Tuesday, November 08, 2005


There'll Be No Riot Here

I came across a fascinating article the other day, which has been written about here, but, without paying to access the archives of The Spectator, you can't read it. Aren't you fortunate you have me?

The article, by Brendan O'Neill, concerns the absolutely dreadful blandness and, worse still, Blairism of the 'indie' bands in the charts at the moment. He has a whine about quite a few groups, including Keane:

'There is Keane, three men and a piano, who — get this — are named after the housemistress at Tonbridge school, where they were all educated (to the tune of £22,100 a year). The email gossip-sheet Popbitch — occasionally reliable, sometimes slanderous — has a section that describes the antics of the rich and famous as spotted by members of the public. You know the kind of thing: model heard snorting in a toilet; pop star spied snogging his male roadie, etc. It recently had this to say about Keane’s lead singer Tom Chaplin: ‘On the train going to his parents’ house last weekend, drinking Ribena, and doing the Daily Telegraph Book of Sudoku.’ Keane do not drink or — heaven forbid — do drugs. ‘Why should we get falling-down drunk all the time just to fit in? Drugs have never been our thing. I’m sure fear plays a part,’ Chaplin said in an interview last year.'

Franz Ferdinand:

'The Scottish band Franz Ferdinand do not have sexual relations with their fans because they consider it a ‘form of abuse’ (tell that to Mick Jagger). They have clearly internalised officialdom’s warning that personal relationships — especially sexual ones — are potentially harmful and that we all have to be ultra-careful. Alex Kapranos, the lead singer of Franz Ferdinand, even writes a weekly column for the Guardian. On food. Can you get more mind-numbingly middle-of-the-road than that?'

and James Blunt (who is, I might interject, boredom personified):

'He fought in Kosovo, that most Blairite of wars. (I say ‘fought’. He actually, in his own words, strolled through Serb villages singing ‘All we are saying is give peace a chance’. As if the Serbs didn’t have enough troubles.) Blunt says he is now a pacifist. Every time I see his smug mug I feel like committing an act of violence.'

I agree with all of this, not least because it is a subject that particularly pisses me off. The absolutely disgusting toadying of most modern musicians to anyone in any sort of authority suggests that anyone hoping for music to be a subservise artform are going to have to dig out the Tibetan nose-flute, and join the Hare Krishna's, because they won't get any controversy in the charts. No, sir-ee.

O'Neill, however, has a particular go at The Kaiser Chiefs, who I presume are named after the South African football team, though if they are, it's worth noting that they can't spell 'Kaizer.' The song he points out, and which I especially wish to moan about, is 'I Predict A Riot:'

'Watching the people get lairy
Is not very pretty I tell thee
Walking through town is quite scary
And not very sensible either
A friend of a friend he got beaten
He looked the wrong way at a policeman
Would never have happened to Smeaton
And old Leodiensian
La-ah-ah, la la lalala la
Ah-ah-ah, la la lalala la

I predict a riot, I predict a riot
I predict a riot, I predict a riot

I tried to get in my taxi
A man in a tracksuit attacked me
He said that he saw it before me
Wants to get things a bit gory
Girls run around with no clothes on
To borrow a pound for a condom
If it wasn't for chip fat, well they'd be frozen
They're not very sensible

La-ah-ah, la la lalala la
Ah-ah-ah, la la lalala la

I predict a riot, I predict a riot
I predict a riot, I predict a riot.'

Ok. First line - 'the people.' Who are the people? Why not just people? 'The People' is a term the Queen might use when sniffing at her subjects. She, however, is entitled to. Rather average middle-class white men shouldn't, because they are as much 'the people' as the folks vomiting on their shoes. Which brings me on to 'lairy.' Nobody has used this word since Guy Ritchie was cool, and with good reason.

'I tell thee.' You ponce.

'Walking through town is quite scary.' Did I slip, fall, and crack my head? I must have done, because I appear to have missed the time when it became cool to admit being too frightened to walk through an average town centre after dark. Would you consider doing it if Mummykins came with you? Is it so frightening? How pathetic. 'And not very sensible either.' Why isn't it? It's very sensible if you have to get to the other side. Oh, yeah, and why the hell should a rock band care about what's sensible and what isn't? Since when did worrying what's sensible become a part of the rockstar's remit?

'A friend of a friend he got beaten, He looked the wrong way at a policeman.' For a minute, this is a bit better. The oppressive pig shows his true colours! We could get the kids up in arms about this. Or we could, if we didn't have cheerleaders who appear to auditioning for the Mouseketeers. Of course, there's no policeman. He's a fiction - a device trying to convince the listener that there is more to these assinine, banal lyrics than the Blairite platitudes they sound like, but I won't be fooled, and neither should you.

