A Discourse Loosely Involving Ian Astbury

© Pinterest

By Angus C.Rolland

Ah… to comment on a YouTube video, forget about it entirely in the 2/3 years since and suddenly get a *reminder* about it but a few days ago… in the packaging of a reply, combative in nature. The video in question was a live performance of The Cult playing their track ‘Nirvana’ on Bliss, some long defunct TV show. Now, let us examine the comment that started this saga, the reply that provoked a crossing of keyboards and perhaps even dissect the causality of what this represents in the grand portrait of affairs.

To explain, when I mean ‘anime villain phase’; The Cult were a band that had a great thing going on their first 2 LPs, Dreamtime & Love. They were a kind of fusion of the whole punk-cravat-post scene, with a clear homage to the classical (rock) soloing of the late-60s/early 70s, something I imagine would have been sacrilege to attempt in the eyes of the more puritanical of stud-fiends. I’m not alone in regarding this earlier material as being both artistically superior and generally much more consistent than their unfortunate transition to the commercial viabilities (thanks Rick Rubin) the LA cock-rock thing granted them. As expected, it was only a matter of time before they become something of a joke by trend-tailing themselves into the gutter, courtesy of the Nevermind-led crusade that swiftly put them and the rest of the spandex-ilk to the sword. Anyway, the reply, by a fellow (re)named “Geoff Rodgers”, laid bare his hostility towards the medium of Japanimation… and quite possibly to I?

Never one to shrug off an exchange fraught with little-to-no danger, and a general desire to provoke “Geoff” into an incandescent stupor, I countered that he ought to try just a little harder! Ignorant to my scheming, he took the bait, as though he were farmer being (falsely) informed someone was uprooting his crops and flogging them at a local market, price heightened. He dished me a comeback, albeit a little on the ordinary side… not quite the catch of, let’s say encircling the German 6th Army, but it’ll do for the time being. On a tactical level, only an idiot would reciprocate with further spewing.

Instead, I undertook the principle of taking the cycle lane (favourable terrain*) over the motorway, where the perils of velocity dictate! Continuing to irk my conversational assailant through my own interpretation of sophistry, I slowly began to whittle down his decision-making capacity. If all went well, I would (soon?) be able to snatch the initiative away from him; his hopes of a swift, outright victory crumbling before his bewildered eyes, minute-by-minute.

Overconfident, I took pity on his (apparent*) fruitless struggle. Offering him a reprieve, I quoted from Naoki Urasawa’s Monster, specifically from a character that happened to be the ‘Anime Villain’ of that story, the very thing he feared. His terse, almost neutral acknowledgement appeared to indicate a sense of fatigue, the classic ‘bitten off more than he could chew’ realisation… just right for the table of negotiation.

Softening to something a little more conciliatory, I wished him well in all his endeavours, grand and not. Never a man to stamp down on an opponent’s aspirations, I sort to display to him the idea of magnanimity had not been lost in this plutocratic free-for-all we call the present. Yet, it seemed he wanted no such truce…? Puzzled, I attempted a deconstruction; where could his motivations lie? Was he intent on going down with his ship? Could his antagonism toward me be a deep-routed thing? Might his socio-economic background, opaque to I, have played a part in his ‘rationale’? Perhaps he only liked The Cult from their 1987-period onwards, and was just looking for trouble by visiting the comment section of their earlier, pre-1987 material? Had the tables been turned without me even knowing? Just… who… is… “Geoff Rodgers”!? Your guess is as good as mine.

Attempting to make sense of his increasingly disagreeable tone, I cited a theory of the late Mr Huxley. Whether or not he was familiar with the Mind-At-Large concept or even the hallucinogenic wonders of trouser creases was… irrelevant, his curt reply, as though quoting that ‘root beer’ scene from Reefer Madness, was enough to indicate where his true values lay. What’s that? A hypothesis you say? Hmm… The only ‘antipodes’ he appears to be sailing towards… would have to be… (*unfortunate curtain call*) the fringe-right of conventional political thought; aligning him (no doubt) with the likes of the extrajudicial deaths-squads of Rio De Janeiro, the white-robed Clerics of Riyadh and… of course, the ever-nefarious Piers Morgan. 

