Tag Archives: Your Musicology is my Mythology

Your Musicology is My Mythology. Featuring: Chumbawamba.

15 Jul

Like most seven-year-olds in ’97, I first heard of anarcho-punk band Chumbawamba through their chart-topping single ‘Tumthumping‘. Last week, in a break from the recent trend of nineties bands reforming, Chumbawamba announced on their website their intention to call it a day (or, as The Quietus/every site ever so drolly reports: “They get knocked down, they don’t get back up again”).

However, what I’m quickly learning is that these guys are decidedly not a nineties band. Chumbawamba’s legacy spans three decades, after all. First forming in 1982, influenced by fellow anarcho-punk peers Crass, the band journeyed through genres experimenting with post-punk, mainstream pop, electro-pop, acoustic and a capella sounds, to their ultimate reinvention as a “soft, heavily melodic folk sound“. Chumbawamba have constantly evolved, experimented and entertained.

If John Prescott has the nerve to turn up at events like the BRIT Awards in a vain attempt to make Labour seem cool and trendy, then he deserves all we can throw at him - Danbert Nobacon

Chumbawamba dumped a bucket of water over Labour politician John Prescott at the ’98 Brit Awards.

(Speaking of the nineties though, man do they hate boy bands.

In fact, their fifteenth studio album, which gives Fiona Apple a run for her money in terms of absolute lack of brevity, is called The Boy Bands Have Won, and All the Copyists and the Tribute Bands and the TV Talent Show Producers Have Won, If We Allow Our Culture to Be Shaped by Mimicry, Whether from Lack of Ideas or From Exaggerated Respect. You Should Never Try to Freeze Culture. What You Can Do Is Recycle That Culture. Take Your Older Brother’s Hand-Me-Down Jacket and Re-Style It, Re-Fashion It to the Point Where It Becomes Your Own. But Don’t Just Regurgitate Creative History, or Hold Art and Music and Literature as Fixed, Untouchable and Kept Under Glass. The People Who Try to ‘Guard’ Any Particular Form of Music Are, Like the Copyists and Manufactured Bands, Doing It the Worst Disservice, Because the Only Thing That You Can Do to Music That Will Damage It Is Not Change It, Not Make It Your Own. Because Then It Dies, Then It’s Over, Then It’s Done, and the Boy Bands Have Won. It definitely deserved a listen.)

I like to think that ‘Tubthumping’, that little gem of an earworm, was their way of infiltrating the music industry and sharing their politics with a wider audience. It’s like how people discovered The Dresden Dolls through ‘Coin-Operated Boy‘, or think ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart‘ encapsulates the Joy Division experience. ‘Tubthumping’ was an anomaly that didn’t really capture the band’s sound, but allowed them to find a broader and more willingly receptive audience.

It wasn’t until I befriended the ever-effervescent Tommy Monroe and he played me ‘Homophobia‘ that I understood how mind-blowing Chumbawamba really were. The band have always been candid about their politics, and their stances towards class struggle, feminism and anti-fascism. They’ve covered the Bee Gees, funded numerous anarchist projects, and chucked water over John Prescott. Amazing.

If you always thought Chumbawamba were one-hit wonders, perhaps it’s time to reevaluate. Here is ‘Bad Dog’ from their 1994 album Anarchy (fanny warning re: the album art):

Your Musicology is My Mythology. Featuring: Morrissey

14 Jul

Oh Morrissey. Ohhhh, Morrissey. Good old Mozzers. Morrissey ya the more I love ya. England’s favourite lachrymose lyricist has been receiving quite a bit of media coverage lately. ‘Veggie-Mad Morrissey Searches Fans For Meat.’ ‘Morrissey Bitten By Dog.’ ‘Throwing out his own fans – has Morrissey finally lost it?‘ Lost what exactly, his faith in impartial journalism? “There were times when we could have killed him…”admits The Quietus, while The Guardian criticises his “dodgy new material.” This charming man seems to be the joke of the music industry at the moment. But that joke isn’t funny anymore.

(Just kidding.)

So what difference does it make?

Oh, it makes none. Morrissey is still the tits, and he always will be. He fronted The Smiths, called David Cameron a silly twat, and he still rocks out at fifty-two. Also, t.A.T.u covered one of his songs – which is pretty much the greatest honour known to man. He is a bad-ass veggie and also AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO REALISES HIS NAME SOUNDS LIKES ‘MISERY’ LOL ISN’T THAT FUNNY?

Morrissey’s songs transcend the waspish put-downs of critics and even the pretension of his own public persona; they range from the visceral to erudite contemplations of the human condition. You can mock his diva pretensions all you like, but his music is always going to be played by under-appreciated seventeen-year-olds with The Queen Is Dead posters on their walls, and you are always going to secretly listen to William, It Was Really Nothing and wish that they’d played it while Kate Middleton walked down the aisle.

Always.

Your Musicology is My Mythology. Featuring: Jedward

17 Jun

Since the very beginning, John and Edward Grimes have inspired worship and loathing in equal measure — think X Factor brand Marmite. You either wanted to spread them on your toast, or punch those cute quiffed little heads clean off. And you know what I did? I loved them. Loved them. Do you hear that, internet? I’m not even ashamed. I put them in my Spotify playlists. I play them at parties. And I’m going to tell you why.

Jedward are a bizarre phenomenon. They encapsulate ‘celebrity’ only in its most basic definition: the state of being well known. They are beautiful, brainless and their music is kind of rubbish – but from their first appearance on UK television, the twins have risen to stardom completely oblivious of their critics. Perhaps they explain it best and most simply themselves in the hook from their single ‘Lipstick‘:

“Here I come, here I come, dumb de dumb de dumb de dumb.”

Jedward are a postmodern comment on the fundamental triviality that is contemporary music. They hold a mirror to society and show us: this is what we have become. THIS IS WHAT WE HAVE BECOME. You don’t need to write songs any more to be marketable. You don’t need to be lyrical, you don’t even need to have talent. But what I love about Jedward is that they are so endearingly obvious, and so perfectly naïve in their approach towards the music industry, that one cannot help but think of them fondly. They are sincere only because they are so very clueless. They’re like Zoolander.

But for those of you who still aren’t converted, be comforted: at least Rebecca Black doesn’t have a twin.