March 30, 2011

Rebecca Black

Rebecca Black

Lists such as these could be extended indefinitely and would include most famous performers. Pop music is intended to be sold to as many people as possible, and therefore it mostly converges in transatlantic sameness. Rebecca is different only in degree from Rihanna, Britney, or Kylie”€”and maybe she too will become so famous that people barely bother to learn her surname.

Even when popsters write about more fibrous subjects than cereal, they oftentimes err. Here I must confess that I was the “€˜singer”€™ of a band called Quasar and cowrote a “€˜song”€™ called “€œMegalomania.”€ Most of the words have faded into kindly obscurity, but one of the verses ended:

The pigs in government, they got no guts
They”€™re all a pack of stupid f***s

So perhaps it ill behooves me to criticize others”€™ efforts, but in my defense, M”€™Lud, I was 16 and spent a lot of time reading and ingesting assorted intoxicants.

Punk-to-funk philosopher Paul Weller was older and probably not ingesting when he piped plaintively to a doomed generation just as they turned into Thatcher’s children. He was a prime mover of Red Wedge, a grimly earnest collective of “€˜alternative”€™ pop-ulists launched with much razzmatazz in 1985. Their joyless output included The Communards”€™ daring attack on the Church of England’s mad mullahs:

It ain”€™t necessarily so
The things that you”€™re liable
To read in the Bible
It ain”€™t necessarily so.

Paul’s own “€œWalls Come Tumbling Down”€ was equally thoughtful:

Governments crack and systems fail
“€™Cause unity is powerful….
The competition is a color TV
We”€™re on still pause with the video machine….
Are you gonna realize
The class war’s real and not mythologized?

These explications struck such a chord with the public that Red Wedge itself came tumbling down in 1990.

The folk singer William “€œBilly”€ Bragg shared similar “€˜radical”€™ views, but “€œAll You Fascists”€ was more specific about what he wanted to see:

People of every color marching side by side
Marching across the fields where a million fascists died

This democratic enthusiasm is in marked contrast to Billy’s gentler “€œThe Milkman of Human Kindness,”€ in which he combined a useful working-class job with an unexpected interest in diseases of the genitourinary tract:

I am the milkman of human kindness
I will leave an extra pint….
If your bed is wet, I will dry your tears

Perhaps it was even Bill’s Bilious Bottle that left the milk to garnish Becky’s Bowl. What is certain is that PC plectrum-wielders are somehow seen as gurus of the grooves (and geist), while a cheesy, cheery 13-year-old who has never said anything nearly so stupid is cyber-savaged by the supercilious. Rebecca Black’s forthcoming track”€”yes, I”€™m afraid so”€”is provisionally called “€œLOL”€”€”yes, I”€™m afraid so. But even while we-we-we endure she-she-she, we should remember that it could have been even worse-worse-worse.



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