In a futile attempt to appeal to his better angels, I tried to get him to shake off the scourge of his dangerous beliefs. Alas, I received no further correspondence… my measured diplomacy no match for his past-glorifying, delusional fantasies.

Now, if I may address our mercurial pariah directly, as a last resort –

Angus: “Geoff”, if I dare presume first-name basis… should you still be lucid enough to read these words, I implore you to do the right (not that!) thing and cease with your latent misdeeds. Laugh if you want, a warning such as this might seem innocuous to you, and the other ‘residents’ of that particular… ideological tree-house, but… as the saying goes, ‘the cat is out of the bag’. And with that; I offer you a rope away from your tendencies, with these parting words: less of the jingo, and more of… the Ringo.

The Benefits and Consequences of the (Concealed) Sacramental Tin

Sly, a blessed bev, and The Family Drone…

By Angus C. Rolland

A friend of mine (A) enquired if I was going to see Bo Ningen, a band (unknown to me) hailing from that four-island archipelago, at the Night & Day Cafe… I was not, but after a brief discussion, I decided to tag along. The preceding part of the day was largely uneventful; I ate something derived from a cow while watching an episode of Firing Line, the one about the looming danger of hippies. It featured a declining, blisteringly crocked Jack Kerouac being repeatedly shushed (that’s right) by William Buckley Jr. Though seemingly inarticulate, there was some sense to be had of Kerouac’s gargled interruptions. 13 –

Before long I reached the Gardens, swiftly assembling an inventory sufficient for illicit consumption. Another friend (B) happened upon a random pin, buried inside a bag; through curiosity, I agreed to their request to pierce my right ear… with it, the venue but a metre away. The pain was feeble, short in duration and un-prodigious in blood. A momentary mishap with the pin’s whereabouts, followed by a slight misdirection, proved insignificant to the relevant lobe’s biological integrity. Of course, what caught my eye in the midst of this ad hoc modification was neither the chitchat of cafe-residuals nor the fleeting movement of vehicles. It was the ground itself, a grey not quite in the vein of George Clooney’s steel thatch, but of a worn concrete. Through the footborne battery descending above, absolutely no mind had been paid to its labour-some efforts of providing platform to all whom value structural buoyancy. Feeling no need to pull a Pope John Paul (II), I went inside. The support acts performed as obligated, but an unforeseen challenge in the form of a bouncer emerged. Pragmatically, he suggested I hide my cans offsite, for the familiar protocol was sacrosanct. Overcome by sheer hubris, I attempted my old trick, but he proved a shrewd foe. – 10 –

Cast out, and left with nothing to spectate, I walked in the general direction of Salford, without an aim to call my own. I contacted yet another friend (C), who happened to be attending a gig-of-length. The headliner, previously unknown to I, was said to be drone in stylistic… tone? A walk of pace toward the Partisan Collective, a peripheral (literal & metaphorical) hub, which to me (at least at the time*), supplanted the likes of the other “peripheral” hubs, much too absorbed in their magnetic pulling of the (perpetual) safety-pin types. There was only one act left by my arrival, and the added risk of a full-priced fee. Fortunately, with the help of C, the guard protecting the passage allowed me through, free of charge, my previously incriminating Taurus(s) also permitted, so long as I dare not consume within… Sly and the Family Drone, as I came to discover them as, began their set in dimmed lighting, unfavourable to conventional eyesight. They were far better than anything I could have envisioned, following that recent debacle. Eschewed were the tropes of standard rock and/or roll, and brought forth were the usage of brass, decibel delinquency and what I can only describe as… percussive participation. Towards the middle, one of them took out a singular cymbal, and placed it out near the audience. Handing myself, C and some other guy each a stick, he ordered us to bang on it as hard as we could. We did, though I feel my sense of rhythm somewhat (unsurprisingly) lacked when compared to my fellow draftees. Time placement not exactly known; I soon broke my earlier promise, but I knew (with confidence) that initial crack… superseded then by the all-familiar sip… would be masked to all sensory elements, courtesy of the external impediments our senses are loathe to match. – 18       

John Cooper Clarke, Nico and The Honey Monster: The Bard of Salford’s Brixton Stint, And Why He’s So Skint

