Counting Cats in Zanzibar Rotating Header Image

Modern Music is Rubbish

It is though isn’t it. Full disclosure: I was born in ’73. So naturally I tend towards thinking the ’80s and ’90s as a golden age for tunes except I also think I’m right and not just biased. So what we got now? X-Factor with that complete loon Louis Walsh (and he is a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic). And if I see another boyband vocal harmony group I shall scream until Louis gives me a gold-plated contract (well, I’ll be screaming whilst holding his head down a dunny).

I mean the thing about X-Factor is it’s all cover versions. Now covers are a funny thing. There are some rather famous ones which are rightly more famous than the original but there remains the bear-trap of pointlessness. So, say, Bruce Springsteen does “Born to Run” and you’re going to do better than the Boss. (I saw Springsteen on the telly at Glastonbury a bit back and that was a cracking set – he was well belting them out and in a kinetic manner that belied his age). It just reminds you what a true star is and how dreadfully mediocre the stars of X-Factor are. So right now I’m listening to this…

Now Blondie had it and still do. It’s a shame Destri and Infante bailed but whilst Harry, Stein and Burke are playing there is still hope. When I first saw them at Manchester Apollo it was like an impossible dream (they hadn’t long been back together). And at this point I have to add something here. It was brilliant. I was down in the mosh-pit (very good-natured – Blondie fans are a very mixed bunch and very nice) there were dads with kids on their shoulders and drag queens and spotty teenagers (excellent!) and all sorts. And me with a pint balanced in the other hand by a fag. Next time I saw a gig at the Apollo it was no smoking, no drinking (apart from in the bar) and everyone had to remain seated at all times. It was like going to the fucking opera or something. I couldn’t help reflect on stuff I’d read about Blondie’s early days at CBGBs in New York and quite how different that was from the home-life of our own dear royal family. I mean it was suppossed to be rock and roll and not a bloody Methodist tea-dance. It wasn’t the band’s fault. It was Apollo house rules as dictated no doubt by the Methodist tea-dancers of the Labour party. Miserablist cunts the lot of ‘em.

An aside: in North Wales recently I saw a “Calvinistic Methodist Church” – that must be a fucking hilarity to worship at. “You can have no fun whatsoever”. “Will that get me to Heaven?” “Nah, it’s all pre-determined anyway”. So supremely fuck it.

All our few lonely impulses of delight stymmied by puritans. Fuck ‘em. These are the same fuckers who thought rave culture was the End of Days. Hell these are the same people who thought Mary Whitehouse had a point or that teddy boys or punks or whatever were also the End of Days. They ought to move to Iran where they’d fit right in. That’s why in my salad days we had goths and now you’ve got emos. Can you even begin to imagine any modern record label signing a band like Blondie considering songs like “X-Offender” or “Suzy and Jeffrey”!

But it’s all got to be nice now. Like Blandplay. I mean really is this rock and roll? I saw an interview with one of the smarter of our current rappers and when asked about his “violent” lyrics he said he grew-up listening to his Mom’s Johnnie Cash records. He quoted, “‘I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die’ – I couldn’t write anything as badass as that!” Quite.

Recently this was voted the best song of the last decade…

What a load of epic wank! I mean Lou Reed set the twilight reeling and Snow Patrol set the TIVO for “Masterchef”. That is epically dismal. It’s not a bad tune. I like the layered guitar thing but it’s not really rock and roll. It’s not badass. It’s something your mum would like and that is the very antithesis. I mean I’ve always wanted music my elders and betters have thought vile and nasty just so I could point out what their lyrics from the ’50s were really about…

And before anyone pipes up and says but Nick you’re in your late 30s so you ought to listen to pipes and slippers music on the BBC Light Programme – well fuck that. Debbie Harry doesn’t and she’s in her sixties and I will guarantee she’ll still be absolutely filthier in bed than any of these bright-eyed and bushy-tailed X-Factor hopefuls (I was doing it for me mum who needs a new kidney… ). For a start she wouldn’t get past the first round because she can’t dance (she really can’t) and has a very limited vocal range but God almighty does she use what she has well – she sounds like the apocalypse. These things wouldn’t please Louis but bugger his Leprechaunish shittery. I was once a mere 2m from Debbie Harry and it sounded like God Himself was declaiming from a burning bush. That was good. It was frigging incredible. And that was just “Atomic”. The rest of the set… Well you ought to have been there. I was and it was utterly magnificent.

