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Chicane - 'Poppiholla'

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Fraser McAlpine | 09:58 UK time, Friday, 17 July 2009


Storm clouds are gathering, there's tension in the air. Gangs of dour indie kids are gathering at bus stops and libraries, and an ominous muttering hum is tugging at the attention of unsuspecting music fans, up and down the country. People are uneasy, they can sense the metallic tang of danger in the air, and yet they are not sure where it comes from.

Seasoned forecasters are predicting that this, while not as severe as Hurricane Jeff - which swept over the musical landscape just before Christmas - is going to be a class 2 botherance front, and will result in a flood of blogging, tuts and impassioned self-righteousness.

Batten down the hatches, people, this could get messy...

(Here's the video. It really makes you think. Specifically it makes you think "what a dull video".)

Here's what the fuss is all about. There's a well-loved indie song called 'Hoppipolla' by Sigur Ros. It's one of those huge, landscapey, skyscrapey sort of songs, perfect as a soundtrack to sports or nature footage on TV, or a documentary about a man climbing a mountain. It's like a mystical, ethereal, slightly-musacky-but-still-brilliant version of Blur's 'The Universal', translated into a language which does not exist.

Now, a dance act called Chicane - yes, the people who made Bryan Adams sound like a robot - have remade the song, with an eye on getting clubbers to love it just as much as the indie fans and TV people do. But in order to make it club-friendly, they've had to change bits, lop off that epic drum beat and replace it with a ticky machine and handclaps.

This has clearly caused complications, and they've had no choice but to perform a full band-ectomy, and put in some pacemaker synths instead. The only trouble is, friends and relatives no longer recognise this new cyborg creation as the song they once loved, and they are understandably upset.

So, has it been worth the trouble? Well, yes and no. It depends where you're coming from. Dance music often pinches good ideas from the rock and pop sectors, and even hardened rocksnobs must admit that, if you were to hear this in a club situation, it's gonna feel less like a personal insult and more like an infiltration of the mainstream. Rocksnobs like that idea.

On the other hand, it's a bit hamfisted as a listening experience, and really doesn't do the original any favours. All we really have left is the spiralling piano motif, and there was always more to 'Hoppipolla' to just the one idea.

So, if you can, best let this storm just wash over you for now, and reinforce your foundations ready for this year's X Factor. Be safe!

Three starsDownload: Out now
CD Released: July 20th
BBC Music page

(Fraser McAlpine)

My Chemical Toilet says: "Chicane have managed to strip out all of the emotion that the original somehow made people feel."
Digitalspy says: "It's a simple but effective reworking, but one that's hard to get too excited about."


  • Comment number 1.


    Once again I am in full agreement with Fraser. Pointless was the word I used to describe this track before, and it still is.

    I can just about understand its use in a club scenario, but even then it isn't really very exciting, and if I was dancing to it I would have to stop every few seconds just to shake a fist at the speakers and shout "You did it! You finally did it! D*mn you all to hell!".

    Which might catch on as a funky dance move for some, but I don't have the chin to pull off an adequate Charlton Heston impersonation.

    It isn't quite as offensive as the dance version of Samuel Barbers Adagio, and Chicane clearly know their stuff generally, but this reeks of, "hey, that's a nice tune without lyrics that everyone already knows from adverts and stuff, and generally everyone already likes it, so it's pre-market-tested, let's make some easy money here..."


  • Comment number 2.

    The quote from My Chemical Toilet sums up this tacky garbage perfectly. Hoppipolla is absolutely beautiful. This is pathetic.

    Incidentally, I don't mind interpolations, sampling, etc. I used to like hip-hop a lot, and obviously that's built on it. But dance music's record is poor. I'm still not over A.D.A.M. feat Amy, and their version of Zombie from years ago. This is right there with it.

  • Comment number 3.

    If I'm honest with you, I've never really followed the work of Chicane much, if at all. Infact, when Stoned in Love was released featuring Tom Jones, I thought they were some new band!

    I've just listened and watched the video and yeah, The video is quite pointless, I mean, is it making some sort of point about racism? Although I did like it when he saved the girl at the end.

    In agreement with thranjax, I can't imagine this in a club, It's too slow. But I reckon it'd be a great chill out tune if you so required a chill out.



  • Comment number 4.

    Excellent review Fraser.

    You have correctly and objectively , predicted the two opposing arguments that this song seems to have caused.

    a) This song sounds absolutely FANTASTIC in a club , and I have seen the effect it has on the dancefloor. Immense . That is the main reason why this song is sure to be a huge hit , which I mentioned on the Fairytale blog weeks ago.
    A lot of DJs and clubbers love it !

    b) The Sigur Ros original "Hoppipolla " from the album Takk , is a work of pure beauty that resounded positively with a lot of people , and any " tampering " with this masterpiece is sure to cause consternation !

