When Sean Rowley began his Guilty Pleasures night in a working mens club in Hammersmith in 2004 he could have barely envisaged the success story that it would become. A TV show, a series of compilation CD’s, DJing at festivals and a sold out residency at Koko in Camden lead to Guilty Pleasures becoming a hugely popular brand. Suddenly the shamelessly cheesy tunes which he championed, from The Nolans I’m In The Mood For Dancing to Jump by Van Halen no longer seemed pleasures to feel guilty about - Koko became a youth club for thirty year olds, where everyone was genuinely enjoying themselves. As the tunes kept on rolling, the audiences got even bigger. One of our most enduring memories of 2006 was watching 10,000 people frug madly to The J. Geils Band song Centerfold in broad daylight as the Guilty Pleasures DJ’s sliced up the musical cheddar in between bands on the main stage at Bestival.
Then as the brands popularity increased the term Guilty Pleasures started to be deconstructed by journalists. Why did so many people enjoy a night singing and dancing along to Hanson, Toni Basil and The Bee Gees? Were people enjoying the nights in some odd smug wink-wink knowing irony or was it just that people genuinely liked these songs? It seems that Rowley had hit upon a simple answer. Once people let their hair down, uncool music makes them feel the happiest.
Which leads us onto to the subject of this blog, the first in an occasional series where we look back rather than forward at some of the bands that gave us those guilty pleasures. Sometimes we intend to just recall the originals, and wax lyrical about their greatness. Other times, such as today, we will look at the bands more recent material as well as the old classics. Don't worry, the blog is not going fully retro, but it's nice to take a breather now and then, and put a smile on our faces.
Guilty Pleasures are often one hit wonders or a single standout song. For example, can anyone remember another tune by The New Radicals except You Get What You Give ?
For Breaking More Waves t.A.T.u are one such pleasure. Remember them ? The Russian fake lesbians ? All The Things She Said swept across Europe like swine flu. With Trevor Horn bringing masterful glossy pop production to the tune, his best since Frankie Goes To Hollywood, it was a thundering chart bound triumph. Of course mention t.A.T.u now and people’s minds will invariably wander to the video rather than the song, which is a shame, for in terms of huge commercial pop tunes All The Things She Said was as big as they get. It’s one of our guilty pleasures, but actually we’re not even guilty about it. We love it. It probably helps that we missed the whole furore about the so called controversial video, having first caught the song on the radio without any preconceived ideas.
In the UK t.A.T.u weren’t strictly a one hit wonder, Not Gonna Get Us, which was almost as good hit number seven in the charts, but after that as far as the majority of the public were concerned t.A.T.u were over. However in Russia t.A.T.u have continued to have success, the song Snegopady (translated as Snowfalls) spending nine weeks on rotation on Russian MTV this summer.
However on October the thirtieth of this year, t.A.T.u showed that they don’t consider themselves as just a going concern in Russia, putting out an English language version of their song White Robe on You Tube, even although the single is a couple of years old in their home country. Whilst the song isn’t a patch on All The Things She Said, it’s still a quirky piece of synthtopia with lyrics about “Flying bullets hit the targets, wings and halo’s five to seven, in this white robe, through the darkness, paragliding back to heaven.” However if anyone in the mainstream UK media clocks the Russian version of the video for the song, T.A.T.U controversy could kick up all over again. In terms of exposed flesh it puts Lady Ga Ga to shame. Sex sells. So, if you’ve been forgotten about, why not both take your clothes off completely (yes all of them) and then add a really controversial ending to your video. Watch the whole thing by clicking on this link here and you’ll see what we mean. Desperate ? Or art ? You decide. In the meantime, here's the classic All The Things She Said.