3 Oct 2016
This came on the radio the other day while I was in the kitchen. My first thoughts: “Oh that sounds like Olly from Years and Years, he must be guest-vocalling on some disco throwback track. How terribly unlike him but I suppose he’s just having some fun, isn’t it nice that he’s … gasp! Unless …”. At this point I paused in scrubbing a pot, hazily calculating the months/year since the last Years and Years single. “… Unless this is the lead single off an entirely new Years & Years album!”. I abandoned the pot, I pulled up a chair. And I sat. I sat down.
It turns out that the track is from the soundtrack for the new BJ movie (Bridget Jones), slightly lessening its potential to be a sign of things to come from the group. Not that this information stopped a myriad of opinions forming in my head. My initial disbelief quickly moved to “give it a chance”, rapidly shooting back to thoughts of sell-out, Yoko, Pepsi-sponsored events. This in turn ricocheting to “it’s not like they were ever some little jazz quartet”, to a yet more forgiving “you know, if it was Katy Perry singing this, I’d love it”. A week later and things seem to have settled on the resolution that Meteorite is both a catchy and danceable flash of pop. Olly, I know not where you lead me but I am willing to follow.
If this is indeed a new direction for the group, will other fans follow too? Years and Years have had huge chart success but have always offered something beyond bubblegum pop. King had near-universal appeal with a synth hook capable of making the most hardened chart skeptic karate-slice the air at a festival. Eyes Shut was a bonafide tear-jerker. The chorus of Shine (“it’s you that I’ve been waiting to find”) had a lyrical depth you don’t usually find on commercial radio. It’s hard not to sense an element of dumbing-down, a degree of perhaps intentional mindlessness in comparing King’s subversive chorus (“I was a king under your control, I wanna feel as though you let me go”) to Meteorite’s (“Let me feel your emotion, let me feel your devotion … Hit me like a meteorite”). Sort of like Robyn suddenly releasing a song written for Kylie.
Of course it’s not surprising that a group would edge towards the mainstream more after a taste of fame and fortune. I apologise in advance for mentioning the Bandit word in a Y&Y review but they do come to mind. As much as I enjoy Clean Bandit teaming up with an X-Factor star, I do sometimes listen back to early single Mozart’s House and marvel at how a group could lose their electronic cool so thoroughly. Then again, who cares about maintaining cool? Look where it got La Roux.
Will it be a hit?
It’s a tough call. This is the first single after their stellar first album, it’s catchy as hell and has a dance, yes a DANCE, video featuring Olly in a spangly suit. What could possibly go wrong? Then again, it’s not actually the lead single from a new album so might not get too much buzz. At time of writing it’s at number 37 on iTunes but not yet charted officially. Hmm. I’m going to gaze at my ball (crystal ball) and put my neck on the line by predicting a dignified Top 5 chart position and plenty of airplay. Will I be proven gloriously right or shamefully wrong? I’ll let you know in a few weeks.
(Click here to see if I was ecstatically right or hopelessly wrong)