What is pop music? Really? What is it about? It’s novelty tat isn’t it? And usually it’s about shagging. It’s basically the recorded equivalent of mating calls for horney wild animals? Or is that Hair Metal?
“Ladies you’re damn right, you can’t read a man’s mind, we’re living in two tribes & heading for war, Well, nobody’s perfect, we all gotta work it, but fellas, we’re worth it, so don’t break the law”
Quote Wikipedia: “Love Machine” is a song recorded by British girl group Girls Aloud from their second studio album, What Will the Neighbours Say? (2004). It was released by Polydor Records on 13 September 2004, as the second single from the album. The song was written by Miranda Cooper, Brian Higgins, Tim Powell, Nick Coler, Lisa Cowling, Myra Boyle, and Shawn Lee. The instrumentation was inspired by The Smiths, and created by Powell and Coler. “Love Machine” is an uptempo song with elements of 1980s synthpop. The single was received favourably by contemporary music critics, who deemed it as joyful track that was different from the single releases by other artists at the time. According to research carried out for Nokia in 2006, “Love Machine” is the second “most exhilarating” song ever.
Yikes. There is a lot to unpack in that little paragraph (actually for this site that’s a massive paragraph, but go with it eh?) Firstly. This songs a lot older than I remember it. Here I am writing about a “contemporary” pop song as if it’s new. If this record were a child, it’d be in high school at this point. Secondly, it was written by a committee of people who are not the band recording it. That’s the pop business for you, don’t get hung up about it. The seven people who wrote Love Machine were hired guns. Experts honing their craft is a good thing by and large. Seven people.
Here comes the motherlode.
The instrumentation was inspired by The Smiths. The Instrumentation. Was. Inspired by. The Smiths. This rinky dink plastic ashtray of a song.
The Instrumentation… What in the name of Johnny Farking Marr are they talking about? But OK. Let’s press on.
According to research carried out by Nokia in 2006… (that sentence, what a peach. I’m going to start most of my baseless claims from now on with that)… Love Machine is the second most exhilarating song ever.
I’ll tell you what Love Machine is to me. It’s the pop song The Arctic Monkey’s covered for a laugh on their way up to cementing their reputation. There’s a UK indie band tradition in the BBC live lounge for acts to do a live take (usually stripped back in some way) and then a mock shock cover. The catalyst for all this was way back when Travis turned Britney Spears Hit Me Baby One More Time into a soft shoe blues number. They had something of a minor hit on their hands in the early days of online music and from then on the die was cast. The trick has broken free of it’s shackles since then and everyone from Manic Street Preachers covering Rihanna, Brian Fallon and his Horrible Crows covering Katy Perry and Some Dude showing his hand by doing an entire album of Taylor Swift songs has swilled around the dive bar scene ever since.
In it’s original incarnation the song is equal parts cynical pop as a calculating business and joyous flirty silliness. In hindsight it’s really rather cheap and cheesy too. A bit of low rent holiday camp cabaret.
To those of you unfamiliar with Girls Aloud they are a UK TV Talent Show Girl Band pulled together from hopeful singing competition contestants some time around the first SARS outbreak. Their first single was titled Sound of the Underground despite the fact they were voted together by pay-as-you-dial mainstream drones hooked on a prime time show on the biggest commercial TV Station in the UK.
Five pretty kids with little back story vignette videos and a TV Stations desire to own the next Spice Girls. Since then the UK has been treated to bands like The Saturdays, Little Mix and The 80’s Matchbox B-Line Disaster who have all been taken to the nations hearts via the same mechanisms. Then turned into gigantic money making machines. (Look sideways, I think I got away with that)
Love Machine though, for all its investment on return calculated corporate mechanics. It’s a banger. Alex and the lads could see it. In the post ironic post sincerity, post everything noughties many an indie scenester could see it too. That much Nokia harvested data from 2006 can’t be wrong.
“We’re gift-wrapped kitty cats, we only turning into tigers when we gotta fight back. let’s go, Eskimo, out into the blue”
My opinion of Girls Aloud’s music at the time was ‘As a band of musicians they’re good at videos’. In hindsight those teams of writers producers dancers and the band themselves did lay down some enduring slick camp pop songs. The Promise, Biology, Something Kinda Ohh, The Show all have a sticking quality to them that was somewhat watered down by their reliance on a far too obvious cover version as a surefire hit (I think We’re Alone Now, I’ll Stand By You, Jump, Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter). A most British noughties pop sensation with at least one world class single in the bag.
Love Machine is precision tooled and is so well oiled it functions highly efficiently. Let’s go Eskimo indeed.