What form of theatrical gayness is that? He might as well have merely puked into DVD-RW. That is utterly fucking chronic. That’s an X-Factor winner. “I’m not who you think I am”. Too true Matthew. You’re a “star” wanking himself raw on his own toilet. That’s what you are. I have seen more musical talent staring at me with glassy eyes on slabs in fishmongers. And this is the same Matt Cardle who had a go at X-Factor recently over having to sing Katy Perry’s “Firework” which I tend to think isn’t a bad pop song. I’m not saying it’s “Paperback Writer” but it’s better than that tossery because Sir Paul McCartney’s “Frog Chorus” knocks that epic wankery into a cocked hat. I mean Jesus, Mary mother of God and all the Saints Matt what the fucking fuck where you thinking of? That is pantage Matt. That is unrivalled pantaroonie. It isn’t even Wayne fucking Rooney kicking a Montenegran – that’s how bad it is. There are Ayatollahs in Iran (and Russians in Afghanistan) who can write better pop-songs. It’s that shi’ite. It’s fucking dreadful Matt. It’s bloody awful.

This is “Firework”…

The video is a bit weird. Primarily because at one point Katy Perry’s tits explode and she keeps on singing – what a trouper! But Hell’s teeth it’s at least danceable.

I shall leave you with this (that in my territory at least) had an ad for Susan Boyle’s rendition of “Unchained Melody”. Oh joy unlimited!

There is no danger any more. No nothing. It’s the difference between art and wallpaper.

And wallpaper bores me.

I suspect this post might prompt RAB into his annecdotage. He once played support for Bill Haley & His Comets you know ;-)

12 Comments

  1. Ryan Roberts says:

    Nah, you are just a grumpy old fucker

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7AXUmYrNq4 This is what happens when your kids grow up listening to Grindcore and Naked City.

    I think Eva was a failed x-factor contestant though :)

  2. View from the Solent says:

    Nick,
    You’re missing a proper analysis of your headline proposition. As luck would have it, this was done recently.
    William M Briggs
    with a follow-up paper
    also Briggs

  3. Smoking Hot says:

    You have to get out more. Just do a youtube search for Chantel McGregor …Young Blues Artist of the Year. This young lady can play the axe!

    Here’s one … http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TBp53TdYvQI&feature=related takes off at 3.25 in

    She covers Hendrix, Cream, Young, The Mac as well as her own stuff … rated by Bonamassa, Trout and many others. She just released her first album. l’ve seen the artists she covers and if there was any justice in the world she’d be up there with them. A truly exceptional talent.

    Go on … go and treat yourself and have a listen. Then come back and tell me what you think.

  4. woodsy42 says:

    Yeah well. I was born in ’49 and can tell you that by the 80s and 90s much (although in fairness not all) of the music was already modern rubbish :-)
    The good stuff was more often than not being made by people who started out in the 60s or 70s and stayed good. (eg Blondie was making great stuff through the 80s but her first band dates from ’74)
    As for today much material fails on the basis of mis-definition, it’s not actually music at all.

  5. RAB says:

    I see. gauntlet flinging time is it? Gladly accepted. :-)

    You cheeky bugger Nick. In my anecdotage indeed (Polyfixes teeth back in)! And Bill fuckin Haley!!! He is a late fifties example of exactly what you’re talking about; A big fat superanuated kiss curled fraud, playing Rock N Roll for people who didn’t like Rock N Roll. We wanted the real thing, Elvis, Jerry Lee, Chuck Berry etc, but all we got in the UK was that wanker. Oh and Cliff, billed as the British Elvis. Do fuck off!!! Living Doll is not fuckin Houndog!

