Number Ones: The Madden Brothers' 'We Are Done'

This week I talk about the single by Joel and Benji Madden of Good Charlotte, who are both judges on The Voice Kids in Australia, and, well, because the song itself isn’t incredibly interesting, I wonder about the ecosystem of pop, and how brutally Darwinian it all gets, and where something like the Madden Brothers, with not one but two popular TV shows behind it, fits into that kind of ecosystem.

Various recent music writing by yours truly

I am bad at updating tumblr recently (I think I am intimidated by having way too many interesting people and things on my dashboard, I can never get through it all and should probably cull). Anyway, I have written a couple of Number Ones columns for TheVine recently, including:

Number Ones - Ed Sheeran ‘Sing’, in which I analyse Ed Sheeran through the prism of the singer-songwriter and the prism of the Justin Timberlake kind of stuff that’s in this song (Wednesday May 7th, 2014)

Number Ones - Justice Crew ‘Que Sera’, in which I analyse the song with reference to Doris Day, Christopher Marlowe, Kulcha, and Hi-5 (Monday May 12th, 2014)

And then there’s the weekly Music Reader column, which has been full of high quality recently - that Elvie Thomas piece and the Sia piece are both fantastic, and that’s just the two pieces from the New York Times:

Music Reader - Sia, Britpop, Beyonce, Cornershop, more (Thursday May 1st, 2014)

Music Reader - Elvie Thomas, KISS, Lady Gaga, Kate Bush, more (Wednesday 23rd April, 2014)

And I also am now doing the On This Day content for the Foxtel retro-focused music channel Max TV…if you see a little popup at the bottom of your screen telling you that on this day in 1989 Mike & The Mechanics went to #1, well that’s me. Also, on Max’s website, I do a couple of paragraphs about what happened on this day (which are not archived, so keep checking back), such as: 

TUESDAY, MAY 13th

1989: Mike & The Mechanics get to #1 in the Australian charts with ‘The Living Years’.

As the English prog rock band Genesis were performing lengthy instrumental solos in the early 1970s, I wonder: did any of them have any inkling that so many different members of the band would go on and have successful solo careers making fairly straightforward pop music in the 1980s? Peter Gabriel, of course, was Genesis’s lead singer before going solo in the mid-1970s, and in the mid-1980s had a big MTV hit with ‘Sledgehammer’. Phil Collins was originally the drummer in Genesis, before taking over as lead singer in the wake of Gabriel’s departure. Collins’ solo career had an embarrassment of riches in songs like ‘Against All Odds’ and ‘In The Air Tonight’ (and judging by ‘Another Day In Paradise’, Collins actually was a bit embarrassed by his riches). Even Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett had a top 20 hit in the US as part of the supergroup GTR. 

And, in 1989, it was Genesis bass player Mike Rutherford’s turn. With his side project Mike + The Mechanics, the song was sung by Paul Carrack (who also sang prominently on Squeeze’s hit ‘Tempted’). It’s a catchy thing, and it sounded good on Australian radio in between Noiseworks and INXS. It was at #1 for a single week, before Madonna’s ‘Like A Prayer’ returned to the top of the charts.

The song was nominated for a Grammy, and it had some big fans in unusual places: famed composer Burt Bacharach said in 1996 that ‘The Living Years’ was one of the finest songs of the last 10 years.

Number Ones: Sheppard 'Geronimo'

I am slightly mean to Brisbane band Sheppard. Not that they care, they’re at #1. 

Number Ones: 5 Seconds of Summer's 'She Looks So Perfect'

The new #1 single in Australia, finally toppling ‘Happy’ after 11 weeks of enforced smiles.

Number Ones: A Great Big World 'Say Something'

I ended up being a bit late to the party writing about this one (which also features Xtina), and after a week at #1, this was replaced by a 6th week of ‘Happy’. And it’s funny in a way that a week of sadness infiltrated the ‘Happy’ bubble; ‘Say Something’ is a pretty sad song, with the hook “I’m giving up on you”. So this one is mostly about why people listen to sad music.

Number Ones: The Highest Selling Singles In Oz, 2013 - 10-1

Wherein I write about each of the top 10 best selling singles of 2013 in Australia. And I think I have actually found something interesting and new to say about ‘Royals’ by Lorde in the process? (spoilers: ‘Royals’ is in the top 10 best selling singles of 2013 in Australia, though it wasn’t a #1).

Number Ones: Pharrell Williams 'Happy'

Me at the Vine talking about the new Australian #1 single. Fascinating how a 6-month-old song gets a new lease of life in the charts with an event video. I inevitably discuss happiness, yachts, eudaimonia and Scrooge McDuck money pits. 

Number Ones - John Legend 'All Of Me'

I’ve been thinking about that whole Gawker smarm vs snark thing that’s been going around, and decided to apply the general principle of it to this John Legend song that got to #1 in Australia, because my initial reaction to the song was that it was all a bit smarmy. But, of course, that reaction of mine was more because I just didn’t hear my own experiences in the song; smarm is hard to distinguish from not-for-me in music. In any event, I also call Christopher Pyne smarmy, which I also realise is a bit like shooting some smarmy looking fish in a pretty smarmy looking barrel.

Number Ones: Eminem feat. Rihanna 'The Monster'

I’ve written over 100,000 words of this column now. Which is kind of awesome? Here I wonder why angry music isn’t as popular as it was once upon a time, and why Eminem’s seemingly the exception (and point out the parallels between Eminem’s concept of ‘The Monster’ and Jung’s concept of the Shadow, because they’re there).

Number Ones: Taylor Henderson 'Borrow My Heart'

Having to write about three X-Factor-related singles does that to a person. I started thinking, “what’s the point of the charts, anyway?” Then I started thinking, “what IS the point of the charts, anyway”, and so I talk about the differences between the ARIA charts in Australia, based purely on sales, and the Billboard Hot 100, which incorporates streaming and radio play etc, and how that changes the charts, for good and bad. I also discuss the song, and Henderson’s cover of ‘One Crowded Hour’ by Augie March.