Monday, 12 January 2009

The Point Of No Return

At what point in one's life do embarrassing songs simply stop being embarrassing? And why? When we were children we would happily bop about to pretty much anything with a beat (how else to explain the constant popularity of inane dross like the Tweenies, Take 5, Sportacus, etc etc...). And then puberty struck, and everything reduced us to paroxysms of squirming, particularly if our parents liked it. In fact, as I remember, you were only allowed to admit you liked songs/bands of almost proscriptive obscurity - if you'd caught the name late at night on John Peel and nobody else had even heard of them yet, that made it all the cooler. And if they ever got into the charts, you had to stop liking them immediately and whine about how they'd sold out. In my day it was tantamount to social suicide to admit you liked anything that could even vaguely be categorised as "disco" (ie anything poppy with a beat), which led to a huge crisis at parties - in the event that you did anything as uncool as dancing, rather than sneering in eyeliner from the edge of the room, there was very little you could actually dance to. Gothy posturing to Joy Division hardly counts, as it's more in the ballpark of "I will now portray Anomie And Social Despair through the medium of modern dance".
So - when was it that the disco rot started creeping in? I have a memory of a distinct turning point in my second year at college, when I shared a huge house with (among others) a girl who would unashamedly start a Saturday night off with "Never Too Much" by Luther Vandross. It was all downhill from there. And once you've conceded that Abba are possibly the finest popsters in the world, and you stand up to be counted, admitting with barely a blush that you know all the words to "When I Kissed The Teacher", well, the primrose path to Shameless Musical Leanings beckons. Rapidly you find you actually know the dance to Bucks Fizz's "Making Your Mind Up". You play the Nolan Sisters at parties. And songs such as the one below are greeted with whoops of delight rather than the general slinking off in shame that they deserve. Go on, admit when Marks and Spencer used it in an advert you were actually pleased to hear it again...

28 comments:

The Dotterel said...

I wonder if everyone's musical tastes follow a similar trajectory. I first started listening (again) to good pop in a kind of ironic this-is-so-bad-it's-good way (pretentious moron that I was!) and then suddenly (ok, several years later) it's the soundtrack of your youth (in my case, Troy and his Mandoliers).

Lucy Fishwife said...

Quite! Or, to my horror, the theme song from "Ulysses 31" or "Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds"...

Steve said...

Coolness, like mental age, is of course relative and teenagers are not to be trusted with notions of coolness. True coolness is acquired or attributed after long contemplation and meditation... or just when "cool" people announce that something is cool. Like when Bono announced that he thought Abba were the best band ever or something.

One good thing about getting old(er) is that I care less and less about what other people think is cool. I listen to what I like, watch what I like and like who I like and you know what? I think that makes me pretty darn cool.

Lucy Fishwife said...

Ah Steve you are preaching to the converted. I speak as one who not only has a less-than-secret love for the above song, but also saw "Mamma Mia" twice... and it could be so very much worse; my friend Ziggaaah owns (and regularly plays) several albums by the Barron Knights...

Tessa said...

I was not by any means 'cool' in my musical tastes, but neither was I into bubble gum pop, so I missed out on all the more twee music of my day. I like to think that having a teenager in the house in the nineties, who had very cool musical tastes indeed, has done wonders for my musical choices at this late stage in my life. But he thinks they're atrocious ... funny that.

Lucy Fishwife said...

Whatever you like is, by definition, atrocious to a teenager. Sadly, this is life. Once you the adult get into something, they have already elected to find it uncool. The one exception seems to be Amy Winehouse, who simply by virtue of being immensely talented appeals to many adults, and by virtue of being a total and unapologetic fuckup appeals to most adolescents. My brother and cousins, all approx 15 years younger than me, have contributed some marvellous music to my repertoire though, and were gracious enough to treat me like a contemporary about it, although when my cousin DJed at my wedding he said "I presume you want lots of crap?"

French Fancy said...

Oh no, I'll have that as an ear worm all day tomorrow now.

(I've also bought Mamma Mia the movie - my excuse is I have Meryl love)

French Fancy said...

p.s. I come to most modern bands really late in the day now. I've only just got the three Killers CD's after hearing 'Human' somewhere and thinking it was fabulous.

Brother Tobias said...

Ah, but I have an advantage. During the 80s we had thin walls and grumpy neighbours, so it became the decade of no stereo and no music. It was like being blind drunk during the meteor shower in Day of the Triffids. Uncorrupted by the decade when music decayed under keyboards and mixing desks, we have brilliant taste and the respect of our children. (It helps to grow your hair and mutter, 'Of course his real name was John Ravenscroft' periodically).

Red Rum said...

Have just discovered you Lucy Fishwife and will be adding you to my blogroll tonight!!! We have A LOT in common. Best, Red Rum

JRSM said...

For what it's worth, I'm awarding you the Premios Dardos: see http://causticcovercritic.blogspot.com/2009/01/non-covery-aside.html for more.

Reluctant Blogger said...

haha The Barron Knights???? I had forgotten them.

