Lady Sovereign - 'So Human'
I'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.
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.
Download: Out now
CD Released:March 30th