Sunday, 28 February 2010

The only song that deserved to be number one this week ...

... is number 60.

Meanwhile, someone from Kington in Herefordshire is number 4. Quite wrong. And Dizzee remains a NuTory Uncle Tom at number 2.

I think the number 69 album makes it clear that some people need to get over the mid-90s. Mind you, the number 29 album (Gracie Fields, would you believe!) makes it clear precisely how few people would have bought the Dancing Monkeys of Maine Road, and how few people are buying albums at all these days - and how old most of them are. And as far as ancient NW England pop-cultural artefacts that convinced certain people that they could be something are concerned, I'd much rather hear the inter-war version. At least that didn't cripple my generation.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Morley's still got it, sometimes

"For whatever the establishment now is, the idea of a black British star transmitting an embittered, alienated slang that graphically illustrates urban blight, that draws unnerving attention to a tense, endlessly fracturing racial divide, is deeply unwelcome. Giggs having a voice is a threat."

I would say that the new elite is more concerned to keep such voices out of pop than the old one was, because whereas the old elite largely left pop alone, the new one is actively involved in pop, and needs such voices to be silenced because it knows that if pop's new tyranny of privilege is broken, its own self-image will be exposed as the lie and sham it is. Giggs is in some ways more threatened by the NuTories than anyone - even Linton Kwesi Johnson - was by the old ones 30 years ago, because the elite involvement in pop is now so much greater.

And, right on cue, this happens. "Don't Go There" is the only song that deserves to be number one on Sunday. It won't be, of course, but if it was it would be the most subversive number one for 29 years. The final count of the collision between us and the damned is coming now, you can feel it.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Robin Davies

It was the last pre-Murdoch summer, just before the consensus began to crumble, just before the new aggressive individualism began to emerge from both left and right. And for one summer one boy in an England that probably never really existed - but the best time in your life to dream is before you know the deeper truths, and I'm glad I had the chance - had the time of his life, the most evanescent and thus most piquant of universes made possible by a visitor from nine centuries before, the sort of life that was, by obvious definition, never truly possible, but if you can never believe that it is at some early point in your life you never really live.

And at the summer's end, just as the longest - and nearest to home - engagement in the history of the British Army set in, he walked down to the lake and stood, silent, as his muse disappeared, unconsciously sensing his own childlike faith in childhood's end. The following spring, concurrent with "I Want You Back" and what, for most of us today, is the beginning of time, we saw it all happen, and it has never left us, even as it has come to seem as unfamiliar, as far beyond the modern rules and assumptions, as the England of the 11th Century must have seemed to Butskellite children.

Who would ever have imagined that Bayldon would outlive him?

We're out on our own now, more than ever.

You may like to know

that the woman you saw last week on the Brits with Dizzee - a collaboration you would have put at number one were it not for elite pseudo-guilt and pseudo-care - sang the song of Yum-Yum from The Mikado by Gilbert & Sullivan at the memorial service for her grandfather, the former Daily Telegraph journalist Colin Welch, two weeks after the 1997 election, also attended by the likes of Charles Moore, Paul Johnson, Frank Johnson, Daniel Johnson, William Rees-Mogg, Philip Howard, Peregrine Worsthorne, Tom Utley, Peter Tapsell and Peter Hitchens, all of whom - odious as they mostly are - represent a far more peripheral threat to the public sphere than the NuTory clique which includes a considerable part of the British pop industry, and can be characterised by the worst and most culturally heinous accent in the history of British English, which does not even have the minor saving grace of being rich and fruity on an indulgently enjoyable level.

The me of 2003 would probably have welcomed with naive joy the day when such a thing could happen, when the man who represented my own coming cultural revolution could mix, without any apparent irony or public comment, with such a woman on the biggest pop stage of the year. But that was before I knew how capitalism actually works, and before I knew how deep-rooted inequality still is, before I knew that this sort of "coming-together" is worse than a sham, is a dangerous counter-revolutionary diversion planned to convince the ITV1 audience that All Are Equal Now, that Cameron loves you all and knows precisely how you live just because he used to work for us, that pop can Unite The World, can single-handedly eliminate the massive institutionalised divisions and structural unfairness of British society. I would have longed for such a day. I was wrong. It has come and the Right are cawing with greater satisfaction than ever. It means less than fuck all, worse than fuck all. It's an indictment of pop as safety valve, as subtle means of papering over every crack in the Cameron doctrine.

I still think Dizzee has a far greater talent than most who are allowed to get where he is - but he really ought to use the platform he has far more politically, to find some way out of his own contradictions. He has dramatised Britain's culture wars with vicious accuracy in his videos - that for "Sirens" makes clear precisely who would freeze him out of his own country, however much they may now dress themselves up in that other Machine (and isn't that the aptest band name ever? Pretty much an admission that this is a reassertion of elite control by other means) but the harsh truth is that, when he takes that ITV1 stage, he is little more than a dancing monkey for those very forces. At the very least, KLF 1992 tactics were necessary. But back then both major parties were led by serious politicians, and pop could still do such things. Now Dizzee is what I always hoped he could be, and it's the only thing worse than nothing.

Calm Before the Storm or The Camera Loves Me. At least nobody could ever pretend that those two could ever co-exist. At least both are, in their own wholly opposed ways, resolutely anti-Cameron. At such a time that feels like the only thing that matters at all.