Monday, 14 September 2009

My repulsion at the very title of Chipmunk's next single

whose number one status looms ahead, as certain as the horrors of 7th May 2010

is not, I think, anything to do with any sort of patronising white liberal's desire for those from Chipmunk's background not to remind them of what they hate about their own. It isn't down to any sort of cringe. It isn't down to my thinking "I don't want to be reminded of cosy 1950s England and how dare those brave, naturally rhythmic coloureds remind me of what I'm running away from": if Chipmunk wants to attempt to reuse and redeem such language and phraseology (I think he fails utterly, but that's my opinion) I'll let him. I'm not going to stand in his way. It certainly isn't down to any crypto-right-wing sense of feeling safer with the racial and cultural other the dumber it gets: if I felt that way, I'd be a Soulja Boy cultist and would have turned the word "corny" into an all-purpose mantra, ILM-style. On the contrary, it's born out of wanting those who have come up Chipmunk's way to make good records (and "Take Me Back" was a great one). Nothing simpler than that. I don't think it's patronising white liberalism to want these people to be better. You can be better and still get that mainstream money ("Bonkers", though its title is almost as bad, has a lyrical statement that surpasses its context and, for all that it was a mere shell, was still A Good Thing to have at number one in what, due mainly to the US-European rapprochement which I hope will not be destroyed by the anti-NHS propagandists, has been the best year at the very top of the UK charts since very, very early this century, if not before). I know Chipmunk needs the money, and I regard some of the indulgence of those who don't as genuinely patronising and narrow and everything I don't want to be. I know the album will reveal more of what he's actually capable of. I don't begrudge him anything. I just wish he could find ways of making money which don't involve phrases which could have been uttered in a Hereford terrace in 1955. Nothing personal, like: I remember when the Brotherhood worked redemptive wonders on all our pasts with the line "give this shit some welly". Just that some phrases are quite irredeemable. I applaud the effort. "Beast" was one of this year's great moments, and the kids singing "Diamond Rings" as we rode along the cliff path was the best nerve-calmer of August autumn. He may be hated more than he deserves. But sometimes one phrase can do undeserved damage. Sometimes you just can't turn it around.


  1. Good stuff, thanks. But what's going to happen on 7th May 2010?

  2. The day Cameron is most likely to go to the palace - the longest afternoon of ennui in any of our lives

  3. The past 2 political years - since Brown was in government - have been rather dull, and probably full of 'ennui', as you put it.

    'Oopsy Daisy' is still used sometimes, and not particularly of the 1950s at all. But in a rap song!

    (to think that Chipmunk is the age of my cousin, albeit nearly 2 weeks younger... Well it just shows we are getting old.)

  4. Like I said, British rap has on occasions had the capacity to recontextualise almost anything, which is why my antipathy to this song is all the more dispiriting (and telling).