Discussion in 'Charts, rates etc' started by Ironheade, Mar 3, 2018.
Shocked because I really thought BSB were destined for the Top 10.
I always thought they had the best chance of any of the male acts, but the placing they got is pretty much in line with my expectations at the start. Other than that fucking dreadful one hit wonder you all seem to love, I'd say only Unpretty has really surprised me by getting this far.
Oof... yeah, this writeup is kicking my ass, so no elimination tonight, I'm afraid. Should be up tomorrow, hopefully.
Also, I may bring back guest eliminations for the last four before the top 10; I haven't decided yet. I'll get back to you on that when I've thought it over.
Yeah. I'm sure you missed your one-every-two-days elimination yesterday. Never fear, it's here now!
Come to think of it... did you miss it like the deserts miss the rain?
15. Missing - Everything But the Girl
Highest scores: 3 x 11 (@WowWowWowWow , @Mina , @Aester ); 13 x 10 (@Ironheade , @CorgiCorgiCorgi , @Mirwais Ahmadzaï , @P Grandson , @Ray , @2014 , @Sprockrooster , @berserkboi , @ohnoitisnathan , @K94 , @KingBruno , @unnameable , @Remorque )
Lowest scores: 2 x 3 (@bleedingheart80 , @Filippa )
Weeks at #1: 5 consecutive airplay (#2 on the Hot 100)
Year-End Hot 100: #12 (1996)
I imagine that most of the casual radio listeners who loved the single “Missing” in 1995, and subsequently bought Everything But the Girl's album Amplified Heart, got a bit of a shock upon first listening to it. For you see, far from the electronic dance stylings of their big hit, that album was far more representative of Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt's usual sound – smooth, jazz-inflected sophisti-pop, which had brought them moderate commercial success in the UK during the previous decade (most notably the #3 hit “I Don't Want to Talk About It” in 1989) and no commercial success whatsoever in the US. The version of “Missing” that American pop fans came to know and love (and thus, the one included in the rate) was a remix by house producer Todd Terry; subsequently to its becoming a hit and Tracey finding further success in her appearance on Massive Attack's “Protection” and “Better Things”, Everything But the Girl would steer themselves in a new direction, this time influenced by downtempo and deep house, hoping for another piece of that same success. They certainly adapted well to the times, give them that. Now, I'm not massively familiar with the bulk of Everything But the Girl's catalogue, but what I've heard of them has been pretty damn great for the most part (in both the sophisti-pop and electronic periods of their career), and I'm certainly going to go on a discography binge when I've got the time.
But even so, I got to know them initially because of the remix of “Missing” being one of the best dance tracks of the decade. So there you go!
When one looks at its (excellent) initial rendition, “Missing” seems like strange source material for a dance remix. It is, after all, a gloomy folktronica ballad built from fragile guitar and string textures, and seems far too delicate to withstand a thumping club beat. And yet, at the same time, it's quite easy to see what Todd Terry saw in it, as its radical transformation into a tears-on-the-dancefloor number feels like a perfect fit. He treats the original with grace, letting the sleek nocturnal vibe dominate, and by doing so, allowing the hooks to insinuate themselves into your brain slowly and subtly. And he's got a fantastic bed with which to do this; the house drumbeat that Terry applies does not dwell in the genre's more forceful and pounding edge, the sort of material that is designed to get people onto the dancefloor with brutal efficiency. Instead, it has an open, natural feel, and retains something of the undulating, unhurried character of the original's more downtempo drumbeat, particularly via the hand drums in the background that accent the track's steady flow beautifully. It is further enhanced by the sharply truncated guitar strums (lifted from the intro of the original version) playing along with the pulsing bassline and a little extra tinge of keyboard, such that the instruments are blurred together in the mix and it's hard to pick them apart from one another. The atmosphere there really is hard to deny - the lift towards the chorus, where an extra keyboard layer comes in and the instruments get a little more visible in the mix rather than being subsumed beneath the rhythm track, is so subtle it hardly seems noticeable at first, and yet it just adds so much. And then there's the gentle beauty of the background atmospheres, constantly wafting through the lower levels of the track and peeking out of the glossy soft-focus mix at key moments. The glimmering celestial strings give “Missing” a misty, slightly distant and isolated feel, like looking at something through a film of water, able to see it in blurred outline form but unable to properly touch it. And yet, they lend “Missing” such a widescreen sound and really open it up, even with how low-key they are; as they enter in the second part of each verse, to build anticipation for the chorus, it's a moment that can genuinely touch my heart, so vivid and all-consuming is the emotional response that it conjures up and the picture that it paints of the scene.
