Sunday 18 February 2018

Who'll remember Lady Gaga's songs when she's 64 . . .?

The Beatles may have revolutionised popular music, inventing the modern rock band and consigning Sinatra and Tin Pan Alley to the "oldies" section from the moment they touched down in New York in February 1964.

But true fans of the Fab Four know they always had a great love for what came before them, even from their earliest days in Hamburg, when frenetic covers of rock 'n' roll hits were played alongside oldies their parents back in Liverpool would have loved.

Their first audition for Decca records, on January 1, 1962, included their take on the 1940s Latin-jazz standard Beseme Mucho -- a Lennon-McCartney favourite that also popped up on their first EMI recording session and on the Get Back sessions in 1969.

So it shouldn't be a surprise that Paul McCartney's latest album, the cheekily titled Kisses On The Bottom, is an extended love letter to some of the great songwriters of the jazz-age and a nostalgic nod to the songs that the pre-teen McCartney would have heard his father play on the family piano.

Standards like Fats Waller's I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter (the lyric "A lotta kisses on the bottom, I'll be glad I got 'em", gives McCartney his album title) and Bye Bye Blackbird are given a lot of love in the company of friends like Eric Clapton and Stevie Wonder.

But while the album has been well-received by critics, it does raise an intriguing question: which modern pop classics, if any, could be given this kind of treatment by the heirs of Lennon and McCartney 40 or 50 years from now?

Nostalgia merchants like Michael Buble are already raiding the vaults to great commercial success; while Adele and the late Amy Winehouse found success by going retro.

McCartney, who turns 70 in June, has a back-catalogue brimming with classics that have inspired generations of artists from the 1960s to the present day. But what songs from the past two decades will be remembered with the same sort of excitement and fondness?

In an era when throwaway, tweenie-orientated pop dominates the charts, candidates for 'classic' status are thin on the ground. The list might be short, but such a list could include:

Can't Get You Out of My Head

Kylie Minogue

Minogue's mesmeric hit has already been given the classic treatment by Coldplay (they played it at Glastonbury in 2005) and Ireland's own Jack L (who did a smouldering version for The Ray D'Arcy Show).

The 2001 track was actually co-written by British songwriter Rob Davis, former guitarist with 1970s glam-rock band Mud. It may have a very modern sound but Can't Get You Out of My Head is an old-fashioned pop song with a great hook and a killer, nursery-rhyme chorus.

Likely Future Revivalist -- An elderly Chris Martin from Coldplay when he records a Noughties covers album in the bio-degradable studio he has built on his organic farm in Leitrim two decades from now.

The Lazy Song

Bruno Mars

This paean to staying in bed from Hawaiian singer-songwriter Bruno Mars has a light reggae feel that recalls the easy-listening, Caribbean-lite sounds of the early 1960s. It has a deceptively basic chord structure and a beach-bum vibe that ensures it will remain a summer classic for years to come.

Likely Future Revivalist -- A chilled out Damien Dempsey, when the fiery Dubliner reaches his mid-60s.

I Kissed A Girl

Katy Perry

This ode to same-sex smooching is a classically constructed pop song, in the 1970s disco-soul stomper tradition.

Penned by a very successful team of songwriters, it has already been covered by girl-group The Saturdays. It also featured in the pilot episode of the hit-US high-school musical themed show Glee and is the kind of song that is crying out for a slow jazz-piano and torch-singer treatment.

Likely Future Revivalist -- Adele. Or Crystal Swing.

For the First Time

The Script

The Irish stadium-botherers know how to pen a classic-sounding, camera-phone-in-the-air anthem. And to a cynical ear, For the First Time sounds like it was written with the finals of The X Factor in mind.

Pulsating pianos, a soaring chorus and emotive lyrics make it sound strangely like a song you are actually hearing for the 100th time, even if you have only just downloaded the album.

There is no arguing against the success of the formula and The Script are likely to be belting out this song to grateful arena audiences for many years to come.

Likely Future Revivalists -- Westlife, when they get the high-stools out of storage for that 30th Anniversary comeback tour.

Someone Like You


The fact that she is never off the radio and so mind-bogglingly successful (on both sides of the Atlantic) may have put some people off Adele. But if any song of recent years deserves to attain classic status, it is probably this soulful hymn to lost love.

Many would argue that mainstream music has been bereft of original talent for quite some time now.

But Adele goes some way to disproving this theory, showing that a mass audience will still sometimes turn on to a unique sound and talent.

Likely Future Revivalist -- Adele herself, she should be with us for some time to come.

The Flood Take That

One of the more unlikely pop stories of the Noughties was the successful return of Take That.

Last year's all-conquering Progress Tour, which included two monumental nights in Dublin's Croke Park, cemented their status as perhaps the biggest pop act in Europe.

The Flood was one of the highlights on the Progress Live Tour, a soaring stadium anthem with a great chorus that should stand the test of time.

Likely Future Revivalists -- Take That, as they are unlikely to break-up again -- even if Robbie goes off the reservation from time to time.

Poker Face

Lady Gaga

Ms Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, better known as Lady Gaga, has often been billed as a "classically trained pianist" -- but the jury is still out on exactly how much training she actually received during her time at a performing arts college in New York.

However, there's no doubt that she has a great talent for writing pop classics -- as Poker Face proves.

Gaga is a student of the art of song-writing; she uses the classic formula, knows her way around a keyboard and always has a killer hook for those big, dramatic choruses.

And few would argue against Poker Face being billed as one of the outstanding pop tracks of our era, one that should stand the test of time and lend itself to covers and revivals in the decades to come.

As with the best Madonna songs from the 1980s, Poker Face takes a standard pop structure and updates it to make the track sound totally of the moment.

Likely Future Revivalist -- A 90-year-old Cher.

See Paul McCartney interview Rock, page 16

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