Duel!: Kingmaker Vs The Divine Comedy

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To whet your appetites for the long-awaited return of Duel!, here's Kingmaker vs The Divine Comedy, as suggested by the estimable Mr Pinefox. Which is worse?

Tom, Wednesday, 27 September 2000 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

i tried posting this earlier but apparently i erred in some manner, so apologies in advance if my original is posted in addition to this. i was just interested in the idea of class warfare in english music or perhaps more in the apparent belief that music is the ideal forum to excoriate anyone who might not be from the appropriate rung of the social heirarchy. i find that this is something that is mostly absent from american music except for a passionate disgust for the push kings in many circles. perhaps this is because pop stars and their pop star histories here in the states are so much more distant than in the uk where the local press often dissects acts the first moment they appear to have an original thought. is it not true that the root os most of the vehement distaste for mr hannon and his music, most of which i find pleasant, is due to his social position upon birth? i know i am missing the point but why is oasis more real than blur? why were shoegazers frauds? kingmaker? ah i saw them years ago with bleach and the kitchens of distinction. sadly the show began rather strangely at 6pm and i missed most of the loz show but sarah bleach told me she would play dipping for me and she did. oh and why were the kitchens not recipients of more praise, what a lovely band i can still remember the startling sequence of shiver/polaroids and mad as snow from that show. julian swales had some swell effects pedals, he even had mr shields beat by numbers.

, Wednesday, 27 September 2000 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

I don't think it's really a class thing; I just think that a lot of people dislike both bands because of their smugly psuedo- intellectual pose. Both Neil Hannon and Loz whatshisnameIforget have that "I've read more books than you" attitude which both of them mistakenly believe entitles them to an attitude of being above the average Joe. Which is pretty laughable, since in both cases if they haven't read enough books, or they don't understand the ones they have read.

Which would be a forgivable enough crime, if the music were good enough to back it up. With Kingmaker, it was so wimpily indie one wonders why the band weren't just shot on sight at their first gig. They made Thousand Yard Stare look cool and dangerously sexy by comparison! With the Divine Comedy...well, I admit to liking bits of it. Neil Hannon is much better singer than Loz, and the music never really grates the way Kingmaker's did, it just plods along anonymously in the backround at the worst of times. However, DC has overstayed it's welcome for quite a while now, time for Neil to go off and become a veterinarian or pro golfer or *something*. Anything vaguely less pathetic than a fading indie starlet.

Kingmaker wins by virtue of Loz having a hand in the Menace. There are some crimes that really should be punishable by death...

Nicole, Wednesday, 27 September 2000 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Just heard on the radio indie queen, the withered handed, self fiddler whilst on TV, Jo Whiley comment on Kingmaker. "What a good band" - she said, finishing it up with an odd addendum "at the time". Does this mean that Ms Whiley no longer thinks they were a good band. Certainly my opinion of them has gone down considerably. (Armchair Anarchist as a statement of political intent is about as lame as they come).

The Divine Comedy I actually quite like - caveat coming up - when they are not doing their overblown comedy singles. Unfortunately this is the depth they are seriously plumbing these days so the rather twee simplicity of stuff like Songs Of Love or My Beautiful Horse rarely grace our ears.

Fair fight Kingmaker would obviously win because their drummer was the most beligerent skinsman of that early nineties scene. But I would have to plump for ver Comedy because there is some of their stuf I actually still like. Not the one where the band ride pollen spores in the video though - the scene with Neil Hannon getting up someones nose (quelle surprise) gave me nightmares for days.

Pete, Thursday, 28 September 2000 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

I think the responses so far have been pretty thoughtful. Actually I tend to agree with the one that the Hopkins himself posted on the indie-disco page.

Kingmaker are kind of awful. Here are some bad things about them:

1. 'Ten Years Asleep' getting acclaimed as intelligent and satirical - people said it was another 'Subterranean Homesick Blues'. No, *they really did*. Just think of the lyrics - 'It couldn't have happened in another world... it wouldn't have happened to a nicer planet... [...] so don't pretend to care if you don't care'. Sing with a sneer and some goons think it's meaningfully sardonic. But really it's *meaningless*.

2. In general their lyrics exemplify a peculiar tone of vague pseudo-intelligence that has often typified indie music since the Smiths and which no-one has ever quite pinned down. (This is *not* a slur on the Smiths, it need hardly be said - I am talking about lazy uninspired careerist dismally failed would-be imitators.) Shed Seven and Sleeper are both other examples. Think of Sleeper's 'She's a good girl / But everyone said she was a goddess / They've got a Rolex / Telling the same time...'. Again, sung as though meaningful. But *meaningless*. You can fill in your own Shed Seven examples. And your own Kingmaker examples. Look at any KM lyric sheet and you'll see what I mean.

3. Relatively leaden music, and

4. Bad, whining vocals. I don't much like it when vocalists seem to be shouting or sneering instead of singing. That's kind of understandable live, but not in the studio. (There are exceptions, I suppose - Dylan, Strummer?)

