Song 181: Catatonia, “Road Rage” (1998)

Catatonia-International_Velvet-Frontal

When I visited my sister Elizabeth in London in 1998, I got to hear all kinds of things: now-obscure bands like Gay Dad, but also artists that were about to explode, like Coldplay and Fatboy Slim. Caught in between was a band called Catatonia, an act that was huge in Britain but never gained traction stateside.

I remember coming back from my own study-abroad period in London two years later and noticing that Catatonia was starting to appear on websites and magazine covers in the U.S., and I thought to myself, “Good for them! They’re gonna be huge here!” And why wouldn’t they? Songs like “Road Rage,” “Mulder and Scully,” and “I Am the Mob” were as catchy as they come, and the production was a great mixture of post-grunge crunch and pop sheen.

In the end, who knows why anything becomes anything? It could be that U.S. audiences just weren’t ready for singer Cerys Matthews’ Welsh accent (check out the way she rolls her “r”s on the title phrase), which sure sounds like an American thing to not be ready for. Or maybe International Velvet, the massive hit record that spawned “Road Rage,” just wasn’t promoted correctly in the U.S. Whatever the reason, it sounds to me like a souvenir, an object from a different time and place. It’s still awesome, though. It will always be awesome.

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