Bek David Campbell, or just ‘Beck’ to you and me, is one of the most highly regarded and highly rated artists to come out of the 90’s. At a time when Nirvana was showing the world the meaning of ‘meh’, Beck came along and twisted this grungy style into a more quirky meaning of ‘meh’. He also happens to be one of my favourite artist of all time, and I stress the word “artist”. So naturally, when I heard that he would be playing Electric Picnic in the summer, I needed to lay down for a few minutes and weep tears of joy.
The best thing about Beck’s style of music is just that. He doesn’t sound like anyone else ever did before and ever will. He has his roots in both country blues and folk style ‘Americana’, while also injecting whatever style of music is popular at the time. He got his big breakthrough in 1993 with the release of the Mellow Gold album, which would feature the smash hit single, Loser. Loser managed to capitalize on the grungy feeling that existed in America at the time with its chorus line “I’m a loser baby, so why don’t you kill me?” becoming something of a slogan for the movement. But Beck never really liked to settle in with one ‘music scene’ and tried to change up his music as time went on. He would drop the song Loser off his set-lists, like Radiohead did with Creep, and went against the norm by releasing songs such as MTV Makes Me Want to Smoke Crack. Many at the time believed this to be noting but a marketing ploy, and many denounced Beck as a poser. He set out to prove them wrong.
His biggest album is arguably the 1996 album, Odelay. This album had a bit of everything. It had the left over of the sounds of Mellow Gold, mixed with some reggae, hip-hop infused folk. In short, it sounds like noting else. One of the best things about Beck is that none of his albums really sound the same, with a couple of exceptions, but you always know that it’s him. Something about his style just rings through each album. The big hit of the album, Where it’s at, remains one of my favourite songs, as does the hauntingly beautiful closing song, Ramshackle.
Beck would go on to work with famed Radiohead producer, Nigel Godrich, on his next two albums, Mutations & Midnight Vultures, the latter of which being the album that splits most fans. I for one think its one of the most fun albums to listen to, and proves, like some other of his songs, that you can just write a bunch of nonsense, and have it be an absolute cracker of a song, with the right beat.
Next, Beck would go on to write what is, undoubtedly, the greatest ‘Break up’ album ever written in Sea Change. This album will rip the very heart out of you. Every note, every word, has such pain behind it, yet it also leaves you with a hint of hope. It was so unexpected of Beck, yet it is often considered his greatest work. He would return to his more upbeat albums, with some excellent songs emerging in this period, such as my favourite Beck song, E-Pro, in which he samples the amazing beat to the Beastie Boys So What Cha Want. His newest album, Morning Phase, feels like a sequel to Sea Change, and captures the feeling and tone of the pervious album perfectly, with some stunningly beautiful tracks coming off it.
At Electric Picnic, it can be expected that the set list will be made up of mostly Sea Change and Morning Phase songs, which will probably make it the most sober and tear jerking show of the entire weekend. This may annoy some of his fans, who just want to jump around to New Pollution, but I’m sure that he will be busting out some of his older tracks, and maybe putting a new spin on some of them, which he tends to do. No matter what he sings, I’m sure that Beck will be the highlight of the weekend for me, and many others.
Tickets for Electric Picnic (29th-31st August) are available now from Ticketmaster priced at €229.50