Blur Revolt Against Hit Songs, Show No Love For The U.S. Military

Band has shot video for what it hopes to be its next single, 'Out of Time.'

The material world is once again tapping into the untamed energy of Blur. Levi's has picked the band's rowdy new three-chord single, "Crazy Beat," for its latest jeans TV ad campaign.

The fuzz-laden song, produced by Fatboy Slim (a.k.a Norman Cook), could be a sequel to Blur's biggest U.S. hit, "Song 2." That track, from 1997's Blur, still gets radio play and has been used in multiple commercial spots. Ironically, Blur never wanted their record company to use "Song 2" or "Crazy Beat" to plug the band.

" 'Crazy Beat' was just a bit of fun we had with Norman," singer Damon Albarn said before a recent performance in New York. "When we were making this record it was nice to have a few moments where we just let our hair down and got dumb. 'Song 2' was exactly the same. We can rock, but we're not a rock band in the conventional sense. But in America, it's always been the thing that's been immediately taken out and used, and it's left people with a really inaccurate impression of what we actually do."

Since they don't usually "feel heavy-metal," Blur are annoyed at having to play "Crazy Beat" whenever they play on a TV talk show. They're even more upset that unwary consumers will buy Think Tank thinking the whole disc rocks.

"If you're going to put out a single that's highly unrepresentative of the album, people who go and buy the album are going to be disappointed," drummer Dave Rowntree said. "But if you put out something that will do less well commercially, but that represents the album, I think you'll disappoint less people."

In Europe, the first single from Think Tank was "Out of Time," a flowing, passionate cut more in line with the rest of the LP, as well as past Blur songs such as "The Universal," "To the End" and "No Distance Left to Run." The band had hoped the song would be the first U.S. single as well, but its record company wouldn't hear of it and is balking at the idea of releasing it as the second single.

The fact that Blur already shot a video for the song actually isn't helping their case — especially since the clip portrays war in a negative light.

"The video is the antithesis of the 'Top Gun' image of the American military machine," Albarn explained. "It focuses on the loneliness of somebody working on an aircraft carrier and the fact that a six-month tour of duty means that relationships break down and children go without their parents. That's the reality of it."

Albarn, who has actively opposed Western intervention in the Middle East, took the opportunity to launch into a speech about the evils of governmental propaganda. "America is good at being able to sell their youth an absolute lie in such a high-budget way that the difference between Hollywood and reality is very, very blurred. That's the very sinister thing about America. It's a great country, it's just not necessarily ruled by great people."