Tuesday, 15 June 2010
Killer Opening Songs ('Girls and Boys' by Blur)
The worldwide success achieved by the band Gorillaz is welcome news for those of us who are still enamoured of good, meaningul pop. Killer Opening Songs, always, the eternal optimist, has the first two albums by this eclectic British band and is intent on buying the third one, 'Plastic Beach'. However, one of the reasons why Gorillaz has become a byword for cool, innovative pop is because the driving force behind them is the erstwhile frontman of Blur, Damon Albarn.
It's strange to see a five-o'-clock-shadowed Damon nowadays dancing 'locamente' to the Orquesta Aragon (true story) at the Barbican. Especially when you take into account that it was Albarn's smooth, clean-shaven face that made him a poster boy for Britpop. But unbeknownst even to his fans there was always a latent, hidden and restless inquisitiveness in the young Damon that has yielded a very diverse and creative oeuvre in the last decade.
For K.O.S, the genesis of that original output can be found in this gem of a Killer Opening Song. Riding on the back of below-par sales for their previous effort, 'Modern Life is Rubbish', 'Parklife' was the shot in the arm that Blur needed to get back to their prominent spot in British music. The album has an observational air to it and 'Girls and Boys' is the first indication of this distinctive quality. The track chronicles what was at the time the experience of the short-haul, hedonistic, British holidaymaker, aged between eighteen and thirty years old. This is a phenomenon that reached its apotheosis in the late 90s and early noughties when a combination of cheap flights, abundant booze and disposable income turned Greek and Spanish tourist resorts into the equivalent of Roman orgies. And Blur had already predicted it with its talk of how the 'Street’s like a jungle/So call the police/Following the herd/Down to Greece - on holiday/Love in the nineties/Is paranoid/On sunny beaches/Take your chances - looking for...'
The chorus sounds like a tongue-twister, which is very apposite for the debauchery that ruled the type of holiday to which Damon and co were referring where the alliteration of arms, legs and similar haircuts made it difficult to figure out who was who: 'Girls who are boys/Who like boys to be girls/Who do boys like they’re girls/Who do girls like they’re boys/Always should be someone you really love'. And K.O.S. can helpt thinking that that 'love' at the end is a little sarky remark, Damon's very own signature.
Although hard to envisage at the time, it is now easier to understand that the author of 'Girls and Boys' would one day mutate into the man behind such dissimilar but highly original projects such as: Mali Music; The Good, the Bad and the Queen and the aforementioned Gorillaz. And that's because most people thought Blur was just a fad for a bunch of art college kids, when in reality one of the distinguishing features that separated them from other bands was their endless creativity. Whereas Oasis (to be featured on this blog soon) were happy to be called Beatles 2, Blur, specifically in 'Parklife', experimented with synth-pop and LSD-fuelled melodies.
Blur reformed last year for a one-off concert at Glastonbury that defied all expectations and for a while there was talk of a formal reunion and a proper album release. But with one of the former members involved in politics and Gorillaz getting the praise they thoroughly deserve, K.O.S. is of the opinion that time has been called on one of the landmarks of British pop in the 90s. Luckily we still have 'Girls and Boys': a superb Killer Opening Song.
Next Post: 'El Violin/The Violin (Review)', to be published on Thursday 17th June at 11:59pm (GMT)