The Ting Tings
We Started Nothing
The first song you’ve probably ever heard by The Ting Tings is that psychedelic iTunes commercial. But these are no fresh-faced hipsters. Katie White and Jules De Martinoare are grizzled vets who began their respective careers as teen popstar wannabes, and as you would expect, they both got screwed by a soulless record industry. Years later, they’ve regained their artistic integrity and now want to craft hooks that will burn those execs in all the wrong places. With all that rage and drama building up, what do The Ting Tings do with their magnum opus? They release it on a major label. Huh, that’s ironic, it’s just like the Greek tragedy where the dude kills his dad and marries his mom. Whatever, it doesn’t change the fact that this album totally and completely sucks.
Fittingly titled We Started Nothing, The Ting Tings’ debut has all the charm of one of those whistling bottle rockets. The first time through it is ear piercing and ends with a pop. After that, you just kind of wish it would blow up in the neighborhood kid’s hand as he lights it. The lyrics are banal and uninteresting. The beats are derivative, and the strange lack of a real bass line makes the whole album sound metallic and fake. The flimsiness of these tracks is made all the worse by production that completely lacks texture. The one thing this album does have is hooks, and I admit they’re not bad. Unfortunately, all the freshness is worn thin by a total lack of variation. What’s that, you want to sing the chorus yet again? Try a fucking key change once in while. Sheeesh, anyone with access to an oldies radio station knows these tricks.
That brings me around to the vocals. White has great pronunciation and a fairly wide range, but she performs with absolutely no soul. Even Gwen Stefani rocks the mic harder than she does. Take the disco single, “Shut Up and Let Me Go,” for example. In spirit, the song mirrors “I Will Survive” and basically says “fuck you” to an ex-boyfriend, or in this case, ex-label. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking; Gloria Gaynor kicked that douche bag out. But White’s performance is far less convincing. There is no conviction in her voice. She didn’t even kick the dog out after messing up the rug. It’s not empowering. It’s sophomoric and even a bit embarrassing, more like a five-year-old throwing a tantrum than a grown woman stating her mind.
The Ting Tings haven’t done their homework. They haven’t learned a thing from the Jackson Five, Blondie, Gloria Gaynor, Kraftwerk, The Pizzicato Five, Parliament, The Bee Gees, Cyndi Lauper, Carole King, Stereolab, or anything from Motown Records. Hell, they didn’t even learn anything from Deee-Lite, the last band to have a #1 disco-inspired dance single with a video/commercial featuring people dancing in front of a wildly colorful background. At least “Groove is in the Heart” had a fun cameo by Q-Tip and an unforgettable baseline by Bootsy Collins. It’s true in the end, just like the Greek tragedy. They started nothing, but I can’t say they didn’t warn me.
The Ting Tings: www.thetingtings.com