On the other hand, I was listening to a KM CD recently (!!) and I found myself surprisingly, grudgingly impressed by 'You And I Will Never See Things Eye To Eye'. Absurd, I know. Could this be their Scooby-Doo single?

The Divine Comedy, on the other hand... smooth where KM are rough, ostensibly very different. But, I think, equally appalling. They have one good point: they take melody seriously. I mean, their songs seem to display an effort to write a good melody, rather than just pluck a refrain out of the air. But for one thing, I still don't *like* those melodies, and on top of this there are

1. Hannon's voice 2. The sickly backing 3. The way-overrated lyrics - again the KM effect?

to contend with, and

4. A nasty sneering attitude, exemplified by the way 'National Express' bids to mock the stupidity and fatness of 'ordinary people'.

I think I dislike the DC more than KM. But the choice is kind of skewed by the fact that no-one takes KM seriously anymore, and some people seem still to take the DC very seriously. That makes the DC seem more like a relevant and significant 'enemy'.

the pinefox, Friday, 29 September 2000 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

three years pass...
revive! cuz a friend asked me what the whole Divine Comedy class hatred thang was all about and I couldn't answer either...

Daniel_Rf (Daniel_Rf), Monday, 10 May 2004 23:48 (sixteen years ago) link

haha ts threads used to be called "Duel!" !!
how quaint

..., Monday, 10 May 2004 23:50 (sixteen years ago) link

I demand satisfaction *slap*

Didn't 'Duel' used to be a Freaky Trigger knockout competition to see which band was worst?

Chewshabadoo (Chewshabadoo), Tuesday, 11 May 2004 08:23 (sixteen years ago) link

three years pass...

happy days...

CharlieNo4, Friday, 24 August 2007 16:28 (twelve years ago) link

Is there something wrong with "mocking the stupidity and fatness of ordinary people"? It's a standard comedy trope in the UK.

everything, Friday, 24 August 2007 16:35 (twelve years ago) link

six months pass...

Pretty sure I hate The Divine Comedy more than any other band ever.

Dom Passantino, Tuesday, 26 February 2008 14:09 (twelve years ago) link

more than my life story?

electricsound, Tuesday, 26 February 2008 22:30 (twelve years ago) link

twelve years pass...

Kingmaker reassessed.


Kibbutzki (Jaap Schip), Saturday, 1 August 2020 21:26 (two weeks ago) link

I hadn't realised the recent Kingmaker reunions hadn't involved Loz. not that I was planning to go anyway.

also interesting about the record company problems with the 2nd album. I wasn't really a fan, probably liked a handful of songs across the first 2 albums. an ilxor recently told me the last album is actually the best one but I've never heard any of it

CP Radio Gorgeous (Colonel Poo), Saturday, 1 August 2020 22:12 (two weeks ago) link

I hadn't realised the recent Kingmaker reunions hadn't involved Loz. not that I was planning to go anyway.

...huh. I'm trying to imagine this.

Ned Raggett, Saturday, 1 August 2020 22:15 (two weeks ago) link

I was a massive Kingmaker fan aged 12 (might be me you're talking about there CP?) was ashamed of it for a bit, but have long gotten over it, yes, the first half of their final LP is just brilliant, a shame it was released when everyone either hated them, didn't care or both.

Anti-Cop Ponceortium (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Saturday, 1 August 2020 22:41 (two weeks ago) link

ha yeah it was you

CP Radio Gorgeous (Colonel Poo), Saturday, 1 August 2020 22:50 (two weeks ago) link

Listening to it again now, it's like, yes, his voice is still a bit annoying and his lyrics are still a bit pretentious and overwrought, but there's so much passion and pain there, and he's finally finding his voice, just as everyone has stopped listening - the songs are all pretty sad and desperate, and the fact nobody is listening any more just amplifies this. I know lots of people are not going to be into it, but genuinely, first 18 minutes of this (and last 5) are still brilliant.


Anti-Cop Ponceortium (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Saturday, 1 August 2020 22:55 (two weeks ago) link

also, this interview is fantastic, and explains why he suddenly quit it all forever.


Anti-Cop Ponceortium (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Sunday, 2 August 2020 00:38 (one week ago) link

Really Scrape the Sky caught my ear on the radio but I didn't buy the album, the second album's singles didn't provide any greater incentive. For some reason though I bought the third album. I'm not as enthusiastic as Camaraderie but I love the guitar tone and the heavy wah-wah use and it's certainly as good as any other album by a second tier britpop band. I probably never need to listen to the album again but In the Best Possible Taste Pt 1 does the pop + string quartet trick pretty well and I would keep Frustrated Gangster over 99% of the output of that benighted era.

neith moon (ledge), Monday, 3 August 2020 08:39 (one week ago) link

Only song I particularly remember from being all over the Radio 1 breakfast show is Saturday's Not What It Used To be, which seems to have stiffed at a lowly 63.

PaulTMA, Wednesday, 5 August 2020 00:00 (one week ago) link

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