Thursday, November 19th, 2009

Aqua – My Mamma Said



Edward Okulicz: One of the things that’s often forgotten, or maybe not known because people remember Aqua just for “Barbie Girl” and a few others, is that Lene Nystrom is a fantastic vocalist, capable of shrieky cheese and genuine emotion in ballads. She tries very hard on this but the combination of a sort of heartfelt, creepy ballad about the death of your mother with Rene’s comedy rap stylings reminds you why she used to get the slow songs all to herself.

Anthony Miccio: It’s hard to imagine a memorial more poignant than this. Maybe Eiffel 65 and Crazy Frog teaming for a cover of “It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday.”

Martin Skidmore: A strange mix of elements, sometimes trying to sound classy and slick, but also with totally ridiculous lyrical moments from Rene. I wanted more of the latter, really, and more of the insane pop energy of their old classics, but this is okay.

Pete Baran: Oddly this owes more to Abba than “Back to the 80s” did: the sense of tension on the throbbing rhythm track suggests it might explode and in one of the parallel universes this explodes into a Scooter track – which is clearly where Rene wants it to go.

Chuck Eddy: Despite some spacious sad windblown atmosphere, Lene Nystrøm Rasted’s cabaret balladry mostly makes me shrug until the great René Dif comes in and commences rasping about Mamma passing into parallel worlds and the multiverse. Before that, I didn’t even realize she was dying! Pretty weird.

Ramzy Alwakeel: The discovery that Aqua are old enough to be digitally remastered is an unwelcome shock, but mitigation in part comes from this basically inoffensive poster boy for their new singles collection. It’s still broadly a bad record, attempting to achieve melancholy by drizzling artless quantities of curiously Americanised Europop over an insufficiently tongue-in-cheek lyric, but Aqua aren’t nearly so dreadful as anything that has happened in the 12 years since their first album. In many senses a casualty of their time, they wouldn’t have been branded especially inauthentic by today’s music press, but the records themselves are no longer sufficiently unusual to win them any favourable reinscriptions.

Alex Macpherson: As carefully crafted and polished as “My Mamma Said” is, and despite Lene Nystrom’s tremulous performance, there’s something sterile about its stylised sheen; Aqua care too much about making “perfect pop”, and seem to focus on the idea of a certain emotional effect at the expense of actually achieving it. This, though, is at least preferable to the preposterous comedy bald dude galumphing in with a truly horrible verse which undoes any hope of the song succeeding on any level.

Matt Cibula: “Hi, schatzi, it’s me, your mamma. Why is your new song so boring, except for the part where the Einar Örn guy does his rapping thing? I thought we raised you better than that. Anyway, we’ll see you for brunch on Sunday. Your stepfather says ‘Halløj’.”

Ian Mathers: This is a compellingly weird way to write an elegy, but how much better would this be with only Lene singing? It’s not the rhythm or the timbre of Rene’s voice I mind here so much as the seriously daft vocals about the “multiverse” and “soul vibrations” that make me wince a little. But surprisingly, “My Mamma Said” still manages to be the first touching high-NRG song about a parent dying I’ve heard on the Jukebox. I actually wonder if this is a single edit, because I feel like it could use (or at least I could stand) a couple more minutes of it.

Michaelangelo Matos: They get points for accuracy: when you’re going to have a lyric like “Mama just crossed to the parallel world, she crossed to the multiverse,” it helps to sound like as big a dork as this dude does. The rest of the song is stuck waiting in front of the Orange Julius at the mall for a prom date that will never arrive.

Kat Stevens: Heartbreaking metaphysical conundrums and silly Euro-rap are not usually a good mix, but there’s a special place in my heart for Aqua that means they can get away with just about anything.

One Response to “Aqua – My Mamma Said”

  1. Voivod have a song called “Multiverse” on their underrated self-titled album from 2003, I just noticed! But being bascially sci-fi-phobic, I don’t think I ever really noticed the term until this song. Sezy Wiki: “The multiverse (or meta-universe, metaverse) is the hypothetical set of multiple possible universes (including our universe) that together comprise everything that physically exists: the entirety of space and time, all forms of matter, energy and momentum, and the physical laws and constants that govern them. The different universes within the multiverse are sometimes called parallel universes.” But now I’m wondering what “multiverse” might mean as a musical term.