By Chaz Kangas
By Sound of the City
By Peter Gerstenzang
By Katherine Turman
By Chris Kornelis
By Brian McManus
By Ray Cummings
By Nicholas Pell
In the grand tradition of Buddah Records' 1967-69 era, the best song right now on kidpop radio Top 30 is by a nonexistent entity"Notice Me" by the Zetta Bytes. The Bytes are a completely anonymous studio construct (in this world), who in their recent TV movie, Pixel Perfect, (their world) are a girl high school rock band lacking in the frontgrrrl department. So they wind up using a sort of computer-generated image simulacrum, and a rebellious and unreliable one at that.
The last half of the eight-cut $6.98 list soundtrack is disposable (three no-name acts preceded by the obligatory lame sensitive acoustic ditty required by a boy-girl script-subplot moment), but the first three Zetta Bytes tunes are as engaging as low-production rock or pop by an anonymous act can get (including fuzz guitar from the Josie and the Pussycats effects box on the two rawk tunes, plus world-class cute vocals like, again, some of Buddah's lesser-remembered bubblegum classics).
The leadoff (and hands-down best) track on the album has even the Zetta Bytes trumped, though. The ZB's get just one tiny one-inch (movie) photo buried in the disc's inner booklet to prove that they exist at least on your TV screen as endless reruns (although the photo box alongside their Radio Disney Top 30 chart notation came up a blank black inkblot for its first three weeks runningeven singing hamsters and mole rappers have images!). But lead track "Perfectly," from the cryptically monikered studio act Huckapoo, is an absolute cipher. It's also a femme-vocal lite-rock melodic-pop gem, with its songwriting credits of Follese-Follese-Harp leading down several dead ends, including an aborted Elektra Records Nashville-y debut by solo artist co-writer Jessica Harp (now on a different major label) on one side, and in the other direction sketchy info pointing toward an eighth-grade-ish NYC winner of this winter's New York Knicks' Kids Day halftime on-court talent contest who just might have sung the darn track. The name would be Britney Segal, and if it is her, she is amaaaazing.
Yep: nada, nyet, and zippo. Nowhere in the entire vast Internet world does an image or even written copy exist to definitively link the great track by "Huckapoo" (produced by "The Center") to its writers or producers by name, or to any other living beings. Truly, moments like these give me the inner strength to endure auteur crap like Elvis Costello or the last 197 Neil Young albums.