Sunday, 27 September 2009

The Great Debate | La Roux

Little Miss B, 27th September 2009...

Leisurely flicking through The Guide on Saturday morning, I was disappointed to stumble across yet another damning review of Elly Jackson. Is it just me, or does this girl receive an unnecessary level of criticism?

Firstly, it is worth pointing out that La Roux are a duo. For those who are linguistically challenged, this means there are TWO people in this band. I hate hate hate that only one of them gets vilified, and for the rubbishest of reasons.

Journo Alex Macpherson opines "Her staggering ignorance is rivaled only by her lack of talent: the woman cannot sing".

Much of the debate surrounding the lovely little ginge concerns her ability (or lack thereof) to actually sing. Not to mention the flack she receives all over YouTube for being 'just so ugly'. Ummm, has anyone taken a look at Thom York recently? When did having a good face have anything to do with musical prowess? Now, I'm certainly not saying La Roux are up there with Radiohead, but crikey moses - cut the girl some slack.

(Editors note - the above statement has nothing to do with Little Miss B’s enormously biased, ardent admiration of all people ginge).

I will concede that often, in interviews, Elly Jackson can come across as.... a tad spoiled. Brattish even. A bit of a misery. But, so what? There are a million artists out there, who let's be honest, are complete schmo's in interviews. I could mention Chris Martin for example. Arrogant, ungracious twat. Jeez louise, look at Lily Allen. The crap that has fallen out of her mouth over the years… But does this really have anything to do with someone’s ability to make music?

So, nonsense arguments aside - let's look at the real issue here. Can Elly sing? Well, yes. Yes she can. She often sings in falsetto, which is not to everyone's taste, but yes she can sing. She sings 80's inspired synth pop, which is not to everyone's taste, but yes she can sing. She sometimes falters on a few notes when singing live (who doesn't?), but yes, she can sing.

As a vocalist myself, I get a tiny bit irked at the notion that if you do not sing like Mariah Carey, Beyonce or any of the banal chart nonsense pervading the airwaves these days, that you cannot sing. That if your voice is a little different, you cannot sing. Ok, Elly Jackson does not have the strongest voice in the world. Fair enough. Does she claim to? Nope, don't think she does. The criticism she receives for her ability to perform live is harsh at best. I can show you many, MANY examples of brilliant artists such as Juliette Lewis, Beth Ditto and Karen O sounding abominably bad live. Flat as a pancake.

Take a good look at the seemingly endless list of indie bands we have been subjected to over the past few years - how many of their front men can actually sing? On another note, let's look at Pele from The Hives. The man cannot sing. He is, however, a fantastic and charismatic front man. His strutting and hysterical vocals are pitch perfect for the kind of band he fronts. Elly sings for a very stylised, 80's inspired, synth pop duo. Does her pared down, slightly spoilt and melancholic demeanour suit this? Absolutely. Does her voice suit the songs? Without a doubt. Are the songs La Roux are making any good? As synthy pop goes, damn straight they are.

So let’s move on eh?

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