    So to the anecdote. Hmm so many to choose from, must find one appropriate… Ah yes! let’s see if this brings a little green glint to my fellow Cats eye.

    It’s the early 70′s, I’ve just finished Law at Nottingham and am looking for a well deserved holiday after all my hard work. But I’m a longhair (lot of it about then) with a couple of illegal recreational habits. Where to go? Most of Europe is out. Spain? Nope Franco. Greece? Nope, right wing military Junta (and people wonder why I voted against joining the Common Market in 75 :-) ) So me and the girlfriend decided on the USA.

    My best friend, the Luddite Hippie of La Honda (henceforth called Nigel, I can’t be arsed to keep typing all that out) and his girlfriend were already there housesitting a nice flat in Manhattan. So off we went.

    We got the bus in from Kennedy and Nigel met us at Grand Central Station. We still in awe of actually being here at all. “Shit look! That steamy stuff really does come out of the pavement, er sidewalk grills, it isn’t Hollywood fiction.”

    Well after a bite to eat and a couple of spliffs of some very acceptable Columbian, Nigel casually mentions that Tim Buckley is playing Max’s Kansas City tonight, and do we feel up to going? Does the Pope shit on Bears in the Woods? Buckley was and remains one of my all time favorites. Let’s saddle up and hit the bricks, NOW! And this is why…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DR2bBnraTj4&feature=fvst

    Now That is rock n roll ladies and gentlemen, and filthy with it, just listen to the lyrics.

    Nick has mentioned CBGB’s , well Max’s was another of the so called legendary Clubs of the time, up a flight of stairs over a Pizza restaurant.

    When we got there the place was already heaving. It’s a big room with booths and tables but it looks like we are never going to get a seat. Then Nige nips off. I can see him down the front next to the stage talking with management types and gesticulating back at us by the door. Next thing we know is the support bands plus ones are being shooed out of the booth five yards from the stage and us ushered in.

    Well I’m 6′ 2″ have longhair and despirately trying to grow a goatee beard and moustache and wearing a beautiful embroidered denim shirt. I gather he told them that I was John Mayall straight off the plane from London and just have to see Tim, and they fell for it.

    Next this utterly stunning blonde waitress comes over and takes our order for drinks. She is completely mesmerizing, yes the sort of blonde, as Chandler said, that would make a Bishop kick in a stain Glass window! I didn’t know it at the time, but you can guess who this blonde was can’t you folks?

    The gig was utterly brilliant by the way, one of the best I have ever been to, and I’ve been to one or two.

    Fast forward to the Roundhouse late 77, and Bristol band the Pop Group are supporting the Stanglers. I’m now a critic for Sounds and doing the first national paper feature on said Pop Group. Well roaming around backstage I encounter the usual suspects Julie Birchill in sneer mode, her counterpart from Sounds Jane Suck (those were the days eh?) clutching a copy of the complete works of Edgar Allen Poe for some strange reason, and then this stunning blonde hoves into view. I remember her instantly ( I’ve told you folks once met you will never forget) so we proceed to have a nice long chat. Debbie was and is one of the nicest and sharpest women you will ever meet.

    Blondie were completely unknown at that time, and saw themselves as avant garde/underground, not pop at all. After all, their mates were the likes of Television, the Talking Heads, Richard Hell and the Ramones, not Abba.

    Oh and Fee Waybill of the Tubes was there as well, big mate of Hugh Cornwall. He invited us all back to his hotel for a party. So we didn’t get back to Bristol till dawn was coming up next day.

    Yes I know I’ve led a safe boring plodding life haven’t I? But we can’t all be Chartered accountants, now can we? :-)

  6. Sam Duncan says:

    “you can guess who this blonde was can’t you folks?”

    You jammy bugger, RAB. I’ve probably mentioned it before, but I’m not remotely rock & roll. CBGBs in the late 70s sounds much like my idea of hell, and even though I prefer bleeps and farty noises, I was never into jumping around abandoned warehouses off my face on fuck knows what either. But damn, I like records. And while, as Nick says, Ms. Harry is still quite something at 60-odd, I’d have given my left arm* to have met her in her young days.

