The Smiths Being The Sound Of Christmas. I Never Thought I’d See The Day.

Standing left to right, Rourke, Morrissey, Marr and Joyce don’t exactly paint a stand out portrait of festive materialism as they stand outside the Saldford Lads club. Nevertheless, the sombre silhouette of the 80’s indie pop foursome remains condensed on the windows of England this holidays.

When I first watched the Christmas John Lewis advert, It left me in the same perplexed state as everybody else. A softer, slower rendition of one of the defining pop songs from one of the defining bands of the 80’s, making the swap from Manchester to Merseyside, putting quiet smile on my face. All because of that restless, brown haired little boy pacing around his bedroom, twiddling his thumbs and rushing to bed on Christmas eve made me do so. You’d have to be even more cynical than I am to not quiver a sly grin when our unlikely hero dashes past his present to give his own poorly wrapped gift to his parents. Still, following the afflicted genius of The Smiths propagating behind the images of the advert, I can’t help but feel a little bit bemused.

Amelia Warner, better known as Slow Moving Millie, contributed her angelic rendition of The Smiths classic ‘Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want’ to the John Lewis advert, and has been very well received by the British public. So much so, that her single peaked at a the befitting place of 31 one in the UK charts, outdoing The Smiths original that only reached 83 in the charts. Now, I can accept that statistic. I like Warners cover of ‘Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want”. The vocals are delicate, the piano playing is kept gentle and the song fits the advert. However, there is one thing I can not defend. The use of the song entirely in the John Lewis advert.

Let be honest, although Slow Moving Millie has propelled the song further into the mainstream shades of pop culture, all credibility has been taken away from one of the founding artists of romantic pop songs. Twisting the head on the conventional dolly pop singles, blurting out meaningless nonsense about marriage, lust and sexual expression, the song writing duo of Morrisey and Johnny Marr created a genre as undefinable and ambiguous as Susan Boyle’s blood pressure. Living up to their melon collie reputation, Morrissey and Marr composed songs reflecting on the despair of politics, the romance of hate and the bitterness of being alone. Yes, a tad on the dreary side, but a band that manage to attract a huge following, even without surviving the entire decade as a complete four piece.

Listening to Warners cover, although the music is tight and the recording is technically sound, there is nothing about the song that parallels The Smiths interpretations. Layered over the John Lewis advert, all I hear now when listening to Slow Moving Millie’s version of The Smiths classic, is the shameless excretion of marketing and consumerism. There are so many differences and rivalries to pedantically pick at when comparing the two separate scores. The original portrays the gutted remains of working class Manchester, while the cover has been carved from the finest middle class Liverpudlian granite. One version was written on a scratched and grimy acoustic guitar in Johnny Marr’s effortless discernment, while the other was grafted through the re-writing moody pop perfection.

Creativity and novelty have always been the two inspiring and unquestionable traits behind the music, characteristics and services of The Smiths. Now, I wasn’t even born when The Smiths topped the album charts with their beautifully emblematic The Queen Is Dead, but every time I listen to the record at home, and take into consideration everything people have described about The Smiths from the 80’s, I know exactly what they mean. Just like acts before them, like Joy Division and The Beatles, their legacy anchors a very strong emotive and provoking consciousness to their listeners.

It’s a shame to think that the John Lewis advert wouldn’t be anywhere near as tear wrenchingly sweet with the original composition of ‘Please Please Please Give Me What I Want’ playing in the background. But at the same time, I’m glad. I’m glad that The Smiths make me feel cheated, alone and angry. I seriously never thought I’d see the day when Morrissey gargles out a gothic indie pop classic behind the slates of advertisement, and truth be told, I still haven’t. The two versions of The Smiths ballad are so far apart, that I can rest easy this Christmas time, festering in my own self loathing with ‘How Soon Is Now’, ‘Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others’ and ‘Vicar In A Tutu’ resonating off my walls quite gleefully.

Having said all of that, I must admit, Slow Moving Millie’s cover of ‘Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want’ does make me feel angry, just as I do when I listen to The Smiths version of the song. Sadly, it’s the wrong kind of anger.


It’s Been A Big Year. But What Was The Most Rememberable Album Of 2011?

 Yes, it’s nearly that time again. Christmas tree’s are being dusted off and taken out of cupboards, the wrapping papers is being spread out and the coca cola lorries have turned on their engines. Musically, it’s been a busy year. But what albums are the ones that we’ll still be playing in 2012?

