As a child, people tell you to go to bed. To eat up. To do your homework. As a teenager you findthe same people giving you a new set of parameters to live your life by: don’t have sex withthat. Don’t take that. Don’t drink that. Don’t smoke that. Don’t pierce that.
Then, when youfinally reach adulthood, expecting that after this 20-year slog the tables might finally getturned such that you can tell somebody else how to live their life, they’re just not.
So as predispositions go, a propensity for despising people who tell you how to run your life ispretty much guaranteed.
Yet you can’t flick through any sort of music publication withoutsome smug bastard informing you exactly what you should be listening to.
It happens throughout the year, but it reaches an apex with the January rush triggered by the BBC’s Sound of the Year “critics poll”; a post-festiveperiod of column inches devoted to the bands who you must hear, with the none-too-subtleinsinuation being if you don’t do as you’re told you’re a mutant nobody whose ears should beforcibly removed with a rusty pair of shears.
Fuck that. Actually, fuck that twice. Firstly, because anyone who tells you you must doanything is a grade one cock with no friends, who would do well to avoid any sort ofself-awareness course lest they find themselves to be such an insufferable bore that they have tospend the next 30 years crying themselves to sleep inside a padded cell. Secondly, becausethere are only two situations in life when I want tips: if I happen to find myself stranded atEpsom racecourse with no money, no ticket home and a dinner reservation with John McCririck, or ifI’m lap dancing.
Well, I’ve got to eat somehow.
Maybe if these tips were in some way exciting or novel or even accurate, then they may havesomething in their favour, but they aren’t. They are never leftfield, because that’s risky forthe demographics, and as risks aren’t taken it’s more boring than that fella from Keanegiving a lecture on the origins of the word ‘mundane’.
And as for accuracy, seven words: Joe. Lean. And. The. Jing. Jang. Jong. Yeah, people aren’t(generally) stupid and can detect recycled crap, particularly when it’s smeared all over theirfaces by someone repeatedly screaming at them how good this recycled crap is.
Hence now, it’s come full circle. Bands tipped in the Sound of the Year poll are faced with the ultimate death knell, even those who’re halfway decent. It’s a harbinger of doom prancingexcitedly across a burgeoning career announcing, in 20-foot neon letters: “I’m shit. Andyou’re going to hate me.”
Take White Lies. Three months ago we could have had a conversation about them. We could havepontificated wildly about whether they were a British Interpol with a fine line in natty DuranDuranisms who could quite possibly be brilliant. Now, having been battered about the head withtales of their general magnificence for months, I’d probably try to stab you with a pitchfork if you so much as whispered their name.
None of this was their fault. So the album didn’t live up to what was predicted, but who was itwho brought those expectations up to Dickensian levels? The tipsters. In that BBC Sound of the Year poll.
There are more casualties of the war of raised expectations. Little Boots; La Roux; EmpireOf The Sun – without all the build up, they all could have quietly got on with thebusiness of building themselves careers. Now, if they don’t prove to be the Second Coming, and if theyall don’t revolutionise music by inventing a new note somewhere between doh and ray by next week, I’ll be soangry that I’ll have to spend all my time spewing vitriolic twaddle into the universe untilsomeone, somewhere agrees with me. Maybe on Twitter. Yeah, that’ll show ‘em.
(Although, I reckon that even if I hadn’t heard Empire Of The Sun, even if they had never pickedup instruments, even if it was 2,000 years in the future and we’d all evolved to the point wheremusic no longer existed and all sound travelled from mind to mind through the power of consciousthought, the album artwork alone would still be reason enough to hate them.)
So. Tipsters. Who’d have ‘em?