Spike Heels and Skin Tight Jeans: An Ode to “Graffiti My Soul,” A Perfect Xenomania Production
In light of the recent news/gossip published in the UK’s The Sun about Britney‘s alleged sessions with powerhouse pop production team Xenomania (seizing, crying), I’ve decided a Xenomania appreciation post is in order.
While there are simply too many brilliant Xenomania productions to count (well, maybe I’ll do one once a week or something!), I wanted to spotlight one particular number that’s both close to my heart and shares ties with B Girl: Girls Aloud‘s “Graffiti My Soul.”
I first heard of Girls Aloud back in late 2004. (I know, it’s impossible to imagine a time/world when the Aloud didn’t exist in my life.) At the time, both “Love Machine” and “The Show” were making major waves in the UK, causing ripples that led all the way across the pond–and straight into the Britney forums, which is where I first made the discovery.
Taking a chance and/or a break from playing EverQuest (a dark part of my past–WE’RE NOT TALKING ABOUT IT), I downloaded the Aloud’s second studio album, What Would The Neighbours Say? And while it was the album’s lead singles that initially tickled my fancy, it was “Graffiti My Soul” that fully stole my heart away and converted me into a lifelong Aloud lover.
As soon as Nadine’s stiletto-sharp delivery opening line (“Spike heel and skin tight jeans, I got a fist full of love that’s coming your way, baby”) came roaring on top of that dirty guitar riff sampled from Peplab‘s 2001 track “It’s Not The Drug,” my lips a-quivered and the full body tremors began: I knew it was love.
Amidst raw guitar licks, blazing horns, explosive lyrical stutters and mile-a-minute rhymes, there lies a Perfect Pop Song within the chaos of “Graffiti My Soul”; a daring, multidimensional 21st century pop tune that breaks from the verse-chorus, verse-chorus structure of most contemporary pop tracks (which would hardly be the first time the Aloud defied pop conventions, i.e. “Biology”) and truly embodies the next-level genius of both Xenomania and the Girls Aloud machine.
But looping back to Queen B for a moment: The song was initially offered to and demoed by Britney while in the process of recording for her fourth studio album, In The Zone. In a 2004 interview with The Guardian, Xenomania member Brian Higgins noted that the label loved it, but that Britney’s camp members were less smitten, asking “Where’s the chorus? Why are there no repetitive parts?” They ultimately opted to call on Cathy Dennis to pen a track for the album–which led to the birth of “Toxic.” Not a bad alternative.
While the gritty rawness of “Graffiti My Soul” would have likely sounded out of place within the cool, Middle Eastern-tinged beats of In The Zone, I’m still dying to hear Britney’s take on the track. One day, perhaps…one day.
In conclusion: “Graffiti My Soul” is perfect. Thank you, Xenomania.
What Will The Neighbours Say? was released in November of 2004. (iTunes)