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Lady Sovereign - 'So Human'

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Vicki Vicki | 12:20 UK time, Sunday, 29 March 2009

Lady SovereignI've got this theory about Lady Sovereign that I keep telling people and no one listens to, which probably ought to tell me something but I've never let that sort of thing stop me before. My theory, essentially, is that she's Missy Elliot for the post-banking-collapse dystopian credit crunch world. Where Missy has massive budget-crushing videos featuring a million dancers and cars on fire and things, Sov has had to replace her sideways ponytail with a hat due to budget cuts.

Equally, they're both sort of unlikely sex symbols, although admitedly Missy was always highly sexualised in her music, whereas the closest Lady Sovereign gets is the hard-to-tell-if-it's-meant-to-be-serious 'Food Fight' (which is exactly what it sounds like, basically) on her new album but she has made the transition from tracksuits to somewhat sexier stylings and they're both at their best whilst making gigantic club bangers.

The difference (or, err, one of many differences) being, of course, that things like Get Ur Freak On and 4 My People were played in massive, expensive clubs, had massive, expensive videos and massive, expensive production values and were generally massive, whereas things like I Got U Dancin' had a video that, for all its ambition and costume-changing, looked like it was filmed in someone's garage and edited in a bedroom, has probably been mostly played in garages and bedrooms and to be honest, sounds a little like it was recording in a garage and mixed in a bedroom.

Now, I really like Missy Elliot; she's gone off the boil a bit since 'Miss E ...So Addictive' but I even thought 'Teary Eyed' was great. I also really, really like Lady Sovereign; I think she's brilliant because she's funny and she's clearly doesn't give a damn whether everyone thinks she's sexy all the time (which, by the way, is awesome) and she's got a genius way with words. On the other hand, it's fair to say that she simply doesn't have the budget to be Missy Elliot, sadly.

Which is where this new single comes in. What do you do when you're on a budget, everyone? You think simpler, more minimally; 'I Got U Dancin' and its video were awesome ideas but there just wasn't quite the resources to pull them off, so all that brilliance sort of went to waste a bit. On the other hand, right now Lily Allen's style of confessional pop, with its fairly minimal sound and lack of fancy adornments (until the second album's lead single's video, of course...) and it suits a sort of 'enthusiastic but constrained by budget" promotional campaign.

(Here's the video)

The video goes perfectly with this song; it's sort of comfortingly cheap, with slightly-crap-but-carried-off-well "special effects" like the magazine covers and it fits the lyrics (which, admitedly, I didn't actually realise were about maintaining your human side whilst famous until I watched that so top marks for illustrative education there) and it's generally very good.

The song itself, again, is very good. The use of the sample from the theme from The Smoking Room 'Close To Me' by The Cure is well done; although 'Close To Me' is a desperately heartbreaking (and desperately desperate) song, its beat has always been wonderfully gentle and reassuring, bumbling along in an intimate, gentle way like an audiohug. Which is perfect for a song essentially all about having a really rubbish time of it and losing your temper and getting a bit "tired and emotional" and then having a big cry and feeling better.

Sov looks great in the video, she sounds great on the track, I really like both. It's all really good.

Maybe it's me being hard to please, though but a bit of me sinks when I see this; yes, it works really well and hopefully it'll be successful but as good as this all is, there's a lot of me that wishes Lady Sovereign wouldn't have to do something as, essentially, cheap as this to make it work; seeing artists constrained by budget is never particularly satisfying, even when it works out and I'd rather see personality pieces like 'I Got U Dancin' given the treatment they deserve than this being released because it's doable with the resources available, in the end.

Four starsDownload: Out now
CD Released:March 30th

(Hazel Robinson)


  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    Ok, I actually want a reason why that was removed. There was no swearing no insulting.

    Possibly the worst thing I said was "ladette".

    Why, ChartBlog, Why?

  • Comment number 3.

    GOOD use of the CURE sample.... is this the song that finally gets the SEXY LADY a big hit without the help of the ordinary boys !!!

    Her new album JIGSAW is out soon !!

    ps DAN i keep on putting a comment below one of your removed ones... whats going on ? lol lol

  • Comment number 4.

    Curse! haha

  • Comment number 5.

    I must say LADY SOVEREIGN looks great in this video.... especially with the crimped hair ! xxx

  • Comment number 6.

    Just heard this song - its seriously bad.

    Dont mess with the Cure, close to me was a great song.

    This little brat decides to jump on the riff created by the cure to try and sell some records instead of using creativity.

    What kind of poeple buy this stuff??
    I think people need to educate their ears and start listening to the kelidascop of music there is instead of this cheesy drivvle.

  • Comment number 7.


