Many tomes – voluminous, wordy and weighty – have been written about creating the perfect song, and every page of those tomes is a waste of both your time and my time. Which, when you think about it, is just about all the time we have. The only thing a person need read to discover a route to musical nirvana is the title of Roxette’s seminal 1995 greatest hits collection: Don’t Bore Us, Get To The Chorus!.
You’d think, here and now in 2018, this wouldn’t need repeating but I’ve seen it in the stars and I’ve heard it in advance album streams. I’m afraid I have to inform you that men in bands are jamming again. Witness the forthcoming album from the indie hero who has pop instincts to burn, and regularly burns them to cinders by refusing to stop touching his guitar. Someone please warn him it’ll drop off one day. See the solo album by a man from a really great band swamp potential magic by allowing someone to drown it in 70s-referencing keyboard solos. Let’s be clear here: there is only one good guitar solo, it lasts about two seconds and is followed by the words “Oo-ee-oo, I look just like Buddy Holly”. There are no good keyboard solos.
In the interests of research I listened to every song that’s ever been recorded (apart from the new Shaggy and Sting one) and discovered this: there are three perfect songs, The Ronettes’ ‘Be My Baby’, The Ramones’ cover of The Ronettes’ ‘Baby I Love You’ and pretty much any Girls Aloud song of your choosing. They are perfect because not one second is wasted. Every note matters, every idea achieves something. This ain’t about the three minute pop song – Hookworms’ album is my favourite this year and has tracks hitting 8 minutes, but it’s all vital. It builds and strides with purpose. It’s got a plan. I don’t care how much a song slaps, bops or bangs, it’s gotta have a plan. Jamming is a directionless anti-plan and, also, it’s really really boring.
Is it solo Paul Weller’s fault? Well, yes – he’s a pernicious evil whose influence seeps through generations without them realising, but it’s too late to get to Weller, so we need to take individual responsibility. We need music store owners to quiz keyboard players on favourite Doors songs and, if they answer with any Doors song, refuse to serve them. We need producers to stop recording as soon as a guitarist’s tongue sticks out in earnest concentration. We, as audiences, need to boo vociferously at concerts as soon as a band deviate from recorded version lengths, and threaten to make an already-late night later. Let them know either the song’s done or you are. These are our lives to waste, don’t let a man with a wah-wah pedal waste it for you.
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