1001 Albums You Must Die Before You Hear
#90: The Cheeky Girls – Party Time (2003)
MATT KELLY gives two appalling albums for the price of one with his examination of this Romanian abomination from hell.
“Come live with me and be my wife
Touch my bum, this is life”
-Christopher Marlowe, 1599
With the likes of Black Lace, Fast Food Rockers and Crazy Frog behind me, I worry that at some point I will become inured to music that tried to find a lowest common denominator within the lowest common denominator. But it hasn’t happened yet judging by the pain I experienced listening to this AWFUL DREADFUL TERRIBLE album. Exemplifying why “Europop” became a swear word where music critics were concerned, twin Romanian immigrants Gabriela and Monica Irimia made the scene with an audition for TV show Popstars which judge Pete Waterman called the worst he’d ever seen.
I want to pause for a moment and stress what this means. Pete fucking Waterman of mass-produced toxic-sludge-for-the-music-charts songwriting team Stock Aitken Waterman, the man behind fucking Steps, called The Cheeky Girls the worst thing ever. Let that sink in for a minute.
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Because we are living in a simulated timeline generated by a VR modeling-enabled iteration of GPT6 into which someone typed the prompt, “What if everything was really shit?”, Cheeky Girls’ theme tune “The Cheeky Song” was a smash hit come late 2002, even cracking the Chinese market where it hit #5. The song, where the Irimia girls don’t so much sing as drone into an auto-tuner while the producer presses a microphone against the studio dividing wall on the other side of which the Venga Boys are recording, contains the immortal chorus “Touch my bum, this is life”.
A nightmarish cavalcade of faux, plastic sexiness, it’s enough to make you enrol in the nearest monastery. And it was written by their mother which makes it even weirder. This strange relationship with their mother develops troublingly throughout the runtime as she turns up on some songs and ‘Get The Party On’, which besides being a total pile of shite, contains the verse:
“Ooh, baby, hide me now, my mama has come
She’s gonna catch me and a smack a my bum
Turn up the music and my mama will dance
Ooh ee, we do a cheeky cheeky
Lost in the rhythm of this cheeky romance”
I’m not going to unpack the Oedipal undercurrents here, but the Irimia sisters were 21 as they sang about their mother smacking their bum.
And if you think that ‘The Cheeky Song’ is horror enough for one novelty music act, there are fourteen more of the things here! This runs for 50 minutes! And good Lord it’s horrendous. Would you like to hear them do a song called ‘Hip Hop’? Which isn’t even hip-hop but sounds like a rejected Lyte Funky Ones demo track. I can’t think of a less hip-hop moment than when Monica and Gabriel chirp, “Let’s put on our hip-hop pants!”
Maybe you’d like to listen to the four-minute minimal effort dance loop of ‘Mickey Blue’ (“I love Mickey Blue, he is fun and he is blue”) which got kicked off the playlist at the under-7 school disco night for being too soft. Maybe you’d really like to ramp up the terror by bringing Christmas music into the mix with the plodding, thoughtless ‘Have A Cheeky Holiday’? Maybe you’d like to experience all the awfulness at once with ‘Megamix’, which crams snippets of multiple songs into one four-minute shit-filled samosa of sonic snafus?
Whatever you choose, Monica and Gabriela will sing-talk exactly the same way throughout them all while the keyboardist wages war on your IQ with synthesizer riffs that would be disappointing if they were produced by a hedgehog running down the keys let alone a human being.
You could be out of your mind on E at the warehouse rave, waving your coloured glowstick in the air in one hand, obliviously accidentally hitting an adjacent dancer with the water bottle in the other, and still this music coming on would shock you into stone cold sobriety and make you question what you were doing with your life. Among the worst yet.
#91: The Cheeky Girls – In My Mind Is A Different World, A Cheeky One (2007)
Appropriately, since they were literally born in Transylvania, just when you thought the Cheeky Girls were dead they rose from the grave to terrorize the world of music again. Yet from the cheap artwork to what appears to be a mistranslated title, the Cheekies’ second and final album finds them in a sorry state.
Their 2003 debut may have been commercially successful. Still, the music industry knew a novelty when it saw it and there was no interest in supporting their career further after their two months of infamy. With gig bookings drying up and no contract for a second album, the girls entered 2006 broke. Calling in every favour they could, they scraped together the funds needed for something resembling a follow-up, only managing to get a release deal in India and otherwise releasing digitally only. As a result, IMMIADWACO is very hard to find, almost vanished from the internet and it was a bit of work hunting it down.
Did my hard work pay off? Well, only if you consider ticking off one more number on this fool’s errand of a list a payoff. I will say it’s better than the debut due to the production being less obnoxious but that’s the lowest of bars. There’s no attempt to grow or change, but I’d actually say this was a wise move, their best being to appeal to the dedicated fanbase who were still into a sound 10 years past its sell-by date. The Cheeky Girls doing an Impossible Princess would not have worked out, though part of me would have loved to see them try.
What is here is a bunch of shitty melodically witless feel-good pop chiefly remarkable for how unremarkable it is. Notable songs include ‘Farmyard Hokey’ where a small relative of the Irimia sisters named Lorena sings ‘Hokey Pokey’ over a down-home country western backing.
If you enjoy being filled with incandescent rage, and I don’t know why else you’re reading this list, ‘Lollypop’ is possibly the song for you. Nothing to do with The Chordettes, the Cheeky Girls’ ‘Lollypop’ exemplifies the record’s theme of whistling past the graveyard of their own career, complete with synthesizers so poor they should be on welfare, cheesy Christmas chimes, irritating robot voices and incredibly annoying “WHOOP WHOOP” backing vocals. As the girls stagger through the album, the air of desperation and cheapness becomes so palpable you feel like phoning them to see if they’re alright.
But even this album’s disappearance into a black hole sales-wise didn’t quite finish them off. Fifteen years later they once more emerged from the tomb in 2022 with two new singles, one of them (‘Let’s Have Fun’) unleashing this chorus upon the world:
“Let’s have fun!
I wanna touch your bum!”
proving the old songwriting magic was still there. Let’s hope the talk of a new album comes true: I think they’d do well on TikTok.