Stereolab

International Colouring Contest

Composed by Laetitia Sadier / Tim Gane

Song Review by

The late Lucia Pamela, a delightful eccentric much beloved by "outsider music" aficionados, is the subject of Stereolab's "International Colouring Contest," a sweet-natured tribute to the untrained musician and self-professed missionary of interstellar peace. Pamela claimed that her album Into Outer Space with Lucia Pamela was actually recorded on the moon in the mid-'60s, a claim covered in Laetitia Sadier's gently bemused lyrics. (The title comes from a never-ending contest Pamela began in 1969, inviting entries depicting folks' own interstellar travels.) Opening with a sample of Pamela's own sweetly unhinged giggle ("I'm so full of ideas, and here's a good one!", a phrase that also makes it into the lyrics), the song moves into a gentle bossa nova rhythm buoyed by Sadier and keyboardist Mary Hansen's lighter-than-air "ba-ba-ba" harmonies and anchored by the most danceable and melodic bass and guitar riff on the entire album. "International Colouring Contest" lacks the usual disdain loosely veiled by irony that most hipsters show for this kind of outsider figure, making it one of the most heartfelt and endearing songs in the band's entire catalogue.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Mars Audiac Quintet 1994 Elektra 3:48
No Image 2000 WEA International 3:47
ABC Music: The Radio 1 Sessions 2002 Koch 3:42
The  Studio Album Collection 1992-2004 2015 Elektra / Rhino 3:48
blue highlight denotes editor's pick