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All Pop, No Fizz

  • Stuart Bailie
  • 10 Jan 08, 10:12 AM

Stuart Bailie.jpgThe value of great pop music is that it transcends the music industry, the sneering critic and the envious classical bod. A three minute song that registers in your soul and excites your intellect is rare. And I’m not sure how many examples were in last night’s BBC Four programme. ‘How Pop Songs Work’.

charleshazlewood.jpgThe presenter Charles Hazlewood seems like a decent enough chap, with his orchestral credentials and blokish demeanour. I just get nervous of those people rummaging around in our territory, and making glib comparisons between The Beatles and Schubert. In the past, we’ve been patronised by tweed-wearing academics who will blether for money about Doric modes and Georgic interludes. They don’t rate the music, but they think they can explain the forensics of structure and style. Yes, but does it rock your heart?

The best lesson I ever got about pop music was when a girl sang me the Hot Chocolate song, ‘You Win Again’. She made it sound like the most powerful statement in the universe. A few days later, and I was in a disco when her burly ex-boyfriend broke down in tears. The DJ was playing that song. And the boyfriend had lost, again. Take it away, Errol Brown...

amywinehouse.jpgAnyway, Charles Hazlewood played a bit of Abba and made the case for Amy Winehouse. He wibbled about the Arctic Monkeys and connected Jamie T to the operatic tradition. Sorry, but I wasn’t buying this, and additional quotes from the grinning Professor Of Pop just seemed silly. Also, anyone who compares that buffoon Wyclef Jean to Bob Marley just isn’t listening properly.

And I’ll not be lectured to about ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. The song stinks. Forever. I’m thinking instead about the Molière play, The Bourgeois Gentleman, when the central character is royally confused by the academics with their posturing and arcane references.

A Hot Chocolate tune is the better investment.


Stu Bailie presents The Late show on Radio Ulster, every Friday from 10pm until midnight. See his playlist here.

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