Has The "Featuring" Thing Gone Too Far? The Chemical Brothers Featuring St. Vincent "Under Neon Lights"!


Like a lot of people, I enjoy the occasional Chemical Brothers tune. Who among us hasn't lost our minds on the dance floor to masterful jams like "Leave Home" Block Rockin' Beats" or "Galvanize"? To put it simply,the Chemical Brothers are the fucking Nike of techno/big beat.

To say that each and every artist currently working in electronic music today owes at least some stylistic debt to the duo is indisputable. Just ask luminaries like Fatboy Slim and Daft Punk, who have both paid homage to the duo's influence upon their music by thanking the Chems in their respective album liner notes.

And even as the duo has continued to knock out pivotal tracks that always seem to pop up just as the the dance scene starts to get a little stagnant, the ease of technology has always threatened to make what they do obsolete simply by the accessibility of sound manipulation apps and recording software,

Yet, somehow, the Chemical Brothers have persevered, first cutting the landmark album Further in 2010 (which was accompanied by video vignettes for each track) and then scoring the film "Hanna".

Even as the recording studio gives way to the, uh, iPhone, making it possible for any kid on the planet to think that they're a DJ or hip hop producer. few have been able to come up with anything half as interesting as what Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons continue to do.

Case in point, the duo's first proper studio album in five years, Born In The Echoes, which sees the band still managing to finding new, as-yet-unexplored paths in electronic music. This time around, while they jump on the "featuring" bandwagon with the likes of A Tribe Called Quest's Q-Tip for the first single "Go!" and Beck on the album-closer "Wide Open", it is their collaboration with St. Vincent that hits the streets today.



While we love the track, it is the first Chemical Brothers collaboration that truly made us wonder if there had been any actual collaboration, much less interaction, between the two parties or if sampling one or two random lines by St. Vincent over the course of a song now is all you need these days to nab one of those esteemed "featuring" credits that's all-the-rage with the kids these days.

The track is fine, don't get me wrong. It's no "Block Rockin' Beats", but I can't help that St. Vincent's input in the recording of this track was minimal at best. In fact, one can't help wonder if we're finding out about this collaboration before she is. She might be sitting in a Starbucks in Soho right this very minute contemplating a lovely set of earrings on Etsy, completely oblivious to her involvement in the latest Chemical Brothers joint.

Yes, of course, we're kidding - I mean she's gotta know by now, right? Even so, having spun this tune all morning, one can't help wonder if this whole "featuring" thing has jumped the shark entirely. I mean, has it truly come to this, that the only way to get the hipsters to give the new Chemical Brothers album the time of day is to slap a "featuring St. Vincent" or "featuring Beck" or "featuring Dame Edna" on every new song?

If so, please kill me before the next Chemical Brothers album featuring collaborations with Nat King Cole, Jimi Hendrix or Kurt Cobain.

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