Little Jackie – 28 Butts
Whilst it’s laudable that the good folk at Into The Popvoid seek to give credit to the should’ve-beens of this world, it sometimes feels like the actually-were-hits-but-nobody-seems-to-remembers could do with a bit of love too.
In the autumn of 2008, Motown-inspired duo Little Jackie had a top 20 hit with the peerless The World Should Revolve Around Me, a song that seems to have been forgotten by just about everyone. That’s a crying shame, as it’s a brilliant track that celebrates being single whilst simultaneously giving useless exes the middle finger, all set to an arrangement that’s so simple yet brilliant, you feel like you’ve known it all your life.
It would be easy to bang on for a few more paragraphs about The World Should Revolve Around Me, but that would be against the rules of this fine website. Happily, Little Jackie’s debut album, The Stoop, contains another half-dozen pop gems that deserve to be brought to the attention of a wider audience.
One of these tracks is 28 Butts (it’s referring to cigarette ends, get your mind out of the gutter); an irresistible number filled with catchy hooks, a brilliantly singalong chorus, and lyrics that are stupid and endearing at the same time. Vocalist Imani Coppola (who you may remember from 1998’s Legend Of A Cowgirl) half-raps and half-sings the verses with lyrics that bemoan the state of her current life and the loss of innocence, but in such an endearing and witty way it’s hard not to smile. Coppola references the myths she believed as a child, and they’re the leaps of logic we were all guilty of in our younger days (“I ate a watermelon, swallowed the seeds / Suddenly there was a watermelon growing in my tummy”).
Really though, 28 Butts is Coppola telling herself she needs to get her life together. She’s smoking too much (“I gotta pace myself, I’m smoking like a chimney”), drinking too much (“I really know how to party / Reminisce about the day when I was swigging my Bacardi”) and she’s lonely (“It’s just me / Keeping myself company”). It all sounds like a harrowing self-examination, yet the uplifting production turns it into an affirmation anthem. You get the impression that by Coppola facing up to her demons, she’s on the road to addressing them and turning things around. It’s amazing what a few well-placed trumpet blasts can do.
The Stoop reached number 138 on the UK album charts [insert sadface here], and Little Jackie’s subsequent albums (2011’s Made4TV and 2014’s Queen Of Prospect Park) were even less successful. Their songs are funny, ballsy and honest, and have the kind of retro, Motown style that never seems to go out of fashion. On one hand, you’d think The Stoop could have been a hit in the aftermath of Amy Winehouse’s Back To Black. On the other hand, maybe it felt too breezy in light of Winehouse’s soul-searching, wee small hours confessionals. Whatever the reason, we’re all guilty of missing out on something which is just as good listening to by yourself as it is shouting along with friends at 1am.
Who could sing this today and have a hit? It’s probably a little early in Little Mix’s career for them to do songs about sinking bottles of whiskey but style-wise, this has got Perrie and co. written all over it.