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Does Kate Bush deserve the five-star critics? – Independent

Tom Sutcliffe at The Independent wonders if the music critics have been abdicating their duty and giving 50 Words a bye, merely because Kate is perceived to be a national treasure …

since I’d spent several days listening to the album something didn’t quite fit for me. It had its virtues, certainly, and I don’t think anyone would deny the quality of the thing – in terms of performance and recording. But it seemed odd that a record so quirky – and so hazardously earnest – would generate such unanimity across the board. Rock critics aren’t famously forgiving creatures, after all, and yet there were moments here that struck me as virtually impossible to listen to without laughing …”


50 Words nominated for London Music Awards


Soldout Blog: “she has made one of the best albums of her career…it’s a triumph”


  1. giulio

    I never laugh when I am listening to this new album.
    The imagery is brilliant and very poetic.

  2. John

    Yeah, I think critically Kate has only turned the critical tide because of her longevity and her perceived status as National Treasure (yucky, cloying sentiment – makes her sound like a pet, or a piece of antique furniture). She’s also in a position where the critics can’t harm her; her audience is too loyal for that. Let’s face it when they tried to harm her in the beginning it had no effect. Whatever the critics say Kate will do what she wants and her albums will sell and they will last regardless. I imagine, for them, it’s better to look like you’re on the winning team isn’t it?

    Critical acclaim isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. It’s how you hear the album in your own head that matters.

  3. Well, some people respond to her work and some think it twee, sentimental and laughable -Myself, I think her music is litmus paper for the state of your soul.

    But this article is just a page-filling, debate-stirring piece of lazy, look at me, I’m so free-thinking, journalism. It’s the broadsheet art pages’ equivalent of celebrity stalking:
    See also Miranda Sawyer, Kitty Empire et al… Not even worth discussing

    • Rod

      I think you have a point, ARoseGrowingOld, and I’m getting very tired of some members of the old chatterati desperately trying to cling to the role of gatekeeper of what is culturally significant in this new age. Implying that anyone who doesn’t find bits of 50 Words for Snow as laughable as he does, is either old, or besotted with the artist, is not just insulting to the people who enjoy the album, but also to the artist. Would he suggest this about an album by a man? Clearly we should be awed by his superior listening skills and his incredible ability to see our stupidity. Let his great words illuminate our darkened world. What fools we are. He is the real genius. We really are not worthy of him.

  4. Paul C

    Hmmm. Mr Sutcliffe’s point does seem difficult to agree with on the terms he suggests, even for people who aren’t fans of Kate.

    The irony of his comments of course is that Kate herself is likely to be thrilled at the varied response to her work – we all know she likes the idea of the individual being able to interpret her music on personal level whether they like it or not. I still think that most listeners (providing they give the album a chance), are likely to recognise 50 words for what it is – a wonderful and creative piece of work.

  5. Nanette

    I think that Kate’s work includes sly humour that we’re intended to laugh at–she has a greater sense of humour than anyone gives her credit for. Remember her comment about the sack of bonemeal on the piano? That was clearly delivered as a laugh, but I saw it reproduced with total seriousness in reports of Radcliffe’s interview. I think that sometimes her juxtaposition of images is intended to be disturbing, funny, and sad all at once.

  6. Mikko

    The new album certainly hasn’t been immune to criticism. It’s been panned in no uncertain terms by quite a few, and it’s also got five-star reviews outside of the UK where Kate Bush is not a national treasure.

    She said herself that the title track is meant to be “just a bit of fun”. I couldn’t help laughing when I first heard it, but actually the sound is very dark and beautiful. It feels like there’s a mystical side to it behind the joke. To me, the version of Rubberband Girl on Director’s Cut seems to be in some ways a more straightforward joke, even though the lyrics are more complex. It gets me every time. She sounds like a demented 6-year-old in it.

  7. a Resent Much-Tom ¬¬’

  8. Neil

    50 words does in parts make me laugh.Stephen Fry’s recital of Creeky Creeky and some others are just funny…and its supposed to be fun.Any one who has watched A Fish called Wanda and seen Jamie Curts react orgasmically to John Cleese reciting Russian and Kevin Kline without knowing what the hell they are saying shows the power of words and pronunciation.Also a lot of Western films when translated for the Chinese market have such weird and funny titles.So a description like …’bad for trains’ for snow could almost be like that.

  9. Kitty Empire’s moniker makes me think of a shop for cat accessories. I’ve joked before about the Misty animation making me think of the Irn Bru parody of The Snowman, but I was referring to the cleverness of that commercial. It did end with the slogan ‘Have a phenomenal Christmas’!

    Didn’t Stuart Maconie rave about a band called Misty’s Big Adventure?

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