Sunday, 13 November 2016

Popular Music - September 2016

Tori Amos
  • Scarlet's Walk
  • Unrepentant Geraldines
  • Flicker (single)
Christine and the Queens - Christine and the Queens
Paul Dempsey - Strange Loop
Seal - Human Being
Thrice - Beggars
Megan Washington - There There

Another rather light month for pop music listening (partly affected, as is always the case, by my rule that a partial listen that gets interrupted doesn't count). There's plenty to talk about, though, because of the new entry on the list: the self-titled album from Christine and the Queens.

I stumbled across "Christine" (essentially just one person, not a band) on an episode of the Graham Norton Show.

I watch the show fairly regularly. It's quite rare, though, for the musical performance to grab my attention the way this one did. Pop music, undoubtedly, but art-pop. And a true performance piece, not simply a singer standing on the stage.

A few weeks later, Deezer chose another track from album, "Science Fiction" as one of their featured songs. After that, I decided that I had found a pop artist I wanted to hear more of. I can't remember now whether I sampled the whole album online before going out to find a CD copy. Yes, yes, I'm still buying CDs...

And Christine and the Queens is a fine CD. Those first two songs I heard are arguably among the best ones, but the album as a whole is strong. Lots of pop hooks, easily digestible but not mindless.

What annoys me, though (and this would have applied whether or not I chose physical media) is that the record companies have decided that I absolutely must listen to Christine and the Queens and not the album that Christine originally released, called Chaleur Humaine. Apparently, the French quotient of this French singer was too much for us all to stomach.

Some of the songs appear to be identical, though, and still include considerable amounts of French. Some have been rewritten, including the first two tracks I encountered. And in some cases the two albums have completely different songs.

This annoys me on two levels. The first is that I still believe in the integrity of albums and don't think this kind of thing should be done, though when it comes to a different language I can understand it. Plus, Christine and the Queens still flows well and some of the new songs are very good indeed.

But the second annoyance, and the far greater one in this day and age, is that I'm denied the choice. It would be a trivial thing to allow Chaleur Humaine to also be available for download from iTunes and the like, but no. English language stores simply deny that it exists. It seems my best bet for purchasing Chaleur Humaine, which I would like to do having found a way to hear it, is buying a good old-fashioned physical CD from Amazon France.

It appears that there is a special tour edition of Chaleur Humaine that also includes the new songs added to Christine and the Queens and a couple of tracks, so that might be what I go for. But it's a perfect illustration that the way music is sold as digital files still doesn't reflect the way the internet works. Finding out about music from around the world is easy, and yet the record companies want to insist that they will decide what I listen to based on where I live.

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