Thursday, 19 September 2013

Sandi Thom

Whatever happened to Sandi Thom?

In 2006 she was one of the most hyped and talked about artists, largely due to a clever marketing campaign of "live" webcasts performed in her basement bedsit in London. This was largely organised by friends of her manager. Anyway, the short web series had the desired effect, and she was signed to major label RCA/Sony/BMG. Her first single (and lone hit) "I Wish I was a Punk Rocker (With Flowers In My Hair)" was a reissue of her first (and only) independently issued single, and it went stratospheric. Her second album flopped due to her clashing with her label over her desire NOT to deliver more bubblegum pop music. After the record bombed, she was dropped.

The song itself came under fire at the time for a number of reasons - being mere "content" and not "art" (according to Charlie Brooker), and for being soulless; a product of marketing men with too much money. In the view of this writer, it has almost as many merits as it does problems.

For a start, what the hell do hippies and punks have in common? The punks hated the hippies and would have been more than happy to smash the crap out of the nearest spaced-out flower wearing moron. (fast forward the clip below to 6:03 to see what I mean...)



It's also a lyric of revisionist, backward looking melodrama, lamenting a period in time she did not live in. It's almost as if she was regurgitating the ideas of an older generation, where "things were better in my day", with the fervor as though she believes it.

It has a large failure to embrace the present and the future, for its bright possibilities. Conversely, that's probably why it resonated with a lot of people.

But I just can't get past the punk/hippy collision. The two don't mix.

However, the merits are amazing. How many songs can you think of in recent years that are made up just of plaintive vocals and percussion instruments? No synths, no guitars, no programmed beats, nothing. Just stomps, shaken percussion and human voices. The polyrhythms in the tune are simple but man, do they groove. It's appeal was instant and profound, and it still is.

However it is easy to get sick of it. If you could equivilate music in the same way as food, then this track has the nutritional value of a box of Smarties. Having said that, a little junk food now and then can be a good thing!

2 comments:

  1. Sandi Thom failed because she just isn't interesting enough.
    She dumped the folk angle only to pick up the blues angle when she hitched her wagon to Joe Bonamassa. Every subsequent Album has been the one "she always meant to make" according to her and every album has charted lower than the previous one.
    Sandi Thom hasnt had an album/single in the top 100 for over 5 years
    despite numerous releases and her grandious boasts of "Platinum selling artist" and jetset lifestyle blogs on her website only serve to highlight her desperation for fame above content.

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  2. Interesting assessment, Ralph. Thanks for contributing!

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