November 26, 2009

Quote of the Week: Little Boots

Suggestions no longer taken, thank you.

On November 11 4Music posted an interview with Victoria Hesketh, aka Little Boots.

The final question:
Your song Stuck On Repeat has a strong cult following amongst your fans. Do you plan to release it on CD at some point?

Her response:

Yeah, basically the head of Radio 1 said an eight-minute edit of Stuck on Repeat would be perfect, they'd love to put it on the A List. So to all those people who sit on pop forums who don't know anything about pop campaigns and sit dissecting other people's pop campaigns, yeah, I think an eight and a half minute edit would be played on radio and it will be a No. 1... You can go and buy a vinyl. That song is two years old now, it's not relevant to release it now. It's done its job. I think that there are a lot of people who are quite deluded about what hit songs can be.

The sarcasm is dripping off that quote, which is an obvious bullshit answer. There are plenty of fans who thought Stuck On Repeat was a hit single, me included, partly because it's similar to Donna Summer's classic I Feel Love. Play it. NO ONE suggested that an 8 minute version go to radio. That is idiotic. Peter Robinson, the respected pop music journalist, said he did not think Stuck On Repeat should be a single and clearly the "powers that be" felt the same way.

While it is true that it's pointless to second guess mistakes made with Little Boots' promotion - the worst being the lack of identity and her crap, almost offensive debut video (which is hard to find on youtube)- artists should be lucky in 2009 to have fans arguing over minutiae of their career on forums like PopJustice. That's part of being a pop star.

Victoria's album (
Hands) is a very good piece of electropop, no doubt about it. She, however, is like one of those evil blond kids in Children of the Corn. Her sense of entitlement has revealed itself in interviews she's given where she seems wanly uninterested (see how she responded to Chartrigger), a story from another musician about her rudeness toward other artists (via not following rules at a showcase), etc. The fact that she has no strong persona in pop makes this worse because then the story, fair or not, becomes what this post is about: She ain't nice.

Ultimately you are what you put out verbally as well as musically, so if you put out anger/ resentment/ tension, it will be fairly associated with you. We all know that the world's most famous living pop star (Madonna) is notoriously cranky and unkind, but we love her anyway for 25 years of brilliant music and occasional humanity along the way.

To be able to earn a living wage from music in 2009 is a privilege. Ask anyone trying to get the exposure Victoria Hesketh was handed on a plate. There are musicians more talented, smarter and wiser than her who've not found record deals. The same success-too-soon thing happened to Adele and she survived it with grace.
How any artist manages their careeer/talent is their own decision. Fans did not make Victoria's music - that is her achievement - but, at the end of the day, supporters matter. How she treats other people, including interviewers at 4Music, matters as much as how fans treat her.

She plans to launch Hands in the US next year. Should be interesting.


Paul said...

Oh dear she does so often come across badly. I wonder what she has to say about her latest single peaking at something like 84?!

johnog said...

Think you're being pretty harsh xo.

For instance take the Chartrigger thing which is a pretty reasonable interview all in. Robbie is hardly the most delicate flower in the world and will slag artists off just for the hell of it like a sub-PerezHilton on his blog so hardly needs your reassuring arm here. The only vague disinterest she shows in the interview is the question about Dead Disco, where for all we know deep personal issues may still be to the forefront.

I think she's suffering badly from the pressure of expectation myself (in reference to the latest interview re: Stuck On Repeat) and isn't the most confident of personalities at the moment. Witness her reaction to the comments about her weight on various blogs and forums.

She should learn quickly that the last thing an artist should do is read general forums like PJ and the multitude of blogs out there. It'll just tear you apart eventually as the self-appointed experts criticise every decision you or your record company ever makes.

John said...

I have been Team Boots for a while, but I have had a nagging concern in the background that she really doesn't have a fleshed-out identity, which would potentially help her break out from the middle of the pack. Maybe this is just a manifestation of her frustration for not following through on being the Next Best Thing, and possibly being eclipsed by Team Elly.

xolondon said...

@johnog - I wrote this post earlier this week and considered NOT putting it up. But then, what the hell. I don't feel that I usually too harsh on anyone. I'm pretty reasonable, so when I find an artist disagreeable - esp when I like their music - it grates on me.

It goes without saying that it's hard to be in the public eye and it's a merciless business right now. That said, I stand by my feeling that she needs to fly right.

I don't have expectations that she or Elly will have long careers, but who knows? It WOULD BE NICE if both artists were allowed to develop with a few albums and less pressure out of the gate.

j said...

No, I'd have to say that I always find your assertions of people similar to my own. She just comes across as a vile bitch and that's probably because she was a media darling for a hot minute (I feel the media has a shorter attention span than does the actual music listening/buying public), and to someone else's point - has no clear identity or direction.

I enjoy her music, but as an overall package of entertainment, no - she falls short. She's dull and uninteresting and at times very petulant.

It's so hard anymore to tell who will live long enough to have a career vs who has a hit single for umpteen weeks on the charts.

countpopula said...

