Smile... It Confuses People is the kind of record that really makes you wonder. Whatever happened to the idyllic, innocent rebellion of our parents' generation? How can I duplicate Sandi Thom's flouncy, whimsical fashion sense? Who thought it was a good idea to name an album after a Hot Topic novelty pin? Oh, and how did this blantantly unimaginitive piece of candy-coated schlock manage to achieve such huge chart success in the U.K.? Well, there's a simple answer for that last one: skillful engineering of Internet hype. Last winter, Thom webcasted a concert every day for three weeks from the basement of her London flat. With the help of some serious behind-the-scenes marketing dough, she managed to attract hundreds of thousands of viewers while still looking poor, propelling herself to irrational heights of fame, cred and coverage in the charmed mainstream media. This viral snowball effect reached its peak in June, when her single "I Wish I was a Punk Rocker (With Flowers in My Hair)" overtook Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" to become the number one single in Great Britain. With her sassy blend of generic folk-pop, whiny nostalgia ("I was born too late to a world that doesn't care/Oh I wish I was a punk rocker with flowers in my hair") and transparent opportunism, Sandi Thom is sure to continue producing bland and irrelevant albums for many years to come.


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