Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Music: Fake girl rock

A year ago, in the wake of Ashley Simpson's mythic SNL/Orange Bowl
streak plus the kelly Osbourne-rehab thing, I absolutely thought the
fake-girl-rock movement was dead, the least mourned passing in recent
musical history. Not that it had actually started - there was that
Skater Boy song by April Lavigne ("can i make it anymore obvious") and
the April Lavigne song that Wierd Al blew up ("Pi-zza! Par-ty at your
house...") and that was about it. it looked DOA, and if it wasn't,
Ashely finished it off in Miami, right?

Well, to my astonishment, it hung around. And now, fresh of my
Best-Summer-Vacation-Ever! trip to Australia, I can tap a winner.

The Veronicas. As it happens, they are twin sisters who, we can
assume, grew up riding the ferries in Brisbane. And, I guess, rocking!

I first encountered The Veronicas a few months ago, when they were on
the pre-movie audiotrack that our local theatre plays. As you eat your
popcorn, they subject you to never-heard-of-'em bands, and then a
cheesy announcer comes on and tells you who it was and that they are
The Next Big Thing. For every song.
Still, they played "Everything I'm Not" and it was actually pretty
Turns out, the Aussies agree. You can't turn on a radio for 3 minutes
there without hearing Everything I'm Not, and you can't open a paper
without reading about Veronica sightings (neither of the sisters who
make up The Veronicas, by the way, are named Veronica).

They have a few other songs - "4Ever" is a beach-summer theme waiting
to happen - which are about the same (all from the album, "The Secret
Life Of The Veronicas"). high school break up lyrics, voices
well-honed at cheerleading practice and enough musical ability to
change cords with voice and guitar without making you wince. but since
there's two of them, they sing a slightly interesting kind of harmony,
and it sounds like they actually occasionally practice. its simple,
but what else do you want these days?
I think we're all a little tired of The Killers and the slump that rap
is in right now is getting worse by the day. With the exception of
Nelly's excellent Grillz, the best rap song of the winter was the Miami
Football rap, "7th Floor Crew", which peaks in the 2nd of it's 7
minutes ("whachu name?" "big playa" whachu do?" "Hold my nuts" "How you
do it?" "With both hands a grin").
Which leaves us temporarily with fake-girl-rock. The contenders
available include:
- Kelly Clarkson's desperate last-breath re-branding to rocker with
"since you been gone," memorable for the karoke treatment it got from
the Laguna Beach girls in the back of a Limo on prom night - who, in
their collective tuneless, drunk teenage squeal, did not appreciably
damage the song.(UPDATE: predictably, it won the Grammy for Song Of
The Year - seriously, what's funnier than the Grammys?)
- the newly re-bustified Lindsay Lohan who I'm PRAYING goes Jennifer
Love Hewitt and adds her own contribution to the canon of
hubris-inspired covers of "Me and Bobby McGee." It's going to take
something special to pass up Jessica Simpson's crime against "These
Boots Are Made For Walking," but i think Lindsay has it in her.
- and continuing her flight from credibility, Orange Bowl-Ashley with
the fabulously terrible "l.o.v.e." Just as bad as you imagine it is.

So that's not exactly a list to make PJ Harvey or Ani Difranco fans
re-wallpaper thier rooms. Or even Nellie Mckay fans. But it's what's
out there.

So into this shallowest of musical shallow ends wades The
Veronicas. Are they a modern channelling of the Go-Gos? Probably not.
But they seem to be trying to hold the songs up. After listening once
or twice, it's possible to imagine they actually grew up wanting to be
in a band, not the Mouseketeers.

MAJOR CAVEAT: None of the above includes The Faders. The Faders,
behind thier iTunes-ad song, "No Sleep Tonight" could mop the floor
with anybody here - but they also qualify as a 'real band' and not a
Fake Girl Rock band.

In any case, there's not much else now to check out, so it might be
worth a listen before they inevitable climb back on a ferry and head
back to Brisbane. And have I told you yet- I went to Australia!

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