A nonsense investigation into the Good Doctor’s finances. It’s 2am…

 © RGR Collection, 1982

By Neve Robinson

TW: Drug abuse, addiction

DISCLAIMER: Before we jump in, it’s worth noting that I’m a huge worshipper at the pointed feet of the Good Doctor. I don’t intend to talk about drug addiction lightly, and I’ve used only really his descriptors of it (which as you can imagine are fairly breezy and borderline humorous). I’ve not seen his bank account, so I don’t know how much or how little moo-la he’s raking in. I’d quite like to, mind. It’s all speculative and in jest, baby, but with some (of course) tragic features. He could be a billionaire for all we know, unwilling to throw a few pennies at a hairbrush or merely a detangler. I just wanted an excuse to waffle about JCC and Nico’s cohabitation for a bit, that’s all...

Beloved punk-poet and general genius John Cooper Clarke has (despite his quasi-celebrity status and sporadic sightings in Dictionary Corner on 8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown now and then) never really been a man of much wealth. In his own words, “I ain’t waving the victim flag, but considering the massive impact I’ve had on British culture, it’s f*cking diabolical how poor I am.” While I’m mainly struck by how relatable as statement that is (Robinson’s Records is surely a soon-to-be-staple of the UK music journalism scene now that NME is sleeping with the fishes?!), it also occurred to me how that has bizarrely been the case for a chunk of his career. How can it be that such a revered renegade of his field has, for want of a better phrase, perenially been a bit skint? In his younger, more turbulent years, Cooper Clarke was a notorious heroin addict. Perhaps it can almost chiefly be attributed to this, and his perilous living arrangement with Nico of the Velvet Underground in Brixton, during which time his career took a serious blow and the Good Doctor went into hiding of sorts. Or perhaps the Bard of Salford spent his savings on Sugar Puffs (see below. I’ll explain later on). Regardless, this committed fan is dedicated to a detective’s cause – was it this period that bled the Bard dry? Or is money management just not a forte of the weathered wordsmith?

In the late seventies, it’s no secret that punk proudly ruled Britannia. Safety pins adored the lobes of many a spit-soaked skinhead front row at The Clash’s gigs. The Sex Pistols were sneering at Bill Grundy for being a “dirty bastard” after was leering at Siousxie Sioux live on telly. And the Manchester punk scene was thriving – Magazine, Buzzcocks, and even post-punk icons like Joy Division were emerging whom JCC supported himself. This was a world that Cooper Clarke felt at home in. With his shock of Dylan-esque hair and physique that can only be described as an anthropomorphic stick-figure drawing, he looked the part. And with his Manc drawl, acerbic wit and the possession of a sensational selection of swear words at his disposal, he sounded the part as well. At this point, Cooper Clarke’s career was undoubtedly skyrocketing. He had his only Top 40 UK hit in 1979 with ‘Gimmix! (Play Loud)‘. He supported The Fall and Elvis Costello. He worked closely with dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson. It all seemed to be going so swimmingly for the young pin-legged poet. So what was the turning point? By the sounds of it, it was his decline into heroin addiction. He barely performed after 1982 due to this, which he himself attests to – “I didn’t write for ten years. [I was] lost to heroin.” And this lack of creative content arose around the time of his living with Christa Päffgen, better known as German songwriter Nico.

Their cohabitation was for a short spell, reportedly only a few months, in a poky flat in Brixton. It’s unclear how they met, but given that they hung out in similar celebrity circles at the time, it’s likely that it was a bonding based on mutual interests of drugs and words. Though they admittedly look cool as all hell together, make no mistake, it wasn’t a sexual pairing (“heroin isn’t really a sex drug”, Cooper Clarke attests). The two were never at all romantically linked, rather they were in what he refers to as a “domestic partnership”. Both heroin addicts, Cooper Clarke and Nico lived impoverished at this period of their lives; “it was a feral existence,” Clarke explained in a 2012 interview in the Guardian – “I was on drugs. It was hand to mouth.” The two were close friends, and even considered releasing an album of covers under the (working title) of Nico and Johnnie. But alas, their union was a toxic one, as their addictions hindered any hopes at creative craft and worsened each other’s. Initially, their living together “was as settled and domestic as two addicts living in the same place get.” Then, fellow Velvet John Cale moved in for a spell, living infamously off of “vodka for breakfast and then cocaine all the way.” This was the tipping point of the Brixton abode, when Clarke had somewhat of an epiphany.

