Whenever I heard the description "Sixties girl-group," I thought of the songs you hear all the time on oldies radio stations. I've heard songs like "Be My Baby," "My Boyfriend's Back," and "Leader of the Pack" plenty of times in my life. But I never ventured much further than that. I never realized that what I love about Northern Soul is similar to what so many of these girl groups embodied. I'm talking layers of snappy melodies, upbeat rhythms and simple-but-dense lyrics. And I never thought a modern band cut from this cloth could make me go ga-ga for them.
Hearing just a little sample of the Pipettes on this week's Sound Opinions podcast made curious. Upon watching their videos (start with the one for "Pull Shapes" first), I can't help but want to share this music with as many people as possible. I don't care if the group has already received a lot of blog love. I haven't felt this moved by bouncy pop music since I heard the Go! Team two years ago.
Perhaps the biggest charge I get with this music comes from the intricate melodies. The vocal harmonies, the keyboards and the strings are key. But their effect isn't like eating some cotton candy; this is like having a piece of chocolate cake. Meaning, this isn't just some sugary novelty. I have difficulty explaining this other than the music really taps into my good side. It reminds me of how pop can be more than fluff. It reminds me of how pop music used to be sold en masse. To be honest, I'm happy to hear this style be modernized.
I doubt the Pipettes will make former Ashlee Simpson fans go bonkers, but you never know. These melodies make me feel happy to be alive. But what I've heard from singers marketed towards the tween audience for the past ten years made me think I'm in a strip club, an SUV, a dentist office or on the set of Barney. In other words, I felt like bouncy pop music wasn't my cup of tea anymore. The essence of effective melodies were stripped of life so everything could sound "perfect" and squeaky-clean for the lowest of the lowest common denominator. I'm glad I found something that made me think otherwise.