I have a rather strange taste in music. I suppose most people do when considering the breadth of genres they enjoy, but for now that’s irrelevant. My favourite album by far is the soundtrack to the film Once, a beautiful and powerful piece of work, despite most of the songs consisting of just vocals, piano and guitar. It’s got majesty through simplicity, particularly the track ‘Falling Slowly’ – where perfect lyrics blend with the wonderful duet of Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová to create an unforgettable bit of work.
However, on the complete opposite end of the credibility scale is something I’m more likely to listen to when I’m not lying in bed being as overemotional as a teenage girl: Alphabeat.
The Danish pop-group released the album ‘This is Alphabeat’ in 2008, and it’s an absolutely fantastic pop record.
No, scratch that last bit: that sounds like pop should be considered less-of as a musical form, and This Is Alphabeat truly is a seminal album of our time.
What the band has done is to create pop that feels retro, is catchy, and more than anything is pure fun. The music is happy, bouncy and impossibly not to dance to. This does make it very difficult to write about, because I’ve been listening to the album while working on this, and so far I’ve spent at least 90% of the time since I started doing a little jig in my chair and singing along.
Although “you can dance to it” is normally an excuse used to defend sheer crap such as Tik Tok (that awful Ke$ha song, in which she states that she wakes up in the morning feeling like P Diddy… but she should probably get a psychologist to check in to that rather than singing about it), it’s not so much a matter of “can” dance to it: it’s that with Alphabeat, you WANT to, and it’s impossible not to. Currently, track 7, Touch Me Touching You is playing, and I can’t help but sway. And I’m proud to.
As well as catchy, irresistible hooks, Alphabeat’s lyrics are also a work of mastery. 10,000 Nights, the second song from the album, opens with the line “I was not looking for arty farty love”. It’s often said that if Shakespeare was alive today he’d be writing for Eastenders. That’s a lie. He’d be working with Alphabeat.
…that might be slightly pushing it.
However cheesy and silly that line might be, somehow it veers on a good side of happy: it’s not High School Musical or the slightly creepy twins Same Difference. In fact, in an odd way it’s relatively adult with the song content… and that it is adults writing pop. Although it’d be stupid to assume there was no industry input, it doesn’t feel like it was made as committee and much of pop music is. It’s no-holds bar cheerful, because that’s what the band want. They’ve written the songs, they’re playing it, it’s not where a group of people have given someone a song to sing to appeal to the kids, and personally it shows.
The style of music is also one I’m happy to see. When much of popular music consists of tripe autotuned so much that it’s become normal to hear it on Cheryl Cole style forgettable beats made to all be blended together in to one ball of lowest common denominator N-Dubz enjoying false shit, Alphabeat is a bit retro, a bit modern, and an all round melodic romp.
The second album, The Spell is being released soon this year, and if the title single (already released) is anything to go by, it’ll have a slightly different, a bit more dance-orientated sound, but is still as catchy as ever.
It’s too easy to disregard pop these days by trying to be cool, caring about a reputation, and only enjoying music if you’re the only person on Last.FM to have listened to it. It might seem cheesy and a bit childish, but it’s important to let loose and have a bit of fun. Shout out ‘Fascination!’ and throw your hands up, do a ridiculous dance, smile and have a good time. You know, like people with a soul do…