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It Says Nothing To Me About My Life – Music and Issues

‘Where are the songs about boozers and builders, banning the bomb and abusing the children?’
Carter USM – Do Re Mi, So Far So Good (1992)

ELM, musically speaking, has a sweet tooth. Things that are wrong for you, things you should know better, we are there. Mass produced, music for the masses? We don’t have a problem with it. Be it a slice of ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’, a sherbert dip into some ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ or (ELM’s favourite single of 2007) the sonic pop masterpiece of ‘Girlfriend’ by Avril Lavigne, we make no apologies for this fact; We Love Pop. Pop is as it does. And it should never change. it should be young, dumb and in Avril’s case full of my….well, you get the idea. What we do have a problem with at this point is how few intelligent, issue-pushing bands are complementing them at the moment.

Now, we’ve bashed Coldplay here many a time, and rightly so. There is no doubting, however,  that Chris Martin, whether you find him teeth-grindingly irritating or not, is sincere in his politics. I think they are ivory tower, shop-bought politics, but they are his and he is entitles to them. I just don’t see that in his lyrics. Similarly, think of bands from what you’d grudgingly called ‘the alternative’ who have made it big recently. Muse? Not troubling English Lit course compilers, it must be said. The Enemy? We’ll excuse his sixth-form poetry Jam impressions on the ground he isn’t long out of sixth form. The proliferation of successful post-Kaiser Chief Britpop groups aren’t all that interested in taking your intellect places as much as making your feet move. All well and good but it’s not like we don’t live in times that may aspire people to retreat from solipsism and have a look at where the world is.

It IS a difficult thing to do well. Not everyone has Billy Bragg’s skill, or Morrissey’s wit or Craig Finn’s passion. Willy Vlautin of Richmond Fontaine is arguably a better lyricist than he is a songwriter. Band Of Horses, the National….there are some great bands with ambitions which stretch further than looking for new lint in their navel. 

As regular readers know, I loathe Glasvegas for their cynical and manipulative attempts to say something whilst hiding behind a bank of clichés so big it would choke a gannet. But the strangely rapturous response to the bequiffed charlatans is, I think, endemic of a desire for people to have their minds activated by music again. Is it too much to have a song which makes you think, or a song which genuinely breaks your heart? Are we now condemned to a music scene where you the Pigeon Detectives are the intellectual torch-bearers?

At the heart of the ELM concept is the notion that there is so much music out there these days you simply can’t process it all. But there is so little music which seeks to be anything other than disposable, or contents itself to trite soundbites passed off as social commentary. Our stars need to do better.


9 Responses

  1. Liked this one. Good reading, and use of “solipsism” 😀

    Unfortunately I’m just too stretched , too often – to go seaching for new music, (hence the beauty of this site ) but I have plenty of older stuff that literally breaks my heart when I recognize first chord, even when I’m as happy as larry.

    I’ve stopped putting my ipod on shuffle since my boyfriend found me sobbing with the watering can and a duster in the livingroom when one track caught me by surprise doing housework, and I’m pretty well balanced. lol

    Jeff Buckley’s Grace is the predictable, yet prime culprit, but there’s an awful lot of it in the almanachs.

    This is the crux of your case though…and also the point of your site lol, where is the new stuff?

  2. True! Great song mind!

  3. Greeting at a song??!! You big jessie! 🙂

    (I reserve my media-enduced blubbing to extreme makeover home edition).

  4. It is tough.

    Two of my favourite pieces of music:

    The Ramones – Blitzkreig Bop
    JC Bach – Erbarme Dich, Mein Gott

    You get the picture?! One moves me to tears, the other is not exactly emotional…..both are great.

  5. That was of course JS Bach, not JC who was his son. And not JC who was the Son of God.

  6. and neither was it David Berkowitz , who was The Son Of Sam.

  7. Or the Members, who were The Sound of the Suburbs.

  8. Or herman’s hermits, who were the sound of the 60s.


  9. or AHA ; Whose sun always shone on t.v…..

    its a bit annoying when the sun always shines on the t.v , makes it difficult to see the picture properly,no wonder they wrote a song about it……..

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