Friday, December 21, 2018

“And now we meet in an abandoned studio…”

From the soundtrack to “The Wedding Singer”

See, here’s where I take a bit of an issue with the streaming service in question’s analytics (nope, they’ve still not paid me).  I recall listening to this version, like, five times at the most, and The Buggles’ twenty-seven thousand times in late spring/early summer; although come to think of it, I’m not sure I was on the paid version of the service by then, so maybe it wasn’t counting back then.  Alright, I’ll let them off this time.

Anyway, everyone gets a bit sniffy about PUSA (no, I’m not typing it every time), including teenage me back when “Lump” and “Peaches” were out.  How dare these American clowns crash my deadly serious Britpop party with their obvious fun-having and catchy punk-pop tunes?  Why, they didn’t even have enough strings on their guitars, the cads!  And I also remember this song being the final straw; as if the disrespect of their mere existence wasn’t bad enough, they have to drag a classic of early electronic pop through the dirt?  For shame, Presidents!  I will take my leave of you!

Bearing in mind the fact that an American high-energy two-guitar three-piece would soon become my favourite band (but will we be hearing from The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – for it is they?  You’ll have to keep tuning in to find out, you cheeky sod!), hindsight has shown me to be a great big bloody hypocrite when it comes to these lads, as they’re actually good fun, great writers of snappy tunes and more musically accomplished than their setup would suggest.  So let me use this seldom-read blog to offer an official apology to the band – I was young and naïve, and I can assure you I now know better.

But this, of course, isn’t one of theirs, and wasn’t originally anywhere near their down-the-line punk stylings – though it is a fabulous adaptation, and more reverentially treated than their somewhat odd cover of the MC5 classic, “Kick Out The Jams”.  It was used on the soundtrack of the decent comedy flick “The Wedding Singer”, which must have got them a few bob, as that was a pretty big film at the time, and was also released as a single with the movie’s branding on the packaging.

The Buggles’ version, on the other hand, is massively electronic in backing, with an odd, heavily accented and clipped vocal delivery that sounds like it’s coming live from days gone by, helping immensely with the message and the atmosphere.  It is heavily associated with the start of MTV, and not just lyrically: it was the first video ever shown on the channel.  ‘Ey, remember when MTV showed music videos?  Eh?  Eh?  You’d ‘ave to use yer brass ‘and to tune t’telly in!

I think people tend to remember that video and underestimate the emotional punch of the song, which is at its heart a tale of obsolescence, of the inevitability of the world moving on and of things changing to the extent where, in the words on the songs, “you are the radio star”.  And, therefore: dead – killed by video, or whatever ‘it’ is when what you’re with is no longer ‘it’ and what ‘it’ is seems weird and scary.

It won’t just happen to you – it’ll happen to all of us, which to me makes this a universally poignant song, and an oddly appropriate one to be listening to on my Bluetooth headphones, and via this new-fangled streaming technology, shorn of any ties to an album or back catalogue.  It’s not how I expected to be listening to music at all, and as a lapsed musician, it’s not how I intended my own music to be enjoyed.  Which suggests that in this case, *I* am the radio star – and in turn explains why this gets me right in the feelings, every single time.

(With apologies to Athletico Mince for the obvious nick.)

Next up we pay “Tribute” to some masters of rock, so pack your “Kielbasa” and hit “The Road”!

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