Crowded House – Woodface (1991)
To the claustrophobic, a crowded house is an unappealing notion.
Hopefully the band name does not scare off potential fans as the appeal of Woodface is difficult to deny.
With their third record, Crowded House set the tone for the middle of the road in the 90s. Think Toad the Wet Sprocket, Hootie & the Blowfish. Maybe not the most exhilarating records in the world but never anything less than pleasant.
The hits were numerous:
– Fall on Your Feet, the ballad with a driving beat similar to With or Without You
– Weather With You is as charming as pop music gets
– Four Seasons in One Day is an effective change in pace & tone, somewhat like the respite provided by And I love her in its placement between more up-tempo numbers on A Hard Day’s Night
– It’s only Natural would have been another natural single choice, an obvious fit for a lead single.
So of course the lead promotional single was…the U.S.-criticizing opening track, Chocolate Cake? To quote Ned Flanders, oopsie doodle.
Citizens of any country generally don’t respond well to being criticized by foreigners.
Exhibit A: Billy Bob Thornton suggesting Canadians were “mashed potatoes without gravy.” After his immature interview went viral, he hastily pulled out of his Canadian tour, citing health concerns.
Exhibit B: The recent cancellation of Piers Morgan’s CNN talk show. With the benefit of hindsight, unsurprisingly, Americans weren’t terribly fond of a recent British import telling them about problems with gun control in the USA.
Crowded House didn’t strike me as a group that would be intentionally provocative. Which made their lead single choice so bizarre: what was Crowded House &/or their label thinking releasing Chocolate Cake with the lyric, “excess of fat on [their] American bones” ?
Did Americans really want to be scolded about their body mass indices by a pop group from Australia & New Zealand? Crowded House is not Eminem; this is not the kind of group that should be actively seeking out & thriving on controversy!
The single misstep aside, the rest of the album should cause little offense.