Sunday, May 29, 2005


Today, apparently, we stand on the cusp of one of those awful displays of bad taste on behalf of the British public. We can get by on a diet of "I'm A Nonentity, Get Me Out Of Here" programmes on the telly (at the moment, the all-new, three month long "Big Brother" run has just started, vying for our attention with "The Farm" and "Celebrity Love Island"). Abi Titmuss, Vernon Kay and G4 can have really healthy bank balances, but there comes a point when we have to concede that, as a nation, we are lacking in discretion when we decide who we really, really love.

Yes, today we will find out that Coldplay have not reached number one with their great comeback single, on which the whole record industry's hopes are pinned. Instead, it is being outsold about five to one by the Crazy Frog/Axel F thing.

Harrumph. I wonder who these People Of Discernment And Taste really are? A silent majority, quietly suffering as Chris Martin loses the chance to get his just desserts, cruelly pipped to the post by an animated amphibian on an imaginary motorbike.

The Crazy Frog ringtone is now worth about 10 million quid or thereabouts, and was kicked into life by a Swedish bloke in a studio in a forest somewhere, when a mate of his gave him a tape of a faulty moped engine to sample. See, already sounds more interesting than anything Coldplay would come up with.

As you might have guessed, I'm on the side of the frog. He has something of Lemmy about him, and therefore is a lot more rock 'n' roll than Chris Martin (the singing vicar). Besides which, after about 6 months of that ringtone advert being shown five times an hour on the box, his genitals were censored. I can just imagine the furious call made to MTV Base at 1.30 in the afternoon from an outraged grandmother from Northampton ... "I wouldn't mind, I'm not a prude myself but what makes me angry is that I might have to explain it to my little 3 year old grandaughter who I'm babysitting at the moment" (... cue sound of brat screeching in the background). That's probably all it took to ensure that we no longer see his genitalia. Oh, and every nine year old in the country does a very bad impersonation of the ringtone, it seems.

What's not to like about the frog? Coldplay, on the other hand ...

Their attempts to weld Abba's "Thank You For The Music" to Radiohead's "Fake Plastic Trees" have obviously sold bucketloads of cd's, and they have discovered the rock band's holy grail. Yep, here's the first indie band to appeal to women. Not "indie girls" or "student girls" but mopey career women in their late 20's who have loads of disposable income but are still on the lookout for, ahem, a man who is as sensitive and dishy and self-effacing as Chris Martin to have babies with. Oh, and he really really cares about making poverty history and making trade fair as well!

Any road, Coldplay aren't that bad of course - mainly in relation to the other bands who have followed in their wake. There are slumber-rock bores Athlete - "I've got wires sticking out of my arse" - well, you certainly will when I have finished with you, sonny Jim. Then there are those purveyors of the very worst kind of early 1970's drippiness, Keane. Dear God, their singer, with his half-boiled suet pudding of a face, is possibly the most unalluring frontman of all time.

Judging by the huge sales of albums by these bands, the record industry must be glad that there has been a return to true values in music - qualidee product from real musicians who have a long career trajectory. Yes, meet the new Rock And Roll Aristocracy. Even Oasis can be lumped in with them now that Liam had dropped that sneer from his voice and is a contented family man. Being very old, I'm reminded of some tabloid story about a mid '80's party which was "packed with rock royalty - the likes of Eric Clapton and the Geldof-Yateses mingled with the Princess Of Wales". Hell on earth, basically. With Live Aid 2 on the way, you can be sure that the likes of Coldplay can feel grateful that they are now fit to be seen in the same light as geniuses of music such as Sting and Phil Collins, despite their callow years. Are we really hurtling towards another 1986, the worst year ever for music?

In the light of all this, who can begrudge the Crazy Frog his moment of glory?

Old folks, get some perspective and remember the last time we were in this place and People Of Discernment And Taste were saying "we wuz robbed!".

Ultravox's "classic" (i.e., pompous load of bollocks but in retrospect quite funny) "Vienna" was kept off the topspot by Joe Dolce's "Shaddap Ya Face". Who's laughing now then?

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