This is an American singer who has done some rather quirky things over the years, and he became known for his songs that were little like anything else on the chart at the time, accompanied by his bizarre lyrics. But although he has never had a Top Ten hit single in this country, he has been acclaimed, and he has achieved some amount of mainstream success.
Beck first appeared on the UK chart in March 1994 when “Loser” was released, and this reached no. 15. I do remember when Nick Abbot was on the radio on Saturday evenings, and wondered what the National Lottery result was, and after discovering that as usual he had no numbers, he would get rather annoyed, and play a short burst of “Loser”, which is definitely an interesting interpretation of this one.
This was also used on a trail on MTV that was shown rather frequently, and this was almost as amusing the 100th time you saw this, as it was the first. And when Danny Baker was on the radio once and asked people what the best opening lyrics to song were, he felt that few could match “in the time of chimpanzees I was a monkey“. How marvellous.
Beck would have further success in 1996 with “Where It’s At” and “Devil’s Haircut”. He’s got two turntables and a microphone apparently. More hits in 1997 were “The New Pollution” (which made the Top 20), “Sissyneck”, and “Deadweight”. By the end of 1997, everybody wanted to namecheck him as an influence, and collaborate with him, and he was starting to win Grammy and Brit awards.
Music magazine Select did a list of The 100 Most Important People In The World, the hottest people who were going to lead us boldly into the next millennium and that, and ahead of all of the footballers, scientists, comedians, and so on, Beck came out on top. Some critics were surprised by this, arguing that he was so trendy and in demand that they just wanted to look good by choosing him.
He often appeared in magazines, but he was something of an eccentric interviewee, and several writers found it hard to track down where his head was exactly at any point. His next hits were “Tropicalia” and “Sexx Laws”. In NME, there used to be a column called Why I Love…, where people explained their fondness for a musician. One week, Harry Hill went for Beck.
He said that at one point he liked to perform “Sexx Laws” as part of his stage show, although most of the crowd looked on baffled by this. Beck went on to have a few more hit singles going into the 2000s including “Mixed Bizness” and “Girl”. He definitely is someone who has made a unique contribution to music, and he is still making successful albums, maybe he isn’t such a loser.