Let’s get this straight right from the get-go: I wanted to hate this video clip. Even the idea of it made me nauseous. Anytime ‘pop’ tries to strip-mine classic dance genres, there’s going to be casualties and, in this case, big band music goes under the musical jackhammer. Swing was the dance music of choice when American GIs were ‘oversexed, overpaid, and over here’ in the ’40s. Enormous funky orchestras would regularly play to huge hangars of well-up-for-it crowds of couples dancing the night away.
So, when I caught whiff of Candyman I presumed the worst. I was thinking of… I dunno, Jive Bunny’s Swing the Mood. Anyone remember that atrocity? The concept was: take an all-time classic like Glenn Miller’s In the Mood then add a ‘drum beat’ that, at best, sounded like it was generated from an eight-note Casiotone, battery-powered, two-bob toy keyboard. It was a total insult that sailed to No. 1 and made some father/son mobile disco combination in Yorkshire an absolute motzer.
I don’t know why people think they can play so fast and loose with old classics… I mean, it’s like Rolf Harris wobbling away on three legs to Stairway to Heaven or something — I know, totally unthinkable!
So, as I say, I was poised to heap scorn on Candyman, I’d stored up litres of bile and vitriol especially. And then, like some vision of loveliness, I’m confronted by three Christina Aguileras in different wigs. Man, she looks good — all three of her. And the track is amazingly well produced. That’s right, I’m happy to go out on a limb and sayCandyman is a thumping good tune that pays tribute to arguably the best era in dance music. Big claims I know, but this column doesn’t get written to gild the lily and prevaricate around the bush — we tackle the big issues.
And while I’m sweeping my generalisations, can I point out the most blatant and incongruous instance of product placement I’ve seen… well, at least since last night’s episode of Big Brother? Apropos nothing… the vid cuts to another Christina Aguilera — this time in a brunette wig — lugging around an (almost) portable bar laden with Campari. Campari!? Why Campari?!? I almost expected the needle to be kicked off the record and for the video to suddenly jump to scenes of am umbrella’ed Neapolitan café with Christina looking like Sofia Loren, surrounded by oily-headed lotharios… What’s Campari got to do with GIs? Beer? Yes. Scotch on the rocks? Sure. But not Mussolini’s favourite pre-dinner tipple, surely? Clearly, Gruppo Campari had stumped up their three-billion Lire and they were going to get their pound of Aguilera flesh. And, just when you think the final wolf whistle, cute sideways glance, and ‘shay… who’s that broad?’ moment is over… along comes Campari Aguilera for a final gee-up of the troops. Yep, those all-American boys know what they’re fighting for: truth, justice, classy dames, and an orange-extract spirit originating from Hitler’s Mediterranean puppet state. Perfect.