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Pickle Me This

March 29, 2005

And you're not moving anywhere

It’s election time in Britain and The Guardian reports that Tony Blair and co. have selected U2’s “A Beautiful Day” as their theme song. Campaign theme songs fascinate me- remember the “Still The One” debacle last year in America? And the “Don’t Stop” Clintons. How Ronald Reagan wanted to use “Little Pink Houses” by John Cougar Mellencamp (as he was then known) but John Cougar wouldn’t let him. This is the richness of Baby Boomer history. I enjoy the fact that a pop song is now a campaign requirement, but mainly because it’s amusingly horrifying and it never really works (as the article makes clear, though 1908’s “Get on a Raft With Taft” had potential).

Pop music and politics don’t mix either way. Politically charged pop songs make me uncomfortable. You shouldn’t be able to bop your head along to a profound message. There was a song out in Britain last year that was unbelievably catchy and about domestic violence, called “Thank You” by someone called Jamelia . The chorus went “For every last bruise you gave me…” and onwards. I once witnessed a group of absconding school girls singing it together in the Nottingham City Centre, and the effect was disturbing. You shouldn’t be able to sing along to songs about domestic violence. I recognise what poor Jamelia was trying to say, but it’s a bit trivialising. Similarly, The Manic Street Preachers and the hummable “If You Tolerate This, Then Your Children Will Be Next”. There are way too many capital letters in that plea. Also, choruses of pop singers singing to end world hunger. And featuring Justin Timberlake is really no excuse around it. The intentions are noble but it’s so lame. Pop songs should be about it being your party and you crying if you want to, or your boyfriend being back.

Some people do manage it successfully- U2 actually, or John Lennon’s Imagine. But for every Imagine, we have to do with a bit of Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder singing Ebony and Ivory. Just keep that in mind.

For more about politcs and pop songs, this interview with the famous non-terrorist Yusaf Islam, aka Cat Stevens. (I like the way the article begins with the ubiquitous “(Name here) doesn’t look like a threat to national security.” Who looks like a threat to national security? Richard Reid I guess, but beyond that I don’t really know.)

One thought on “And you're not moving anywhere”

  1. Stuart says:

    I think that when Labour defeated the tories for the first time his theme song was D:ream’s “Things can only get better.”

    Although a more humerous prospect would be Thatcher’s theme song . I would suggest “Black, Black Heart” by David Usher or anything by Iron Maiden.

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