News got out of Nico living in the neighbourhood. The NME had snapped a scandalous photo of the pair (only joking, it’s the picture at the top), and as a result numerous other addicts began camping outside of the flat and a “tidal wave of j*nkies arrived”. Though Cooper Clarke is grateful in retrospect for the photo being taken because (as aforementioned) it is the proverbial bee’s knees, it made living there and continually smashing drugs unbearable. Cooper Clarke’s finances were dwindling due to the cost of copious amounts of heroin required to function, not to mention the lack of work he embarked on throughout the 80s. What prompted him to move out and to start working again was the poverty that he was living in, as well as his addiction – he had to feed it, which required what The Flying Lizards longed for most – money. So, Cooper Clarke re-entered the comedy circuit by performing again. He took on gigs he wasn’t that keen on taking. As he told the Guardian, “I needed money more than ever, so I had to work. The glamour was flaking off with every new job. I really felt like I was selling my sorry ass.” He likely was referring here to several gimmicky roles he took on in order to nurse his drug habit, roles he wouldn’t have needed to had his career not sadly decelerated due to addiction. That of a DJ alongside the Honey Monster comes to mind (told you I’d explain it). Gradually though, with time and with rehabilitation, Cooper Clarke stopped working to fund this fatal addiction and worked on his kicking of the drug.

The revival of Cooper Clarke’s career is truly something to behold. One can only marvel at his dedication to recovery, and his hard work at maintaining his cold-turkey approach towards heroin. It’s a chapter of his life he’s glad is over, though his poem ‘Get Back On The Drugs You Fat F*ck’ implies his audience thought he was a bit funnier when he was hooked. He tours regularly (I myself have had the pleasure of having an audience with the Doctor thrice, and he puts on a cracking show, let me tell you). He wrote another book with another library of limericks within, The Luckiest Guy Alive. Most inspiringly, really, is how he can talk about this dark period of his life in jest and in his typical humour. It’s a heavy thing, drug addiction, and quite a taboo to talk about. Cooper Clarke strips away that sensitivity that people skirt around addiction with and confronts it head on. He’s quite the positive person, really, and has even acknowledged the tragedy of Nico, too, fairly lightly. She eventually went into recovery, but by 1988 was sadly gone, due to a bicycle accident on holiday. So, this is all very interesting to hear, isn’t it? And very bittersweet, of course. But we’ve still not solved the matter at hand. His career has been reignited – why is he so bloody skint still?

© GQ, 2019

Maybe Cooper Clarke is bluffing. As I say, he could be sat on a goldmine. ‘The Sopranos’ used a song of his in the credits, a feat he proudly boasts at every show of his. Surely that must have made some hefty royalties. And the man offered his services to the Arctic Monkeys, lending them ‘I Wanna Be Yours’. Surely Mr Turner slipped a tenner in Cooper Clarke’s pocket upon meeting? Maybe even a twenty. In fairness, it’s likely he spent a good sum of it on scran. The man loves his pies (see his poem, ‘Pies’). He’s, if you don’t mind my saying so – and he’s backed me up on this in his scribbles – a man clearly struggling with “piling on the pounds”. Perhaps those piles of pennies are going in the pockets of all of the Greggs in the Salford area. Even the grotty one in the Salford Shopping Centre, he’s by no means a snob. I don’t know. Maybe we need to launch a full enquiry into the expenditures of the sole resident of Chickentown (evidently). Or maybe, I need to stop thinking about such completely futile and useless things at 2 in the morning and let the poor fella have a break. He’s a man of the people, and like many of the people, he’s seemingly skint. Makes him even more loveable, no?

I’d like your contributions in the comments, if you’ve managed to make it to the end of this rambling tyrade. Why do you think Cooper Clarke is penniless ragamuffin? Or do you think he’s sitting on more cash than a Southern oil tycoon with a comically large cowboy hat? And most of all, was this unsolved mystery a total waste of my productivity and energy? Probably. But I love JCC, so it’s alright. I’ll leave you with this little treat – it may be bed time for me, but it’s Tummy Time for Cooper Clarke. I wonder if the Honey Monster paid him appropriately?

