This single landed on my desk at the Big Issue sometime during early June 1999. I left it unplayed for several weeks before digging it out one idle afternoon the following month. And guess what? It sounded just perfect for that specific time on that specific day, a lazy dog day afternoon during the last week of July.
Pocket Size were vocalist Liz Owers and multi instrumentalist Darren Pearson. They were one of those groups you don’t really get these days – signed by a major without having built up any sort of following or profile in the hope that, well, something would happen. Walking was released and nothing happened. It’s a fine tune, kinda country-ish, languid but playful and cool; a record that doesn’t draw attention to itself. Unfortunately in a summer when the charts were dominated by post-Spice Girls kiddy pop, latin-influenced dance music and pop trance its coy charms didn’t stand a chance. I’m not even sure if the accompanying album 100% Human was even ever released. If it was, we certainly didn’t get a copy of it.
So…last year I wrote a post bemoaning the disspearance of the British summer. As you can have expected I have been pinching myself during this last week or so. It’s utterly flabbergasting. We have not had an extended period of hot dry weather like this in the UK since 2003 and I am revelling in it, lapping it up, knowing that it could well be another ten years before we enjoy anything like this once again.
And it’s sent me back to records like this, the sort that only make sense in the sunshine. Le Kid are a Swedish five piece who have had some success in their home country and Germany, but haven’t as yet had the big push in the UK. Mercy Mercy was first released back in 2009 and then again the following year, both times kinda halfheartedly, with zero promotion and no airplay that I can recall. I’m stumped as to why this hasn’t already been a massive summer hit. Listen to it three times and you’ll never be able to shake the chorus from your head. It’s that good.
And yes it does sound a bit like Girls Aloud’s ‘Can’t Speak French’. But it’s better, miles better.
I DJed at the Plough in Bristol last week and the last record of my set was the one new-ish single that I had bought especially for the occasion – Daft Punk’s recent Number One. Cue pandaemonium – people dancing on stage, mouthing the lyrics and playing air guitar. I kind of half expected that reaction, but it was still pleasant all the same. In my experience it’s very very very very rare to find a ‘new’ record that causes those kind of scenes, but as DJs all over the world have found out in the last couple of months Get Lucky is something close to a universal panacea. It’s on course to become the biggest selling single of the year, quite probably this decade. And it deserves every accolade that comes its way. It’s my favourite single of the last 5 years.
How exceptional? Well, I think the last time a new record was in the terminology that I use, a ‘banker’ (ie the sort of record you know will fill the dancefloor not matter the occasion, whatever the crowd) was Madonna’s Hung Up. And that was, what…2005? Before that? Probably Crazy In Love and Hey Ya! And they were both released in 2003.
Nothing much released in the last ten years has had anything like that kind of power. Lady Gaga? Don’t make me laugh. The only halfway useable track of hers is Born This Way and even that is tainted by the fact it aches to be a gay lib anthem so much that you just can’t love it. No funk, no groove, and it (and she generally) just tries way too hard.
Get Lucky though, like all truly great singles, sounds effortless, even though you just know that it was the product of a huge buckets of sweat by all concerned. It’s one of those rare examples of a collaboration between top line artists that truly is greater than the sum of its constituent parts. Pharrell supplies a typically cool feline vocal, Mssrs Bangalter and Homen-Christo add their trademark touches and then there is the sweet joy of hearing Nile Rodgers play guitar like that for the first time in years.
But all four know that they are there to service a great song, full of hope and self belief. “We’ve come too far to give up who we are.” Who can’t apply those words to their lives? I know I have. Released in late April (the most hopeful time of the year in the northern hemisphere) it’s obviously stirred millions of hearts. When we listen it’s impossible not to feel that whatever your situation has been over the last few years, even in a world where we’re now five years into an economic downturn, a world where (for a while at least) pop was taken over by Auto Tuned-dullards, where we all stand on the brink of ecological catastrophe, there is still time left for all of us – personally and collectively – to seize triumph from the jaws of disaster if only we can hang in there long enough and somehow, somehow get lucky.
I think it will be a long time before I get bored of it.