Sympathetic Stupid

Friday, September 09, 2005

TISM Top Ten: Thoughts On The Candidates III

Well, it took a month, but I'm now looking at the next 5 tracks in the TISM Top Ten shortlist. It's Machiavelli And The Four Seasons, and five big tracks.

(He'll Never Be An) Ol' Man River

'Heroes explore to give us hope:
River pushed back the envelope.

It's got the irreverent celeb-bashing that comes so naturally to these boys. But most of the lyrics are incidental, in fact, the phrasing of 'Armstrong did moon, was not the same' make the line impossible to get without reading it. It's the sheer energy of the track: thumping 120 bpm electronic beat, driving guitar riff, unimaginative bass line. And how to guarantee that all 15 year old private schoolboys will request it at the social? How about some drugs in the chorus? This is the sound of selling out. Goodbye Springvale, hello Toorak. Goodbye RRR, hello MMM. This is where they contracted the germ of an idea that became Shut Up, The Footy's On The Radio.

Despite that? It holds up beautifully. An all time classic, this will have trouble missing out on top spot.

All Homeboys Are Dickheads

'"Know your enemy well enough
And you will pity them instead" -
In The Brothers Karamazov
That's what Dostoevsky said;
And pity soon will turn to love
Is what Jesus Christ once knew:
They both changed their minds the day when
They met a homeboy crew.

I love a good faux-intellectual literary reference, cause it makes me feel smart. And I like other people to challenge accepted truths, because I haven't got the guts. This track defines the nature vs nurture debate in simple terms: 'I know his Dad's abusive and his Mum prefers the daughter ... but the reason he's a homeboy is because he's a dickhead.' It's not environmental, it's genetic. The music is smooth, a contrast to the frenetic pace of the previous track, just as electronic, but with Humphrey's sweet vocals over the top and a nice harmonised chorus.

Another great track, possibly the third single from the album? Must be in the top five.

Lose Your Delusion II

'Why continue to keep trying,
To separate the real news from the lying?

This second version of this track is superior to the earlier first, with slicker production and clearer vocals. It answers a perennial question of the young leftie, about commercial news and current affairs: 'Who watches this crap?' The answer, of course, is 'You do, son'. As we age, it becomes more and more effort to separate the facts from the company line, so eventually we give up, and 'watch Ray Martin not Mary K'. Yes, that's 9's Ray and SBS's Mary Kostakidis; plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

This track nicely articulates the eternal parallel between conservatism and age, but the music is somewhat underwhelming. Should definitely make the top ten, though.

What Nationality Is Les Murray?

'Karl Marx played on the left; Ayn Rand played on the right;
But there's a much bigger problem. It stops me sleeping at night.'

Hey, it's a one-gag track and the gag's pretty much done once you've read the title, but it's a great one for sports fans. To kill it with explanation, Les is the SBS sports presenter. He's omnipresent, omniscient and has a feather-light Eastern European accent. He's definitely not a true-blue Aussie, but he's so diplomatic and cosmopolitan in his commentary that he could be from anywhere. So that's the punch-line, OK, get it? Ah, fuck ya.

Yeah, good track but not great, might sneak into the ten but is unlikely to get much higher.

Greg! The Stop Sign!!

'The rich kid becomes a junkie,
The poor kid, an advertiser :
What a tragic waste of potential -
Being a junkie's not so good, either.

Were they trying to appeal directly to disaffected teenagers? Fuck yeah. I can't remember exactly the context, but I think the graphic TAC ads had just begun to be shown, and this track's title is a direct quote from one. This is self-affirming school-age stuff, it's all about how the popular kids never get anywhere and it's the dropouts who make it (that subject'll come back later). The lyrics are great for all of us who weren't a prefect. And the music - the hardcore Beach Boys style choral break goes well with the bouncy dance beats to make another great rock dance track.

I think this was the second single. Top two? I think so.