Saturday, 27 February 2010

Hurts and Crop Tops

You know how girls are wearing crop tops again? Well, they’re still as impractical as ever. It's not that the bastard child of a t-shirt and a sports bra has changed. We’re the ones who’ve changed. Ten years ago, our only logical explanations for wearing a crop top would be either a sudden growth spurt or the new professional name of ‘Krystal’. But now, we gaze upon crop tops as throwbacks to erstwhile glamour, the kind of trashy early 90’s look that we spent a whole decade running away from, just to return to its acrylic-taloned clutch.

In a similar way, I think we could all do with changing our attitudes to Freestyle. It’s just as trashy as crop tops are, but it’s been left behind in the cold. With only its crop top to keep it warm. I’m hoping that Hurts will bring it back. Most hype about the band Hurts discusses how they’re arty and aloof and European. But not many people have got to the heart (yes, there is one) of what makes them great.

The two tracks floating around the ether are both sombre pop-opera affairs laden with hyperbole over a synth backing. The differences are very telling. They’re either going to stick with the Disco Lento (literals, ‘slow disco’) of ‘Blood, Tears, Gold’ and be shuffled into the neverending pile of sing-a-long-a-synthpop, right next to OneRepublic and Timbaland. Or they’re going to aid a Freestyle resurgence with more songs like ‘Wonderful Life’.

This isn’t proper Freestyle, but it contains elements: syncopated beats, slap bass, subtle falsettos and a naughty touch of brass. This makes it pretty sassy, and something that people who aren’t white might enjoy.

Freestyle found its feet as part of Latin pop in the late 1970s. It soon developed as an alternative to Disco, bringing listeners back to dance music during a lull in the early 80s. Freestyle lyrics are all about people upset about a lost love, or striving for more. It’s all quite tragic. It’s called Freestyle not only because of the dancing, but because beats were so syncopated that DJs had to switch their mixing styles FREE-quently. Or something like that.

If crop-tops have made their way back into fashionistas’ hearts and onto cold-stomached shoulders, then why can’t Freestyle wriggle back towards our ears? People want to look like 1980s Miami Latinas, adorning themselves with pale denim shorts and trashy piercings, snarling around East London with curly tendrils… maybe they should have a worthy soundtrack. What do you think of Freestyle?

Hurts – Wonderful Life (Arthur Baker Remix)

Santa Esmerelda – Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood

Nayobe- Please Don’t Go

Shannon – Let The Music Play

C Bank with Jenny Burton – One More Shot

Planet Patrol – Play at Your Own Risk


This piece was originally written for the Chew The Fat! blog.

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