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Music / My Life Story

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London-based orchestral Indie Pop band active through The '90s. Very much a vehicle for frontman Jake Shillingford, whose songs tended to express a very cynical view of modern (and particularly London) life.

By the time orchestral arrangements in pop came back into fashion in the mid-1990s, My Life Story had already been plugging away for several years and were well-placed to take advantage of the trend. They released their first album, Mornington Crescent, in 1994. Their second album The Golden Mile brought them moderate success but they never had quite the same critical cachet or popular success as The Divine Comedy. After being dropped by Parlophone Records, a third album, Joined Up Talking, attempted to reposition them as a traditional guitar-bass-drums-keybaords quartet, albeit still with orchestral backing.

This band provides examples of:

  • Always Second Best - to The Divine Comedy. So much so that when The Divine Comedy's contract with their indie label expired, Parlophone dropped My Life Story and signed them instead.
  • Anti-Love Song - Debuted with one, "Girl A, Girl B, Boy C", and returned to the theme constantly.
  • Attention Whore - the target of many of Jake's lyrical Take Thats (which see).
  • Audience Participation Song - "12 Reasons Why I Love Her". In live performance, the audience is cued by having someone on stage hold up sheets with the numbers on, which are then screwed up and discarded into the crowd. People take them home as souvenirs.
  • Baroque Pop - Jake usually called it "Pop Baroque", but same thing.
  • Brit Pop - they were one of the also-rans of the movement.
  • Blah, Blah, Blah - "Emerald Green Blah Blah Blah" (in the title rather than the lyric, as it was one of a succession of different settings of "Emerald Green").
  • Bowdlerise - "The King Of Kissingdom", in its radio edit, was bowdlerised to remove a drug reference, "The King of Kissingdom made a decree / Go to work on an E" became "...on an ego".
  • B-Side - issued a 40-track collection of B-sides.
  • Cover Version - "Outdoor Miner" (Wire), "Mr Boyd" (Roger Hodgson), "Duchess" (The Stranglers).
  • Dramatic Timpani - "You Don't Sparkle"
  • Epic Instrumental Opener - "17 Reasons Why I Love Her".
  • Exact Words - The Enhanced CD of The Golden Mile included a game in which reaching the target score would reward you with a picture of Jake in the nude. If you beat it (it required perfect play but was quite possible once you'd figured out the knack), you did indeed get to see a nude photo of Jake... as a baby.
  • Genre Roulette - Especially during their time on Parlophone, they would throw everything from chamber music to glam rock into the mix.
  • I Am the Band - It was always Jake Shillingford 's show.
  • Idiosyncratic Cover Art - A picture on a single-colour background, with the group name beneath. Carried through the first two albums and their attendant singles, and revived for Jake's solo album.
  • Instrumentals - Only one straight instrumental, "Florence's Theme", though there are also instrumental versions of "Sparkle" (two of which are solo piano interpretations by Danny Turner with no other performers appearing, even Jake himself).
  • Least Rhymable Word - discussed in "Emerald Green" which notes that Orange "doesn't have a rhyme".
  • List Song - "12 Reasons Why I Love Her" (and its extended version, "17 Reasons Why I Love Her"), "Emerald Green".
  • Long Title - "There's Nothing For Nobody And Everybody Wants To Be Someone". And a paradoxical example, "E.G.M.C.M.X.C.I.X."
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane - The nature of the "friends" in "Stood Amongst Friends" is open to intepretation. Could be mysterious forces of destiny... or could just be the characters' friends.
  • Proper Lady - "Lady Somerset"
  • Rearrange the Song - Two songs in particular got this treatment: "Sparkle" (original, a string quintet version, a completely re-recorded pop version and two distinct solo piano interpretations) and "Emerald Green" (six released versions, ranging through guitar pop, a romantic string version, piano ballad, psychedlic rock and a weird ambient version)
  • Silly Love Songs - Surprisingly few as Jake is normally on the cynical end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism, but "12 Reasons Why I Love Her" plays it straight, and "I Don't Believe In Love" is also an example, which for bonus points pulls the same Bait-and-Switch as the trope namer.
  • Stalker with a Crush - "Checkmate" may be about this, unless it really is about chess
  • Step Up to the Microphone - trumpeter Roxanna Shirley duets with Jake on "Lady Somerset"
  • Stop and Go - "Angel"
  • Street Musician - Jake originally recruited members by approaching music students busking on the London Underground.
  • Take That! - Jake doesn't like posers and devotes a significant chunk of his repertoire to songs mocking them. Just among the singles there's "Funny Ha Ha", "The King Of Kissingdom", "Strumpet", "Empire Line" and maybe "Sparkle" (though it can also be interpreted as an Anti-Love Song),
  • Train Song - "Angel"
  • Unplugged Version - A few. The Mornington Crescent Companion EP was a collection of these.
  • Upper-Class Twit - The eponymous protagonist of "Sir Richard Steele".