I'm with Steve. I simply don't care what anyone thinks. I just like what I like and play it loud! My children so far are the same - my six-year-old has things ranging from Rolf Harris through The Killers and The Kinks to Amy Winehouse on his iPod. And I am the same. If I like it, I stick it on.

I know the dance to Making Your Mind Up too. I remember once running really fast tojoin a group of girls who were doing the dance on the school field and smashing into one of those windows that opened at head height cos I didn't see it. Funny that Bucks Fizz made me fall over even then.

I'm on the stilton today. Care for some? Doesn't really go with Bucks Fizz though, does it?

Titian red said...

Happy New Year ! Finally my head comes above the parapet and I return to blogging...
I hope the assorted lurgs have finally left the Fish household, I was waiting with bated breath to see if you escaped flukes and finrot.
Re music and age, although I have finally mellowed as far as Abba are concerned (Yup, Mamma Mia twice, once involving a certain amount of blubbing regretting my lost youth, the second singing along raucously )my training at an all girls boarding school is still sufficiently ingrained that I could never ever like Donny Osmond or the Bay City Rollers. (Well, that gives my age away quite neatly doen't it !)

Titian red said...

Apropos nothing - apart from random thought caught as it wandered past - do you do Jennings ?

Steerforth said...

I've always loved pop, but for many years it was the love that dared not speak its name.

The joy of MP3 players is that you can have the cheesiest compilations you like without anyone finding out.

Lucy Fishwife said...

FF - Oh yes the Killers - loved "When You were Young" (but am a sucker for a big thrashy guitar break) and then "Human" despite the fact that it sounds A LOT like those odd pompous faux-meaningful electro songs of the early 80s (which I also loved..).

BT - My version of that is "Oh yes, that was of course produced by Brian Eno" or "Hmm I think I have the 12-inch of that somewhere"...

Red Rum - Welcome! And will come to visit in a moment!

JRSM - Thank you very much! Am on my way over to check it out!

RB - to my shame I also know the dance to "Young Guns (Go For It)" by Wham. Our time in the 6th form common room was not usually spent discussing philosophy. Would love some stilton! Will see if I can scare up some grapes. My friend Ziggaaah is particularly fond of the Barron Knights' take on Leo Sayer's "You Make Me feel Like Dancing"...

TR - Woohoo! Flu departed. Yes, I also did the full Kleenex blub at Mamma Mia (it was "Slipping Through My Fingers" that did it despite not having kids, teenage or otherwise) and the full shouty singalong at christmas, much to the dismay of the French people present, who know nothing of Abba.

Steerforth - I have cast off embarrassment for ever. Hurrah! Join me in a wild and visually rhythmless dance to "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" by Tight Fit!!

Lucy Fishwife said...

PS Titian Red I forgot to reply about Jennings! Yes I did/do. Loved them. Currently very difficult to get hold of though as they were being reissued by an outfit called House of Stratus who seem to be in and out of receivership and are quite difficult to order from, otherwise we'd be stocking the whole series!

Deirdre said...

Spanish stroll!!..mink deville...my secret vice...along with Johnny 'Guitar' Watson....well not so secret really as I introduced both to my 17yr old daughter and she did'nt pull that 'what on earth is this?' face...and about being cool? at my age who gives a toss?..

Lucy Fishwife said...

Aha Deirdre I have my moments. What WAS Spanish Stroll? It wasn't punk, it wasn't New wave.. A fantastic aberration in an otherwise far thrashier decade. Maybe it was the Ramones on some deeply mellow downers.
As far as cool goes I have as an example the object lesson of my aunt, who managed to persuade her sons that Cliff Richard was cool when they were toddlers only to have them grow up to deeply distrust her musical tastes.

Nan said...

I'd dance to this!

Lucy Fishwife said...

But Nan you're already cool! Even dancing to Sailor wouldn't dent your smooth carapace... xxx

The Poet Laura-eate said...

Lucy you must type in 'Scooter, Jumping all over the World' onto YouTube search engine immediately.

You will find a version of this track that will blow your socks off, but yes, it is still quite embarrassing!

Lucy Fishwife said...

Oh my god my work computer doesn't have speakers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (On balance probably a good thing especially with the kind of stuff I play) Will save this auditory treat for Sunday... looking forward to it!

Fifi said...

I only have one thing to say:
Electric Light Orchestra

Lucy Fishwife said...

Fifi - I own several of their albums. Often in the car Mr Fishwife will make me wind the windows up in case random passers-by hear me singing along to "Mr Blue Sky".

Suldog said...

I have to say that I still have NEVER reached the point where I enjoy disco. I still consider Deep Purple the height of coolness.

I think, perhaps, I was lucky to find someone that would marry me :-)

Poutalicious said...

Congratz on POTD.

Lucy Fishwife said...

Suldog - Deep Purple are one of Mr Fishwife's favourite bands and I have tried in vain to wean him off playing AC/DC in the car. Oddly, he also likes the Style Council...

Poutalicious - Thank you! am on my way to check it out! Very excited!