They say that the best art is created in periods of hardship and austerity.
If this is to be believed, then surely the social unrest of recent years will have brought about a new wave of musicians calling for change across the airwaves? Bankers’ bonuses, tuition fees and the riots of 2011 – a goldmine of inspiration.
Bob Stanley, the author of Yeah Yeah Yeah: the Story of Modern Pop, reckons album charts paint a realistic picture of the national mood. That’s why I was left slightly perturbed when Robbie Williams’ Swings Both Ways recently became the 1,000th number one UK album.
Does this mean that in the future, if younger generations delve into our history they will conclude that an overweight pub singer from Stoke crooning along to big-band covers was our antidote to austerity? An age of discontent set to a rat pack tribute soundtrack.
Am I the only one who shudders at the thought? Perhaps I am biased. I never got the Williams effect.
Robbie’s hit Angels frequently tops the UK’s favourite funeral song charts. Frankly, if I attended a memorial service where it was the deceased’s chosen bow-out tune I’d be grateful they were dead.
In the ’60s mods declared war on the rockers and in the ’70s working-class kids from the north danced all night to the thumping beat of obscure American soul in a casino in Wigan. New Romantics of the ’80s made boys who wore eyeshadow and danced to synth-pop cool.
The ’90s brought illegal warehouse raves and the swaggering stars of the Britpop scene.
Post-Iraq, images of Noel Gallagher clinking champagne flutes with a newly-appointed Tony Blair in 1997 might leave us nauseous, but at the time the fact a brash Manc lad from humble beginnings was living it up in Number 10 exemplified the meritocratic spirit of New Labour.
These were about more than music. Movements, set to meaningful soundtracks. Jarvis Cocker’s lily-white bare buttocks were symbolic.
Examine the biggest-selling artists of recent years and it’s all a bit blah. As much as I’d like to share a pint with Adele her music is very bath-time. And I think Mumford and Sons ought to be stripped of reproductive mechanisms to prevent Mumford and Sons’ sons from inflicting sappy folk-rock on another generation.
Not sure about you, but today’s charts leave me feeling Coldplay.