Now, usually, drink and drug songs, no matter what the guys who write them say, usually end up glorifying their effects on some folks in your neighbourhood with a ‘self-destructive on a Saturday night’ streak in them. And I’m not counting outright libatory ditties like Chumbawamba’s ‘Tubthumper’ (“I get knocked down/ But I get up again/ You’re never gonna keep me down) or Oasis’ ‘Cigarettes and alcohol’ (“I was looking for some ac-tshun/ but all I found was cigarettes and alcohol”).
So imagine the surprise when pain-in-the-ass me, while sitting down on a soft pillow genuinely recoiled at the thought of getting drunk when I heard a gritty, hip-hop blazer in which the singer went: “Mouth like an ashtray, breath stinking a liquor/ Pocket full of change in yesterday’s get up/ The same jeans I had on the day before laaaaaaast... Sometimes we take it too far/ Knocked out sick on my guitar/ And hear them say ‘Oh my god’/ Say, ‘Oh my god’/ Lay my head down on the bar/ Cause whisky never tastes so good/ When I hear them say oh my god.” It doesn’t have the potent anti-drink force as that scene in Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels in which the hero walks out piss drunk after losing heavily at a cards table with Iggy Pop’s ‘I wanna be your dog’ playing as the soundtrack as the camera blurs and staggers along as if the world has been poisoned. But East London grime’n’hip-hop boy Stephen Manderson a.k.a. Professor Green comes close in ‘Oh my god’, a guitar and voice bending track that reminds me of my very forgettable moments of ‘drinking death’.
The track is from Professor Green’s first studio album Alive Till I’m Dead, and has the flash and verve and spunk of early Eminem with a cockney accent. He uses a lot of friends to make this record a playful, exciting and — surprise! — moving piece of spinning plastic. In ‘Just be good to Green’ (skimmed from the American disco-R’nB group The SOS Band’s 1983 hit ‘Just be good to me’), he skip-hops as fellow Hammersmith singer Lily Allen jugalbandhis with him. In “I need you tonight’, he’s used the services of the late Michael Hutchence and his band INXS to rip the infectious riff of the Aussie band’s hit ‘Need you tonight’ and sounds exactly like Chris Tucker (remember, the funny Black cop with a funny voice alongside Jackie Chan in Rush Hour?).
But the album starts with a furious backbeat in ‘Kids that love to dance’. “I can’t handle my drugs/ So blame Shah and his handful a buds/ Before these vocals I was t-total...” he spurts out in fast and furious rhyme, that changes gear in the R’n’B groove of the chorus sung with full throttle by Scottish singer Emeli Sandé.
What I like most about Alive Till I’m Dead is that it brings the DJ’s spin, the mikeman’s wordplay and a hoodie’s attitude that crosses over to the pop zone. Oh, and then there’s that quaking song about the drag of drinking.
This review doesn’t matter
Ever since we heard Katy Perry dolling her way through ‘I kissed a girl’ (“and I liked it”), the Californian daughter of Christian pastors has been the unthinking man’s favourite lesbian pin-up, ousting the perennially drunken driving Lindsay Lohan from the top spot. In Teenage Dream, the top-selling brunette with the twirling tush’n’tune revvs up her pony and cherries up the pop.
The mega-hit on this album is ‘California Gurls’, an electropopper featuring the invincible Snoop Dogg that makes my blood freeze and hurt my damaged nether region. The synth is splashes of Aqua (“I’m a Barbie girl/ In a Barbie world”) and has been genetically hardwired to be a hit on dance floors from Kansas to Kandahar. Although I wonder whether it would have been such a mammoth hit without the Charlie and Chocolate Factory-‘Sugar Daddy’ video.
The title song is a pneumatic bounce about love. Ditto with ‘Firework’ but you can hear the Celine Dion influence. By the time, I come to the thigh-slapping ‘Peacock’, I realise I’m listening to the immensely popular music of a contemporary star. Now where the hell did I hide that bottle from myself?!