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Newport (Ymerodraeth State Of Mind)

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James McLaren James McLaren | 14:08 UK time, Thursday, 22 July 2010

The Newport (Ymerodraeth State of Mind) YouTube sensation of the last 24 hours has today become the UK's most-favourited clip on the video-sharing site, and the second most-favourited in the whole world.

Watch the video on YouTube (contains strong language).

Writer Leo Sloley appeared this morning on the BBC Radio Wales morning show with Jamie Owen and Lisa Rogers. You can listen to the interview here.

With his colleagues in the endeavour, Al, Tom and MJ, they've encapsulated some of the characteristics of Newport that even the occasional visitor will recognise. Its clever lyrics and its thematic parallel between the glamour of New York in Jay-Z and Alicia Keys' original and the complete lack of glamour of Newport (not to mention its pin-sharp take-off of the video) have made a wickedly effective combination.

He referred in the interview to the self-deprecatory nature of Newport - it never takes itself too seriously. I got me thinking, seeing as this is far from the first comedic look at the 'Port (the first few Goldie Lookin' Chain LPs laid into the city with affectionate abandon).

One of the things I like very much about Newport is that it feels real - sometimes raw. It doesn't have the same shininess that the 21st century Cardiff has. There's a studied cool to Cardiff that makes it great for leftfield music - indie music thrives. Newport is more rock 'n' roll, less concerned with the trimmed edges of its beard than the AC/DC patch on its rucksack. It is - and I mean in the best possible way - is less Cool but more cool.

A lot of Newport's culture thrives under the radar; while Cardiff's music and arts scenes get the press coverage, Newport just gets on with it. There's a gentle rivalry which pretty much boils down to Newport thinking Cardiff takes itself too seriously.

Kai Jones, a journalist who's been on the south Wales music scene for many years, says: "Rich from 60ft Dolls once gave a good explanation in an interview: 'Newport; we're Anglo-Welsh - hated by the English and hated by the Welsh'.

"I think it's this feeling of exclusion that partially led to the DIY ethic in the 80s and 90s and still lends itself to the self-deprecation now. However, as much as I admire GLC and this video, I wish Newport would actually take itself more seriously."

He's right of course, while there's merit in the idea of lightheartedly mocking one's town (it's the sonic equivalent of those 'Crap Towns' books), it can't be the exclusion of proper musical development.

I say enjoy this while it lasts; the lyrics are genuinely funny and there's a lot to admire. Just as long as it doesn't simply give the impression of Newport as a one-horse town...

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Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    The main problem with this track is that much of it isn't even about Newport, just a bunch of irrelevant Welsh stereotypes. If the author had bothered getting someone actually familiar with the city then the end result would be more pleasing. As it is it just doesn't ring true to actual Newportonians.

  • Comment number 2.

    We whole heartedly disagree with newportMONMOUTHSHIRE & as we live in the city centre (as opposed to Mr Monmouthshire of suburbia)...

    There are so many newportisms in "Newport (Ymerodraeth State Of Mind)" it's untrue! & yeah there are stereotypes but more of 'port peeps (the wenglish outcasts that we are) than the 'Welsh' generally and as the whole thing is a TONGUE-IN-CHEEK and really REALLY funny.......

    ......we'd like to respectfully suggest that Mr N.M either go down the spaaa & look under the red caaaaa 4 their sense of humour braaaa or quite simply just not listen to THE TUNEAGE again!!

    just thought we'd share our thoughts....

    ps as a precaution maybe he/she should avoid anything funny 4 a while cos they might come out in a rash

  • Comment number 3.

    Seriously what do Craig Bellamy, Gavin Henson, the Milliennium Stadium, Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones, Steve Jones, Catherine Zeta Jones, Llanfair PG and "big leeks" have to do with Newport? What is this "Big up to Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Assembly" all about? The majority of Newportonians didn't even want the Welsh Assembly and Plaid Cymru regularly come stone cold last in any election. Whoever wrote these lyrics just threw together a bunch of stuff relating to "Wales" and then tries selling it as somehow related to the "small Welsh town of Newport". They can't even get that right.

    They as much as admit they know nothing about Newport when the only person they actually mention as coming from here is Josie D'Arby and they had to look that up on Wikipedia!

    And anyone who actually lives in the city as you claim to would instantly realise that neither of the actors in the video even have Newport accents. Can you really name one thing that is actually a Newportism rather than a generic "Welsh" stereotype?

    As per my previous post, this could have been funny, but is ruined by the complete lack of anything specific to Newport in it. It is a poor rip-off of the GLC, who have the advantage of actually BEING from the 'Port.

  • Comment number 4.

    @NewportMonmouthshire

    You ate totally missing the point of the song. I'm taking a wild stab in the dark here but my guess is that you haven't even heard the original song that this is a parody of, or at lest you haven't listened properly to the lyrics? (Empire state of mind)

    If you compare both lyrics, you will discover a very clever parallel, so much so that after hearing the Newport verison the NYC one starts sounding a bit ridiculous too, and that is the whole point of a parody.

    "The main problem with this track is that much of it isn't even about Newport, just a bunch of irrelevant Welsh stereotypes. If the author had bothered getting someone actually familiar with the city then the end result would be more pleasing. As it is it just doesn't ring true to actual Newportonians."

    If the authors had done what you suggest then it would no longer be a parody and would cease to be funny.

    Listen to both songs, preferably with subtitles so you can realise how clever the lyrical parallels are and then come back to write a more infomed opinion regarding the song.

  • Comment number 5.

    How ludicrous of Richard out of 60ft Dolls to say that Newport is hated by the Welsh and the English. I've never met anyone, anywhere who hates Newport. Most people don't even know where it is. His comment, however, demonstrates characteristics typical of Newportonians: he's clearly suffering from an identity crisis; an inferiority complex; and paranoia.

    As for the video, yes, it gets its cultural references all wrong but works as a parody of that rather pompous Jay-Z record. Newport comes out of it quite well, I think.

  • Comment number 6.

    "People saying they're from Newport and copying our leisurewear" said the GLC lo, those many years ago. At the time it was said tongue in cheek as they rather expected that no one would ever do it. And now someone has!

    But this is a mere Tom Waits to the GLC's Captain Beefheart, a Roy Lichtenstein to the GLC's Jack Kirby.

  • Comment number 7.

    Caradaoc Evans talks much tripe. Newport has long been the town with no welsh identity, partly due to the huge influx of workers from Ireland and the south west of England - the points made by Newport Monmouthshire are valid: no body in their right mind (except a reactionary doing it for a laugh) would support Welsh separatists, nationalists and cultural tyrants, The Party Of Wales (Plaid Cymru). They are not the party of Wales, they are the party of Welsh speakers, a difference, as the poorest underclass in this country are from Wales and not supported by Plaid, but discriminated against. Also, EVERYBODY from Newport knows Josie D’Arby’s from Newport as she used to be a barmaid in the very popular Riverside Tavern in the 90s...

  • Comment number 8.

    Caradoc Evans is guilty of generalizations and 'ludicrous' casual racism when he says 'characteristics typical of Newportonians'. Mr Evans goes on to say that 'most people don't know where Newport is...' Well he may be right there as the world population is around 6,859,500,000, however, the one thing we can say with some certainty is that even more people don't know who Caradoc Evans is nor care


  • Comment number 9.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

 

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