Musically typecast

It’s a resided fact in the music business that a band or artist will become most well known for one single, especially if they are not a pop band.

We’ll play some band association, shall we?
I give the name of a band, you name the first song that comes to mind…
(use your cursor to select the hilighted line to see answer)

Joy Division
Love will tear us apart

Nirvana
Smells like teen spirit

Franz Ferdinand
Take me out

Spandau Ballet
Gold

ABC
The look of love

That exercise should have gone some way to proving my point. I’m sure we got at least some of the same answers.
Note; the above doesn’t apply if you are a big fan of the band. I’ll come to this later.

My cinicism was roused when compiling a CD this morning from tracks by The Smiths, I wanted to make a disc that contained songs that weren’t already on the ‘Best of…’ albums, of which there are a 4 that were compiled post-split, totalling 69 tracks in all.

Best…I
Best…II
Singles
The very best of The Smiths

What struck me when trying to pick tracks was how many songs kept cropping up, time and time again, songs which I don’t necessarily class as their best and how many great pieces were omitted from every one of the compliations.

For a song that isn’t actually representative of the style of The Smiths, How Soon is Now manages to end up on 3 of the 4 discs, as does This Charming Man, the latter for more obvious reasons, being their first big single.
The gloomy Heaven knows I’m miserable now and There is a light that never goes out are also on all of them, again, tracks that most people will be able to name if you ask them to give you a the name of a Smiths song.

Why oh why are we not seeing songs that made the original albums as great as they were on these releases which are supposed to be pushing the band and representing their ‘best‘ songs? I refer to gems like A Rush and a Push and The Land is Ours, You’ve got Everything Now, Cemetry Gates and I Want the One I Can’t Have.

In 1987 Morrissey pleaded with his fanbase not to grow out of his whimsical lyrics through the song Rubber Ring, but, through no fault of his own, new fans are being force-fed the same old (veggie) tripe with every compilation release. We get it, How Soon is Now was huge, now, leave it.

My fantasy Smiths compilation album;

A Rush And A Push And The Land Is Ours
Barbarism Begins At Home
Handsome Devil
I Won’t Share You
Is It Really So Strange
I Want The One I Can’t Have
Nowhere Fast
Rusholme Ruffians
Vicar In A Tutu
What She Said
You Just Haven’t Earned It Yet Baby
You’ve Got Everything Now
Accept Yourself
Cemetry Gates
Frankly, Mr. Shankly
London
Paint A Vulgar Picture

7 Comments

  1. In some ways, writing a song that ‘defines’ you is a guaranteed way of killing your success.

    The Undertones and The Foundations are great examples of bands who got huge on one song, but spent the rest of their career defined as ‘the Teenage Kicks band’ or ‘the Build Me Up Buttercup guys’.

    I blame the radio.

  2. I don’t like it when people just listen to bands’ ‘one song that defines them’ and don’t bother to listen to any of their other songs. Just because How Soon is Now was the theme song of Charmed doesn’t mean it has to be known as ‘that song’. I got the same Nirvana one as you, but not Franz Ferdinand. I thought of Evil and a Heathen, probably because I went out and bothered to buy the album and it was my favourite song. Linked you by the way!

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