“Angelically Acid” Explicated
Have you ever been enchanted by a sweetie whose every word was just what what you wanted – and needed – to hear, whose every mannerism charmed you whenever you were together, whose every nuance was invariably and overwhelmingly adorable, … until you realized that said sweetie, once you deciphered the actual content and intent of those delectable interchanges, had repeatedly ripped out your heart, worked that sucker over with a meat mallet until it was properly tenderized, chewed it a bit to assure complete maceration, and then spat it back into your hands for safekeeping until next time?
Well, me neither. But a transmutation of that experience into pop tunes would provide a recognizable approximation of the Beautiful South’s discography.
Or, one could recreate the sound of the Beautiful South by combining the twee melodies of Belle and Sebastian or Tullycraft with lyrics by Warren Zevon.1
Yep, we’re back in one of my favorite musicological categories, a classification populated with the likes of Randy Newman and Dave’s True Story and characterized by mellifluous tones linked with astringent if not acrimonious lyrics in a mix of conflicted components that logically should jangle a listener’s perceptions but instead mysteriously works to allure and even delight.
From the the late 1980s when the band was formed by the survivors of The Housemartins until January 2007 when the group finally called it quits because, according to its members, of “musical similarities,” the Beautiful South captured an increasingly wide audience in England, eventually selling their 1994 “Best of” CD, Carry On Up The Charts, in numbers rivaling those of the Beatles.
While they never achieved such widespread success in the US, they did enthrall (and, for that matter, continue to enthrall) an impressive cult in this country, each member of which is perplexed that there exist individuals, apparently in large numbers, who are not rendered agape and agog upon hearing the first bars of “Perfect 10” or “One Last Love Song.” Those fans are easily identified by their repeated efforts to convince non-fans to try just one Beautiful South song, a recommendation that is invariably followed by the warning, “Be sure to listen to the words.”
Yes, we understand that there are those who just don’t enjoy the Beautiful South – and we feel sorry for you.
Listen To The Beautiful South
YouTube versions of a few of my favorite songs by the Beautiful South are embedded below; while you’re humming along with those wonderful melodies, be sure to listen to the words.
Beautiful South – Perfect 10
Beautiful South – Don’t Marry Her
Beautiful South – One Last Love Song
Note: Originally posted Aug 20, 2007 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of AllanShowalter.com
- One can play this game indefinitely. Rolling Stone compared the music of the Beautiful South to “candied apples pregnant with razor blades,” and the New York Times described it as “music by Mary Poppins, lyrics by Charles Manson.” There are many other examples; feel free to come up with your own. [↩]