12/01/2011

Listen Cloze Now: "Good Luck" by Basement Jaxx & Lisa Kekaula

What was Jaxx? Jaxx are/were superlatively anonymous multicultural garage. (In both the US neodisco and UK dub house senses). Their only signatures were exuberance and two big bags of Latino-techno hooks dumped on each track. But they were too song-struck for techno; too detailed for house; too camp, messy and again, anonymous for hiphop; and too ???? for real chart success. They're time-capsuled now, hence my past-tensing. And yet they keep on at it. The voices they use these days are a lot more faceful - Sam Sparro/Yoko Ono/Kelis. This maybe might just let em get a foothold in identity-obsessed American pop, but I doubt it.




Now, "Good Luck" in particular: a compressed funk-rock operetta, all the generic frantic I WILL SURVIVE sentiment you could want for any 4 minute period of your life, layered with weapons-grade urbania: did you notice that the backbeat is all beatbox and claps? did you feel the sharp guitar bloom into the 2:27? did the wall-synths convince you to stop? the playground backing vocals? are those strings the sharpest disco lick never written by Boney M?


BELT-belt belt-belt.

You want the Radio Edit, which somehow carves another minute off, compressing the "plot" even further as well as lopping bits off the uneven 2:27-3:17 breakdown in the above video. Try standing still from thirty seconds in.

The sound of righteousness: distort everything!

The official video is wrong. (Worthy, but wrong.) This is not a song sung to oneself. It is not a song of institutionalized comeuppance. ("Enjoy your nightmares".)

The song's just power to them who need it. The stalled and wronged and grieving. There's a playlist to be made for each of us, those bits of our music that serve us as Ward against Evil. (Dave Eggers gets it off Milk-Eyed Mender, which is fair enough.)

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The remixer is only an radical kind of classical conductor. The main problem with most of these is that they top 7mins each, which is counter to the source's concise greatness.



  • Roni Size's one does very well; he pumps up the tempo if not the fury, and rounds the bass out.


  • The Brazilian Undercover mix obsesses over the strings, and modulates all over. It's deft but unconvincing, and not worth the 7min payoff.



  • Tim Deluxe is ok, club-readying it but diluting everything, losing the poise, and, in particular, robbing Kekaula of her Nebuchadnezzar aura.


  • Inka's is a stylish DnB one, beginning with the breakdown and building right, right up, no bass for the first minute and a half. He also heliums Kekaula, which works far better than you'd think. It's perhaps a little clever, but he's not trying to do the same thing as Deluxe. (get it from their mouth)




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    Note on semantic shift: The "Anthem"

    "It is not exaggerated to conclude that between 1960 and 1985 the Church Of England ... was effectively reduced to not much more than half its previous size."
    "Religion in Britain since 1945", Grace Davie (1997)


    As the Anglican Church hasn't got much to celebrate these days, let's nick their word.

    Actually, if you exclude the "sacred" and "trained choir" part of the definition, you can how usage was able to shift to its current, much more productive use:
    • Simple,
    • Celebratory
    • Homophonic
    • Symbols
    Pop reviews being what they are (i.e. that place where people who can't do actual criticism go), there is a lazy extra use which has any memorable big hit being an "anthem". But we should try to hold on to the fact that anthems are symbolic objects, for nation, moment, generation, gay solidarity, whatever.

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