Tuesday, August 29, 2006

One for the money and the free rides

I wasn't really sure what to post today, so I was scrolling through my music library trying to decide, when I reached "Blue." I'd never really planned to do a post on Blue, but why not? I've somehow ended up with more Blue music than I ever would have expected--enough to make me realize that, though they are often criticized, they have a good number of good songs; yes, there's a lot of filler on their albums, but that shouldn't detract from our perceptions of their best work, should it? (All right, a bit hypocritical on my part, but it's what I try to do.)

Blue were a four person boyband (made up of, from left to right, Duncan, Antony [who was coincidentally featured yesterday], Simon, and Lee) from the UK. They were active from around 2001 to 2004, when they split up (one rumor I think I remember hearing was that Elton John advised them to do so, but I don't know if that's true) and pursued solo careers. If you've ever seen Love Actually, they're mentioned several times in it--they are Billy Mack's primary competition for Christmas #1. Blue's music was supposedly edgier than "typical" pop, and I guess it did incorporate more R&B and funkier backbeats than some of their competition's songs.

All Rise--Blue's debut single. You can definitely hear that they're trying to be "edgy" but it works. It's about the Blue boys putting a girlfriend on trial for lying, probably cheating, etc., and so is filled with lots of courtroom references. The video is also worth checking out--look, they're sitting in darkness and Simon has his hat on backwards! Clearly, they are "hip" and "edgy." But then, there's so much posing--and even choreographed group dances (which there really aren't enough of today)!--that you can't help but smile; pretend if you want, Blue, but we know you are a boyband--and we love that you are.

Bubblin'--a little more dance-oriented than "All Rise." In fact, I think the video gets it just about right: it feels like the sort of song that should be danced to at a pool party, or at least the music video version of a pool party. It also features some guest rapping by a woman, but that's actually a nice change in comparison to the rest of the song, and it's not exactly hardcore rapping either.

U Make Me Wanna--mid-tempo, but sort of balladish, especially in comparison to the previous two songs. It's at least a little more romantic, even if just in sound and not message, than "Bubblin.'" Once again, at risk of sounding like I spend all my time watching Blue music videos, I have to recommend the video. I love the concept; it's not meant to be arty or groundbreaking in the sense that would appeal to critics, but even music videos for songs like this have visual elements that can be appreciated (and no, I am not talking about the band members that appear in such videos). The setting--an old-fashioned boat--is perfect for this type of romantic song; the lighting once the boys reach the boat gives you the sense of the sun only being partly in the sky, which really helps create that romantic aura; the wardrobes, backdrops, movements (natural here, not choreographed as in "All Rise"), and even the colors (of the ocean, the wood of the boat, and the clothes) fit perfectly with the feeling of the song. That's not to say that boybands can't be experimental with their videos, but rather that there is definitely an aesthetic value to music videos like this, which, while not being surprising, are elegantly done. I think the middle 8 of both the song and the video aren't quite up to par with the rest (I appreciate the attempt to change up the pace, but it doesn't quite work), but it's still good.

If You Come Back
--a ballad, but it--like the best ballads--never drags. Credit for any success this song has has to go to Lee, because it's probably his singing on the bridge (OK, Antony does two lines there which contribute--I think that's who's doing what, anyway) and chorus that elevates the song. There are tiny hints of that supposed "edginess" in some of the backing tracks (listen to the beginning), but by the time we get to the chorus, it's pure, sweet, regular boybandness--but not in a boring or overdone way.

To buy Blue's albums, go here (physical) or here (digital).

Next up: I originally planned to include three other songs in this post, but it turned out to be a lot wordier than I expected, so I'll get to the others tomorrow--some non-singles, finally (and if you don't like Blue, I'm sorry--it'll be over soon :) )! After that, I think we might head into a three-day special centered around a Turkish singer.


Henry said...

i miss blue. my favorite is Duncan

Poster Girl said...

Duncan's video for "Amazed" fascinates me--totally not what I expected and, even though his version of the song isn't that different from the Lonestar original, I can definitely see it being one of those videos I watch compulsively every time it comes on...if it was ever on music video channels here. It's a shame there's no higher quality version of it (that I've seen).

Plus, I think I was one of maybe five people in the world who liked "Sooner Or Later" :)