Kate Nash rebrands herself as ‘punk’
I think it’s probably worth me starting out by saying, I’ve never really been a fan of Kate Nash, but she has never been terrible – and for light-hearted indie pop music, there is much worse that could have graced the charts when she first made it big back in 2007, however irritating I found her voice. Before reading on please also bare in mind that this is a response to this NME article.
Now on topic, Kate Nash has made her return, and has maybe confused most of her entire fan base by rebranding herself as punk, putting online her latest song, ‘Under-estimate the Girl’. And it is horrific, quite frankly the worst track I have heard this year, maybe even the worst track I’ve heard since someone decided it was a good idea to release music as the mobile phone sensation Crazy Frog. But fear not, someone over at the (once) much respected NME tells us that although this is ‘career suicide’ for Kate, that it not only “sounds amazing” but that it is “one of the most punk records ever”. WAIT, WHAT? That’s right, a Kate Nash song got called “one of the most punk records ever” by a so called respectable (ha!) music magazine’s blog, come on NME that is low by even your current standards (which seemed to have dropped incredibly since the mid-00’s).
Ok let’s start with my first quote, from the headline; “it sounds amazing”, let’s say that what it says in the article is correct, that Kate Nash has “outpunked punk” and the track is, dare I say it, “one of the most punk records ever”, it certainly does not “sounds amazing”. I thought her voice was bad before, in this track she isn’t even singing, and I’m pretty sure she is purposefully making her voice sound awful, out of tune cats fighting in a washing machine come to mind as I’m listening to the song, no that could be giving her to much credit, the sound of cats fighting in a washing machine would be a far more welcome addition to my record collection than this “song”. You would think that a music writer who is deemed a good enough writer to be published by NME (I realise this may not mean much anymore considering the declined quality of the magazine) would at least have some sense of what does and does not sound amazing, I know music is subjective but you would have your sanity questioned if you can enjoy the awful noise of ‘Under-estimate the Girl’.
Time to move on to the whole “one of the most punk records ever” point. I’ve re-read the words many times and I still sit here rather insulted by the words. Does the writer seriously think that this song matches the level of punkness in the likes of records such as ‘God Save The Queen’ (Sex Pistols), ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ (The Ramones), ‘White Riot’ (The Clash), ‘Rise Above’ (Black Flag) or ‘New Noise’ (Refused), I could go on. I understand how the writer thinks ‘Under-estimate the Girl’ is punk, but seriously, one of the most punk tracks ever? Even if I accepted his reasoning, I don’t think so. That is of course if the writer has only heard maybe one or two punk songs before this. Again, for someone who is a music writer for the NME he should hold maybe a bit more knowledge about such a big movement as punk.
She might be trying to subvert the listener but really it looks more to me like she is trying to brand herself as punk, rebranding yourself is an incredibly unpunk thing to do, punk if anything is about being honest with yourself, not changing your look and style to not be like yourself but to be what is deemed as ‘punk’ in a stereotypical manner. Yes punk can be about reinvention, but it is also about being yourself, and this is clearly not who Kate Nash is, and this is not a reinvention but rather a rebranding and I’d be willing to bet based on the negative response to this track she’ll be sounding a lot less ‘punk’ in the future. And this I barely see as reinvention but more, rehashing old ideas and giving a bad representation of what punk once sounded like in an early incarnation.
The NME article says that this record could be inspired by this track to “pick up a guitar and start a noisy angsty band” and says that “that’s punk”. Fair enough, that could be a punk thing, sadly this song is not the record to do that. Kids today will still pick up a guitar from discovering bands such as Nirvana, not because a pop singer decided to make a bad punk song. The article talks about the song as if it’s life changing, get a grip, we will all have forgotten this track’s existence in a month – it’s certainly not comparable to Lou Reed’s ‘Metal Machine Music’.
The article is summed up with “this is exactly the kind of thing we’ve been missing”, and I can’t help but agree with the statement, musicians do need to start taking more risks and making unpredictable music, however I do not see ‘Under-estimate The Girl’ a track that has achieved this, along with the fact that if you are going to take risks it still needs to be musically interesting, original and also have the ability to be enjoyable, there is no point in making music if people can’t enjoy listening to it. “One of the most punk records”, please, what a absurd thing to label this song.