SWINTON SWINES! ‘No Fightin’ Single Review Sees SWINE Solidified As Not Only Punk Purveyors, But Indie Rock Icons Too

© SWINE, 2021

By Neve Robinson

Imagine The Libertines (circa their shining self-titled era) – no, wait. Babyshambles, yeah. And imagine Cabbage (circa, well, now really). Picture this. They’ve procreated and had a beautiful albeit unruly Salfordian sonic child that just kicks off all the time. Unrelenting. A bit loud. But nonetheless, bloody irresistible. Oh yeah, and it’s wearing a pig mask. Well, that’s probably the most accurate description that I can offer for the raucous Swinton band SWINE’s recent single ‘No Fightin’ – a Valentine’s Day release that’ll certainly have you falling in love with the band brilliantly baptized with a boar’s moniker.

Clocking in at a mere 2:44 minute runtime, the record is perfectly engineered to be as replayable and catchy as possible, much like the punk songs of the seventies they draw their heaviest inspirations from. In their own words, ‘No Fightin’ is an ode to the most perfect imperfection – that of ourselves, and in our relationships with others. “We, or those who we love, or anyone, are not perfect. It’s self reflection to some extent, as some of the lines in the song are things that have been said to me.” So says Michael Blakemore, frontman of the band. The lyrics portray “an unhealthy relationship for both people involved, and a plead for peace.” It begs the question: in life, is there ever truly ‘NO fightin’? Is there any need for said ‘fightin’ (I’m enjoying not using a g on the end of the word, by the way, it feels very rock ‘n’roll of me.) Well, boxers and pro-military American conservatives would beg to differ, but that’s by the by.

SWINE have softened their sound somewhat from their earlier releases with this number. They are a band that are undoubtedly constantly evolving. This single is sort of like pushing our boundaries a bit. “We’ve got a stigma of being wild and chaotic,” says Michael, the vocalist, “but this tune really shows how we can mix it up and incorporate bits of different genres in to our personal sound.” And truly, they have dabbled in quite the myriad of genres here. SWINE’s debut EP ‘Fools Britannia’ is pure punk paradise start to finish, with ‘Pablo Picasso’ a real standout from the record echoing the likes of The Stranglers. Then followed 2019’s ‘They Hate Us’ accompanied by B-side ‘Diluted’ – both tracks building on their new-wave foundation and treading into ska territory. The songs on this record in particular are topical, they’re fresh. They touch on issues of classism, fascism and sexism that work seamlessly with the ska influences interspersed throughout the verses. Later on in the year, ‘Gazza B‘ was released, a song open to interpretation (before listening, I had presumed this was a post-punk ode to Mr Take That himself. I’m still unconvinced I’m totally wrong.) This record is even more different than the last, with more of a sound of the Fall as it is rich with that same strain of fuzzy feedback ferociousness Mark E. Smith possessed. While the band definitely aim for a everpresent undertone of punk rock noise throughout every song they perform, they make effort to mix and merge into a mesh of different genres. I think that’s what makes them so refreshing and intriguing as an upcoming band, this constant exploration and metamorphosis of styles and substance. They refuse to settle on one constant, and to me this is a clear as can be sign of a true crew of creatives.

© SWINE, 2021

So. I’ve got a bit of a quibble with this tune, personally, and I’m going to have to state my case for…well, a fight. My only criticism is that this was released during lockdown. Why, SWINE, why? For you have robbed us of a live reveal! How I would love to experience this for the first time live. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve really listened to a lockdown release and truly hungered for a great gig. And by God, can SWINE put on a great gig. They have somewhat of a legendary stage presence in many Manchester music circles, supporting the likes of Strange Bones in their live outings. I’m yet to experience them for myself, sadly, but I’ve seen videos, and have heard tales from peers of chaotic Lux Interior-level performances. I’d be especially intrigued to see how they would handle this track. It wouldn’t be a typical punk performance, and for frontman who spits spectacularly into a swarm of sweaty sh*tfaced fans behind the mask of a hog, I’d be curious to see how they’d handle a gentler number life. It’s an indie-rock triumph, and while I personally prefer their punky roots, their first foray into indie-rock territory has paid off enormously. Kudos to SWINE, and save me a ticket when things finally recommence so that I can be present to a riot incited by you Swindon lads. Oh to be sweating in a crowd at The Bread Shed, privy to the first live smashing out of ‘No Fightin’. I’ll be fighting to get to the front.

