Thanks to a combination of sunshine, a fantastic housemate who bought me cupcakes and general life enthusiasm, today will be one of the first Valentine’s Day posts on our blog that is actually the opposite of morbid. I question the mathematical equation that results in me having to be the one to write this day up every single year while ol’ D bro – who, it should be pointed out, is actually in love – gets off scot-free. In any case, I am a remarkably happy chap today and so we’re going to have a collective Internet celebration of all things love with possibly the most awkwardly platonic, universally awesome song to feature that word ‘love’ in the chorus. I am particularly proud of the fact that this is an Australian song, and despite it coming out in 1992, at which point I don’t think either of us could even operate a Cd player yet, we have it as a Maxi Single. Just like Notorious B.I.G’s ‘Mo Money Mo Problems’, it’s a relic that still exists in our family home. Evidently our parents had unparalleled taste in music assuming that music wasn’t being sung by white people.
Rockmelons (or cantaloupes for our American brethren) were white, of course. If there’s anything the below video (which I’ve chosen instead of simply a stream of the song for full effect) proves it’s that Australia as a country was never more awkward and gangly and pasty than we were twenty years ago. Which is why the dorky musicians who make up this band made a very excellent choice in recruiting the daughter of one of this country’s most famous vocalists, Deni Hines. If Rockmelons were jerky, geeky and trying a tad too hard to be reggae in the same vein as The Police or UB40, Hines was the oozing, soothing salve that made everything OK. Hearing her vocals completely control this song, one can’t help but think it was written specifically for her. It’s so warm and lovely, both in tone and in execution, that not cracking a smile almost impossible. It’s just so naff, the kind of attack that is usually synonymous with words like ‘groovy’ and ‘hip’ but is also completely legitimate because it comes from a place of supreme talent. For those who aren’t of our nation, The Hines family are essentially our alternative first family. Both Deni and her mother, Marcia, are formidable live performers, and the latter made her name for the new generation as the sole female host of our first Idol series. They have the kind of limitless power in their voices that cannot be faked. The high notes that Deni is hitting in the lead-up to the chorus and the middle are the kind of thing she probably does for warm-ups.
While I may dig on Rockmelons specific daginess (‘daggy’ itself is an Australian trope, but hey, we won Grammy Record Of The Year this week so let’s indulge in our nationalism a little), the fact is they knew how to write a hit. Many a fantastic group have only been elevated to chart-topping status by finding that secret ingredient in a vocalist, but the foundation has to be there. And you know what Rockmelons had? V-drums. Freaking stacks of them. They accentuate nearly every note, eschewing the need for a bass guitar at all, which, naturally, they have in there anyway. There are so many pitched sound sources boosting the rhythm along, even with the languorous half-time ‘That Word’ is set to, that it simply has to work. They’ve also gone right ahead and lifted all the great Jamaican tropes; alto saxes, really terrible synth lead lines, hand claps, descending bass lines, timbale drops and brass hits that are actually V-drums, too. In fact, if you took all the people out of Jamaica and replaced them with robots and the only living human left was Deni Hines, you’d be pretty close to this song. Of course, a track that’s about universal human happiness could not have been written by automatons, and love is a very strong message to send even when you’re trying to hit pay dirt commercially in the same year Nevermind has come out. “Listen baby, don’t you know/All around the world there’s eighty ways to hate,” sings Hines, “Instead I got something here inside/That’s gonna make a change…” So yeah, sometimes love is all around us, and all it takes is a ridiculous song to remind us of that fact.
Rockmelons ft. Deni Hines – ‘That Word (L.O.V.E.)’