Sunday, June 04, 2006

"Well, you know - we'd all love to see the plans..."

"Smile, it confuses people" - an injunction guaranteed to have many, surely, curling their lips not into a smile but a sneer, an even heftier, eyebrow-furrowed frown than before. No, not just me, I'm sure...

Especially when such a chirpy command comes as the debut album title, no less, from such a seeming sourpuss as Sandi Thom, the latest internet music superstar-next-door, who has indeed good reason to crack a grin this evening after hurtling to the top of the hit parade with I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker (With Flowers In My Hair), which, as everyone now knows, managed to bypass sleek music biz chicanery, thanks to that complex system of levers and pulleys that is the interweb.

Hmm. Or did she? It seems a little journalistic cynicism is (perhaps belatedly) starting to rear its ugly head, with last week's procession of industry insiders hailing the little man (or, indeed, woman) beating, ahem, Ver Man by broadcasting her own gigs online and drumming up a fervent fanbase through down-to-earth, albeit internet-assisted, community spirit - now succeeded by off-the-record naysayers, Emperor's-New-Clothes-decrying whistle-blowers barely finished propping up Sandi's last step onto the parapet with one hand while already tugging her down with the other...

Well, there certainly is a strange unsureness about just how "for real" this supposed new trend for internet music-making - and music star-making - should be taken as (remembering, of course, that that famous "4 REAL" statement of commitment by Richey Manic was both authentically savage, while also a brilliantly potent publicity stunt...)

After all, many of the Press release assurances may seem easy to swallow, but a few moments' chewing lends an odd taste. So Sandi Thom's car broke down once, so she decided to give up the old routine of actually turning up for gigs, instead broadcasting them all online from the comfort of her own home - and soon, thousands of delirious fans were logging on to enjoy instead? Hmm, they must have inifinitely better quality streaming services than many I've ever seen - not to mention much saintlier levels of patience...

Now there are suggestions her record deal was already signed, sealed and delivered before the awareness of her online presence really got into gear - denied by her bosses, who have though admitted committing serious resources to e-mail-outs and MySpace adverts to push a humble, supposed no-mark...

Ah, but this is all so much, indeed too much bitterness and, yes, envy, I hear you cry.
Maybe so. Maybe it's just because I don't especially like the song. Artists supposedly-"broken" online, such as the Arctic Monkeys and the cheerier Lily Allen certainly seem well worth persevering with, albeit not quite the new 21st-century techno-godheads some over-heated coverage might have suggested.
It just seems a little counter-productive if artists too readily fall into being willingly manipulated as spurious, from-the-online-bottom-up radical breakthroughs for short-term gain, at the expense of perhaps-deserved long-term credibility...

There is only so long, surely, that anti-spin can be so successfully spun...?

Good luck to Sandi, though, while she has it, even if she does seem a little confused about the difference between punk rockers and hippies, 1969 and 1977 (it's a little difficult to imagine Johnny Rotten in a kaftan, Joe Strummer tousling a few carnations through his sweaty mop - or, indeed, Donovan with a safety-pin through his nose, Scott McKenzie with a bright pink Mohican, gobbing and snarling and swearing at the crowd when they admit they haven't a clue how to get to San Francisco...)

I wonder whether she'll find this off-the-shelf revolution for which she seems to be half-heartedly searching, as if wandering the aisles of Asda, checking the prices and the ingredients - after all, no revolutionary era would be complete without such essential aspects as, er, ensuring "footballers still had long hair and dirt across their face"...

As for dreaming wistfully of a time when "When accountants didn’t have control /
And the media couldn’t buy your soul / When computers were still scary and we didn’t know everything"
and "When record shops were still on top / and vinyl was all that they stocked / and the super info highway was still drifting out in space" - well, they're either the most artfully-crafty of lyrics, inhabiting more irony than Alanis Morrissette could ever muster...

Or it's just lazy shtick of the airy-fairiest, yet simultaneously cynical kind.

Still. All that said as may be - someone please just answer me this.

Why can't I get the damn song out of my head...?

4 comments:

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

I used to have a t-shirt that read "Smile, it confuses people".

a.c.t said...

And thanks to you Akr I had the damn song in my head all day yesterday. I'm sorry, but it is evil. I wish songs like that were banned from the radio.

Clare said...

I really like that Sandi Thom song and she's from Tooting which isn't far from me so it can't be too bad haha.

Aidan said...

Oh, you'll change your mind sooner or later, Clare, oh yes you will...!

The good news is it seems to have been replaced on constant rotation in my head.
The bad news is, it's that stupid "Is it a monster, is it a monster...?" song that's been doing the replacing...

"Breakfast At Tiffany's" by Deep Blue Something will always reign as the most bland-yet-insidious
of brain-eroding pop songs...