This morning on MAX they played ‘Mama’ by The Spice Girls which — I will freely admit, what with the reed-thin vocals, the sappy sentiment and the feeling of a filler track suddenly being thrust onto the court as a starting-five single — hasn’t held up too well over the past two decades.
But by far the most hilariously intrusive and outdated part of it is the DJ scratches that interrupt the song, inserted as an aggressive attempt to modernise what is a fairly standard pop ballad.
Throughout the ’90s, such DJ scratches infiltrated a lot of pop and rock music. It sounded hip at the time, but nowadays it sounds as hip as… well, the word ‘hip’.
When technology enters music production, it often sounds shiny and new; massive huge sounds that dwarf those rudimentary strummings made by mere human beings. The 1980s was the biggest victim to this, with drum machines robotically marching into play, synth bass tracks which sound like video games, and pop vocals treated with so much echo that I’m pretty sure some of those vocal takes are still bouncing around in a studio somewhere.
While discussing his solo in ‘Power and the Passion’, Midnight Oil drummer Rob Hirst explained it was a way to work with, rather than against the machines.