Already, England has made me sick.
At the moment, I’m mostly sick of R&B. Don’t get me wrong, I have a few R&B tracks in my CD collection, and I don’t mind a bit of Rihanna from time to time, but I’m mostly talking about that sickly spin-off of rap with smarmy, smug singers. I don’t think it’s humanly possibly to be more full of yourself than an R&B singer, or a person who likes to turn it up to listen to when ‘cruising’ around Bolton of an evening.
I’ve kind of gone off Beyonce since it’s all about the booty and the bling and the rap-star boyfriend and the losing your roots to warble a bit. All that ass-shaking is a bit too much ‘look at me’ and ‘I need your approval’ and ‘Aren’t I great’ and when I hear it pounding out on Sainsbury’s car park, well, it’s like me listening to some weird Japanese music, it’s so out of place.
Why I despise it, I think, is the whole cheesy, image-conscious, lacking-in-soul vocals and bling/glitz pointless glamour. The whole point of disco was that it was fake and phoney and unnecessarily cheery, but R&B takes itself too seriously. It’s about actually believing that cubic zirconium is diamond, not just celebrating the whole ‘cubic zirconium-ness’ of it. It’s about fooling yourself that gold and diamonds and money and ‘hos and biatches are more important than real things, like love and happiness.
What’s worse is that it is Jake’s music of choice. And that he has it mixed in with ‘the Chipmunks’, who sound not unlike some of his speeded-up versions of R&B. And I have to say, this disappoints me, a bit.
Steve and I came to music the way of Adam Ant. Both of us were fans of the be-striped one from about the age of 8. I went to rock via Talking Heads, David Bowie, The Stones, Depeche Mode… and he went via AC/DC and Metallica and Megadeth, but we both ended up at the same point. I liked music that ‘spoke’ to me, that was full of feeling, and I don’t mind admitting, I was never fond of Duran Duran, with their suits and highlights and tans, but I had a little soft spot for A-Ha. And the worst you can say about that is that Morten Harket’s voice reeks of heart-ache. How I listened to Hunting High and Low, the summer I was 12. Some of my friends went the U2 ‘Stadium Rock’ route, but by then I was moving on to more heart-breaking music in the shape of Depeche Mode and Leonard Cohen. Yes, I was a teenage depressive! Still, at least it had heart and soul and feeling. It spoke of regret and sadness and heart-ache and loss. I don’t know why a 13 year old should feel so strongly about it, but I did.
By 15, Appetite for Destruction awoke an entirely different set of emotions: anger. It’s so fuckin’ easy when everybody’s tryin’ to please me…. And I went via the angry train for the next few years, visiting ‘Rage’ along the way. So it was lots of Megadeth and Metallica and Annihilator, with a few heart-broken tracks from Hanoi Rocks along the way.
And by my early twenties, I’d settled into a happy medium of ‘angst’, ‘sadness’, ‘anger’ and ‘heartache’ for the main vehicles of my music. If I wanted uplifting, I’d stick on a bit of more funky tunes, but essentially, everything I listened to had real emotions inside it. Damien Rice, Snow Patrol, Leonard Cohen, Hed (pe): they have something in common – feeling.
And I think this is why I detest this false R&B so much. It’s not about love, it’s about sex. It’s not about personality, but about looks. It’s about pretence and glamour and it’s not got anything inside it. It’s self-entitled and pointless.
And yes, my bowl is full of it today!
I’m off for a strong coffee, a cigarette and a blast of something more meaty! If you ask me, R&B is nothing more than an example of everything that is wrong with the country!