Wu Lyf – Go Tell Fire To The Mountain: Mancunian jungle pop draped over a foundation of indie-rock. Under their hyper-anonymous complexities, the foursome have thrown a solemn war cry of depthless harmonies and textures forward in their debut album. Hiding under sparkling melodies and corse vocals, much more will be expected of Wu Lyf as 2012 dawns ever closer.

For Fans Of: Local Natives, Little Comets.

Wild Beats – Smother: Mastering the difficult third album, the tenor and soprano parallel of Hayden Thorpe and Tom Fleming jostled the bands eloquent and gentle album to number 17 in the UK charts. Ignorant of their chart success, the concentrated and delicate piano and guitar harmonies bleed the groups true intentions, as well as re-writing their whole dissipation, from indie-pop dancer, to grown harmonious composers.

For Fans Of: The Antlers, Tom Vek.

Jamie Woon – Mirrorwriting: Soulful and self-produced brilliance from post-dubstep’s latest think tank. Soft and timbre house beats cutting through sharp R&B vocals, ranging pitches and exploring all levels of chill out music, Woon swooned his way into LP production this year. With tight, creative production practices, majestic vocal ability and reaching number 15 in the charts with his debut album, Woon is the perfected remedy for mainstream R&B.

For Fans Of: James Blake, Burial.

Chapel Club – Palace: New wave, Smith-style indie rock, piling on arrogance and ear rings, the London five-piece have lullabyed a succinct and bi-polar album in the shape of Palace. Cathedral reverb, coherent bass playing that brings Joy Division-esque nostalgia, Lewis Bowman and co have brought much more than just the Morrisey quiff back to music.

For Fans Of: The Smiths, Echo And The Bunnymen.

PJ Harvey – Let England Shake: Winning her third Mercury prize didn’t do Polly Jean Harvey’s 8th studio album justice, as she was quoted by NME to have conquered in creating “the war album” in relation to Earnest Hemmingway’s war novel, and Coppola’s war film. Albeit, Harvey creates no conflict in one of the undisputed albums of 2011, emulating alternative folk rock back into the spectrum.

For Fans Of: Anna Calvi, Kate Bush.

Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring For My Halo: Precious, emotive and plucked heartland alternative rock from one of musics more acquired artists. Blending folk rock with grunge influences of Sonic Youth, Vile co-ordinated a vast minimal attack on all things undesirable with his basic but beautiful effort. Singing about love, growing your hair lower than your knees and wearing t-shirts too small for you has never been cooler.

For Fans Of: Atlas Sound, Deerhunter.

Girls – Father, Son, Holy Ghost: Inspired by Christopher Owen’s addiction to “serious and very heavy opiates”, Father, Son, Holy Ghost files down to roots surf rock core. Twined with hard post-punk connotations, the Pink Floyd meets Beach Boys record places blames on serious issues to narrower forms, and sings out Owens’ own self loathing. A darkly brilliant album, that will still be needing psychotherapy well into 2012.

For Fans Of: Yuck, Smith Westerns.

Ghostpoet – Peanut Butter Blue & Melancholy Jam: Mumbling over experimental hip hop and post grime beats has never sounded so interesting. Following support slots for Metronomy and Jamie Woon, Ghostpoet has blended his way into the electronic scene, dexterously pasting manic mood swings and melodic twists during the process. He wins best album name for 2011 if nothing else.

For Fans Of: Mos Def, Jamie XX.

Metronomy – The English Riviera: Arguably the best album of the year, the electro-pop quartet have captured the true essence and extract of British culture, and turned it into curly haired indie experimentation. Joe Mount, the mad scientists behind this venture, kept his buttons done up as Metronomy’s third studio production set fire to the alternative music charts, and kept it’s modest talents riding on the waves and dampening the sand on the British seaside.

For Fans Of: Late Of The Pier, Is Tropical.

The Horrors – Skying: Faris and co decided they were grown up enough to self produce their follow up to NME’s album of the year for 2009 Primary Colours. A brave move considering the predecessor to Skying, but the band kept all credibility in making an incredible album. With a vast new wave preponderance, conventional Horrors synthesizers and a fancy new red lather jacket, Faris and his fellow musicians cut close to the seems in delivering a worthy opponent to Primary Colours.

For Fans Of: S.C.U.M, Cats Eyes.