaint about Will Smith being on the radio all the time, well it kills me every time. Ditto Senay cheekily singing 'do you think you're better off at home' to the tune of… well guess… in the middle of the 'Fuck Ibiza - You're Better off At Home' mix (complete with Geri Halliwell sample - that's her talking about school summer holidays, not singing…). Baxendale prove again with this single that they are champions of upbeat Pop with barbs attached. Why are they not on Top Of the Pops and why was this single not number one for the entire school holidays? The world confuses me sometimes.
Staying on an Up, let's skip C entirely for the moment and head onto to D and celebrate the magical stupidity that is Daphne and Celeste. You know I'm always a bit sceptical of people who are, shall we say, fans of more left-field music, when they profess a passion for some hyped up teen-pop sensation. It never quite rings true, always smells a little of some kind of search for inverted cool: as in 'I'm so cool I can even like naff teen-pop and it doesn't mater; and the irony of it is it only makes me cooler!' Hmmm. But that said I do love Daphne and Celeste, without irony and without reservation. I love Daphne and Celeste because they are so knowingly dumb, because like The Ramones they are bubblegum Punk Rock Pop stars of the highest order. I was actually thinking about the Ramones the other day and wondering if we can trace all the great Pop of today back to them, seeing as, you know, they pretty much single-handedly rescued us from Prog Rock and made kids want to play noisy dumb Pop music again. I like the idea of Daphne and Celeste being the new Ramones, partly because it's so ridiculous and partly because it's so accurate. 1,2,3,4! You Ugly! Hey Ho Let's Go! Ooh Stick You! Gabba Gabba Hey! Howdy Doody I Love Sushi!
I love Daphne and Celeste for the sheer stupidity of releasing 'School's Out' (the weakest track on their I Didn't Say That album BY FAR incidentally) more than half way through the holidays, just a couple of weeks before school actually goes back. I love the fact that the video looks like it was shot on the Grange Hill set in 1983 with a budget of 10p. I love the way the end of 'Peek-A-Boo' has the line 'Is That Tom Cruise?' before launching into the very Ace 'Spygirl' with it's manic Mission Impossible intro. I love Daphne and Celeste for the sheer cattiness of 'Never been To Memphis', and most of all for the line that refers to Garth Brooks going "I've an allergy to mullet-heads". I love Daphne and Celeste because the nearest they come to a schmaltzy ballad number is on the album closing 'Hey Boy' which carries on the 'you're useless' taunt of the preceding 'U.G.L.Y.', telling an unspecified girl that she will never get the good looking guy because, hey, D&C are "hot girl, and you're not girl." It makes for an interesting reading: D&C come across as a homogenous whole, a single entity, so are we to assume that they will share the boy themselves? The mind boggles. I love Daphne and Celeste because they make no sense. Most of all I love Daphne and Celeste because, alongside Baxendale, they've made the best Pop album of the year.
© Alistair Fitchett 2000
C is for the Clientele