Tag Archives: The Pipettes

21 Best Singles Of 2006

You’ll be pleased to know that this is the last year of twenty-one best singles. Whether this is because the charts have got less good since 2006 or simply because I’ve learnt to say no to songs knocking on my top eleven’s door, I’m not certain. For what it’s worth, this is probably my favourite singles list of the lot, right down to the ‘nearly but not-quites’, and number two is one of my favourite tracks of all time.

You may notice there is an infringement of my not featuring an artist more than once rule. This is because the particular “artist” in question (and trust me, those quotation marks have never been more deserved!) probably had about as much to do with the songs as I did! Such is the brilliance of the songs on their own that they’d probably make the list if a robot sang them… and I can’t be certain that isn’t the case anyway!

The most noticeable omission that had to be rectified was the absence of Take That. Patience is such an all-time fave (yes, that phrase will be much overused in the next few days) that the only explanation I can find for it not making the list first-time round was that it hadn’t been released when the bulk of the list was being formed (charting in late November/December… yes, I begin thinking about my lists that early!).

So here’s my 21 Best Singles of 2006… and number one has had a whole new lease of life for me since I busted it out on Xbox Kinect’s Dance Central!

1.            Maneater – Nelly Furtado (1)
R.I.P Folksy Furtado, love live Naughty Nelly. Sexy synths, booming basslines and armfuls of attitude make this the best song of the year, in the sluttiest of ways. Everybody look at me, indeed.

2.         Pull Shapes – The Pipettes (26)
Few of you are probably aware that this even exists. Rectify this situation now! A shiny sparkly spangly song brimming over with joyousness, it’s an unforgettable 60s-tinged call to the dancefloor that proves impossible to resist. One of those life-affirming tracks that makes you feel glad to be alive and kicking (preferably in dancing shoes).

3.            Beware Of The Dog – Jamelia (10)
Via the theft of a great 80s riff and the presence of some quite thrilling drum action, Jamelia’s undeservedly unsuccessful single is another of the year’s greatest pop masterpieces. Electrifying punchy.

4.            Patience – Take That (1)
Everyone’s favourite boy band marked their triumphant return as men, with stubble, long coats and everything, with this epic slowie. But Patience is just too good to be dismissed as a mere boy b(l)and ballad; it scales great heights of amazingess with every Barlow top note. Utterly gorgeous.

5.            Nothing In This World – Paris Hilton (55)
If Paris Hilton must make music, let it be this – feel-good fluff that would sound fab no matter who sang it. Gratuitous ‘da da da’s are always a winner. A really great pop record.

6.            Something Kinda Ooooh – Girls Aloud (3)
Surely one of the best song titles of the year, if nothing else? Girls Aloud returned with this riotous rave-up that, in the manner of all the greatest Aloud tunes, sounds like a complete mess before revealing itself to be a beautiful pop revelation.

7.         Rehab – Amy Winehouse (7)
This jangling old-school ditty sounded like Motown at its best; in reality, it’s a gobby intoxicated banshee from the East End but that just makes Rehab all the more amazing. Possibly the best thing Amy Winehouse has ever done, horns and all; her forty-a-day voice has never sounded better.

8.         Crazy – Gnarls Barkley (1)
The definition of effortless cool.

9.         My Love – Justin Timberlake (2)
SexyBack, with its dirty lyrics and even dirtier beat, might have garnered the headlines but this, in reality, is the better song. A series of swirling strings and the swooping Timberlake falsetto take glorious centre-stage, building up to a series of progressive complex climaxes. An unexpected pleasure.

10.       Rock Steady – All Saints (3)
Pop’s sulkiest madams return with this fresh and breezy slice of reggae-lite. Harmonies par none with the second verse, featuring those underrated Appleton vocals and layers of breathy echoes, proving simply sublime.

11.            Supermassive Black Hole – Muse (4)
Epic rock for the noughties, with this exhilarating roller-coaster of strange noises and strange voices. Best described as Muse by way of the Scissor Sisters, yet with a result aeons better than you’d think that could sound.

