4 Non Blondes
just turned 25. It might be half a life… When I was half that age I bought a
tape by the 4 Non-Blondes mainly because, as the sticker specified, it included
‘top hit’ ‘What’s up”. Nirvana’s Nevermind had revealed my
constant longing for discovering new bands but I was naïve then and I must
admit that I bought several albums expecting the album to be as great as the
single. With retrospect ‘What’s up’ is the only decent song on the album.
I still yield to its anthemic chorus. That’s a fairly dangerous statement.
Indeed, you might be ostracized for saying such a thing in the indie world I
never fully grasped the meaning of ‘What’s up?’ lyrics at the time. It
starts off like this:
"25 years of my life and still I’m trying to get up that great big hill of hope… for a destination"
I do now that I’m 25…
is the opening and final line of the song. The remainder of the lyrics is not as
good (except for mainstream lesbians) but there is this line. Even if I’ve
ploughed my great big hill of hope I’m still trying to head for a
The question remains open: Wild wild west ?? The Tour Eiffel ?? Atlantic City ?? Ocean’s Eleven ?? Sometimes I’m wondering if it’s not a life time question… ‘Whats’ goin’ on ??’ Well, when I was a child I thought I would be a well-off football player or a famous journalist at that age but I’m still a student and instead of attending a business school which would supposedly make me earn enough money to become a respected man of good fortune, I’m pondering over diy lifestyle in this unhinged shameful memories column. Ontological ?? I suppose so. Anyway, if it wasn’t for this song, I should have known better and purchased something more self-delusive or I should have bought a Mano Negra tape to be able to talk with the girl I had a crush on then…
4 Non-Blondes’ music is such a collection of cliché devices which are
supposed to improve both music and attitude that every novice band should listen
to this album in order to know right from the start what to avoid: Superfluous
solos, voice overdubs, pseudo-cool yells, epic solos à la Bruce Springsteen,
double solos, shouting to indicate the songs’ climax, tenth-rate lyrics
endowed with political purposes, ending the song with a voiced solo while the
back-voices sing the chorus, etc.
What comforts me is that I realized back then that the album was horrid.
The 4 non-blondes logo. It was Linda Perry’s hat and unfortunately it had
nothing to do with The Avengers. It’s too bad she didn’t wear a blushing
midget hat instead of that ugly aviator thing. She tries hard to sing as a black
gospel singer and spoils a couple of songs because she sings too loud and
over-dramatizes her deliveries. For instance ‘Drifting’ could have been a
nice acoustic ballad but she strives to get the emotions out shouting (and
adding superfluous violins), which results in spoiling the pleasant melody.
‘Dear Mr President’ is a mainstream libel dealing with American society’s rejected and unwanted people, addressing the president, asking him to answer for the children who are begging for money, etc. ‘It’s such a wonderful country… and it’s burning down and it’s called the US of A’, Cabron ! The band tries so hard to make it an anthem that you could easily think that children will come and sing the last chorus hand in hand with Linda Perry, like in Michael Jackson’s ‘Heal the World’.
The last song is a ridiculous attempt to make a groovy hit à la Red Hot Chili Peppers, a band that I really dislike. The bass line is especially awful. When you model yourself on a role-model, you become modelling clay...
‘Pleasantly Blue’ is an amusing white boogie which is not unpleasant to listen to because of its short duration and of its cliché aspect. Indeed, it’s exactly the kind of boogie used as off-screen music diegetically justified because the action takes place in a striptease saloon. I won’t imagine Perry as a stripper but it leads me to the final question: what have they become ?? Nothing much I assume. Linda Perry had the looks to sell Third World trivia. Dawn Richardson had a nice first name and I hope he didn’t trade it for Joey Jordison… I won’t venture into playing with Roger Rocha’s name…
just remember this:
"25 years of my life and still I’m trying to get up that great big hill of hope… for a destination."