Roll over, Eminem, and tell Nick and Jessica the news. Tea-sipping peacenik Moby is rolling up his sleeves and taking potshots at high-profile celebrity couples.
"Beautiful," the first single off his upcoming double-disc album, Hotel, may sound like a serene love song, replete with a bobbing bass line, lush melody and seemingly blissful lyrics ("I love you, baby/ Look at us, we're beautiful"). But Moby actually penned the track as a biting slice of cultural
"As I was writing it, I was thinking of two not very bright celebrities singing it to each other," he said. "I had this vision of Nick and Jessica sitting around just in awe of how beautiful they are."
Moby was inspired to write "Beautiful" last year while watching a tabloid-style television program about the glory of celebrity. "I was struck by how simple a lot of them are," he said. "So I decided to write a very simple song about simple celebrities singing each other's praises."
While he has attended numerous Hollywood parties and has been written up in various gossip columns, Moby is a little embarrassed to be tied into the world of pop celebrity. Moreover, he is somewhat wary of the effect celebrity
obsession has on normal individuals. "A lot of people feel inadequate when they compare their lives to the lives of celebrities, and I think that's really dangerous," he said.
Ironically, according to Moby, those who feel like they're missing out in life because they're not famous wind up envying people who are equally disenchanted.
"I know a lot of public figures, and a lot of them are not really happy," he said. "So, it's just a sad state of affairs when so many Americans obsess over the notions of wealth and fame [and] the people who are wealthy and famous are actually kind of miserable."
"Beautiful" is one of 25 songs on Hotel, which comes out March 22. That might seem like a lot of material, but for Moby, coming up with the songs wasn't that hard. It was deciding which ones to use that proved complex and tricky.
"I wrote between 200 and 300 songs over the past year and a half," he explained (see "That Must Be Strong Tea: Moby Records 200 Songs, Writes Book, Launches Tea Line"). "A lot of them weren't very good, and a lot of the other ones wouldn't have fit on this record. So, I [decided] which were my favorites, which best expressed my emotional state and which worked together best, and those are the ones that are on there."
The first disc of Hotel is composed of melodic pop songs tinged with new-wave and post-punk references, and the second album, Hotel-Ambient, features 11 electronic chill-out cuts in the vein of 1993's Ambient and 1997's I Like to Score.
"It's kind of a bonus record inspired in some ways by David Bowie's Low," Moby said. "When Low was on vinyl, the A-side was songs and the B-side was quiet, ambient music. I think there's a place in people's lives for
both types of records. The ambient record I actually made a year ago, and I was just holding onto it wanting it to be the second disc regardless of how the main disc came out."
Most of the 200-plus other songs Moby wrote during the Hotel sessions will probably never be released; they will be stashed away along with the 4,000 to 5,000 other unreleased tracks he's written since 1981. However, some of
them might surface on future albums Moby is considering releasing under a different name. "I don't know why, but I've written a lot of punk rock songs and a bunch of really lighthearted disco songs. I might choose to put out punk or
disco records, but I wouldn't want to release them as Moby because they come from a different place and a different aesthetic."