    Mandrig, to stretch the metaphor about kaleidoscopes, they contain a load of bits of paper and beads and er.. stuff.. (not ever opened one) and when you turn the wheel on the bottom round it creates infinite numbers of different pretty patterns using reflections of the stuff.

    My point being that you get lots of different images but using THE SAME STUFF.

    Music likewise - if it is indeed a kaleidoscope - is quite free to reuse the same material, it is merely a matter of how it is reflected and displayed that creates the originality and wow factor.

    Now I like the Cure very much, and I do understand why it is annoying when a band you like is copied or ripped off without justification (The Hoosiers Cops and Robbers) but I think this song uses the Cure song as a backdrop for some interesting observations of its own on a completely different subject from the original. The contrast between the slinkiness of the sample and the relative urgency of the rapping indicates well the mismatch and confusion in the mind of the character in the song.

    I also do not think it is cheesy drivel, I think there is genuine invention and creativity in the wordplay.

    Finally, to say she is jumping on the riff suggests that she is jumping on some bandwagon. The song is pretty old and most of her intended audience have not heard it. If it leads them to want to hear the original, and increases the Cure's audience, what is wrong with that?


  • Comment number 8.

    I do like Lady Svereign, I just dont like this much.

    I got you dancing is much better.

    Also the video is just cringeworthy, someone obvioulsy decided that she needs to play the tart in order to sell records but it isnt necessary. Get rig os the excessive makeup and silly hairstyles (the normal looking curly hair is much nicer and straight suits her image better).

  • Comment number 9.

    It s time to get brutally honest !!!


    THE CURE are one of the best and most influential bands that ENGLAND has produced !!!

    THERE !!! I SAID IT !!!!

    Do you agree JAX ?

  • Comment number 10.

    The Cure are certainly one of the most important British bands Spirit, and Disintegration was the soundtrack to a good section of my college life, although I now rate Pornography more.

    Not many bands top them in terms of songwriting ability and the important matter of matching music to the mood they want to create.

    One of my top bands then, ranking around the area of Depeche Mode and XTC for British new wave eccentricity.


  • Comment number 11.

    DISINTEGRATION AND FAITH are works of genius.

    TWO of the best albums in my collection !

  • Comment number 12.

    I must say JAX I love your writing style , your words conjure up your feelings extremely well......... I bet you have written the odd lyric in your time.... if not then you write really well.

  • Comment number 13.

    LADY SOVEREIGN now NUMBER 38 she has a hit !

  • Comment number 14.

    As for ripping of the Cure, lets face it the cure are history and I don't remember any of their tracks but obviously know the name

    I would guess they will be happy to be in the lime light again. Like most bands they would of used someone else's material in their own music, it's a fact of life and how music keeps changing.

    If you were to take this attitude in Hip Hop music the whole Hip Hop community in the 80's would have been hung !

    So getting back to the NOW issue -
    Dr.Luke who produced tracks for Britney Spears, Pink and Kelly Clarkson to name a few so good pedergre for SOV

    I would be surprised if it's not in the top 5 as it's real catchy.

    If it sounds like the Cure, who cares ! The ordiance it's trying to apeal to don't know who the cure were !

    Good luck to the SOV

  • Comment number 15.

    Hi Rifiner

    I too love SO HUMAN by LADY SOVEREIGN and I ALSO love THE CURE.

    What SOV and her songwriter have done is sampled and used the melody and lyrics of CLOSE TO ME by THE CURE which is a great song.

    What SOV has done has made a song that is catchy and NOW that has given her a NUMBER 38 hit.

    The key thing is there are no rules with music and tastes are different...... my world is a good place with THE CURE and LADY SOVEREIGN IN IT.

  • Comment number 16.

    Yo Spirit - "a number 38 hit"?

    I know you mean it sincerely, but that does sound a bit like a pee-take. (Which I'm all for, when it comes to Lady Sovereign.)

    I'm not too fussed about sampling of songs, or covers for that matter - I guess it means the artist has consented, and it's their song. Of course, when it happens to a song that I hold dear, and I don't like the new version, I'm sure I'll be up in arms too.

  • Comment number 17.


    I did say top 40 for the SOV,,,, to me anything in the top 40 is a hit..... would love to know your feelins on her song.....

  • Comment number 18.


    I just noticed that comment from Spirit, (12) thanks a lot! Your writing style is also very... unique... :)

    Thranjax writing lyrics? Very rarely. Writing in general, however, has been known.

    (e.g. a festival review at http://www.metalliville.co.uk/bankup/LIVE%20Folder/SwedenRock%202008.htm. I would go this year as well but I do not have any money for food so a holiday would be luxury too far.)


    a Brother of the Burgundy Velvet Housecoat. (Open Backed).


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