U.K. dance-rock duo The Ting Tings play Mr. Small's | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

U.K. dance-rock duo The Ting Tings play Mr. Small's

click to enlarge The boy, the girl: The Ting Tings
The boy, the girl: The Ting Tings

Compare the U.S. and U.K. charts, and the Brits will seem generally more susceptible to ephemeral music trends and one-hit wonders. But sometimes one of these flashes-in-the-pan gains some longevity, cranks out four successive hits, and eventually wends their way a year later to America with a proven, album-length product.

That's what happened with Manchester dance-rock duo The Ting Tings, who made the rounds of British pop shows and awards ceremonies with such catchy tracks as "Be the One" and "Great DJ" (with a memorable if simple refrain of "the boys, the girls, the strings, the drums"). The combo evokes the feel of bouncy '80s dance-oriented rock: Blond bombshell Katie White looks a lot like Debbie Harry (even if she can't sing like her) and the hits so far smack of new-wave powerpop (along the lines of Altered Images) with a dash of funky grooves (Tom Tom Club).

In a couple of months, The Ting Tings will play arenas supporting Pink, but before the Stateside mania Columbia Records is predicting, there was a lot of groundwork laid by White and songwriting partner/drummer Jules De Martino. Some of it was luck -- White's grandfather won millions in the U.K. national lottery, allowing her dad David to fund an artist-management company. Some was sheer perseverance -- the two plowed through a number of chart-scratching bands (with names like TKO, Babakoto, and Dear Eskimo) before congealing in the Madchester party scene two years ago.

Just as important as groundwork was savvy marketing -- the fourth single, "That's Not My Name" (White's rant against the shallowness of the music industry), placed in a popular iPod commercial well before the duo made their American debut on Carson Daly. But only time will tell if The Ting Tings stick around like the pop heroes they clearly emulate, or if they'll become this generation's Kajagoogoo, lending prophetic meaning to the title of their first album, We Started Nothing.


The Ting Tings with Donora and DJs Ben & Wyatt of Dollface Divine. 8 p.m. Sat., May 16. Mr. Small's Theatre, 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. $16. All ages. 412-821-4447 or www.mrsmalls.com

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