Sneaker Pimps' Singer Gets Moody On Hit

Watching the Sneaker Pimps single rise steadily up the charts has been nothing short of "fucking amazing" for the band's singer Kelli Dayton.

"We thought it would be way out (of the charts) by now, but instead it just

climbed really, really slowly," said the 22-year-old Briton, speaking of the trip-hoppy cut "6 Underground," from the band's Becoming X debut album.

Any avid chart watcher knows that some of the most intriguing songs to track aren't the ones that debut near the register's upper reaches, but rather

those that make a slow steady climb. That's just what "6 Underground" has done. The song debuted on Billboard's Top 100 four and a half months ago and began an incremental rise. For the past two weeks it has hung steady at #49.

Of course, the Sneaker Pimps are fortunate to have not only a steady

climber on the Top 100 -- "6 Underground" has also been sitting pretty in the

top 10 on the modern rock charts for the past several weeks. All of which

is, in the words of Dayton, "fucking amazing."

Along with a mysterious slice of harp sampled from spy movie composer John

Barry, it's Dayton's voice that effectively establishes the poison mood of

the song. On first listen, "6 Underground" (shorthand for six-feet underground) actually sounds pleasant, propelled by head-nodding drums and full of airy acoustic guitar.

Then Dayton's bare-faced declaration in the song's spare refrain knocks

away any hint of playfulness: "I'm open to falling from grace," she

declares with dead seriousness. As if that weren't blunt enough, she

hammers her disdain home with invective observations such as "Don't think

'cause I understand, I care" and "Don't think 'cause I'm talking, we're

friends."

Back before Dayton joined the band, Sneaker Pimps' musical creators Liam

Howe, 26, and Chris Corner, 22, had been collaborating for several years on

trip-hop singles sans vocals. Dayton was fronting a Birmingham punk band

when they asked her to join the group. She said that the relative

peacefulness of "6 Underground" captivated her and challenged her to

develop her voice in subtle ways.

"I didn't know Chris and Liam when we started recording the album. It was

very off the cuff, 'Do you want to come track some stuff with us?' I

wanted to inject a slow burner, an aggression into the song, but not my

usual style of aggressive singing. I wanted to make it an angry, intense,

sensual song."

Howe, who penned the lyrics for "6 Underground" with Corner, said that

Dayton's vocal interpretation is paramount to the song's success. "We were

hoping that if something was written by somebody else, Kelli would be able

to distort it in her reading of it," the songwriter said. "That she would

encourage a claustrophobic sort of cynicism about it. The song is really

about the death of a relationship in the most crass kind of terms."

Dayton follows in a tradition of singers from Elvis on down who make significant contributions to songs that they may not have written, Howe said. "By singing the song, she's dealing with any questions that may be raised by it," Howe said. "It gives her own criticism of the song within her own singing of it." [Thurs., Aug. 28, 1997, 5 p.m. PST]