Monday, June 24th, 2013

Eliza Doolittle – Big When I Was Little

When I was small, and these 10 Christmas Trees I Can’t Stop Gazing At were tall…


Anthony Easton: I miss Lily Allen. Whatever happened to Lily Allen?

Iain Mew: 7 Ways To Tell You Are Listening To A Pop Song Whose Appeal Is Reliant On Nostalgia It Is Too Lazy To Get Right: 1) Experiences are framed so that they don’t sound like real memories. “Dancing to cassette tape singles” — someone fixated on the physical form of music might think of the tapes themselves, sure, but to focus on the dancing but mention the medium rather than the songs is jarring. 2) Memories are retro-fitted to more recent trends. All your old photos were Polaroids? Really? 3) Any attempt to bring in relationships with people — to tell a story rather than just listing cultural references — soon dissipates. 4) The song can’t decide what era it’s referring to. Even if Eliza Doolittle was an early teen drinker, that still places her Smirnoff Ice in the ’00s. Malcolm in the Middle didn’t start until 2000, but the SNES was already retro by then, Lauryn Hill hadn’t released anything for a while, Nirvana’s second wave of popularity was wearing out, and surely no one was still defining themselves by which Spice Girl they were. 5) The phrase “when I was little” is used to cover teenage years and clubbing rather than preteen. That is not how it’s widely used. The forced cuteness of doing so is a little creepy. 6) The music is, while alright, more reminiscent of the mid-2000s than any era the song refers to. 7) The chorus comes right out and gives the game away. “That was big when I was little”, not “that was big with us” or “that was big round here”. It doesn’t even bother to hide that it’s just trying to tick boxes for as many people as possible.

Scott Mildenhall: Eliza and her friend’s antics merge into the background, overshadowed by the looming spectre of black hat SEO. To Hell with poetry, just throw in the phrase “cassette tape singles.” Who cares if it’ll sound over-specific, clumsy or unhuman? The important thing is you get it in there. And from Super Nintendo straight to “club nights at Bagley’s” — just how long was Eliza little for? Starting when Nirvana were big? Ending when it last seemed a good idea for labels to sign acts at whom lazy people could throw the epithet “not Lily Allen”? Maybe you could grant her artistic licence, but she certainly isn’t using any.

Brad Shoup: Been listening to a fair amount of “Nobody” in the last couple weeks — it pairs really well with a Lone Star and Lily Allen’s “He Wasn’t There” — so I’m inclined to overlook this track’s front on memory. I’m certain everyone concerned had the words “summer song” in their minds the whole time. The MIDI horns are always trailing, like aural bleed from a boardwalk storefront. Crotchet piano and Doolittle’s effortless scaling give this a Jackson 5 feel, at least until the doofy, time-compressed refrain. But hey, I’m full of goodwill.

Will Adams: There is so much going on here –- more nostalgia bait than a Buzzfeed listicle; a messy, horn-fueled downtempo; Eliza Doot-Doolittle sounding like Jessie J turned down to 5 — and yet it remains painfully dull.

Alfred Soto: A word-addled song, crammed with loud drums and harsh mariachi horns and a performer whose inspiration is Robin Williams kids movies from the nineties.

Patrick St. Michel: Good move by Eliza Doolittle to sneak into the chorus the title of the only good song she’s ever been part of. Unfortunately, Disclosure aren’t around to pull her out of this Lily-Allen-Presented-By-Buzzfeed nightmare.

Katherine St Asaph: The concept is cheaply mockable, but there are ways to make nostalgia songs — even product-addled songs — work. Either you skip straight past the lyrics and just chain brands together like Lincoln Log Lego-men, purely for the sounds; or write what you really remember, not what an algorithm says was big; or even just admit your crassness, rather than spraying it down with a Febreze of trumpets.

Edward Okulicz: Everything about this is excruciatingly awful, from the “Smile” backing to the overly cutesy “litt-aww!” in the chorus. You get more depth and more joy from Estelle’s “1980,” no surprise there, but you also get it from Aqua’s “Back to the 80s.”

Reader average: [3.28] (7 votes)

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4 Responses to “Eliza Doolittle – Big When I Was Little”

  1. 1. Iain is doing the Lord’s work.
    2. This is a good example of why I don’t miss Lily Allen.
    3. If I’d listened to this before it was posted, I would have [0]’d it so hard.


  3. Not to defend Eliza’s clumsy lyrics but I’d say dancing to cassette tape singles is an instance where the medium IS significant: when a 45 finishes you just put the needle back to the beginning and start again. CD or mp3 finished? Press the button and start again. Cassingles however would require at least 15 seconds of rewinding (or listening to the shit remix on the B side) to get back to the beginning, during which time NO DANCING CAN OCCUR. Basically you’d have to be pretty fucking dedicated to spend more than half an hour dancing to the same tune. And then your tape breaks from too much rewinding.

  4. Maybe she copied her cassingle across the entire side of a C45! (Though I doubt she ever had a cassette player, let alone one with dubbing).