“Pop Star” By Kids On Bridges
2009 saw the rise of 80’s influenced electronic pop as the ladies dominated the charts whilst simultaneously plunging their shiny stiletto heels through the raddled heart of landfill indie. It appeared that even Joe Public’s seemingly insatiable appetite for shite had reached a tipping point. I guess when confronted with the prospect of another year of musical manure from the likes of The Pigeon Detectives or The Fratellis, it was hardly a surprise that people beat a hasty retreat and fell for the charms of Florence, Little Boots and La Roux. This was the year in which laddish guitar based music became about as popular as Jan Moir at a Boyzone gig. Yeah Yeah Yeahs ditched their guitars completely and managed to produce one of their best ever albums, as did Editors who erm. . . didn’t. White Lies employed synth and guitar in equal measure to devastatingly shite effect and managed to conjure up an aural hell that sounded like Scouting For Girls at an Editors karaoke.
Elsewhere the elder statesmen and women of pop proved to be as popular as ever but sadly it wasn’t always plain sailing, the spirit may be willing but in some cases the flesh was decidedly weak. Spare a thought for poor old Morrissey. 2009 saw the great man ‘celebrate’ his 50th tortured year on this orb we call earth but a number of health scares blighted an otherwise successful year. His aptly named ‘Tour of Refusal’ became something of a guessing game. Will he cancel? Will he collapse? Or will he simply flounce off in a huff? Such were the concerns over Mozza’s health that it became customary for loyal fans to throw items such as bottled water on stage thus providing refreshment and thereby ensuring Morrissey’s maxim ‘The show must go on’ was strictly adhered to. However in Liverpool the great man was seriously injured as a stray object hurled from the crowd made contact with his regal noggin and he refused to carry on. Some accused him of behaving like a spoilt prima donna but previously unseen exclusive footage proves our bequiffed hero had little option but to call a halt to proceedings.
Pop became de rigueur once more in 2009 and at the forefront was Lady Ga-Ga who proved herself to be a bona-fide pop star and not, as some suspected, one of Sasha Baron Cohen’s satirical creations and she showed us exactly what she’s made of, quite literally. She treated fans at Glastonbury to the sort of views that possibly only her gynaecologist had previously been privy to, defiantly a case of “access all areas”. Meanwhile the lure of a headline slot at Michael Eavis’ funny farmstead and a number of lucrative reunion gigs saw Blur, fronted by the rubicund Demon Allbran, reunite to reproduce their unique brand of Chas N’ Dave inspired art school mockney toss, fused with the sort of lyrical dexterity that makes The Tweenies opus “Have Fun Go Mad” seem positively Cohen-esque in comparison. In a media driven world desperate for heroes, Blur’s workman like but spectacularly average performance was afforded the same cultural significance as say, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and prompted Jo Wiley to simper “in years to come at least we can say -we were there.” At the very same festival, god’s own trucker Bruce Springsteen demonstrated he really was ‘Born to OverRun’ as his headline slot went on and on and on and then on a bit more..It was truly ‘the day the earth stood still’.
Lily Allen engaged mouth but not brain in a rant about the mortal damage currently being inflicted on the music industry but rather surprisingly neglected to mention Mr Cowell and his musical burger flippers. Lily’s ire was directed at ‘Big Music’s’ arch enemy that loathsome toad, “the illegal downloader”. She had a point; I mean you wouldn’t expect to download a car for free would you? Erm, no. Whilst the rant that inspired “Lily-gate” wasn’t exactly the Gettysburg address, her tirade may have contained some salient points with regard to the theft of intellectual property. Alas her statements were essentially stripped of any credibility when it was discovered that Lily had lifted her argument wholesale from another website and passed it off as her own. See you in court or fair usage ?
Still you can’t accuse Lily of hypocrisy; at least she decided to do her bit to halt any further damage to music by announcing she has no plans to release another album. The reason? Well with Lily it’s all about artistic integrity and following her muse isn’t it? Well, actually, no- it isn’t, she claimed she can no longer make enough money as a musician and therefore decided to take her paper thin talent and inflict it upon another artistic medium. The theatrical world can barely contain its excitement at the prospect of Lily treading the boards and it appears that music’s gain is set to become acting’s loss! Mind you Joss Stone saw things in a slightly different light suggesting musicians who’s sole motivation is money and celebrity do little to help “real musicians””-“Who said that musicians have to be millionaires? Who made this a rule? We don’t need that much money. We only need enough to make music, eat and go on tour”. She also went on record as saying that filesharing “might change music for the better. It might sort the weeds from the flowers.”
British Music Rights CEO, “Frugal” Sharkey, who’s ghastly visage conjures up an image of what one of Mark E. Smiths testicles would look like if it could talk, joined the debate, “our members cannot continue to innovate and invest in the shadow of an illegal peer-to-peer ecosystem”. To tackle this issue Frugal has called for the whole of internet to be shut down, like, forever. Sharkey also proposed that a national ear tax should be levied to ensure that the public did not inadvertently hear music which they had not purchased. Furthermore he suggested that a return to the dark ages would be no bad thing for musicians and petitioned for a total ban on electricity whilst proposing that each village, town or city should have an official designated minstrel licensed to sing cheery ballads about ‘Perfect Cousins’ and other such piffle.