    With the possible exception of Goldfrapp’ first two albums, I don’t think I’ve heard anything new in the last ten years that’s jumped out of the speakers, grabbed me by the throat, and left me collapsed in a heap thinking, “Bloody hell, what the fuck was that noise?” I don’t necessarily mean loudness, or anything like that, either; just hearing compression waves in air being made to do surprising and wonderful things. I’ve had the same feeling from Aphex Twin and a tiny woman barely 5 feet tall filling a 2000-seat theatre with a stunning soprano voice (the latter only works live and unamplified; if you’ve only ever heard what my dad would call “real singing” on the telly, you genuinely, literally, don’t know what you’re missing). Coldplay are not a wonderful thing.

    *The right one would have been required soon afterwards for, er… private things.

  7. NickM says:

    I knew I’d get a rise out of you RAB! Personally, I’d give Sam’s left arm too. I do know what you mean Sam. I do so know. And Coldplay are very fucking far from being wonderful.

  8. fake says:

    Speaking as someone slightly younger than you, I just listened to that blondie you linked too.

    You are gonna ban me for this.

    But it just sounds like generic pop to me, like the same stuff that’s in the charts now.

  9. NickM says:

    fake,
    I have only banned one person from this site ever. He (I’m fairly sure it was a he) issued speciific death threats against me and a check of his URLs confirmed he seemed to be just down the M-62 from me. You disagreeing with my musical tastes is not exactly of the same kidney. Anyway, you’re a self-confessed whippersnapper and shall indeed develop taste in time. Try the works of Alison Goldfrapp for starters or possibly the Cardigans and when folks say, “But you listen to girls!” learn to chuckle into your coat. I’ve just watched the misfit’s parade that is X-Factor. Aren’t there laws about abusing the educationally sub-normal? Christ, they would have been embarrassed to do this for a shiny sixpence at Bedlam two hundred years ago. One of them did a version of Prince’s “Purple Rain” with backing that could only be achieved by the application of a TASER to the delicate parts of the cat. It were fucking dreadful. Gary Barlow looked like he wanted to end it all live on stage.

    Trust me. When I was like nine one of the “hard lads” at school said to me, “You’re friends with girls and that’s so gay that is…” My riposte caused a general hilarity and a moping off.

    Oh, I dunno, fake. You might be a girl too. I’m personally happy as a sand-boy as long as you read my stuff, feel moved to comment and I’m not getting death threats.

    This isn’t Samizdata you know.

  10. Laird says:

    Nick, I’m no “whippersnapper” (I’m RAB’s vintage), and I’ve held my tongue in your previous encomiums to Blondie, but I can’t let another one pass unremarked. I know that the mere mention of Debbie Harry’s name causes you to have to change your underwear, and she’s actually very pretty and sexy and all, but if you close your eyes and actually listen to her she is at best a very mediocre singer. No range, uninteresting vocal quality, nothing but looks. Any high school glee club has someone just as talented. Nothing special about the band, either. Sorry, but your juvenile infatuation has completely overcome your judgment here. Looks certainly aren’t nothing, but come on, you’re not 19 any more. Time to develop a sense of what constitutes actual quality. I’m no great fan of Katie Perry but at least she can sing (exploding tits and all).

    Not that I disagree with most of the rest of your rant. Most modern music is rubbish, but then most music of any era is rubbish. Come back in 30-40 years and see what sticks. Oh, and FWIW, that Matt Cardle song you linked is indeed utter crap, but at least the boy can sing. Give him a decent producer and you might be surprised.

  11. Johnathan Pearce says:

    Parallel Lines, Blondie’s finest album, has more pop power than most groups produced in an entire lifetime.

    One of the confirmations that I was heterosexual was watching Debbie Harry perform on Top of the Pops.

  12. NickM says:

    JP,
    I know of confirmed homosexuals who cruise Canal Street in Manchester who would be turned by that. And yeah, that is a truly great album.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: