Sometimes when this project stalls it’s because there’s a song too tricky or terrible to write about. You might think that’s the case here: it’s not. “The Tide Is High (Got The Feeling)” is indeed terrible, but its wretchedness is banal, readily apparent. There’s nothing here to get your head around: it’s a bad cover version, in an era of bad cover versions, performed mechanically by a band whose character was deliberately bleached out of them when success hit. There’s no long term plan, no devilishly clever marketing scheme – in fact the marketing is as transparent as the rest of the record.

There’s one curiosity, of course – that “Get The Feeling” parenthesis, a middle eight appended to the song like a poorly built extension. Cue sucking of teeth, shaking of heads, muttering about right cowboys. But I remember the sometime administrator of I Love Music putting up the claim that the addition made this the best version of “The Tide Is High”. It probably does make this pallid walkthrough of it better, just by creating a bit of variety for an audience raised on key changes which yank a song into higher gear. But as everyone else who had a hit with it knew, the song doesn’t need variety: it’s got a hook, a groove, and enough space for a vocalist to mix sweetness, yearning, and determination. What’s the point in making it longer?

Long ago I said that when I gave a 1 to a record there should be something outstandingly bad about it – the just generically bad wouldn’t do. The “get the feeling” break is too innocuous to even count as defacement, so this record is the definition of generically bad, the pop that people who hate pop assume all pop is like.

Being an honest critic of pop isn’t about excusing dreck: it’s about exploring how records made for the same people – and sometimes by the same people – as “Get The Feeling” fail to become it. Every new style of pop finds new ways to be better than it needs to be. But the other side of that coin is that every style finds the same lazy ways to disappoint.

Score: 2

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