Tag Archives: eminem

If popstars were… Clockwatchers

So, Cover Drive are number 1 in the UK with the jaunty Twilight. They’re hardly the first to sing a song about a specific time of day but what are these songs trying to tell us? Let’s spend 24 hours in the company of pop…

Maria Muldaur – Midnight at the Oasis (1974)

One day ends and another begins. But it’s still dark and you probably haven’t gone to sleep yet! This is the paradox of midnight. Salman Rushdie used it as a metaphor for rebirth and independence. Russell T Davies drew it as a world that was both staggeringly beautiful and inherently lethal. For Maria Muldaur it’s a chance to do a spot of belly dancing and shag a sultan’s son. It’s a time of mystery, romance and possibility! It’s a very nice song. And it’s a terrible fantasy set in a made-up ‘exotic Orient’. Because it’s all very well being specific about the time, but we could do with better directions to the oasis. There isn’t a desert in the world where you’ll find both a camel and a cactus. Still, if she’s getting off her tits on mescaline (‘Cactus is our friend! He’ll point out the way!’) she may as well wait until 12.51 which is when Julian Casablancas is ready for sex.

3 A.M. At The Border Of The Marsh From Okefenokee (1976) / 3am Eternal (1991) / 3AM (2008) / 3 A.M. (2008) / 3 a.m. (2009) / 03.45: No Sleep (2003)

There are a LOT of songs set around 3. What’s everyone up to? In Berlin, Tangerine Dream are stoned. In London, the KLF feel like the party’s going to last forever. In Rättvik Marit Bergman waits up for Kleerup though she knows in her heart he’ll never call. In Detroit, Eminem has just got in and remembered he’s a blood-and-bathwater-drinking serial killer who’s left his victims’ bodies lying around (charming). Young Jeezy is out clubbing in Atlanta and about to have a fumble in the car park with whoever likes his jewellery the most, while in Jönköping the Cardigans are lying in bed having a very pretty existential crisis. It’s a terrible time of night to be awake, to be fair.

RUFUS WAINWRIGHT – 11:11 (2003)

And it’s all very different in the cold light of day, as Rufus Wainwright discovers on waking. He’s surrounded by crying, half-naked friends & lovers and New York’s in flames. The double elevensies of the title are carefully chosen to evoke 9/11 and the specific pinpointing of the time is a theme in itself, as Rufus reflects on mortality, loss, and the importance of living every moment. Beautiful.

Donna Summer – Sunset People (1980)

Is the whole of Donna’s Bad Girls a concept album about 24 hours in the life of the city? It starts with all that sexy big night out stuff, there’s that raft of dark-night-of-the-soul songs in the middle, then a burst of sunny, joyful tracks before the album ends up here, at sunset. Or on Sunset, as Donna sings. But it’s obviously not just a literal song about the famous Strip. People are holding on to the last breath of life, hiding their scars and pointing at stars, trying to make a moment of glamour last forever. At sunset we take stock of the shit, and look to the uncertainty of the night.

COVER DRIVE – Twilight (2011)

And if we don’t want to go gently into that good night, we sing ‘Twiiiilight!
I’m loving this twiiiilight! I’m loving this twi-lalalalaLALALALA TWIIILIGHT!’ to a perky beat.

Yet Cover Drive recognise that it’s an important time of transition, too. When it turns to night they’re gonna make it right! The liminal hours are when lives can change irrevocably, and baby they’ve been thinking about you and they’re gonna make you mine. Er, theirs. It’s a song about definition in an indefinite world. Potential in the petering light. Held in my heart for a day like today. Twilight.

I Need a Doctor: The surgery is open

Doctor Doctor, I’m about to lose my mind and I need a doctor to bring me back to life

After producing some of the best loved music of all time, Dr. Dre’s spent the last ten years fannying around, often announcing that a new album’s on the way, sometimes even setting a release date. And it’s become a running joke that this supposed new material never materialises.

Prescription: Fortunately in the intervening decade, the ‘extended filmic introduction’ has become increasingly acceptable and popular in pop videos. So all Dre has to do is start his big comeback video with an exciting scene of him having a car crash in ‘2001’, and then simply, er, pretend that he’s been in a coma the whole time.

Doctor Doctor, I’m worried people won’t like me any more

When you’ve been away for a long time it’s important to pitch your comeback right. Most stars opt for the immediate LOOK IT’S ME I’M HERE! approach, but Dre obviously feels his return is so important that it needs special treatment.

So in I Need A Doctor he lets the first three quarters of the song go by before he appears in it. He hasn’t even produced it! Which is terribly ironic when you consider that it’s his production rather than his rapping that people have been itching to hear again. (Alex da Kid’s production is great by the way, he’s produced one or two of my favourite tracks recently. And though he does seem to be using basically the same trick over and over again, it’s a good one that hasn’t gone stale yet, so bring it on.)

Prescription: To build anticipation for the big man’s return, we get two verses of Eminem, chestbeating about how he can’t go on without his mentor anymore, and two choruses of ‘I need a Doctor!’ belted out by Skylar Grey. In the video she’s floating above Dre’s inert body as an angel! Except that despite lending her voice to a couple of big songs already, no-one knows what she looks like yet, so they get in a synchronised swimmer ranked Number 61 in FHM’s “100 Sexiest Women in the World 2005” to ethereally flap about and mime her lines instead.

Basically it’s a picture of how awful the world is without Dre, so that we properly appreciate it when he finally opens his mouth. A Buffy Season 6 sort of a comeback, if you will.

Doctor, Doctor, I’m worried I might be developing homosexual feelings for a close male friend

The passion that Dre and Eminem show for each other in this song is quite moving. “You gon’ either wanna fight me when I get off this fucking mic, or you gon’ hug me,” says Slim vigorously. “Get up Dre, I’m dying, I need you, come back for fuck’s sake!

And Dre, upon waking, shows his love with perhaps the gayest couplet we’ve ever heard from such a macho artist. “All I see is Slim… All I need is him!” he declares extraordinarily, and, shortly afterwards, “Kiss my indecisive ass crack!

Prescription: To put straight any such doubt or speculation, Dre throws in a pointless admonishment to us “Faggots!”  in between those two lines. Well that’s shut me up.

Doctor Doctor, I’ve got a great big hook stuck in my head

Yes, that is a big hook, isn’t it. So potent and massive, in fact, that if we don’t end up hearing it prominently within minutes of the new series of Doctor Who Confidential starting in April, you can send in a stamped self-addressed envelope and I’ll post you my knees and elbows.

Prescription: I’m afraid it’s not possible to remove the hook without damaging the memory centres of your brain. You’re just going to have to listen to it over and over again.