Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Like a Friend

One of the nice things about a blog – unlike a book or a thesis – is that it’s okay to change your mind and willingly contradict yourself. So, did I say “Disco 2000” was Pulp’s best chance for a U.S. hit? Eh, maybe I spoke too soon. “Like a Friend” is also pretty damn catchy, featuring one of the band’s most rousing performances. Plus, the song was attached to the 1998 film of Great Expectations – starring Ethan Hawke, Gwyneth Paltrow and Robert DeNiro – which I recall getting a lot of publicity at the time, although I’m not sure how well it’s remembered now. The band made a video interspersed with clips from the film, but perhaps that doesn’t really matter in the long run.

The real strength of “Like a Friend” is its mix of catchy melodies – in the song’s languorous and anthemic sections – with Jarvis’ pithy metaphors on a timeless theme: the codependency of friendship. Although the song doesn’t really have a chorus, it builds to a real fist-pumping kind of coda, and Jarvis’ lyrics are witty and concise, covering a universal topic that probably doesn’t get as much play in modern pop music as it should.

In addition to appearing on a soundtrack and a b-side, “Like a Friend” also showed up as the last track on the U.S. version of This Is Hardcore, where I think it actually fits very well as a kind of encore track. Still, we’re going with the British track listings for this blog, so I’m not tagging it as a TIH track.


Mel said...

Such a great song. It was so cleverly written...

Anonymous said...

Are you aware that the cut of Like a Friend on the Great Expectations soundtrack is totally different from the bonus cut that concludes This is Hardcore.

If the song failed to light up the charts, that's your reason. The Great Expectations soundtrack did brisk business (it was more popular than the movie), but the version of Like a Friend that Pulp submitted for the soundtrack was a weak remix of the original. It sounded like the work of an amateur learning ProTools.

It probably did more to poison Pulp's reputation in the US than it did to help them. People who rushed out to Walmart to pick up the soundtrack for the new songs by Chris Cornell and Tori Amos must have scratched their heads when they heard this peculiar and very jarring Pulp song.

Mike said...

I forgot that the Great Expectations version of the song was a different mix. Thanks for the reminder. It's too bad someone had a crisis of nerve and substituted a poor remix, but then again, Pulp often had bad luck and timing when trying to establish themselves in the U.S.