Saturday, March 13, 2004

GREAT SONGS BY PEOPLE I HATE: LATE ADDITION

A friend of mine was reading this site the other day and was so appalled by an obvious omission in the Great Songs By People I Hate section below that she insisted I give this entry an honourable mention. Some people just know my weaknesses too damn well, but it's time to testify! The winner is...

GWYNETH PALTROW AND HUEY LEWIS - Cruisin'
Just take a look at those two names: Gwyneth Paltrow and Huey Lewis. That, indeed, is a combination straight from the bowels of hell. It's like some sort of bizarre, alternate reality where all the biggest dorks have taken over Planet Earth. No, wait, that is reality, and we're all amongst it. You can either laugh or cry about it. Me? I choose to hum along and do a little white-boy jiggie instead.

This song is taken from the dire-beyond-all-human-comprehension film, Duets. Since I'm confessing here, I may as well admit the fact that I finally saw the film a few months ago when it was on TV on a Sunday night, and five minutes in I was gasping for air. I mean, these people couldn't really be serious, could they? It's a visual feast of such sheer, jaw-dropping awfulness it defies comprehension and description. A Golden Turkey of such artistic extremes, I was frequently heard muttering to my wife "Is this film for real? Was this made by actual, living, rational human beings? What the hell were they thinking?!" whilst writhing in my chair, swearing I would watch the whole spectacular, no matter what, if only to say, Colonel Kurtz-style: "I've been there, man, I've seen Duets and lived to tell the tale". Let's put it this way: there are two types of bad movies: those in the so-bad-it's-good realm (such as Showgirls and the films of Ed Wood) and those of the so-bad-it-hurts-like-a-mother variety. Duets is in the latter.

And then there's this number... You can thank Smokey Robinson for the actual song, it's a classic, a smouldering, soulful ballad that'd probably sound half-decent in even the most incompetent of hands. Which brings me to the two main protagonists here: Gwyneth and Huey. Nothing particular against Mr. Lewis; to me he's just a harmless, whitebread bar-band putz whose entire ouvre comes across like one big beer ad, though Paltrow I find to be one of the most cloying, annoying screen presences alive today. Why? No reason, she just is. Some people simply have that gift. To her credit - and my eternal shame - however, she also possesses a nice pair of singing pipes that perfectly complement the material here, and excuse me whilst I go and put my head in the nearest oven for confessing all this in public...

Endnote: yes, I do own the CD single for this. When it came out in early 2001 I was working at a hipper-than-thou indie music store, and to counteract endless days of collector dorks berating me for not being aware of the latest coloured-vinyl 11"s being released out of the Eastern Bloc, I would find myself watching Top 40 video shows on Saturday mornings. "Cruisin'" caught my fancy like a bat out of hell. As this fact became more public, my wife, as a "joke", bought me the single. In the immortal words of Richard Hell: please kill me.

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