Fidelity Wars #62: The Beautiful South – “Pretenders To The Throne”

So, I was doing some random browsing looking through music videos by The Beautiful South, when I suddenly see that they’d made a music video for “I’ll Sail This Ship Alone”, which I didn’t know had gotten the whole video and radio single treatment. I gave it a look, and was surprised that to hear that this wasn’t the same version as on their album; apparently they’d re-done it for the the single release!

So I figure that this will be the song I feature this week, and I start idly looking into what other songs by the band I might’ve missed out on. Then I stumble over the song “Pretenders To The Throne” which wasn’t on any proper album but was released as a single and which was included on one out of four of their best of compilations. I’m then considering whether or not to include that song instead.

Then after further research, I see that they had actually recorded and released a cover song of The Smiths‘ “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” as a B-side to one of their singles. That becomes a third contender to become my week’s pick.

I lean heavily towards going with this one, when I notice that in the comment field of the copy I was able to download, it’s credited to a fan made The Beautiful South B-sides compilation which can be found here. So I download it. But it turns out that the song “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” on this compilation is actually a 1.86 MB big WMA file which registers at 64 Kbps, whereas the version of the song I found that was credited to this compilation was a 5.8 MB MP3 file registering at 192 Kbps. They sound pretty much the same though. So my guess is that someone converted the WMA file to MP3, and figured using a higher Kbps than the original would give better quality. Which of course it doesn’t. So seems that both copies of the song are of sub-par quality. I try to see if it would be possible to buy the original single to get this B-side the old fashioned way, but it’s selling for a minimum of 15 GBP, which is a bit much to pay for a single song.

Discouraged and jaded, I go on a week long hiatus in the form of a journey of self-discovery. But now I’m back, having found out that I’m a pretty swell guy, and I bring you “Pretenders To The Throne”.

The Beautiful South – “Pretenders To The Throne”

The Beautiful South was one of the first proper band I liked, after my German happy hardcore phase. They have catchy melodies, clever lyrics focusing on adult romances and situations rather than college crushes, with some great vocal deliveries. Some of their songs may have too anonymous arrangements though, blending in with all the other radio friendly pop out there, which is a shame. In 2007, after nearly twenty years, the band disbanded.

This song is definitely one of their better ones, and leaves room for some variations as to the interpretation of the lyrics. The character in the song dismisses the more well known cities, despite their claimed excellence, instead going to a relatively obscure place which he claims to be superior. So perhaps a small tribute to one’s hometown, for those who come from relatively obscure places, as most of us do.

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