The Taste of Music: Something For Kate
Today's candidate is Paul Dempsey of Something For Kate. As frontman for the long-running Melbourne trio, Dempsey's released six albums with his iconic band, as well as an acclaimed solo debut (if we're not counting his 1998 excursion under the Scared of Horses moniker) in 2009's Everything Is True. With such a vast catalogue of music borne from a lifetime spent making, performing and thinking about it, who better to turn to in order to gift us their playlist of ideal Pop tunes.
David Bowie - 'Ashes to Ashes'
"This is the first music video I remember seeing as a little kid. It scared the crap out of me and gave me nightmares but it seemed to be on the TV every time I switched it on. I just couldn't look away. To my four year old brain it looked like some psychedelic funeral taking place on a beach on another planet and I felt like if I kept watching I'd get sucked into the TV and end up there with the weird people in their scary hats. But still, it's one of the greatest and most affecting 'pop' songs ever written. Many years later I had the opportunity to tell David Bowie how much it scared the crap out me as a little kid and he offered his apologies so we're all good."
Martha Davis - 'Don't Tell Me The Time'
"Was pop music better in the 80's? I reckon you could check the top 20 for any given week in the 1980's and you'd hear twenty very different songs with very different sounds, instruments, arrangements, lyrics, moods etc. Maybe I'm just getting older but today's top 20 all sounds the same to me. Anyways, this is a prime example of an excellent song that turned up in the charts for a few weeks and disappeared again...but it got in my head and never left."
And get that bike off my lawn!"
MGMT - 'Time to Pretend'
"This has got all the good sugars: infectious melodies, big drums, cool sounds, clever lyrics, and a wonderfully confusing and highly-entertaining video. And when it came along, it didn't sound like anything else. I did a cover of this for a while, and I think it's testament to a well-written song, when you can strip away all the ear-candy and just play it on an acoustic guitar and it still totally stands up."
The Pixies - 'Here Comes Your Man'
"It doesn't get much more pop than this. In the hands of just about any other band this song could have been a horribly saccharine failure à la 'Shiny Happy People', but there is something appropriately twisted about The Pixies that allows them to make a song like this totally work. It's genius… and it makes me wonder now if The Pixies could possibly even make 'Shiny Happy People' a good song??? Perhaps Frank Black and Kim Deal could provide the perfect twist that Michael Stipe and Kate Pearson fell a touch short of?"
R.E.M. - 'Imitation Of Life'
"But allow me to reassure you dear readers that R.E.M. do occupy a special place in my musical education. From their beginnings as an obscurantist indie band, through their world-domination period and finally to their almost-too-late decision to make a graceful exit, they have provided us with an incredible catalogue of great songs. It's hard to pick one to share here so I've opted for 'Imitation Of Life' which seems to me to be a tribute to pop music itself."
Friends - 'His Girl'
"I loved this track the first time I heard it. Everything about it just exudes a cool confidence. The simplicity of having pretty much just a great bass line and a beat and the matter-of-fact vocal, it's awesome. I don't know why this isn't at the top of the pop charts. It would be cool if it was but…it's probably also cool because it isn't. But maybe that's not cool? And it sounds like it was recorded in 1987. Coincidence?"
Pat Benatar - 'Love Is A Battlefield'
"Pat Benatar and Bob Giraldi bring us the touching story of a young girl who is disowned by her family and faces persecution and rejection at every turn because of a rare neurological condition whereby she can only communicate with people by singing at them."
The Ramones - 'I Wanna Be Sedated'
"Andy Warhol used Campbell's soup cans and images of Elvis or Marilyn. The Ramones used leather jackets, blue jeans and the Beach Boys."
Bjork - 'Hyperballad'
"Incredibly fitting title for this track. When the kick drum enters at the top of the second chorus you suddenly feel like you're being accelerated. Bjork's first two albums are really amazing pop records; she continues to make excellent records of course, I'm just not sure you'd describe them as 'pop' at this point. Experimental pop perhaps? Or is that a bit of an oxymoron?"
This track also has a beautiful video from the one and only Michel Gondry."
St Vincent - 'Cruel'
"Annie Clark (aka St Vincent) is definitely one of my favourite 'pop' acts of recent times. Her songs have all the vital melodic and rhythmic ingredients but there are plenty of unexpected twists and turns and I guess that's a major thing for me. It seems that the success of some pop music is it's predictability and the ease with which you can remember it and sing along, ie: it's catchiness. But I'm more drawn to the kind of pop music that takes an unexpected turn just as you were getting comfortable. There's still the big hooks and the melodic pay off but you might have to work a little harder to get there."
Something For Kate's sixth studio album Leave Your Soul to Science is out now. They will appear at this weekend's Homebake festival in Sydney. Watch their clip for 'Survival Expert' below: