In the early 1980s the popular BBC comedy show Not the Nine O’Clock News mocked the pretensions of the contemporary pop video phenomenon in the famous sketch “Nice Video Shame About the Song” (avaialble on Youtube if you’re interested). It was a magnificent piece of satire, highlighting the fact that pop videos had become over-elaborate and relied heavily on the state of the art special effects of the time like Quantel and Paintbox, as if in an attempt to make up for the crapness of the song. Bands like the Human League, Duran Duran and Visage were particularly guilty of this.
I was reminded of this recently when on a Ryanair flight which arrived at its destination ahead of schedule. To celebrate this momentous event a trumpet fanfare was played and an American voice announced over the tannoy how great Ryanair was. I’ve been a regular flyer with Ryanair for the best part of a decade now. To be fair, I’ve only had two bad experiences with them, one of which was mostly my own fault for being late. So, in principle I’ve got no problem in flying with Ryanair, but I can’t say I care much for the airline’s chief executive, the publicity-seeking, money-grabbing Michael O’Leary as I’ve made clear in a previous post.
Essentially what I’m getting at here is the fact that it is quite possible to admire great works of art, literature and music without liking their creator.
U2 are without doubt a fine bunch of musicians, but their lead singer is equally without doubt a egomaniacal, sanctimonious, self-righteous irritating little tosser – as I’ve made clear in a previous piece. Another loud-mouthed Dubliner, not quite as nauseating, but almost as sanctimonious was a fine musician and songwriter in his day. I don’t like Mondays, Rat Trap and Banana Republic are among the greatest songs of the 1970s, but the man who wrote them is an arrogant tosser.
Also, take Andrew Lloyd-Webber for instance. Cats, Evita and Phantom of the Opera are all outstanding works of musical theatre, even though their creator is an obnoxious trout-faced, medieval-haired twat.
Blackadder is in my view one of the greatest comedy shows ever – but I don’t care much for its co-writers Ben Elton and Richard Curtis and their smug, self-righteous “oh look how great we are” demeanours.
So when you bring Ben Elton and Andrew Lloyd-Webber together (a match made in Hell if ever there was one) as was the case for The Beautiful Game, a musical about a Belfast youth soccer club amidst the backdrop of the violence which enguled the city in the early days of the troubles, the result is an abomination. Two rich middle class prats from the English Home Counties lecturing people on how bad it all was in Belfast back then. It’s almost as bad as mega-rich rock musicians from Dublin lecturing the world on how bad things are in Africa. If they really feel that strongly about it they should go and live in Africa.
At this point I will grudgingly admit that I was a teenage U2 fan during my younger and more foolish days. Then I gradually saw the error of my ways.
Nice songs, shame about the singer, etc.