April 28, 2005

"You Really Got Me."

The Telegraph reports:
The Kinks' You Really Got Me is officially the best song of its period. Radio 2 listeners voted it above Dusty Springfield's I Only Want to Be with You, Let There be Love by Nat King Cole, and the Beatles' Please Please Me and She Loves You in the first of a series of "songs of the decades" contests to celebrate the Ivor Novello Awards' 50th anniversary.
Ah! I remember when that song came out and some people said it shouldn't count as a song at all and music had reached a new low. Da-da-da-da. They'd sing "Stronger than dirt" -- the Ajax Laundry Detergent jingle -- to prove the point. Me, I'm eternally dedicated to The Kinks.

(You can hear the "Stronger Than Dirt" jingle and other 60s commercials here.)

UPDATE: My son sends this correction:

should be:

Which, I note severely undercuts the "Stronger Than Dirt" criticism. Several emailers have written to say that they thought this was something about "Touch Me" by the Doors. I think the Doors thing is that Morrison actually audibly sings the jingle. With "You Really Got Me," people were ridiculing the guitar riff: it was dumb because it sounded like a dumb commercial. "You Really Got Me" substantially predates "Touch Me."


Allah said...

Love the Kinks, although I'm partial to "Tired of Waiting for You."

I suppose the periods had to be divided in the middle of each decade in keeping with the Novello Awards' 50th anniversary, but it leads to some skewed results. All five nominees for the 1955-1964 period were recorded in the 60s. And all five nominees for the 1965-1974 period were recorded in ... the 60s. (See here.) In fact, four of the five nominees in the first group were recorded in 1963 or 1964, and three of the nominees in the second group were recorded in 1965. A very solid thousand days for Britpop, it would seem.

Ann Althouse said...

Allah: I love "Tired of Wating for You." If I had to pick one Kinks song that really affects me, it would be "I'm Not Like Everybody Else." Play that at my funeral, please. But the thing about "You Really Got Me" is that it was first, and it really surprised people.It was really a daring thing to do, to be that elemental, and so much flowed from that. I highly recommend "The Storyteller," which tells the whole great story of making that recording. Heavy metal, garage band -- that song is the original idea, the original spark of all of that.

Ann Althouse said...

And thanks for that link to the next set. I think it's clearly between "Satisfaction" and "My Generation," and I guess you have to give it to "Satisfaction," but I'm extremely partial to the early Who, and I'm fond of pointing out that I was a member of the Who fan club before their first album was released in the U.S., solely on the strength of "I Can't Explain."

Allah said...

Agreed re: Satisfaction, but that means a shutout for Lennon and McCartney. Which is pretty ironic given how they dominated the Ivor Novello Awards in the 1960s. Here's the homepage; check out the annual honors from 1963 through 1970. If I'm not mistaken, they're the only pop group to appear.

As for You Really Got Me, I take your point about its influence. It's hard for me to accept that it's a *better* song than She Loves You (which is the very best of the early Beatles, in my opinion) but I admit that when I think of Britpop, that's probably the first song that comes to mind. Perfectly captures the sneering-young-guys-in-suits attitude. "For Your Love" by the Yardbirds runs a close second.

Pancho said...
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Wade Garrett said...

These are some great links! I love Ivor Norvello; one of the best things about the movie Gosford Park was that it exposed an American audience to a lot of Norvello's songs for the first time. Having said that, the awards given in his honor have always seemed a little weird to me. "Best song musically and lyrically" is perhaps the most awkwardly named award in show business!

I'm only 25 years old, so please keep in mind that everything I am about to say is with the benefit of hindsight. I would have voted for "Please Please Me." Perhaps I don't understand the significance of "You Really Got Me," but it seems to me that 'scat' vocals had been around in Jazz music since Louis Armstrong; when he started using that technique people thought that it wasn't singing at all, and that music had reached a new low, but people quickly got over it. If the Kinks had never existed, scat vocals would probably have found their way into rock music sooner rather than later. I've always liked "Please Please Me" because the first 'please' is so polite and the second 'please' is so dirty. To me, it sounds dirtier than the Rolling Stones' "Let's Spend the Night Together," and Ed Sullivan made the Stones change the lyrics to that song . . . how did the Beatles get away with it?

Also, "Space Oddity" seems really out of place to me in that group of songs. I love David Bowie, but how did it get in over "A Day in the Life," or "Hey Jude?" Does it have a cultural significance I don't understand? Musically, I don't personally think it belongs ahead of those other songs. Then again, "The Logical Song" once won "Best song musically and lyrically," so maybe I can't really expect the results to make sense!

Pancho said...

And what about Archie Bell and the Drells!

"Hi, I'm Archie Bell and the Drells from Houston Texas,

We not only sing but we dance as good as we want...."

Ann Althouse said...

Terrence: I recommend listening to "You Really Got Me" at least once before forming an opinon. It hasn't anything to do with scat, for one thing.

And I think the voting was rigged against the Beatles by splitting the vote with two songs. Maybe properly so. If there were one song, whatever was, people would vote for it. "Please, Please Me" isn't a particularly great Beatles song. And I have a big problem characterizing these things as great songs, as opposed to great recordings. "You Really Got Me" is mostly great because of the guitar and the singing. The words? It's almost the absence of words.

Wade Garrett said...
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Wade Garrett said...

Erm. I thought it was "You Really Got Me" that caused a lot of controversy in the early 60's, because people didn't understand their mumblings and assumed that the lyrics were about sex. Am I confusing it with a different song by the Kinks?

Ann, I know that you've written extensively in the past about all the great music that came out in 1969. I'm surprised that American music isn't better represented among these nominees. If it wasn't for Nat King Cole in the 1955-1964 group, I would have assumed that this was a list of exclusively British music. Where are the great American songs of the era?

Ann Althouse said...

Terrence: I think you're thinking of "Louie, Louie," most prominently recorded by the Kingsmen, but the Kinks actually had a version of it on one of their early albums. It was actually easy to understand the words on the Kinks version. Of course, it's a very widely recorded song. I remember some radio station once playing "Louie, Louie" for a whole day -- all different versions. It would have been a good choice for the song of the decade, actually!

Robyn said...

Hah! You Really Got Me is the ringtone on my phone to identify my husband calling!

He's had me for 30 years now!

Wade Garrett said...

I get really into Top Five lists; it must be the "High Fidelity" fan inside of me! You can't make everybody happy, and there is so much great music from that era that somebody's favorite song is always going to be left out. Personlly, when you take away the performance and just talk about the song itself, I think you could make a case for "Don't Think Twice, Its Allright" being better than any of the five finalists from the 1955-1964 era.

I would like to see the personal top-five lists of peopel who lived through that era. My own five favorites from the decade 1965-1974 would have to be: "The Weight," from Music From Big Pink, "Just Like a Woman" from Blonde on Blonde, "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters" from Honky Chateau, "The Tracks of My Tears" by Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder's "Ma Cherie Amour."

CraigC said...

Ridiculing the guitar riff????? Ridiculing one of the greatest hooks in rock history???? Who are these people?

Ann Althouse said...

CraigC: You've got to remember. I'm very old. I was there at the time, before people knew how much would come from that record. They thought it was a dead end, rock bottom. I also remember people ridiculing early rock and roll in the 50s, as if it was some passing fad that just involved some young people acting very silly. Elvis was just shaking -- how ridiculous. There were always a lot of people who said rock was "just noise" and that the real songs -- the "standards" -- would regain their rightful place. I personally had many fights wtih my father on this subject. Pop culture was full of jokes about it.