There are some bands/acts we simply don’t like. We can’t like everyone and, sometimes, a band just doesn’t hit our sensitive spot. However, they can sometimes surprise us and a song of theirs can emerge from the murk of the rest their oeuvre and knock us sideways.
I never enjoyed ABBA, their over-cooked confections are too saccharine for my taste. Their last song, The Day Before You Came, is special. It is uncharacteristically eery in the simplicity of the music and arrangement. Agnetha is a lone voice, detailing her mundane existence before a mysterious man came into her life. Her tone and the atmosphere of the music tell us he didn’t make her happy. The reference to Marilyn French, who wrote All Men Are Rapists, suggests something far more sinister, but the truth is revealed in the celestial middle eight, the point at which the song steps into the infinite beyond.
Led Zeppelin never managed to pound me into submission. Testicle strangled shrieks, thudding riffs and heavy banging don’t work for me. Side One of IV was ubiquitous when I was a teenager but most people just wanted to hear Stairway To Heaven. It was years before I heard Side Two and When The Levee Breaks bowled me over. The groove that Bonham creates is as overwhelming and irresistible as the flood. It helps that Page plays menacing slide licks and that Plant wails rather than shrieks but it was the portentous harmonica that hooked and then devastated me. At first, I thought it was The Rolling Stones. Of course, they ripped off an old Blues number. They did later credit the lyric writer Memphis Minnie but not the writer of the music, her husband, just because they slowed it down and stretched it out. Evil bastards. Still, it’s a belting track.
There is a lot I dislike about Mariah Carey’s music but All I Want For Christmas Is You is a sparkling glitter ball bursting with festivity. It’s happy, it’s spritely and it is full of bells of whistles. A Perfect Pop Christmas Cracker. She wrote the song herself. The book isn’t much cop, though.
Are there any tracks that float your boat by an act that decidedly doesn’t?