Thursday, March 29, 2012

Great Songs of the '90s: Poster Children's He's My Star

A largely overlooked gem from 1995. I was reminded of this wonderful song again today by hearing Superstar (excerpt only) from Madonna's latest album, MDNA. There's a lot to be said in pop music for keeping things melodically and rhythmically simple (at least some of the time), which then allows for focus on timbre and on lyrics. That's the game Poster Children plays to perfection here. The problem with everything I've heard so far from MDNA, including Superstar, is that nothing fills up all the space that's left for timbral and lyrical explorations. M. doesn't seem to have any stories or personality she cares to share with us this time, and there's a general lack of effort on the timbre side of things. One wants to say something like 'M. can get anyone from Nile Rodgers on down to play on her records, so how has it come to this?' Anyhow, Poster Children's shoulda-been-a-hit shows everyone how it's done.

Update: Fave MDNA tracks after 1.5 full listens are Superstar, I'm a Sinner, Love Spent, and two bonus tracks, I Fucked Up and B-day Song. Still, none of these is an outright winner in my view. The best track on MDNA wouldn't make it into the top half of the tracks on Robyn's Body Talk (2010), which should be a little depressing to her M-ness. (Robyn's key collaborator Klas Ahlund co-authored Some Girls on MDNA, and that is indeed one of the better tracks. But all I could think of when listening to it was that Robyn would be a better fit for its attitude-heavy, robot-schtick.)

Update 2: What MDNA really needs is something like a cover of a great but relatively obscure Abba song to lift it. I'd recommend this forgotten gem from Voulez-vous for the purpose:

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