All entries for Friday 07 March 2008

March 07, 2008

The most incongrous thing of the year: Kate Nash and Billy Bragg at the NME Awards

Anna covered the NME awards in some detail but I want to discuss just a specific 3 minutes and 41 seconds of them.

Start by watching this so you know what the hell I’m talking about

What the hell?!

And before all the millitant Kate Nash fans start hitting me (incidently, why did no-one tell me she was pretty and played piano?) , I actually sort of like it, but it’s weird. Here’s a list of what’s odd about that video:

First the entire concept of Billy Bragg at the NME awards is just funny. I wish I was a fly on the wall for the meeting when someone asked Billy if he wanted to do the NME awards.

The start of the video, you hear Nash make some strange noise before making a comment about “Cribs” (it’s actually “The Cribs” Kate, but you’re only dating the drummer and I have Wikipedia and Google) then Bragg makes a comment and she does that laugh you do when your parent says something embarassing that’s meant to be funny.

It’s clear what they wanted to do was a cover of Bragg’s A New England, but realised that would confuse the hell out of the kiddies so decided to do a “mash up” (eugh) of that song and Foundations. Except it’s not, because they don’t fit together at all. So what you get is a verse and chorus of Foundations with Bragg playing a couple of notes before an awkward transition into the A New England duet, in which if you listen carefully, you can sort of hear cheers as Bragg starts singing, like you get when Lulu starts singing on Take That’s Relight My Fire. Except 90% of the audience hasn’t heard of Bragg, so it’s clearly set up. And then it seems like they’ve changed thier mind and put it as low in the mix as possible.

So we get to A New England and by accident or design Nash doesn’t have the words exactly right, and they stick to the original lyric rather than the slightly tweaked ones for a female voice from the Kirsty MacColl version. And the MacColl extra verse is missing entirely (despite Bragg performing it whenever he does the song live), although that’s probably the best for taste reasons. Or that would have made the thing too long for the NME generation.

Then the chorus… and even though I really like Billy Bragg, harmonies (or indeed, singing in tune) were never his strong point! It’s a little painful, but you eventually get used to it.

Then in the second verse Nash seems to be unable to stop herself laughing at singing “It’s wrong to wish on space hardware” and I don’t think she’s laughing at how funny singing it as “space ‘ardware” sounds.

The way it’s filmed is funny too, Bragg is filmed like he’s Liam Gallagher, all arty and cool camera angles to make it seem like he’s ‘hip’. The lighting and backdrop add to this, it’s presented like he’s one of those deathly serious indie band front men when he’s mostly just laughing and joking about.

And at the end Bragg doesn’t point out that he’s from Barking, Essex.

As I say, I do sort of like it, but it just feels like it really shouldn’t exist…


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