There are so many emotional, weepy songs that you could pick to mark the day cupid shot an arrow into your butt by accident, but I don’t particularly see the point of it. Real love, at least in my eyes, has always been about the ability to hang around someone else romantically and completely let your guard down without fear of reprisal. You can take any girl/boy off the street and make her a mixtape of yesterday’s Grammy scoopers like Adele and Bon Iver (through probably not Foo Fighters or Skrillex) and sure, they’ll appreciate the emotional resonance of the wailing and the strumming, but that’s not really love. Not be a long shot. Real love is dancing like a complete and utter moron to a song which is still so out of style that there’s no way it could even be considered ironic thirty years after it was made. That’s why, I’m going down the Freddie Mercury ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ route of romance this February 14th, because I want to separate my red-hots from my wilting violets. And if you can find me a more effective barometer than The Mac Band’s synth-crazy funk hit from 1988, then chances are we’re already dating.
Coincidentally I was going to post on a bittersweet love jam today, Jessie Ware and Sampha’s ‘Valentine’, which would have probably been better for our Google pagerankings but really didn’t demonstrate the kind of mood I was going for. While searching for the song (which I heard Sampha drop into his own DJ set and then sing over last week) I came across the pair’s exceptional ‘Valentine Mix’ which they made for The FADER last year. They promoted a heap of great songs, but one of them was this little ditty, which Young Turks crew seem to have a special fondness for as they also played it in full on radio last week and it featured as the opener to another mixtape by SBTRKT foil Roses Gabor. When you hear a song this stuffed full of cheese three times in a week and find yourself singing it in the men’s bathroom, you know that something serious is happening (no, not my mental health, that one was already up for debate). It helps that The Mac Band’s seeming sole claim to fame – and after Sir Mix-A-Lot on Sunday you’d think I was starting to get obsessed with one-hit wonders – sounds like a Prince offshoot. Its shimmering keyboard lines, which have the aural effect of some guy leaning his elbow in the area around the notes of the chord, are totally ‘1999’ in their execution and what about that totally artificial bass mirroring every kickdrum? Appallingly fantastic. It’s enough to make an asexual amorous.
No idea who the McCampbell Brothers (featured vocalists) are, and for the point of the exercise, I’m not particularly sure that I care. They do a mighty fine job of holding down some well-polished harmonies and running their smooth voices across a particularly enchanting melody, but short of that, it’s about how they fit into the groove-tastic love pocket that is my primary concern. More useful trivia is that it was produced by LA Reid and Babyface, the latter of whom would basically own the whole of R&B and pop in the ’90s when he worked with TLC, Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson and what seems like the rest of female America. There are certainly shades of the new industrial jack swing sound that Jackson made popular with ‘Rhythm Nation’ only a year later, so perhaps Babyface was testing the waters with this crew. In any case, his success (a Number 1 Billboard single, thankyou very much) spawned the most unlikely Valentine’s Day hit of all time that just so happens to be an all-time great. No more weeping ballads for me, no sir. I’m going to throw shapes like it’s 1988 and nobody’s discovered the Internet yet.
The Mac Band – ‘Roses Are Red’