The Strange Appeal of Hot Hot Heat

All things being equal, I would dismiss Hot Hot Heat as quickly as Color Me Bad. However, all things are not equal. H3 has some sort of odd alure that I can not explain. It is a bad omen when I hear a song more than once on the radio on the same day as I have “Bandages”. But I can’t get enough Heat!

Such volumous play usually means the song is in high rotation, backed by The Machine and hence the next fad, of which I want no part.The best example of this is the song “Smooth”; the bane of my living spirit. Now, dear reader, chances are you are, even now, thinking, “…but I love that song.” And that is crux of the problem. The Man played that song to the point of mass submission. I have it on good authority that The Ministry of Love used this song to break the spirit of Winston Smith. Here are my beefs with “Smooth”. (I assure you I will get back to the topic I started, but this is important.)

Beef 1: I have never been a fan of the long, groovy jam a la Grateful Dead, especially when they are invariably in a minor key and ever backed by the guiro and cabasas.

Beef 2: It is too clever for its own good. Any song that has a hook that one immediately takes a shine to will usually disappoint the listener in the end. Once one hears the song 3 or 4 …or HUNDREDS of times because it is playing on every store radio network, every “on hold” system and in every elevator, one starts to realize that the only reason the song may have ever appealed to them was because the clever hook that is now tired; nay, aggravating. It is the same as a comedy film where all the jokes are shown in the television spot. It is an unfulfilled promise.

Beef 3: Is no one else perturbed by Rob Thomas’ singing style?

Beef 4: Bandwagon fans. Santana has not made a significant blip in the music world in decades. Yet, by some miracle, when “Supernatural” was released, there emerged countless scores of people who claimed to always have been a fan of Santana. If you fall into this group, let’s test your fandom. Name any song besides “Oye Como Va” and “Black Magic Woman” that was not on the “Supernatural” album. Better yet, name another Santana album besides “Supernatural” (“Best of…” is an invalid answer). And here is the true test: have you since sold your copy of “Supernatural” back to the Wherehouse or some other indie record store? I know you have because I have seen the countless copies of this album in the used bins right next to the hordes of Spin Doctors albums and Titanic Sountracks. You are so ashamed. Truth be told, the third Spin Doctors album was really good. The nine others of you who have it know what I am talking about it.

I have aired my grievances.

So what is it about these punchy Canucks? There are so many reasons to think Hot Hot Heat are utter rubbish. The lyrics are minimal, usually 3 or 4 lines per song, and perfectly incomprehensible. I had no idea he was singing “Bandages” until the title of the song provided the Rosetta Stone to his Robert-Smith’s-less-talented-cousin-like singing. I don’t remeber Canadian accents being like that. Shouldn’t he be singing “Bandages, eh?” not “Bad Nachos! Band of Gents! Ban the jewels!”? As to the rest of the words to that song…I would not bet money on what I think he is singing. Something about a “dirty water taps”, “shaking from a desert sham” and “up and down, oh [his] life, oh [his] arms from you”. There is the Question Mark & The Mysterians organ that Smashmouth already stole. “Hello…Smashmouth…this is Question Mark….yeah, we want our organ back…what’s that?…oh, very well, do you have Hot Hot Heat’s number then?” The album itself is not good; chock full of weird, inconsistent production value and a few songs that are all together RIGHT OUT. So what then do these British Columbian’s have?

I imagine they will lose their appeal eventually, but that is what I though about The Strokes.

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