I think you just brought up a good point that Elly La Roux hasn't really come across very well in interviews either. This tends to be a pitfall of many debut artists. They are not usually very well spoken, and don't always know the best way to navigate questions (look at Adam Lambert's recent answers to his latest infraction). Her videos could also be better, but I think much of that is up to what the label is willing to shell out for--not much these days.

There are lessons to be learned, but I find it difficult being too hard on Victoria at this point. I mean, has she been specifically mean? She seems just a little fuzzy when it comes to who she really is or what she is trying to achieve. That doesn't make me like her music any less. She is also probably right about many posters on pop forums--present company excluded of course. It always amazes me when a song gets slagged off and goes on to become a huge hit. Criticism doesn't always equal sales figures.

If I had the restriction of personally liking everybody who's music I listened to, I'd probably like less than half of what I do. So I'll give the girl a break--she is a 25-year old pop singer, not a politician, and she's gonna say some questionable things.

xolondon said...

CountP, re: the question about whether LB is actually mean. Listen to Adem With An E's MP3 interview with Antigone for a story about her.

LaRoux's videos are far superior to LB's. Not sure of budgets, but they are creative. I do love LB's latest single cover for Earthquakes.

I wonder if LB's duet with Phil Oakey could do well in the UK? People like Phil!

PS Thanks for commenting J!

Phil said...

I've avoided saying anything about Little Boots. I don't rate ANY of her output but because I admire the sheer tenacity and effort she's put into the whole LB thing I've always felt she deserves a go at climbing Pop Mountain without being sniped at.

But the snooty attitude is just stupid. If she had an amazing musical catalogue, then you could let it pass, but Remedy is unlistenable, New in Town is a non-song dressed in techno finery and Stuck on Repeat is like having your eyes poked with a compass.

In the UK, we put some stars on pedestals for being snooty, mean or downright nasty. But behind it, we know there's a pantomime element. It's all part of the act. If Ms. Hesketh turn the genuine mean streak into part of an act, she'd actually be nice to know.

Thomas Godshalk said...

I do agree that Victoria should have balanced out the comment about Stuck on Repeat with a big word of thank you to her fans, and tried come across as less standoffish. But the suggestion that she feels entitled to success is going too far. Exhibit A:

Little Boots: "I might not even get a Top 40 hit. I might sink into oblivion!"

Popjustice: "But that’s not what you’re actually thinking, is it. You must be thinking you’ll do better than that."

Little Boots: I’ve got no fucking idea and I’m shit scared. Every day and every night."

Does that sound like someone who takes success for granted? I think that all of this backlash against Boots is unwarranted. And to the people that claim that she lacks personality--what more do you want from her? She makes great music and has a good visual aesthetic. Does an artist necessarily have to be the "quirkiest" out there to be valid music-making source? I could easily see the critique arising that she is "trying too hard" if she started doing things outside of what she's comfortable representing as an artist.

I also am of the opinion that the "New in Town" video is fun, well-executed and not at all offensive, but I suppose that is a different discussion.

xolondon said...

Hi Thomas! My comment about identity is more about people understanding her style, getting a handle on her visuals. The album art and recent videos are much better in that regard, but I do think the label did not quite know what to do with her early on (hence the first two videos - the final Remedy is a reshoot and the RedOne production).

I am glad you brought up the Popjustice interview. It's notable because she knows how influential Peter Robinson is - he has the respect of most UK writers - so she was open and honest with him and it did show her in a good light. Whether she was or is willing to play the blogger game etc remains to be seen. She IS in the new American Vogue in a fabulous Bootsy dress!

To me her identity is bound up in her DIY, girl in a bedsit background and that could have been exploited more. I don't want you to think I hate her. I wrote a glowing review of her for an American magazine this summer.

Thomas Godshalk said...

Totally agree! She's definitely in that awkward stage where she's got lots of great songs but she and her label don't exactly have a good grip on the best way to represent her quite yet.

The bedroom-based synth and tenori-on thing is a huge plus for her and it's a really good point that such a cute side of her could have been used much more to her advantage. It'll be interesting to see if Hands takes off in the states--I don't quite understand how she thinks that Stuck on Repeat being 2 years old makes it irrelevant, yet also expects the album to do well being re-released in 2010. I wish her the best though, and I bought the Illuminations EP--"Not Now" is such a shimmering gem of a song!

Mr. Will-W. said...

Oh wow, XO.

To be honest I find Little Boots quite boring. She faded into the background for me after La Roux surfaced. Hope she enjoyed her lukewarm success while it lasted.

Yuяi said...

OMG, this post really made me think. LB is a bitch! I'm guessing she resents the success of La Roux - who has her own public image problem every time she opens her mouth. I really liked "New In Town" but only the Bimbo Jones Radio mix. The album version is way too slow. LB has talent but I guess the 'tude transcends that.

xolondon said...

I love love love the Fred Falke New In Town. It is LUSH.

I am not sure she resents La Roux as much as being lumped together with her by media. That's normal though. They didn't lump her with Florence b/c Florence has a different style of music.

Re La Roux, I sense a backlash toward her too, but generally more acceptance b/c the sound is a bit more unique on the radio (albeit not unique to 1982 radio!).