    Chicane's version is set to be a much bigger hit in terms of singles sales and chart position , but any true music lover owes it to themselves to hear the original version.

    It's a musical feast !

  • Comment number 5.

    Ok here's Spirit's weekly new releases info...

    Previous information is on the JLS posts.



    MARIAH CAREY - OBSESSED (hi Fluffy )
    U2 - I'LL GO CRAZY IF I DON'T GO CRAZY TONIGHT ( Will Fraser like this one ? )




    Whitney Houston's new album will be called " I look to you. "

    Enjoy !

  • Comment number 6.

    chicane seems to have lost his edge with this track and the video is a bit dull he should take tips from 'damari & starq of dare2' their track 'BANG IT' is BANGIN

  • Comment number 7.

    Chicane at number 7 , with "Poppihplla ". Sigur Ros barely scraped the top 30 , with the original...

    Does this mean that commerciality over art sometimes does win out ?

  • Comment number 8.

    When did we agree that the "winner" is the one who makes most money or has the highest chart placing in an artificial list manipulated by record labels online and high street stores and other interested parties?

  • Comment number 9.

    I'm not arguing with you by the way Spirit, I am quite aware you agree with me and it was a rhetorical question.

  • Comment number 10.

    Can I add that if it's a 'pure' cover you're after, seek out We Are Scientists doing an acoustic version of the original. It's just lovely.

    It was on their B-sides collection 'C**p Attack'...

  • Comment number 11.

    Hi Jax , comment seven was indeed a rhetorical question .
    We both know the answer .

    True beauty is an essence , not a veneer....

  • Comment number 12.

    Fraser, listened to that now it is indeed gorgeous. They have simply transposed the piano melody onto a guitar, kept the arrangement simple and retained the beauty of the descending melody. They have also focussed attention more on the lyrics (singing them phonetically I guess) which actually got me to read a translation for the first time, and it is a quaint and elegaic poem about jumping into puddles, if anyone didn't know.

  • Comment number 13.

    The We are Scientists album " With love and Squalor " is very good .

    The video to "Great escape " is very funny .

    I had a chat with the lead singer after an Editor's gig in Oxford , and that they were so struck for cash , they filmed it in his flat .

    It's worth a look.

  • Comment number 14.

    What, is it up for sale? Which Estate Agent? How many bedrooms?

  • Comment number 15.

    Ha ha ... that's almost as funny as Dave Cicero ! lol

  • Comment number 16.

    I'm a little late on board as I only just caught up that a trance track has entered the UK charts. When I say trance as well, I mean a track that does the genre some justice rather than the "hamfisted" likes of DJ Sammy and Basshunter!

    "Now, a dance act called Chicane - yes, the people who made Bryan Adams sound like a robot - have remade the song..."

    Yes, they made a right mess there agreed, but you can't dismiss their efforts like Saltwater so easily. As thespritwarrior so nicely put it...

    "This song sounds absolutely FANTASTIC in a club , and I have seen the effect it has on the dancefloor. Immense."

    I'm sure this mix was not intended for Sigor Ros fans or the general public to adore, but seemingly for it to enter so high in the national charts, many people have done just that.

  • Comment number 17.

    I don't love trance music, ILoveTranceMusic, but I've always really liked Saltwater. Although I'm not sure I would have picked it for trance. But then, I'm not sure what makes something trance, and not some other obscure sub-category of dance, like happy dirty hardcore handbag euphoric techno rave dubstep house.

    Ah well. I also like Saltwater by Julian Lennon.

  • Comment number 18.

    This song isnt amazing but I would recommend the Thrillseekers Remix which is on Armin van Buurens label - better beat, much more club friendly, faster tempo - original wont be beaten but thie re-work is quite good.
    Go to youtube and Type Chicane - Poppiholla (Thrillseekers remix) and the top one (at time of writing) works well

  • Comment number 19.

    Greatest dance tune OF ALL TIME !!!

  • Comment number 20.

    Greatest overstatement OF ALL TIME !!!

  • Comment number 21.

    So Harry , just what is YOUR greatest dance tune of all time ??

    My favourite one of the moment would be GUETTA/FLO-RIDA " Club Can't Handle Me " , but it will probably change in about 3 minutes !

  • Comment number 22.

    When I am in a dark mood , I am also really loving "Baptism" by Crystal Castles

    Great dance tune .

  • Comment number 23.

    I'll admit, Flo Rida's more than likely in for yet another #1 with that David Guetta collaboration.

    'Club Can't Handle Me' may sound like the most egotistical song ever but with such a seemingly laid-back chorus and then pounding verses make this one to wactch - and most certainly listen to! - over this year's summer.

  • Comment number 24.

    I don't know Spirit but Right Here, Right Now would have to be pretty high up.


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