‘No Fightin’ is available on all semi-decent streaming platforms, and the band’s socials are here. Listen to it below:

IT’S BRITNEY BITCH! Top Ten Tunes From Pop’s Princess

© Dave Lachapelle, 1999

By Madeleine Healey

If like me you’ve recently watched The New York Times newest documentary, ‘Framing Britney Spears’, you’ll know that it is all anyone is talking about right now. The abhorrent treatment of one of pop’s most beloved stars by the media, paparazzi and even her own family has shocked the world. Britney Spears has been under a conservatorship for 12 years, with her finances, career plans and day to day life being controlled by her father Jamie Spears. She has been berated, bullied and humiliated in the world’s media, labelled an adulterer and a bad mother amongst other vile and slanderous characteristics. Britney is an icon of pop culture, with her music consistently hitting number one and going platinum, while simultaneously defining era after era. I have been inspired to write a piece that celebrates one of my favourite artists, an artist who has soundtracked my life, made me feel empowered, confident and strong and has filled me with joy since my childhood. So without further ado, here is a top ten ranking of the best Britney Spears singles, with love from her biggest fan. 

10. Lucky 

This song is one that my two best friends and I used to listen to on repeat when we were younger and for that reason is an essential feature for the top 10. Lucky tells the story of a Hollywood actress, who despite being rich, famous and loved is lonely and unhappy inside, a poignant narrative when comparing it with Britney’s own life. It’s such a sweet song, with a beautiful melody and gorgeous vocals from Britney. I still listen to Lucky now and it will always be a song I love. 

© Britney Spears

9. Boys

Featuring Pharrell and full to the brim with hip-hop and R&b funk, Boys is a slick, sophisticated Britney hit. Originally written for Janet Jackson, Boys is stylish, sexy and cool, with critics recognising elements of 70s funk and a Prince-like sound throughout the track. Boys differs from Britney’s distinctive pop sound and I absolutely love that about it.

© Britney Spears

8. Gimme More 

Gimme More is an absolute classic! I remember loving it when it first came out and that hasn’t changed 14 years on (don’t ask me how this song is 14 years old). The perfect nightclub anthem, Gimme More is a dark, grungy piece of electropop. Gimme More also features a spoken intro, in which Ms Spears utters the now iconic words, ‘It’s Britney bitch’, thus making history. 

© Britney Spears

7. …Baby One More Time 

Featuring one of the most famous music videos of the era and a costume that has been replicated at every fancy dress party since the beginning of time, …Baby One More Time is one of Britney’s most beloved tracks. …Baby One More Time went platinum three times and was even the best selling record in the UK during the year 1999. The track was crazy successful and it is so clear to see why. Fun, flirty and incredibly catchy, Britney’s first ever single is an absolute classic that will stand the test of time. 

© Britney Spears

6. Me Against The Music

For this track Britney is joined by another pop princess, Madonna. A sensual, sassy game of cat and mouse, Me Against The Music with its hip-hop infused sound and rapid-fire duet is one of my favourite Britney tracks. The video, featuring Britney in a latex fedora dancing her legs off is incredible and Madonna and Britney are a collaboration made in heaven. 

© Britney Spears

5. I’m A Slave 4 U 

I don’t think there’s a person alive who hasn’t wanted to dress in Britney’s famous Slave 4 U VMA costume, complete with a giant white snake draped over their shoulders. The track, produced by Pharrell Williams was said to be Spears’ most mature record, one that saw her shedding her ‘girl next door’ image. It’s sexy, cool and edgy, full of R&b style and a breathy vocal sound. I love I’m A Slave 4 U and it’s guaranteed to get me straight up on the dance floor (minus the python.) 

