A backdrop for the girls and boys who just don’t know or just don’t care

Auto Tune and lip synching.  The scourge of modern music.  It wouldn’t have happened back in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, right?  People believe music back then was authentic.  And great acts like Queen would never mime.  Right?

Some of the most blatant miming ever – and still a command performance by Freddie Mercury.

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Lonely Starbucks Lovers

For the last few years I’ve been using Taylor Swift to irritate hipsters; using her either as an example of authenticity in modern music or a singer/songwriter/musician of the sort some claim have died out.  But not actually listening to her for most of it (and most of her music, and particularly her early music, is not written for me).  And certainly since Kanye West invaded the stage at the VMA awards people have been looking for excuses to take potshots at her. Me, I find the whole thing interesting.  Taylor at least as much as her music.  She’s an outlier – someone who invented her own market (teenage Country music).

And before the fold I’m going to mention her current row with Spotify.  She claims they don’t pay enough when 60% of their revenue goes to the labels.  The problem here is a step deeper.  Spotify gives consumers a level of access that people who’ve bought the albums have, but charge as if they were radio.  The record labels make their money out of back catalogue – but it doesn’t help new artists (or even minor labels like hers).

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Singing the songs of angry men?

A followup to the previous post, I’ve been musing for a while about political songs.  And their seeming absence – last weekend the musicians (insert drummer joke here) thought that drumming while shouting buzzwords like Unity and Solidarity would work.  And when that didn’t fire the crowd they put on the worst performance of ‘We Will Rock You’ I think I’ve ever heard.  (It might have helped if they’d gone for clap/clap/arms rather than stamp/stamp/clap given the slightly waterlogged ground.  But you don’t get anything back if you don’t even attempt the verses).

Yes, there is protest music still around.  The Folk Song Army is still there, and the Red Leicester Choir at Saturday’s march brought out pieces including There is Power in the Union (something I found ironic). Bruce Springsteen is still touring.  As is Billy Bragg.  And others.  But it’s a matter of “still there”.  The last new protest group breaking through I recall were Chumbawumba, although Pulp probably also qualify.  And Rage Against the Machine had the Christmas Number 1 only a few years ago in an anti-corporate protest.  Come to think of it, of all unlikely artists, Nick Clegg has been widely played although with only moderate chart success.

But this is nothing compared to the seventies.  The Clash spring to mind, as do the far more nihilistic Sex Pistols (who were banned from number 1), Dylan, and many people mentioned above.  Before that we have Woodie Guthrie, Sixteen Tons, et al.

So what happened?  I have four theories.

1: I’m missing things.  Entirely possible.  I’m not paying that much attention.  But looking at the Top 40, I don’t think so.

2: I have a … distorted view of the past.  I wasn’t there.  And the music that lasts isn’t that which was acclaimed at the time.  Possible, but I doubt it especially given the attempt to keep the Sex Pistols off the number one spot.

3: Things aren’t as bad as they used to be.  There hasn’t been anything like the Red Lion Square Disorders in a long time; by comparison to the National Front, even the EDL/Casuals United are a storm in a tea cup.  Despite the best efforts of Osbourne and co, we’re a lot better off than we were under the three day week (and I do mean best efforts – the government is trying to privatise the NHS and break up the planning committees – both huge changes).

4: Corporate media caught on.  And are blocking the avenues – I believe Woody Guthrie et al sang to children because they were banned from singing to adults for being socialists.  Just another example of blowback.  And there’s a block against left wing songs being allowed to break out.  I don’t believe this one, but it’s a hypothesis.


Some Things are Inappropriate in Churches?

Pussy Riot are back in the news, hopefully to have their appeals overturned.  I expect a return of the pearl clutching by offended Christians.  After all, no one worth listening to would do something as harsh as trying to throw moneylenders out of a temple.  (The temple itself hates this and wants them to publically repent).

Especially not when what they were protesting was not just Putin himself, but Patriarch Kirill I (born Vladimir Mikhailovich Gundyayev), leader of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Krill is a man who called Putin’s two terms as president “A Miracle of God.”  Patriarch Krill being a man so devoted to the ideal of poverty that, as others noticed, the Russian Orthodox Church photoshopped out a £20,000 wristwatch on his photo.  And then he denied ever having worn the watch. (Image from Pet Snake Reggie).  He’s also petty enough to deny that forgiveness is appropriate for someone who gets dust on his books while having renovation work done, instead suing them for over half a million dollars.

It reminds me of an old childrens’ Spot the Difference game – spot the reflection.

As we can see from the words of “Virgin Mary, Put Putin Away” (translation:The Guardian with a the ‘Holy Shit’ pun clarified by Metafilter) this is not an Atheist anthem in the slightest.  The chorus might be against Putin – but every single verse is about the Church or the Patriarch, and in only one is the subject Putin as well as the Patriarch.

Punk-Prayer “Virgin Mary, Put Putin Away”


Virgin Mary, Mother of God, put Putin away
Рut Putin away, put Putin away

(end chorus) …
Black robe, golden epaulettes
All parishioners crawl to bow
The phantom of liberty is in heaven
Gay-pride sent to Siberia in chains

The head of the KGB, their chief saint,
Leads protesters to prison under escort
In order not to offend His Holiness
Women must give birth and love

Shit, shit, Shit of the Lord (Holy Shit!)
Shit, shit, Shit of the Lord (Holy Shit!)


Virgin Mary, Mother of God, become a feminist
Become a feminist, become a feminist

(end chorus)

The Church’s praise of rotten dictators
The cross-bearer procession of black limousines
A teacher-preacher will meet you at school
Go to class – bring him money!

Patriarch Gundyaev believes in Putin
Bitch, better believe in God instead
The belt of the Virgin can’t replace mass-meetings
Mary, Mother of God, is with us in protest!


Virgin Mary, Mother of God, put Putin away
Рut Putin away, put Putin away

(end chorus)
“Patriarch Gundyaev believes in Putin
Bitch, better believe in God instead”
Pussy Riot’s Punk Prayer is possibly the most Christ-like thing to have been preached from that pulpit in the last ten years.  And I’ve signed the Amnesty Petitions, and hope that anyone reading this who hasn’t will do so.