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the song I hate more than any song ever

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With a delicious sense of irony, the attempt I made to embed this video, threw up the message “embedding disabled by request”.

I like much of John Lennon’s solo music, even if the last of his great vocal performances took place around ’65.

I certainly like most of Phil Spector’s production (especially End Of The Century), although you could easily argue his collaborations with The Beatles in various forms are the real low spots of his career.

I don’t even (particularly) mind the astonishingly trite lyrics and near-genius fuck-you hypocrisy of the video. The piano riff’s OK, Alan White’s drumming is fine. The singing in of itself is OK, although personally I prefer voices a little rougher around the edges. The strings are definitely not OK but… Jeez you could hang almost any major league rock star on that alone (and probably should). The birds twittering went on to inspire Television Personalities, and that’s cool.

Notice I don’t say ‘worst song ever’. That would be absurd. There ain’t no such thing.*

No. It’s not for any of the above reasons I despise this song so much. Familiarity comes into it, sure: you can’t hate popular music – or anything really – if you haven’t been exposed to it.

You could argue that whether you like this song or not comes down to whether or not you believe John Lennon was being sincere when he sang it.

I believe he was being sincere. The smug, self-deluded hypocrite.

I hate this song. It’s a weak, flimsy premise for a song: not thought-through, sappy, opportunistic, smug, the opposite of naive … something that this song is often called by its defenders. Dictionary.com defines naive as having or showing unaffected simplicity of nature or absence of artificiality. Unaffected? UNAFFECTED? This song is more cynically worked-out and produced and put-together (with all the gaps filled in) than even Madonna at her brilliant height. I supposed you could take the word in its secondary meaning –  having or showing a lack of judgment – but no, you can’t. This is a song designed to fill a need. I hate this song because it’s lowest common denominator sociology – playing to the balconies and the balconies alone while simultaneously pretending to be intimate.

Above all else I hate this song because it so bluntly, clumsily, proves what YOU CANNOT DO IN A POP SONG. Near singlehandedly, this song spoiled an entire part of music for me: the lyrics. I rarely listen to lyrics. You want to know why? C’MON (he suddenly roars) SING ALONG WITH THIS! Y’ dickheads.

*Although The Cranberries really did have a creditable try.

Oh, go on then. One more time. As you asked so nicely.

Reprinted from Melody Maker, 27 April, 1996

Some people like THE CRANBERRIES. EVERETT TRUE and TAYLOR PARKES don’t.

THE CRANBERRIES
TO THE FAITHFUL DEPARTED

Reasons to hate The Cranberries.

1) Dolores O’Riordan. Her arrogance. Her petty small-mindedness. Her redneck worldview. Her incessant preaching. The fact you can actually see the mean-spiritedness of her thoughts imprinted on her pinched little face. Those American flag jumpsuits. Her cold love of money. The way she’s Sinead O’Connor for people who can’t confront even elementary contradictions. Her anti-abortion stance. Her absolute lack of self-irony. The way she makes even the most fundamental and wonderful emotions sound trite. The way America loves her clichéd, stereotypical take on Ireland. Her reduction of serious political issues to 10-second sound-nibbles. Her dress sense. The obscene way she made legions of students slow-dance to the most crushingly banal political lyric (“And their tanks and their bombs and their tanks and their guns…”) since Paul McCartney’s “Give Ireland Back To The Irish”. That wedding.

2) Dolores O’Riordan. Her smug conceit masquerading as concern for all mankind.

3) Dolores O’Riordan. Her lyrics. The fact that no one in her obviously highly technological camp has bothered to buy her anything more than a Second Year rhyming dictionary. The fact that she sees fit to write a song about John Lennon – a bigoted, misogynistic, self-loathing, tantrum-prone asshole who also happened to write some great songs – 15 years after the event, and gloss over all his faults. The fact that she does so by writing the infantile lines, “It was a fearful night of December 8th/He was returning home from the studio late/He had perceptively known that it wouldn’t be nice/Because in 1980 he paid the price…With a Smith & Wesson 38/John Lennon’s life was no longer a debate.” The fact that every person in her camp is clearly so in awe of her (temper? Power? Capacity for retribution? Fragile ego?) that they didn’t take her gently to one side and go, “Er, Dolores, perhaps it’d be better if someone else wrote the lyrics…”

4) Dolores O’Riordan. Her videos. You know how much Dolores hates to be typecast as a “thick Paddy”? Has she actually watched any of her own videos? The way they reinforce received notions of Ireland as a backwards country populated entirely by broken-toothed, bowl-headed, crying schoolkids in grey V-neck jumpers dancing around streets lit by the occasional Armalite flare? And the odd horse – y’know.

5) Dolores O’Riordan. Her lyrics. Guess whose only contact with “real life” has been MTV news and the occasional venture onto the street outside the Four Seasons? Check “War Child”: “I spent last winter in New York and came upon a man/He was sleeping in the streets and homeless, he said ‘I fought in Vietnam’…” You ****ing patronising, prematurely middle-aged cow.

6) Dolores O’Riordan. Her music. The opening song here (“Hollywood”) starts like Stiltskin. Only not as good. Then we’re onto Foreigner territory. With the odd mandolin thrown in, for “local” colour.

7) Dolores O’Riordan. Her lyrics. Check “I’m Still Remembering”: “They say the cream will always rise to the top/They say that good people are always the first to drop/What of Kurt Cobain, will his presence still remain?/Remember JFK, ever saintly in a way….” (Yeah, and an adulterous ego-maniac who started the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Vietnam War, in another way.) Check: “Bosnia” (no, seriously, folks) – “Bosnia was so unkind, Sarajevo changed my mind…Rummmpatitum, rummmpatitum/Traboo, traboo, traboo…” (We’re quoting from the official lyric sheet.) The theremin and musical box used (spookily!) to spice up the music have the unfortunate effect of making the song sound like something from The Twilight Zone.

The situation in the former Yugoslavia seems to have particularly troubled Dolores while she was writing the songs for this album (what’s wrong, dearie? Nothing better on TV?). After all, as she helpfully points out in the heady, emotive (all right: we’re lying) “Free To Decide”, “You must have nothing more with your time to do/There’s a war in Russia and Sarajevo too.” This is, incidentally, the most perceptive insight she offers throughout. (Who are the people who take this woman seriously? Where do they live? Where do they go to at night? Please don’t invite us.)

8) Dolores O’Riordan. Her voice. The way she turned what was a dazzling, intoxicating gift into an atonal corncrake skree by infusing it with her personality. Now it emparts no emotion of any kind, save for pettiness, bitterness, self-righteousness. She tries to suggest such broad sweeps of emotion with her songs but, somehow, they always end up sounding so ****ing small.

Not that we’d want to belittle her.

22 Responses to the song I hate more than any song ever

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