© Britney Spears

4. My Prerogative 

A cover of Bobby Brown’s 1988 track, My Prerogative has widely been interpreted as a perfect representation of Spears’ battle with the media and their perception of her life. The opening of the song features Spears breathily stating, ‘People can take everything away from you / But they can never take away your truth / But the question is, can you handle mine?’, before bursting into, ‘They say I’m crazy, I really don’t care’. This track hits back at the slanderous lies the media published about Britney, and I think it’s a really sassy, strong f-you to those who treated her so badly. 

© Britney Spears

3. (You Drive Me) Crazy  

One off Britney’s debut album, (You Drive Me) Crazy was also been remixed again in the Stop! edition of the track and I absolutely love both versions! Heavily influenced by R&b and full of that classic Britney pop groove, Crazy made it to the Top 10 in numerous countries worldwide. My new year’s resolution is to learn the routine to this song and buy a metallic green crop top to match Britney’s, although I doubt I’ll ever reach her level! 

© Britney Spears

2. Oops! … I Did It Again 

During the intense boredom of lockdown one, I took it upon myself to learn the choreography from the Oops I Did It Again music video and I can honestly say I have never been more in my element. The space-themed video, featuring Britney in her head mic and red latex catsuit is one of my absolute favourites! With a bridge that features a reference to the necklace from the movie Titanic (But I thought the old lady dropped it into the ocean in the end, well baby, I went down and got it for you), along with one of the catchiest choruses in music, Oops I Did It Again topped the charts in at least 15 countries and remains one of Britney’s most well known and loved singles. 

© Britney Spears
  1. Toxic 

Oh my god, this song is just so good. With a music video that made everyone either want to be, or be with Britney Spears, the most recognisable opening string section and an iconic diamond encrusted body stocking, Toxic was widely credited for changing the face of dance pop. Toxic is a song I never get sick of. I love the whiny Bollywood inspired strings and the bumble bee synths that proceed the chorus. Toxic is a timeless dancefloor classic and one that shows off Spears’ sensual vocals perfectly. I don’t know one person who doesn’t drop it like it’s hot as soon as they hear the opening refrain. If anyone were to ask me why Britney Spears is one of my favourite artists, I’d just play them Toxic on repeat as evidence. Iconic. 

© Britney Spears

Framing Britney Spears is available to watch on NOW TV. Listen to Mads’ playlist of these songs below.


© Ella Heaton, Sam Shaw.

By Josh Loynes

When daily life is reduced to an anxious, out of control nightmare sometimes, the perfect countermeasure and comfort is a bittersweet yet beautiful dream. Here to provide that, slipping straight out of a synthesised cloud, this collab single from Boshe (Ella Heaton) and Sam Shaw plunges deep into washed out dream pop sounds and drags us back into a smooth, enveloping pool of hazy noise.

Maybe it’s the synths harking back to a time when we were younger and it was cool to love Tame Impala and Sterling Dual (not that I don’t secretly indulge in both to this day), or it’s entirely unrelated and just happened to coincide with me fully grasping the impact of recent events, but I couldn’t help feeling profoundly nostalgic listening to this song. It left me reflecting and reminiscing on “what was” where throughout my life, the last year included, I’ve largely been accepting of the present.

Probably contributing to this sudden onset of ennui are Heaton’s reverb-drenched lyrics that throb with an aching melancholy, crying for a love lost that never even was. Buried deep in the mix, they often merely suggest their presence, and leave you searching and longing for more, existing as an alluring concept much like their subject matter.

Driving the song and tethering it back down to reality throughout its runtime is the firm and steady march of an unyielding but soft drum machine, with its only company at the forefront of the track being the light, skittering bursts of keys bouncing gleefully from note to note.

Propping all this up, relentless waves of shimmering synths make up the body of the track, creating a ghostly and translucent feel to the meat on the bones, a tonne of feathers too soft to feel solid but with more than enough weight to crush you. Credit has to be given to Shaw for the production throughout; the enrapturing dance of vocals and melody rising, falling and shifting together is really the heart and soul of of the track and what solidifies the song as a bittersweet ode to modern love. It was a pleasure to listen to, and I can’t encourage you to listen to it enough.