But the real lift comes from Tracey Thorn's voice and the evocative lyrics. Not only does she have a really lovely vocal tone, and the simple yet strong reinforcement that comes from the backing vocals on the “like the deserts miss the rain” to give the refrain its true emotional impact, but the yearning in her voice is simply incredible in a way that is beyond my power to describe. It gives “Missing” a real emotional heft that elevates it beyond almost any other song of this nature. And despite the apparent calm and serenity of Tracey's vocals, there is a palpable sense of desperation that comes through, particularly when coupled with the lyrics. Admittedly, the imagery of the narrator hanging around her past lover's old address, even knowing that he isn't there any more, could have come off as a bit weird in the hands of another. However, Everything But the Girl treat the situation with a naked, raw honesty, laying out all their cards on the table in the bluntest terms possible, and thereby, in a paradoxical fashion, one can really sympathize with the all-consuming desire of the narrator, even as it seems to be leading her to mental self-destruction in obsessing over the past – indeed, it is even somewhat self-aware. She acknowledges that her plight is hopeless and that she can get no closure, but she cannot, will not, escape that continuously recurring “and I miss you”; there is no possibility of resolution here. As the song breaks down to nothing but a few glistening washes of synth, and Tracey croons “now you've disappeared somewhere, like outer space”, it's a genuinely heartbreaking moment, particularly as it comes right before the final chorus, which carries a more forceful, overtly pleading edge. You can almost hear her desperately wanting to really let loose on the vocals and let the ad-libs fly, but she holds back, continuing to meditate on the simple “and I miss you” of the chorus, almost as if she is worn down by her situation and no longer has the energy to scream and cry about it. Gorgeous stuff.
Now, originally, I was going to give this a 9. But upon relistening to it for my final scores, I was really struck by it somehow, by its sweet and simple yet seriously heartstring-tugging emotional honesty, and by the depth and expansiveness of Todd Terry's remix work. It occurred to me that, were I asked to change anything about the remixed version of “Missing”, I could not think of one thing. Among the sadbangers that we so love here at PopJustice, it is a titan, an absolute triumph of the form and a masterclass in how to execute it perfectly. So, y'know what... fuck it. Have a 10 from me, Everything But the Girl - you've earned it!
iheartpoptarts (6) - For some reason this episode of Pop-Up Video was on a LOT. Or was it just me? (Hey, I can't think of a better vehicle for - to quote Wikipedia - "trivia, witticisms and borderline sexual innuendos".)
bleedingheart80 (3) - I hated this song then and I still hate it now. I remember turning the radio off or turning the station when this came on.
Filippa (3) - I don’t know how this one was pushed to nr. 1 everywhere. I somehow never liked it. (Yes, SOMEHOW.)
Mike (7.5) - HUGELY overplayed at the time, but with some distance I can appreciate it for the melancholy banger it is. ("Melancholy banger" describes... a lot of forum faves, doesn't it?)
ohnoitsnathan (10) - Even though I gave it a 10, it has been WAY overplayed. (I mean, so has everything else in this rate.)
unnameable (10) - Beautifully wistful dance-pop.
A$AP Robbie (9) - An absolute jam.
londonrain (9.5) - My university roommate made the excellent point that the deserts do not, in fact, miss the rain and their existence as a desert is probably quite seriously threatened by an increase in rainfall. (Hang on, I'm trying to recall my Year 9 geography lessons here! - Ed.) That aside, what a bop. I prefer the UK remix of this to the US radio version but both versions knock.
Rooneyboy (9) - Utterly lovely.
Empty Shoebox (8) - It's a decent, if unspectacular dance track. The second verse is the best part. (I mean, it's a good bit, buuuuuuuuut...)
japanbonustrack (9) - Unexpected to find this dance gem in the middle of R&B/ballads. (See: the mood of many, many people in the first half of the rate when a bop showed up in the first two years. - Ed.) The kind of song that plays when you are alone in your house, in some corner, asking to the wind: 'where did you go?'
saviodxl (8.75) - If any DJ play this in the club I'll dance while crying at the same time. And the feeling will be amazing.
berserkboi (10) - If I didn’t adore this already, coming directly after the previous racket would have made me fall in love anyway. (Ooh, the "One Sweet Day" fans ain't gonna like that... - Ed.) So glad this melancholic classic is here, what a song!
PushyBakerFriend (9.25) - This (the remix) really reminds me of 'Please Don't Go' by No Mercy (which is a good thing). (I don't know that song, but I'm sure it is. At least I've got something to listen to later now!)
Ray (10) - The song that turned me from vaguely aware EBTG existed into an obsessive buyer of everything. And unlike many bands I fell in love with because of one song they didn’t go into shitters right afterwards… they got better and be– oh, and then their career ended. Bummer. (I heard good things about Tracey's last solo album, so at least there's that?)
DJHazey (7) - I was drawing a blank until the "like deserts miss the rain" which everyone knowns of course. A nice little eurodance crossover track because of the particular mix, I'd put it a category with Sonique maybe with Enya-esque new age qualities too.
