I have pretty varied musical tastes but if there’s one thing I can never resist, it’s a funky bass guitar line and a soul / jazz riff. Perhaps it’s influenced by what I grew up with (and as a 70’s kid, I couldn’t help but be exposed to it), but there’s always been something about that kind of music that makes me grin broadly. I’m just a total sucker for the whole sound - the lyrics don’t have to be insightful, the songs don’t have to be that original, just get that magical bass twang and counter riffs going and I’m sold.
It’s not so popular these days of course, except for the vague background influences that you can still hear in some bands, especially those like the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Jamiroquai is one of the few bands still doing it broadly in the mainstream, and they’ve been around for a while now - they first came onto my radar 10 years ago with that MTV award winning video. They recently released a new single, Runaway, one of 2 new tracks tacked on to an otherwise compilation album, their last under contract for Sony BMG. They’ve been really critical of Sony lately, so this is not a pleasant parting, and the track itself seems to rather clearly indicate JK’s previously rumoured intention to get out of the business once out of the contract.
It’s a bit of a shame, since there’s nothing else out there quite like Jamiroquai, unlike the plethora of Coldplay-a-likes (and yes, I do like Coldplay, but the world really doesn’t need any more emulators of that style, thanks). They do seem to polarise opinion - I know people who absolutely hate them - but for me it will be a loss if they do leave the scene. Some write it off as empty disco, but it’s certainly no Girls Aloud vacuous nonsense. Sure the lyrics aren’t that deep, but the harmonies are complex and the basslines compelling and for me at least it has some kind of visceral appeal, a kind of subconscious communication with a deep seated part of me that can’t help but be uplifted. Hence the grinning.
Worth watching the video anyway just to see an astronaut jiving in Picadilly Circus. Who cares why?