Album: Baccara, 1977
Justification: Can you genuinely love something that you’re also laughing at?
There’s an accusation I’ve had several times with different people about my deep love for “outsider music” like Wesley Willis or Lucia Pamela in which that love is questioned in terms of “but aren’t you just laughing at the crazy people?” And it’s a tricky question because only the most humourless killjoy wouldn’t laugh at the first time they heard ‘The Chicken Cow’ or ‘Walking on the Moon’, but that laughter isn’t at the artists’ expense: what they’re doing is so outside the mainstream that the incongruity of what they’re trying to achieve and the context in which they’re doing it (a casio preset backing while a guy talks about a cross between a chicken and a cow, a one-woman ragtime concept album about going to – and ostensibly recorded on – the Moon) is so pronounced that it makes one laugh with genuine wonder and delight – or at least, that’s what it does for me. And while I appreciate both artists more deeply now than I did the first time I heard them, there is still part of my enjoyment of them that revels in the sheer, glorious, unselfconscious ridiculousness of their art.
There’s nothing outsider about Baccara – they were a pair of Spanish television variety show dancers that transformed into a vocal group at the height of Eurodisco and had two enormous hits, including this one – but again, it makes me laugh every time I hear it. And it’s also legitimately one of my favourite songs.
It’s so slinky and breathy, in that gloriously oversexualised European disco idiom that was also pumping out acts like Boney M, and the lyrics so ludicrous for the most part, but there’s something utterly, inescapably joyful every time they build to that string-heavy crescendo in the chorus.
Also, as a sucker for songs-that-reference-the-art-of-writing-songs, I would argue that Leonard Cohen’s genius “it goes like this, the fourth, the fifth / the minor fall, the major lift” in ‘Hallelujah’ still has nothing on “…You want to know if I can dance / Yes sir, already told told you in the first verse / And in the chorus, but I will give you one more chance…” That is meta-post-modern to a level that few songwriters would dare try. Nice work, secret-power-behind-the-throne songwriters Frank Dostal and Rolf Soja.
Baccara’s time in the spotlight was predictably short: this and ‘Sorry, I’m a Lady’ were major hits in Europe but the second album didn’t do so well (despite the duo representing Luxumborg, for reasons I’m unable to discern, in the 1978 Eurovision Song Contest), and a dispute with Dostal and Soja saw the girls left with lesser writers until they split in 1983. However, both Mayte Mateos (the more singery of the two) and María Mendiola (more backups and humming) formed new duos called Baccara by the mid-80s. They never worked together again, although they’re apparently still friends. And yes, each of them are still touring as Baccara – Spanish copyright law, what on earth are you waiting for?
And the reason it’s been in my mind at the moment is because my girlfriend and I were just booked to DJ at a roller disco, and this is going to be the jewel in our set. Mark my words.
SONG YOU SHOULD HAVE REDISCOVERED THIS TIME IN 2010: OMD were celebrating their toe-tapping electro-pop ode to, um, the bombing of Hiroshima with ‘Enola Gay’.
SONG YOU SHOULD HAVE REDISCOVERED THIS TIME IN 2011: 19th was a Sunday, but the 18th was all about Gang of Four and the mighty ‘I Love a Man in Uniform’.
AND HERE’S THE LAST FIVE…