First things first.
I really don’t care.
I don’t care that you think Daphne and Celeste were rubbish.
I don’t care that you think less of me for writing this gushing article (and believe me…I am going to gush).
I don’t care that you think that the fact they don’t have greasy hair, bad skin and a guitar makes them less important than boys in bands who do.
I just don’t care.
“Daphne and Celeste” is, arguably, the greatest piece of manufactured pop art in the history of popular music…not because of the quality, or otherwise, of the music but because of the screeching, howling, cacophony of rage that they provoked amongst fans of “real” music.
It’s possible that the whole enterprise was a Situationist stunt designed to provoke exactly that reaction…Malcolm Mclaren and Andy Warhol would have approved of them without hesitation or reservation. They were pop art, pop and popular in ways that many of the bands I love much more dearly could only ever dream of being.
In 1999 the duo announced their arrival with “Ooh, Stick You” a song so fabulously irritating/catchy that it was impossible not to loathe/love it with every fibre of your being. It starts with Celeste introducing Daphne (Karen DiConcetto) in a manner that makes the Chipmunks sound like Idris Elba by comparison. The rest of the song is a technicolor riot of ridiculousness…”You got facial hair like a polar bear” they chant with all the passion and fire of some ludicrously earnest indie rocker intoning about the death of his first pet.
It was music for children made by people who really should have been old enough to know better.
I love it.
I don’t mean I love it in a “This is so bad it’s good” way…I just mean I love it in a “I love this” kind of way.
It makes me smile.
No, scratch that, it makes me grin inanely.
If it doesn’t have that effect on you then your face probably looks mean like Halloween.
Lots of people agreed with me because it broke into the top ten and peaked at number eight.
I hear you.
“Meh, so what…loads of shite gets into the charts, doesn’t mean its any good.”
To which I say…I don’t care.
And it’s not shite.
Amazingly their next single was even more awful/wonderful.
Even more irritating/catch.
“U.G.L.Y” is just about the most fun you can have in three minutes.
“You’re only fourteen, look a hundred years old”
“What you really need to do is wear a mask and book that plastic surgeon fast”
“Uncle Fester remember him…I never knew you had a twin”
Dylan would cut out his tongue to have written lines as poetic.
Morrissey wishes he could be so caustic.
Noel dreams of a melody this memorable.
Please…I don’t need to hear your bleeding heart blah about how mean it is…I’m a desperately ugly person; big ears, balding, overweight, big nose, imperfect teeth and I wish that the kids at school had taunted me with such wit.
Worryingly the British public seemed not to love this as much as they had “Ooh, Stick You” as it only reached number 18 in the charts.
Then came a third, and seemingly final, single in the shape of a cover of Alice Cooper’s “Schools Out” which had more truth to it than the original given the fact that the people singing it were basically children themselves and not withered old rockers who really should know better.
The magic of Daphne and Celeste was that they didn’t know better and, even if they did, they didn’t care. They wanted to make pop songs…so they made pop songs.
In 1999 the organisers of the Reading and Leeds Festival decided to invite Daphne and Celeste to perform alongside many “real” bands like…um, Blink 182 and Slipknot.
Just think about that for a second.
Two girls who are famous for singing highly irritating/catchy songs, two girls more fragrant than a field full of really fragrant things, two girls who dressed up as cheerleaders and bounced around like hyperactive puppies, two girls with lovely clean hair…had just agreed to perform in front of a crowd full of people who they knew would hate them.
As Sister Aretha never tires of telling us R.E.S.P.E.C.T.
What followed was all the proof you need that men (and it was men) of a certain age and who like a certain type of music (hullo metal heads) are raving arseholes…a shower or urine, bottles, detritus and even a wheelchair were hurled at the stage during their performance.
Did they rush for the wings crying?
They stood their ground and finished their set.
And that seemed to be it.
A few hit singles.
A legendary festival appearance.
Then…puff…they were gone.
Like Keyser Soze we were left to wonder if they had ever really existed.
Then in 2015 something terrible/wonderful happened.
Daphne and Celeste returned.
Grown men wept at the news.
Well, OK…this grown man wept tears of joy at the news.
Other grown men wept tears of pain.
“You and I Alone” was a different beast from those early D&C moments that had made me fall head over heels in love.
Firstly there were no Alvin and the Chipmunks style vocals.
Secondly there were no cheerleader style choruses.
Thirdly…it was a genuinely cool and, gulp, good song.
Is this a joke?
I’m not laughing.
You go and give it a listen…go on…done it?
Now we have “Daphne and Celeste Save the World”…a brand new album. Thirteen little bubbles of pop fizz that make you feel better about, well…everything. Produced by electronic whizz Max Tundra the whole thing is polished to such an extent that you can actually see your reflection in the choruses. It’s still silly, it’s still irritating/catchy/irritatingly catchy and it’s still going to get right up the noses of very earnest and serious people…and that’s why I love it and adore them.
I feel much better now that this is all out in the open.
Thanks for listening.