iTunes Really Wanted Me to Buy You Could Have it So Much Better by Franz Ferdinand

Thanks to the public library, I’ve now heard You Could Have it So Much Better by Franz Ferdinand, and frankly, I’m underwhelmed. It sounds like just the sort of thing I might have keyed into twenty-seven years ago, when I was still blindly buying new wave stuff and separating the wheat from the chaff as I went. But this CD does nothing for me now.

“Why,” you ask, “does any of this matter? Surely you hear lots of stuff over the course of the year that you summarily reject, yet you don’t post about it, thereby wasting my precious time at work.”

Well, I bring this up because a large corporate entity out there really really wanted me to buy this album. And if you haven’t put two and two together by now, I’ll let the cat out of the bag: it was Apple.

See, the iTunes Music Store really thought I should pick up this album. At what was probably at the height of the hype for this particular recording, every time I visited there, this album would be on “Just For You” – the list of stuff they thought I would like, allegedly based on my buying habits. It was there so much that I got tired of seeing it.

But that wasn’t the only thing. The recordings that FF was linked to in order to get me to make the leap were a little… well, strange. It made me think that perhaps whoever coded the recommendations algorithm for the Music Store should run a check on it, just to make sure it was doing what they thought it should be doing.

Here’s a look at some of the artists Franz Ferdinand was linked to on my behalf, in order of increasing bizarreness:

  • The Who, Quadrophenia
    This one is only a little off kilter. I could almost buy into this one because… well… I guess because both bands are from the U.K.
  • Dandy Warhols, The Odditorium, or, Warlords of Mars
    Perhaps because both bands wear the “alternative” label? Really, though, there’s not a whole lot in common (outside of the pigeonhole) between the Dandies and FF. The former are a playful, druggy sounding, almost-psychedelia band that gets away with releasing increasingly radio unfriendly music, and the latter is – supposed to be a slick, hook-laden pop band. XTC would have been a better link, but I think XTC has more of a link to the Dandy Warhols than Franz Ferdinand has to either..
  • The Residents, The Commercial Album
    Got to admit that this one really baffles me. I mean, the Residents… Franz Ferdinand… polar opposites? No, not quite. I save that for Brian Wilson, because iTunes also thinks I should buy his album Smile since I own this atonal masterpiece. Talk about two albums that are umbilically joined.

Don’t ask me why I didn’t just press Don’t Like It when I first had the chance… I guess because I always figured I’d get a chance to actually hear more of the album before writing them off. And I did like the cover art. Too bad it wasn’t 12″ by 12″. I must admit I was a little curious, but alas, the 30-second samples provided by iTunes wasn’t nearly enough to set the hook, let alone get me to bite.

Which is why, when I spotted the disc at the library, I decided to give it a spin.

Having done so, I can see their appeal – their music is full of hooks – well, almost hooks. I’ve been spoiled by XTC, who have hooks that go somewhere. FF’s music starts off catchy, but never fully commits. The wheels spin, but that’s it. If anything, the music reminded me of what I hear backing up Lene Lovich – it’s a quirky kind of pop, and Lovich has such a quirky voice and lyrical outlook that the music suits it.

Not so with FF. I don’t think their voices match their music, and their lyrics don’t interest me. Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by the playfulness of XTC and Elvis Costello, the storytelling prowess of Stan Ridgway, and the purposeful obliqueness of Steely Dan. I can take inadequate lyrics with strong music, or less-than-enthralling music with great lyrics, but the Ferdinands didn’t have enough of either for my taste.

So now that iTunes is no longer trying to push them into my hard drive, the migration of Franz Ferdinand into my music collection has ended… in failure. There’s always the likelihood that in a year I could go back to the library, check out this album again, and have it strike me that it’s really great. A couple of my favorite albums were like that (The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway by Genesis and Heaven or Las Vegas by the Cocteau Twins are two) – bought it, listened to it, hated it, mysteriously went back a year or more later for a re-listen and loved it. But at this point I don’t see much promise.

Meantime, this note to the Ferdinands: you could have it so much better if Lene Lovich was singing your material. Probably writing the words, too.

‘Cause it’s time, it’s time in time with your time and its news is captured
For the queen to use
Diddit diddit diddit diddit diddit diddit diddit didda
Diddit diddit diddit diddit diddit diddit diddit didda

(via iTunes shuffle play)


2 responses to “iTunes Really Wanted Me to Buy You Could Have it So Much Better by Franz Ferdinand

  1. Actually, I believe that FF is from Scotland rather than being truly British like The Who, though I suppose the whole being from the UK thing would still apply. Kind of like you being from Wyoming and me being from America you know? hehehe…

  2. Oh, and believe it or not, Lucky Number just came up in rotation on my ipod before I came in the house to read this post. Weird.

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