Is there an argument to be made for the Bloodhound Gang?
It’s been a little confusing for me, watching Charlotte Roche’s rise to being an Important Literary Figure and the Queen of TMI, if only because I can remember her previous calling. Like many an immigrant family, I grew up in a house with a hooky satellite dish. In addition to supplying us with the requisite RAI and Mediaset channels so my father could spend roughly 1/5 of his living life watching Walker: Texas Ranger in Italian, it also gave us German music channels. As a 14-year-old, the alternative station “Viva Zwei” was fucking manna for me, providing me with all those exciting new bands that were sure to be equally loved by myself and the wider world over a decade later: The Arsonists, Three Colours Red, Scott 4, Brassy.
Charlotte Roche was a host in this station, covering what was effectively the drive time (ie, the time I came back from school) slot. Between her severe fringe and tiny eyes (which made her look a little like a Victorian doll brought to life), her sk8r ladette personality, and that weird-ass “Is she putting that on?” English accent, Roche helped me get through almost as many troubled times as an adolescent as the October 1997 issue of FHM with Louise Nurding on the cover. So what actually makes me go “Hmmm” is that this women, this woman who is now being interviewed by fucking Granta… I can remember her, on live TV, getting a tattoo of the Bloodhound Gang’s logo on her ass. How does that happen?
There are worse bands to be branded with. I don’t think that history will forgive the Bloodhound Gang for their sins, but it could have at least given them a slot on the Jackass The Movie 2 OST, if only for the residual rights. There’s two things to consider here: firstly, “The Bad Touch” was absolutely massive, and a vast swathe of our generation can still do the “I’d appreciate your input” bit when called upon to. Secondly, for maybe five or six months, BHG were kinda important, enough to have made an indelible mark on some people. Consider this: there’s people out there right now who are in positions of power, who actually make decisions affecting your day-to-day existence, whose first experience of going into a nightclub would probably have seen them pantomiming the chorus to “The Ballad of Chasey Lane”. And you wonder why the banks collapsed?
The Bloodhound Gang were, in fairness, pretty good. At some points close to greatness. In the 2009 light of day, lining “Hooray for Boobies” up against “The Slim Shady LP” and analysing them from a strictly pop perspective, the former absolutely smokes the latter. Sure, even at that age, Mathers was “technically” better, but he wasn’t as goofy, as crude, as straight-up fun as Jimmy Pop Ali was at his peak.
Bloodhound Gang did pop culture metaphors better (“Less hip than Bo Jackson, bored like wood/Dick around like Frankie Goes To Hollywood”). Bloodhound Gang did homoerotica/homophobia line-blurring much better than Eminem ever did (the video for the previously quoted “Mope”). Bloodhound Gang did much better “Did I say that?” misogyny moments as well, “Would you fuck me for blow?” absolutely merks any of Mathers’ Elektra complex lines for days.
They’re not a one album band though. I actually prefer their commercial breakthrough, 1996’s “One Fierce Beer Coaster”, a “Licensed to Ill” as filtered through 100 videos that got cut off after 30 seconds on Beavis and Butthead. It’s worth remembering that at the time there were 5000 of these smirky, post-They Might Be Giants bands clogging up American alterno-airwaves (Cake, Barenaked Ladies, blah-di-blah), but none of them were as focused on the act of cunnilingus as Bloodhound Gang were (“Kiss Me Where It Smells Fine” possibly marks the last time anyone ever willingly took inspiration from Ad-Rock’s vocal stylings).
“Why’s Everybody Always Pickin’ On Me?” starts off with a comedy Down syndrome voice, features a racist gag about Bill Cosby, a first verse that goes literally nowhere other than to point out that Ali has a similar level of body hair to Chewbacca for one minute, repeats the phrase “the drummer from Def Leppard’s only got one arm” 12 times, and has the line “I know I’m known as Polaroid/It’s because I’m done in 60 seconds and you’ll still want it enlarged”. All this over a tropicália beat. It’s approaching criminal that this isn’t now considered a “lol 90s” classic alongside “Flagpole Sitta” and “Popular”. Don’t sleep.
And yeah, there was “Fire Water Burn” which really went on to prove that anyone could have done “Odelay”, and that most people could have done it better. “This hardcore gangsta image takes a lot of practice/Cuz I’m not black like Barry White, I am white like Frank Black is”.
They’re still going, and a release of four albums in a career stretching 15 years (and only two LPs in the past 12) suggests that someone may have had label issues along the way. 2005’s “Hefty Fine”, despite the delightful cover, isn’t really essential, but “Uhn Tiss Uhn Tiss Uhn Tiss” ranks up there with the best of their work. A pretty clear attempt to do a New Bad Touch (electro beat plus suggestive sexual puns), it works as a so-shiny-as-to-be-perspex piece of crossover pop that actually got remixed by Scooter. Really badly.
So yeah, the Bloodhound Gang: they were pretty good. Learn your history.
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