Thursday, March 4th, 2010

Shiny Toy Guns – Major Tom

Electro-pop underachievers dent the Hot 100…


Iain Mew: Shiny Toy Guns have some pretty great tools and materials at their disposal here. Staccato tension building, a range of good synth tones, singer switching in and out of ice queen mode at will. Sadly, they’ve chosen for some reason not to put them towards their own creation but instead to rebuild someone else’s. They were never likely to look anything but worse in comparison, so why do it?

Edward Okulicz: I really liked the synth-disco miserablism of Shiny Toy Guns’ first album, even if the songs weren’t particularly good uses of the weapons in their arsenal, but what they did have was drama, huge choruses, great vocal interplay and a lot of charm. This, by contrast, is smooth, frictionless and flat.

Martin Kavka: There is nothing here to keep me from writing about the difficulty of rebranding, concluding in laughter that Lincoln ever thought that by associating Shiny Toy Guns with their MKZ model, they would magically switch from being a brand of geezer cars to being the hip choice for fortysomethings who loved John Hughes in their youth.

Alex Ostroff: At some point in the endless cycle of pop-music-eats-itself, the question ceases to be “Is ‘Major Tom’ an awesome song?” (Answer: Dear God YES!) and becomes “Was an amped-up, female-fronted funkless reverb-heavy electropop cover of ‘Major Tom’ really necessary?”. The most gracious thing I can say about this recording is that the dude never takes the mic outside ‘4…3…2…1…”, which saves the track from descending into Brokencydery (as it does in the live video). Created for a Lincoln MK Z commercial, the cover’s very existence boggles the mind. After all, nothing says “Buy our cars!” quite like the story of a technological malfunction that strands an astronaut in the depths of space.

Alfred Soto: Since “Space Oddity” is not one of my favorite Bowie numbers, Peter Schilling’s hit registered more as signpost than music. In 1983, so many synth poppers aped Bowie’s soaring human choruses and robotoid verses that it was about time somebody stole one of his classic tropes without worrying about tricky things like “pastiche” (naturally, this somebody was a German). Whoever Shiny Toy Guns are, they have the right idea: skip the verses and go straight for the chorus, which is almost indelible. Stevie Nicks could have traded “Stand Back” for this and no one would have noticed.

Chuck Eddy: The girl orbits space weightlessly enough as she sits in her tin can high above the moon, not adding anything to Bowie’s and Peter Schilling’s legacy, yet not shaming it either. But when the boys come in, they really clunk up the countdown.

Anthony Easton: This is blandly atmospheric, and has a techno paranoia that with all of the discussion of robots being our lovers and friends, seems vaguely retro futuristic. Charming.

Matt Cibula: Oh, man, the future is going to suck so hard. (To be fair, I hated this song when it first came out too.)

Additional Scores

Michaelangelo Matos: [5]
Doug Robertson: [7]
Martin Skidmore: [3]

2 Responses to “Shiny Toy Guns – Major Tom”

  1. This thing came out ages ago. Was it only released now? Really like it, actually. They didn’t exactly took the most creative route, but they managed to retain the epic sound of the original chorus.

  2. BTW I’ve just noticed the “video” version is different from the one that appeared last year. I’m not so keen on the dude’s vocals.