Tuesday, August 28, 2007

We keep covering the same old ground

British boy band a1 really were all sorts of fantastic. I know I've mentioned before that, over the course of three albums, they really covered every sort of boy band music you could want: first, super-cheesy '90's-sounding stuff, then the more 'N Sync-style stuff, then the "boy band with guitars" sound, sort of BBMak-esque, I guess, but, even at the point they'd moved on beyond the light pop sound (which I loved), they continued to give us fantastic remixes--the Almighty mix of "Caught In The Middle" is one of my favorite remixes by them (not that I've heard that many, to be fair), Johan S (there's a good chance you've heard him on remix duty for BWO) gave us a remix of "Make It Good" that I think I prefer even more, and there are remixes of "Same Old Brand New You," "Summertime Of Our Lives," and "Be The First To Believe" that I recommend as well (even if I have yet to buy the import CD singles to actually get high quality versions of all of them). That's a tangent, though--the song I'm posting today is from their third and final non-compilation album, Make It Good, which, in my opinion, is underrated, with a depth that goes beyond the big single "Caught In The Middle" and "Make It Good."

(Random fact: I was actually introduced to a1 because I liked Ben Adams's solo efforts, not the other way around.)

Isn't It Cheap--I suppose this is about as "dirty" as a1 get, i.e., not very, but I think they're trying to go for a more down-and-dirty sound in a guitars way and hoping that lyrics like a light swear word and a girl pleading to "let me take you to a place I know/right beside the dirty little picture show" (but "nothing comes for free") are going to contribute to that atmosphere. It doesn't really make you buy them as the "bad boy" type, but it doesn't have to--the song's catchy enough on its own, and it's more the effects that have been done on their vocals that make you accept the song, that make it sound less straightforwardly guitar-pop. That doesn't make any sense, does it? Let's start over: the verses are spent with processed vocals and the choruses show a1's pretty consistent ability to come up with catchy tunes, though here that catchiness doesn't just come from the vocal melody itself, which is fairly flat, but the backing instrumentation. The middle 8 is pretty great as well, even if a change from the often processed vocals from this song--that ending note of it is a nice touch.

And, I know I've posted it before, but I'm reposting it anyway:

This Ain't What Love Is About--and here we go back to a1 in straightforward catchy "boy band with guitars" mode again. They genuinely had a way with choruses, and instrumentation, and...really, well, all the music-related stuff. There's a subtle sense of...musicianship that comes with the songs on their third album which really helps their music pop--guitars are too often abused in the search for credibility (it's the "let's just throw some in here and everyone will buy this!" strategy, and usually when that happens, the people doing it don't really know how to use guitars to their best ability), but they can be the perfect touch for a song when used properly--and on the best songs on Make It Good, that's exactly how they are used (though in a wash over you way; these aren't in-your-face guitars, but more ones that just happen to be there, in the background, contributing).

Neither of the songs I've posted today were even singles; if you've never heard "Caught In The Middle" or "Make It Good," I definitely recommend looking them up (they've got videos on YouTube)--a lot of people don't like anything else by a1 but still really like "Caught In The Middle"--and buying a1's third album Make It Good here (physical) or here (digital).

Next up: maybe Shayne Ward, although I think that post will probably be completely irrelevant by the time it happens.


thnairg said...

Now, you do have a1's second album, "The A List", don't you, PosterGirl? If not, what's wrong with you?! ;-) In some ways I consider that their best (when I'm more in the mood for "teen" boyband music as opposed to "grown-up" boyband music). Their first was just a bit too Euro-pop for me, although I'll still probably end up actually owning it someday.

Michaell said...

wow thanx for reminding me of ' caught in a middle' it's so great ,

Poster Girl said...

Oh, I do! "Same Old Brand New You" is a classic boy band song.

It really is :)

J'ason D'luv said...

"Be The First To Believe" was one of the very first singles I bought at Virgin Megastore when I moved to L.A.

Poster Girl said...

It's a great song! It sounds very much of it's time, but it's still a good song today.