'I tried to get in my taxi, A man in a tracksuit attacked me, He said that he saw it before me, Wants to get things a bit gory.' Where to start with this lot? First off, insulting chavs is always the occupation of the professionally middle class, anyone who hates smoking and drinking and seeing people have a good time. Second of all, does anyone actually wear a tracksuit to go out drinking in? I have to say, no chav that I know has ever been seen out without a brand-name shirt. Thirdly, you deserve a battering for queue-jumping, one crime for which I would definitely welcome the return of capital punishment. Finally, if a bloke starts on you, and you can't fight back, for whatever reason, don't admit it afterwards, you pansy. As Dr. Cox would say, 'I'm writing you a prescription for two testicles.'

'Girls run around with no clothes on, To borrow a pound for a condom, If it wasn't for chip fat, well they'd be frozen, They're not very sensible.' At this point they turn from Blairites into faintly theocratic prudes, demanding the covering of female flesh. Add a quick insult about weight that is really rather unfair, and then we're back to 'sensible' again.

You might be able to tell that this has got my goat somewhat. As O'Neill says, 'its lyrics could have been written by Tessa Jowell or one of the other New Labour apparatchiks who have been banging on for months about the problem of working-class youth getting drunk and disorderly . . . it’s a far cry from when punk rockers The Clash sang ‘White Riot’ in the late 1970s. That song expressed envy that only black kids got to riot: ‘White riot, I wanna riot, a riot of my own!’ it went.'

You know, I might be a person who dismisses the idea of a real rebellious attitude in popular music as so much hot air, but I would at least like to be able to say so. The government have got Fleet Street to get across their messages, they don't need Radio 1 as well.

A group of boring musicians look bored. It makes sense, I suppose.

I couldn't agree more.
I get the impression rock stars, the poor dears, have no longer got any idea of how to behave. Theres no genuinely surly, difficult bastards any more. I havent read a Pete Doherty interview, whats he like? There are no smart arses either, no arch, sharp witted individuals who if they can't look good, at least give a decent interview(Howard Devoto?)

I suppose the phrase "Go on then, say something outrageous" has never been in such short supply.
Who gives a fuck?? At least they aren't trying to be something they are not. I much prefer inane blandness to proclamations of excess and the rock n roll lifestyle: "oh i take heroin and fuck women aren't i cool?!!!" Er, no thanks!!
Actually, punk killed rock music - although we didn't realise it at the time. Ever since then rock music has been a zombie stumbling through the world, someone really ought to have put it out of our misery a long time ago, but how do you kill a zombie?
I much prefer inane blandness to proclamations of excess...

See, that's the problem with the youth of today. Artistically speaking, inane blandness is the most heinous crime there is. Hence why iPods are evil.

I saw David Cameron interviewed this morning - he likes Bob Dylan and James Blunt, but he doesn't own an iPod. Hero or villain?
Ill man - apparently, in this somewhat typical interview he was 'courtoeus and solicitous', which sounds like 'not terribly interesting' to me.

David - You shoot it in the head. Fortunately, Kaiser Chiefs lead singer Ricky Wilson is amply proportioned in that part of his body.

I'm not recommending assassination however. It would make a terrible mess.

Hungbunny - I'm going to go with hero, just about. Anyone who can resist the siren call of the iPod clearly has a lot going for them.
I'm sorry..... hero?

!!Urged to "put a shout out" to listeners, the Old Etonian hesitated for a moment before replying: "This is a great project, this is a great community, keep backing it, keep it real".

As for the music, yes... its a little uninspiring isn't it? But I still think some 'props' (sorry, going a bit david c) should be given for singing in our own accents for a change and not the normal pseudo-yankee stylee.

Well, in fairness, I was only given trhe option of 'hero' or 'zero.' Had I been given the option of 'complete non-entity' I'd definitely have chosen that.

I do agree about the accent thing though. Mid-Atlantic really is a very boring way to sing, speak or whatever.

It's no Dudley.
Kaiser Chiefs are Rad!....atleast the music is real and they play thier own instruments and write their own songs....why doesn't whats-his-face write a colomn on how stupid britney spears or snoop dogs' lyrics are!....i think he'd find some better arguments to put forward than he did with the Kaisers...yes the kai-S-ers withan "s" not a "Z" you prick!....embrace thier independance!......
i dont know why people like band on how they appear or how they act... lyrics are normally completely meaningless...you should like music depending on what it sounds like
Steve_55, if a song has to tell you the truth, you're an idiot. Read a newspaper if all you're looking for is what really happens.
a few things spring to mind! yes of course they were named after the kaizer chiefs, although why though chose to spell it incorrectly im not sure. However, never have i read such a protentious (probs spelt wrong!) account of a song. And i like the way thst you ignore any references in the song that i suspect you dont quite understand or couldnt be botethered to find out! Alos to the guy complaining about the OP's spelling, he never called the band the kaiZer chiefs, but are you aware th football teamthey are named after is spelt with a Z????
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