Sprockrooster (10) - 'Like the deserts miss the rain' - simple, but very effective and making this song interpretable in many layers. And that also counts to the sound, which is a clash of basically every dance genre out there, without sounding like a Frankenstein. (I wonder if I could sneak a WUBWUBWUB or two in?)
KingBruno (10) - Being a highlight from Amplified Heart, this sorrowful song about deep affection is boosted by a flexible retro style setting that is wonderfully adapted to a suitable dance construction thanks to Todd Terry.
əʊæ (7) - Took the liberty of rating the original because the remix score would not have been pretty.
K94 (10) - I know people will go on about the original but the remix just elevates it with that airy, sparse production. A perfect slice of heartbreak pop. (Y'know what, I'm gonna weigh in here and say the original and remix are almost as good as each other in their own styles. And well done to Everything But the Girl, for creating a song so flexible that it works so well in such different settings!)
Mina (11) - One of my all-time favorite songs that I had no idea was commercially successful. I was first acquainted with this song through various trance covers/remixes in the '00s, including an amazing one that I found on Pandora that seems to have vanished from the interwebz entirely. (Time for me to go on the hunt, I guess! - Ed.) This is definitely the epitome of melancholy in song form.
WowWowWowWow (11) - I gave The Sign my 11 in the previous rate because it was #3 on my Ultimate Popjustice list – so it only makes sense that I have to give my #2 UPJ song the 11 this time! (Especially since Amber’s This Is Your Night won’t be rated, sad face.) Anyway, this song is the definition of ATMOSPHERE. I’m very glad that the Todd Terry remix is included in the playlist, not that the original is bad by any means, but this version is so much better to me. The original version really amps up on the intrigue and the melancholy, whereas the remix seems to give it a smattering of hope or “I will survive”-ness, in some way? A fan for life based on this song. PS: Once I finally found myself in life circumstances where this was actually possible, I can vouch for the emotional rollercoaster that is stepping off the train and walking down your ex’s street again, past his door, but he doesn’t live there anymore. It’s years since he’s been there… brb sobbing in the corner for a few minutes. (...Damn.)
...Yeah, I couldn't think of a bottom image for this one. In fact, you could almost say it's...
Well, Ben and Tracey had another great song that coincidentally describes “Missing”’s overall placement in the rate:
Probably referring to 'Where Do You Go'?
What a crime Missing misses the top 10! It was the very last song I was debating giving my 11 to until the one I picked. Assumed it would need my help more but it outlasted Missing! Trio of gods there, those 11 givers! Showing yet again, much like in Hurt by Johnny Cash - vocal gymnastics have nothing on pure, simple, heartfelt tone!
Missing is great, but Todd Terry in general is amazing.
They also have a Please Don't Go song, do a version of Missing and Kiss You All Over - that's about all I know of No Mercy...
And No Mercy RUDELY denied La Bouche a chance at another worldwide hit by poaching their song! Original for the win!!
And they also had a ballad called “When I Die” — because they were SO VERSATILE
There have probably been about 283548 remakes of “Missing” over the years and they all make me want to commit acts of violence. With the exception of Belgium’s Jessy, that is. Glowsticks at the ready:
One more thing on EBTG—if you like the group and haven’t already done so, Tracey wrote a memoir a few years back called Bedsit Disco Queen, and it’s very much worth tracking down.
I was only sixteen when I bought an electric guitar and joined a band. A year later, I formed an all-girl band called the Marine Girls and played gigs, and signed to an indie label, and started releasing records. Then, for eighteen years, between 1982 and 2000, I was one half of the group Everything But the Girl. In that time, we released nine albums and sold nine million records. We went on countless tours, had hit singles and flop singles, were reviewed and interviewed to within an inch of our lives. I've been in the charts, out of them, back in. I've seen myself described as an indie darling, a middle-of-the-road nobody and a disco diva. I haven't always fitted in, you see, and that's made me face up to the realities of a pop career - there are thrills and wonders to be experienced, yes, but also moments of doubt, mistakes, violent lifestyle changes from luxury to squalor and back again, sometimes within minutes.
Oh well. Sure beats my 11's performance in part 1! And I don't think I've ever shared an 11 with @WowWowWowWow or @Aester - team talent indeed!
I'm definitely a fan of this version! Also of Justine Suissa's more stripped down version:
And I believe the version that made me fall in love with the song was Andrea T Mendoza's. I don't think this is exactly it, but it's the closest I can find:
Is it wrong that I slightly prefer the No Mercy version (perhaps because the original was so overplayed)?
I love how Missing got multiple 11's
Tracy's 2018 album Record is actually very good too FYI xx
Missing is timeless - so good.
I actually thought this was eliminated ages ago.
Alright, so I'm just gonna go for it.
For the last four eliminations before the top 10, we're bringing back the guest eliminations!
If you're interested, just comment here and @ me, and I'll pick four tomorrow and sort all that out.
@Ironheade always down to assist or to write something for someone else to post
Separate names with a comma.