Duffy - 'Well Well Well'
The word provocative tends to get a lot of positive press within the world of music. Same with the word challenging.
If you can justly claim to have a song which is provocative, you're creating a reaction, you're getting through to people, and that's always good. If you have a song which is challenging, it's even better, cos you're not only demanding a reaction, it's one which your audience would rather not give. They would far rather listen to something which slots in and around their current tastes, something which enhances the world in which they already live, something which adds a new sheen to the flowers in their garden, and here you are, smashing down their boundaries and letting their pets out. How rude. But also, how exciting!
Duffy's new song has the rare distinction of being both provocative AND challenging. But - and I really cannot emphasise this point strongly enough, so forgive the shouting - NOT IN A GOOD WAY.
It's provocative in that it basically has one idea, one note, one refrain, and it stops and it starts and it repeats and repeats and repeats like someone is prodding and prodding at your chest, demanding to know what you are going to do about it.
It's provocative in the way drunken blokes who can't deal with a sudden rush of impotent rage are provocative. It wilfully does not care how monumentally irritating it is, and while that's admirable as an attitude - WHOO PUNKROCK! YEAH! - it doesn't make it any easier to love as a song.
(I can't even show you the video because it's hidden behind adverts. GAH!)
And it is challenging in that it features the voice of Duffy, which is a colossally divisive sound. So divisive, in fact, you could use it to separate oil from salad dressing. Some people love it for its attractive grain and sharp edge, other people hate it for being shrill and quacky.
The challenge for everyone who is in the latter camp is to find a way to endure hearing 'Well Well Well' as they go about their business without becoming overwhelmed with rage at what effectively sounds like an uppity car alarm.
The challenge for everyone in the former camp is exactly the same, because it really is a phenomenally irritating song, no matter who sings it.
2 Track Minds says: "The truth of the matter is that this song just doesn't go where it needs to go."
There Goes The Fear says: "The opening riff is from Dawn Penn's 1994 reggae hit 'No, No, No'. But as one mate has suggested, like she's on helium."