Then there was Cowell, he continued to extend his poisonous tentacles into all spheres of popular culture and his relentless drive towards world domination seemed unstoppable. Indeed Marina Hyde suggested that such is Cowell’s cankerous influence that we may need to reclassify the seasons of the year. For example autumn will be rechristened “the final 12″, in the forthcoming replacement for the Gregorian calendar, where the year is merely divided according to which Simon Cowell reality format is dominating the schedules.” I’m afraid this fellow has inflicted more damage on music than any number of downloaders could ever do, yet his role as musical Dementor goes relatively unchallenged. He seems to have left no frontier unconquered and it’s surely only a matter of time before he taps into the lucrative Goth/Emo market with yet another format to add to his axis of evil. “The Goth Factor” or possibly “Emo Idol” could be yet another cynical, soulless ratings winner but surely even he couldn’t have produced a band as contrived and as woeful as the Horrors! I mean surely people weren’t about to take these jokers seriously. . . . . were they??
Sting managed to tear himself away from tantric sex long enough to make a statement that was actually relevant as he joined in the X-Factor debate. Incensed at how performers are routinely humiliated in the name of “entertainment” he said “How appalling for a young person to feel that rejection. It is a soap opera which has nothing to do with music. In fact, it has put music back decades. Television is very cynical.” He also added that X-Factor reinforces dreary “safe” stereotypes “They are either Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston or Boyzone and are not encouraged to or even allowed to create any real unique signature or fingerprint. The X Factor is a preposterous show and you have judges who have no recognisable talent apart from self-promotion, advising them what to wear and how to look. It is appalling.” Let’s hope the backlash is finally starting to gain momentum!
“When Simon Met Cheryl “
2009 contained its far share of tragedy too, possibly none greater than harrowing sight of bug eyed UFO enthusiast and Red-coat in waiting, Robbie Williams, attempting to revive a career that had almost exclusively catered for people who don’t actually like music, a void that of course, has been more than amply filled in the Robster’s absence by the X Factor. ( No Rob, that’s X-Factor, not Files!)
This year we also said goodbye to a number of musical legends. Those no longer with us included Seeds front man, the great Sky Saxon and pushy parents of stage school kids around the globe found the business opportunities in the ‘extortion of money from lunatic pop stars’ market place had all but collapsed following the loss of Michael Jackson. Sadly in 2009 the ‘King of Pop’ popped his moon walking clogs, took the second star to the right and flew straight on till morning.
Opinion is divided on Wacko’s legacy. Ardent fans believe he was a misunderstood, childlike genius and are keen to move any discussion away from his strange appetites and focus solely on his music. Being good at dancing and singing is possibly not the best legal defence in the world but unlike Gary Glitter, Jacko did posses the sort of talent that seemed to blind many to his disturbing predilections and uncanny resemblance to a fruitcake. However if we stay rooted in reality we can acknowledge Jackson was indeed a great songwriter whilst at the same time accept that he was also a dysfunctional freak whose behaviour towards children was questionable to say the least. It was also a time to say goodbye to Cramps legend Lux Interior, who died suddenly in February. I suppose he was at least spared the indignity of being described as an influence on the mumbled, half-arsed, po-faced ‘Gothy Horror Show’ that was “Primary Colours”. Other music related deaths saw the unedifying spectacle of The Daily Mail gleefully dancing on Stephen Gately’s still warm grave, whilst Les Paul and Willy De Ville also exited stage left.
In September Glasvegas front man James Allan, AKA “Bono’s Apprentice”, went missing for five days prior to the Mercury Music Prize in what many saw as a desperately sad publicity stunt. Thankfully Mr Allan was found safe and well, it transpired he had merely disappeared up his own arse. Earlier in January , Green Day bid a tearful goodbye to the inspiration behind one of their biggest selling albums as President Pumpkin-head vacated the White House and Barack Obama’s inauguration saw him take on the mantle of “Most Powerful Man in the World Besides Simon Cowell”. Within seconds of taking up office the new Prez was awarded the “Nobel Peace Prize” by the simple virtue of not being George W Bush.
Barack’s Victory Song
We also lost one of our favourite upcoming bands as Ipso Facto became Splitso Facto and decided to call it a day. Meanwhile the Samaritans experienced one of their quietest days on record as universal indifference greeted the news that Oasis had finally split. Defiantly ? Maybe? Who cares ! But perhaps the most upsetting news received this year was the announcement that Brighton Institute of Modern Music darlings, The Kooks, are planning to start recording a third album ( yes THIRD!) very soon. However 2010 will see albums released by The Indelicates, Thomas Tantrum, The Thermals, LCD Soundsystem, Midlake, The Strokes and Cat Power. Marina and the Diamonds also releases her much anticipated début “The Family Jewels” while Eddie Argos and Dyan Valdés will be ‘Fixing The Charts’ with their new project ‘Everybody Was In the French Resistance Now!’ Which all goes to prove that there is still hope and “hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things and no good thing ever dies.”
Last word goes to Kids on Bridges with their song ‘Popstar’, a great song with the sort of sentiments The VPME wholly approves of …We asked the duo what “inspired” (if that’s the right word!) them to write it
Christian ( Kids On Bridges): “Where do I begin with the X Factor..or more so Simon Cowell…The song was written with the sentiment that shows like the X Factor have made a mockery out of this generations music which is fast becoming the karaoke age. People just want to be famous for famous sake there’s no substance to what they do. It’s just one big marketing racket from start to finish. The X Factor is a show that has nothing to do with music. It leaves us celebrating mediocrity and provides short-cut to fame. Its ridiculous when you think about it , even a month ago people were already talking about buying a song that they haven’t even heard, knowing it will go to number one, recorded by a faceless , ready made Pop star….”