3 underrated pop productions
As an artist who attempts to produce all of her own music, I understand the difficulty of producing a pop song. It's a true art form to transfer a great melody from your brain to your DAW, surround it with the most fitting instrumentation that allows it to shine, get the vocals right (always annoying) and make sure it won't sound dated in six months.
Today, I wanted to shine a light on three underrated pop productions from the 90s and 00s.
1. Spice Girls - "Spice Up Your Life"
Do you ever listen to a record and think, "This sounds expensive"? That's exactly the feeling I get when I listen to Spice Up Your Life. At their dizzying heights of their fame, the band enlisted the help of Richard Stannard — who would later go on to work on Marina and the Diamonds' Hollywood and Ellie Gouldings' Lights amongst others — to produce the song that would both promote and heavily feature in their movie Spiceworld,
I never much cared for this record when I was younger, but there is something about the way that Stannard manages to capture that time for the band so perfectly in 2 minutes and 53 seconds. It literally is the sound of five girls travelling the world in a double-decker union jack-plastered tourbus. It's so very extravagant.
Reverb is laid on very thick throughout, and Stannard incorporates a lot of latin-inspired percussion. I have always been intrigued with the vocal production of pop bands, and he takes an interesting approach here by almost merging the girls with the crowd at times. I haven't heard a pop production quite like it since that instantly takes you back to an incredibly specific time and feeling. A time when you actually thought it might be possible for them to take over the world.
2. Kylie Minogue - "Slow"
A lot of Kylie's instrumentals, especially from the Body Language era are extremely underrated. I could have chosen many of them, but Slow is perhaps my favourite. In complete contrast to the above, producer Dan Carey stripped everything back and only focussed on elements that were absolutely necessary to highlight Kylie's vocal performance.
Still sounding as fresh today as it did then, Carey bathes the track in 80s-inspired synths whilst Kylie's vocals cut through them like butter.
3. Sugababes - "Push The Button"
Producer Dallas Austin had a great day in the office when he created this instant pop classic. Its iconic, pounding synth line coupled with perhaps some of the band's best ever vocal performances made it no surprise that Push The Button charted at number 1 in the UK for three consecutive weeks upon release.
Everything about it just works. I still get excited when I hear that synth line, and the melody almost never gets old or stale. Any artist could have released the record today and still made number 1 with no one batting an eyelid.
I hope one day to re-create some of these instrumentals that I admire and film the process for a video tutorial series. Whilst I have dialup-like internet speeds though, that remains a pipe dream for now.
Hope you're all well x