Music Features

Perfect Pop #5: Little Jackie - The Stoop

If you were to take a basic chemistry set, a book of logarithmic tables, a set square and a Geiger counter, you could prove – using a mixture of reductio ad absurdum and Laplace transforms – that Beautiful by Christina Aguilera is the worst pop song of all time. It’s syrupy, it’s overwrought and it sells itself as a defiant anthem whilst wallowing in its own self-pity. It’s an attention-seeking enormo-ballad that starts with the words, “Don’t look at me.” It’s a song that refuses to take responsibility for its own actions. It’s for people who can’t deal with reality and can’t admit their own mistakes. It’s the theme tune for people who annoy their friends and won’t apologise. It’s the musical equivalent of using the ‘haters gonn’ hate’ riposte to any form of criticism. It’s an end of the night track for the drunk and ashamed.

In a sane and just world, anybody who wanted to show the world their inner strength and defiance through the medium of karaoke (and let’s be honest, who hasn’t wanted to do that from time to time?) would shun this piece of nausea-inducing solipsism and reach immediately for the lead single from Little Jackie’s fabulous debut album, The Stoop: The World Should Revolve Around Me.

The World Should Revolve Around Me is everything that Beautiful wants to be but isn’t. It’s in-your-face, it’s brash, it’s packed full of attitude and it serves as a perfect middle finger at those who have wronged you. It’s also massively fun and has its tongue lodged firmly in its cheek, because who doesn’t want to dance their troubles away? “I’ve had a lot of failed relationships, I don’t get involved ‘cause I’m not equipped, I believe that the world should revolve around me,” chimes the carefree chorus. Sure, Little Jackie’s Imani Coppola (her of Legend Of A Cowgirl semi-fame in the 1990s) has a car crash of a love life, but she couldn’t care less because she’s too busy focusing on having a great time.

For the uninitiated, The Stoop is a fantastic collision of old and new, an album that cherry-picks elements of 60s girl group records, the golden age of Motown and classic pop, gives them a modern twist and overlays a set of funny, wry, confessional lyrics. It starts off with the title track, an ode to Coppola’s neighbourhood and a meditation on the joy she derives from her environment. It recounts that feeling of home and although the surroundings aren’t exactly ostentatious (“We live in Brooklyn, it ain’t no Beverly Hills, basically we pay bills, and then chill”), things always turn out alright in the end (“It is what it is, it ain’t all hard up in the ‘hood, sittin’ on my front stoop and it’s all good”).

What quickly becomes apparent in this riot of colour and melody is that Coppola has a great way with words, coming across as an unheralded pop culture Confucius. Witness the so-stupid-it’s-brilliant, “I bide my time with philosophical questions, not for nothing, what came first – the Chicken nugget or the Egg McMuffin?” There’s also a real mischievous side, as evidenced by Coppola’s threat to turn gay in Guys Like When Girls Kiss, her delivering of a smack-down or twelve on Cryin’ For The Queen, or dealing with a philandering man on LOL.

Despite actually producing a moderate-sized hit in the UK with The World Should Revolve Around Me, The Stoop was a commercial failure upon its release back in 2008. After that disappointment, the duo parted ways with their label and ended up putting out their second album, Made4TV, through their own Bandcamp page.

It’s a real shame that the world didn’t fall for the charms of this gem of an album which, despite its range of emotions, always seems to have sunshine flowing through its veins. The Stoop does something all too rare in music – it transports you away from your own existence and entirely uplifts you. Music that doesn’t deal with the big issues is often critically dismissed, as if writing about pain and suffering is infinitely more artistically valid than celebrating the simpler things in life. Sometimes I consider this and it starts to get me down, but then I just listen to The Stoop and things are fine again. Little Jackie were right: “it’s all good.”