A: Why don’t you give us your thoughts on the music of 2006?
B: What a good idea;
“We’re on the one road / Maybe the wrong road / It’s the road to fuck knows where”
Consider the following; an intelligent, but fucked up, individual suddenly becomes the “coolest person in the world”. Not only that but he gets “the most mesmerising woman on the planet” as a devoted girlfriend. What else could a person want? Oh yes, why not write and play some of the best, most original music heard for a long, long time with echoes of TS Eliot, The Smiths, The Clash… There is a downside however as the individual seems to have lost all links with reality, is despised,ridiculed ( and adored) in equal measure and seemingly on a collision course to be dead before his 28th Birthday.
In some quarters, there is a debate regarding the merits of music versus lifestyle. Bill Hicks gives the definitive answer; “I want my rock stars dead! I want them to fucking play with one hand and put a gun in their other fucking hand and go “I hope you enjoy the show!” Play from your fucking heart!
Bill Hicks would have approved of Pete Doherty
Review of 2006
“Oh there ain’t no love, no Montagues or Capulets
Just banging tunes and DJ sets and
Dirty dancefloors and dreams of naughtiness”
It’s not difficult to do great music. You need 3 basic ingredients – banging tunes, eloquent lyrics and a little dash of attitude.
Imagine a band of talented, raw, hard-working, working class teenagers coming out of a deprived city in England with a potential genius leader. If you’re thinking Beatles you’ve got the vibe but you’re 40 years out. Substitute John Lennon for Alex Turner and you’ve got it. If you’ve been put off by the hype surrounding them – get over it and listen to the music. You’ve got to love a band that can call their follow up record ‘Who the fuck are Arctic Monkeys?’ and consistently refuse to give interviews or appear on Top of the Pops and the equivalent. Get on the bandwagon immediately before their second proper album comes out. The hope is that it’ll be terrific. History tells us that this is rarely so (more examples to follow). We can only hope, and pray.
This year, as with many years, the phenomena has been that ‘difficult second album’. Or, more precisely, that ‘difficult next album to the successful one after you’ve finally got it together’. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury I offer you; The Streets, Keane, Athlete, Snow Patrol. The one notable exception being Muse. It’s sad.
The main thrust of artists with something to say this year are female – Shakira, Lily Allen, Amy Winehouse. They seem to have something in common – banging tunes, decent words and attitude. It’s not a female trait though. Others females breaking one, two or all three of these simple requisites would include Courtney Love, My Chemical Romance, J Lo, Madonna.
Madonna falls into another category this year, again. This would be the ‘artists who are dead but have forgotten to lie down’ group. Let’s hope 2007 is the year Madonna lies down with friends U2, Take That, Dave Gilmour, Eric Clapton, Rod Stewart, Oasis, Eminem, Bob Dylan, Sting, the Who, Elton John, Paul Weller. They’re a lot like your father singing at a wedding. It’s embarrassing for you, for them and for everyone watching. Please stop. There is a sign as to the exact moment you enter this category – When the crowd give you a standing ovation before you do anything – it’s time to grab a pillow and sleep.
Someone I’m constantly worried about and who is nearly, nearly, nearly moving into this category would be Morrissey. In terms of his music – so far, so good. However, with every new release I get a little more anxious. Morrissey, if you could stop soon before you end up like Bono it would save me a lot of stress. The problem is that he’s on the cusp of the ‘popular / not too popular’ spectrum. If you’re ‘not too popular’ (with a loyal fan base) you can get away with it. Let me explain; if you have the talent, the real talent and the right “it’s my job” mentality you can go on forever getting better and surviving. Stand up Lambchop, Wilco, Eels, Belle and Sebastian (although I was worried for a while last year), Trash Can Sinatras, Tindersticks. They’ll never make the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but will go on and on making music – because it’s what they do.
Of the rest it goes without saying that I’ve no time for boy bands, girl bands, X factor winners (or losers), film stars turned music stars (except Juliette Lewis who really seems to have gone for it) James Blunt and Robbie Williams. As Bill Hicks would describe it;
“When did mediocrity and banality become a good image for your children? I want my children to listen to people who fucking rocked.”
In the ‘I missed the boat completely’ category I’d have to place The Kooks, Gnarls Barkley, Johnson and a whole bunch of female singers called Nora, Mary, Natasha, Justin or Alicia. Just don’t get it. They “say nothing to me about my life”.
On a positive side there has been a mini-cult of uncynical ‘happy songs’ that I really like – Hal, Zutons, Fratellis, Feeling, Automatics. It’s a one-off and like all sugary things you can only take so much, but they worked for me.
Two questions for next year – will the Arctic Monkey be able to retain and channel the energy? And will the Devil give Pete Doherty another 12 months? I’m betting the answer is ‘no’ to at least one of those questions.