12.            Irreplaceable – Beyonce (4)
Girlfriend doesn’t just do fierce! A luscious mid-tempo ballad, enhanced by Beyonce’s dipped in honey, melted chocolate and various other yummy edible things voice.

13.       LDN – Lily Allen (6)
If this lovely ode to London (which did the impossible by making the capital actually seem appealing) did not make you feel summery and happy, I suggest you check for a pulse. Will anyone ever dare rhyme ‘al fresco’ again?

14.       No Tomorrow – Orson (1)
The guiltiest pleasure of the year, courtesy of hat-wearing geriatrics Orson, and the fact it gets right up the noses of so-called ‘real rockers’ just makes it even better. Two minutes fifty four seconds of faux moshing bliss that is bound to have you salivating for more.

15.            Voodoo Child – Rogue Traders (3)
Energetic dance-rock certain to have you throwing demented shapes all over the dancefloor. Izzy off Neighbours demonstrates a rock star snarl of a voice that she sadly never utilised on the show – although we’d like to have seen Dr Karl’s face if she had!

16.       Stars Are Blind – Paris Hilton (5)
A track most aptly described as ‘accidentally brilliant’. Hilton’s drowsy “singing” blends almost impossibly perfectly with a lazy reggae beat stolen almost entirely from UB40’s entire output. A near perfect summer record.

17.       S.O.S. – Rihanna (2)
Mid-way through the year and this heady blend of electro, R n’ B and obligatory 80s sample would have been a shoo-in for record of the year. But then a load of people came and did it better. Oh well.

18.            Checkin’ It Out – Lil’ Chris (3)
‘Ch-ch-ch-checkin’ it out!!!!!’ a nation cried, whilst also attempting to emulate the little one’s command of Crazy Frog like noises. An immense record by the tiniest singer pop has known since Geri Halliwell’s freakish yoga days. Second single, Gettin’ Enough, is also very good too.

19.       Naïve – The Kooks (5)
In the words of a panel member (a panel consisting of two), this song ‘never gets old’. Deceptively simple melodies produce a song with yes, a naïve charm all of its own. The angelic Lily Allen cover is possibly even better.

20.       Red Dress – Sugababes (4)
The fact this was released so long ago that I’d almost forgotten about it is the only reason it’s all the way down here, for this is a truly wicked record. That crescendo of a chorus (or is it the bridge… or the middle 8… that’s the genius of producers Xenomania) is one of my favourite pop moments.

21.       Faster Kill Pussycat – Paul Oakenfold ft. Brittany Murphy (7)
I generally despise dance music, but this chunk of invigorating energising and exhilarating electronica on speed will do very nicely, thanks.

Three nearly but not quites…
I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’ – Scissor Sisters, Move Along – All American Rejects, All Time Love – Will Young

Great Forgotten Pop Songs: The Pipettes – Pull Shapes

If Pull Shapes has been released in the 60s, it would now be a Radio 2 staple, feature on countless crappy compilation albums and be one of those tunes that everyone inexplicably comes out the womb knowing. Instead, it had the misfortune to be released in 2006 and miserably limped in at number 26 on the charts. There are fewer greater injustices in pop because Pull Shapes is glorious, radiant life-affirming stuff. Goodness pours out of its every chord.

The Pipettes were a trio that specialised in homages to 60s’ girl group pop with their Phil Spector-created ‘wall of sound’. To hammer home this fact, they wore polka-dot dresses and did cute synchronised hand movements dances, which often made their schtick veer more closely to end-of-the-pier pastiche than the majesty of their tunes really needed them to. They’ve also gone enough line-up changes to cement their place in girl group history (as a girl group trio, they’ve now enjoyed the services of seven members and that’s not including the comings and goings of their backing band, The Casettes). I once wrote a brief history of the band and ended it with ‘no-one got divorced, beheaded or died’ which just about sums up the absurdity of the revolving doors of The Pipettes, as they’re now a duet of sisters with no 60s’ influences in sight (or should that be sound?!) yet Pull Shapes captures the group at their, possibly never to be attained again, peak.

From the opening thirty-five seconds of instrumental intro, you just know it’s going to be divine. Kicking off with a drum-roll (as all good things often do), sound upon sound is layered until a joyous trilling section marks the arrival of voices. The lyrics are inconsequential – simple, almost trivial chatter about liking disco, hearing drums and dancing (duh…) – but it’s all in the delivery. Whilst the current line-up may have the better harmonies, they’re not a patch on the combination of Gwenno (the only one still remaining), Rosay and RiotBecki for charisma. The verses are shouted with pure tangible joy and when the harmonies do kick in on the delightful chorus mixed with heady backing instrumentation, it’s just too delicious for words. Indeed, it can only be expressed through dance – good job they’re imploring you to ‘pull shapes’ (love it – so British) as you’ll no doubt find yourself busting out a little boogie, even in the full glare of public transport.

There’s then the appetite-whetting genius of the stop-start ‘What do you when the music stops?’ section and the always-a-winner audience interaction of ‘Clap your hands if you want some more!’ before the thing sprints to an ending that comes far too soon. There’s this giddy whirling noise that comes to the foreground on the penultimate chorus that is the exact sonic expression of how I feel when I hear Pull Shapes – dizzy with joy and high on life. And even though I said it’s over far too soon, it adheres to the Eurovision rule of the perfect 3 minutes; all the fat’s been trimmed, it ends with a bang rather than a fade-out and you find your finger twitching towards the ‘repeat’ button practically before it’s over.

Its retro stylings mean that it doesn’t get dated, instead merely cementing its position as a forgotten classic. After hearing it, you might (like my boyfriend) find yourself prone to yelling ‘Pull Shapes!’ at random moments. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Truly glorious life-affirming stuff. I’ll meet you on the dancefloor.

UK chart peak: 26
Key lyric: ‘I just wanna move, I don’t care what the song’s about!’
Get more: The Pipettes – ABC, Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me, Judy

Read my interview with The Pipettes here

The Pipettes Interview: Earth vs The Pipettes, line-up changes, moustaches and more…

the pipettes

This was also originally published on Teentoday.co.uk, which has since fallen down a giant snarky-pop-writing consuming Internet manhole (RIP). So I wanted to post this here as I think it’s a pretty good interview if I do say so myself… and because Earth vs The Pipettes is holding up pretty well actually, as I listen to it whilst typing this very sentence!

They may not have the costumes of Gaga, the “Samson-esque lesbian haircut” of Bieber or the peen-grabbing devotees of Teentoday fave Fugative. Hell, they aren’t even part of our indie music exploration remit and were definitely not involved in the controversial Race for Life charity single. But they did talk to us. So behold, our interview with The Pipettes (or at least one of them…we’re thinking Gwenno) and here’s hoping it goes better than our Stop The Music shit or hit which you loved so much, it rapidly became a depository for Bananarama spam:

So are all the polka dot dresses burning on an incinerator somewhere?
Ha! No, quite the opposite really… I’d say they were on ice for a little while.

How is it working with your sister? Do you squabble over who gets the lead or are you over all that sibling rivalry?
It’s really great working with my sister; we’re quite hard on each other sometimes but it’s great knowing you can really rely on someone. The trust is there naturally and we both want what’s best for the other and for the band. There is more chance we squabble over who has to carry the dresses than anything else… I usually end up carrying them! Pah!

A couple of people are comparing you to Bananarama (partly their early sound, partly the line-up changes!). Is this a comparison you like/understand/are actively basing your sound on?
We don’t mind that comparison at all. We’ve frequently referenced Stock, Aitken & Waterman when discussing our love of British pop music and so Bananarama sit nicely in there. The new sound and image for our second album was something that was discussed a good while before the band finished touring the first album. It’s an evolution that would have inevitably happened regardless of line-up changes.

The Our Love Was Saved By Spacemen viral video was ermmm… interesting. What did you think of you with a moustache? Fanciable?
Better interesting than boring, eh? We just wanted to give something that was fun and a bit light-hearted to the fans that had hung in there while we got ourselves together over the past couple of years. It was our Valentine’s Day gift to them; we actually didn’t realise so many people would see it! A cheeky moustache now and again never hurt anyone… why not!

How would you describe the sound of Earth vs The Pipettes? Can you tell us about your favourite tracks?
The sound on our new album is a lot more dance-oriented, a lot of disco beats in there. It’s fuller, it’s bigger and it’s a lot louder; a bit of an obnoxious cousin to the first record, it’s demanding to be heard. My favourite tracks change daily. There are certain ones I like to listen to and others I love to sing so it really depends. I do love From Today today and everyday.

Who would win in a fight to the end in Earth vs The Pipettes then? Surely two girls taking on the whole planet is a bit much? What are your special moves?
The Pipettes will win hands down! We just plan to brainwash everyone with our songs, simples.

Since your single’s called Stop The Music, what music would you like to see stopped for good? Specifics please.
I love pop music; I don’t love most of what’s on the radio BUT what I would say is that any bad music out there makes the good music oh-so-much better. There are so many talented people out there but most of the pop music we hear on the radio is written and produced by the same people. That’s why we’re so proud of our album – RedOne didn’t get anywhere near it!

We’re pleased that even if you’ve dropped most of the influences from your first album, the Stop The Music vid sees you keep your propensity for the dance routine. Can we expect more classic Pipettes dances from the rest of the album? Will we get Youtube tutorials?
Of course! We will never stop dancing, that would be criminal! We wouldn’t know what to do! You can, of course, expect more classic Pipettes dances, some spacey shakes and some other-worldy twists… all in the name of POP!

earth vs the pipettes

The electro bandwagon – will The Pipettes be boarding or do you think the end for that sound is nigh?
The only thing we’ll be boarding is our spaceship. Since the band was formed six years ago, we’ve done exactly what we’ve wanted musically and we’ll keep doing just that. We’re still in search of the perfect pop song and we’ll keep writing songs until we make it, synth or no synth.

OK… we have to talk about the line-up changes (sorry!). Is Gwenno the scariest girl in pop since Keisha Buchanan or is she just misunderstood? Did you ever feel like jacking it all in? What made you decide to carry on?
Things are never as they seem; I can’t talk for Keisha but it’s really not easy being in a band. You can work really really really hard for a long time and it can seem that there is no reward – it’s at this point that a lot of people decide to give up. We thought again and again about throwing in the towel but the only thing that kept us going was the belief we had in the songs we had made together.

It’s obvious from some other interviews that you’re very clued up on the music scene. Can we have a few Pipettes views on:

– Will The Saturdays ever be good? I thought their first album was very very good.

– Will Girls Aloud get back together and if they don’t, will pop music that great ever be made again? I can’t really imagine them doing another album but it would be pretty incredible if they did, you never know. Xenomania are still churning out amazing British pop music and keeping the standard very high so there is a pretty good chance that we’ll have great pop music for a while to come.

– Should the Sugababes carry on? I don’t see why not? About You Now was an amazing song and they could still have more amazing songs.

– Would La Roux have been all-conquering if she hadn’t had “The Quiff”? Why of course. It’s a great and solid pop album but me oh my, that is one mighty quiff!

– Any other music recommendations? Music Go Music, Fun., Lucky Soul and always go back and listen to the early Madonna records, sooo good!

– Would you ever have auditioned for The X Factor? Could either of you have been Dorothy on Over The Rainbow? No no no to X Factor but I want to be Glinda or Toto please!

And finally… Pull Shapes is an amazing song. That’s all really. I just wanted to thank you for bringing it into existence.
Why thank you!

Earth vs The Pipettes (what a ‘disco in space’ where ‘all the genres and styles that have set the dance floor going for the last fifty years were loaded onto a rocket and fired into the stars’ would sound like – a soundbite too good to be confined to a press release, methinks) is out now.