Thursday, August 22, 2002

GREAT BALLS OF BRITON: So, the BBC is launching some sort of trawl to find the Greatest Briton who ever lived, and they let The Public draw up a shortlist of 100 to choose from. From this, we've selected the music-related nominees, which I think shows pretty clearly the main problem with lists like this:
Julie Andrews
Tony Blair (it's got to be for his Ugly Rumours bass playing, surely?)
William Blake (top lyrics, man)
David Bowie
Richard Branson
Michael Crawford
Aleister Crowley (well, he made records - see?
Bob Geldof
Paul Hewson
John Lennon
John Lydon
Paul McCartney
Freddie Mercury
George O'Dowd
John Peel
Cliff Richard
Robbie Williams
So, while agreeing that there's nobody there who hasn't added to the gaiety of the home nations in some way or other, you've got to ask "what sort of criteria for 'great' is being used here?" - bristle I might, but I can understand McCartney and Lennon's appearance; naturally, Bob Geldof did a lot of good work for...; John Peel has done more to shape the sound of the nation for the last thirty years than anyone else. I can even stretch the point for Paul 'Bono' Hewson, as people who don't pay enough attention might mistake his grandstanding for genuinely trying to help the crisis of third world debt. But Freddie Mercury? Why Lydon rather than McClaren: if you really want to mark '77, go for the organ grinder, not the monkey. And, of course: Robbie Williams. In what way is Williams 'Great'? Popular, yes, but it's hard to imagine anyone being able to put up an argument that would allow him to best, say, Eric Morecambe - much less to take on one of the real heavyweight nominees like, say Churchill. How is that going be? "Winston twice changed his party on principle; introduced National Insurance, fought in the front line, and led the country to victory against the evils of the Nazi regime." "Ah, but Robbie made a video in his pants, played five a side football with Damon from Blur, and recorded with Kylie." His very presence makes a mockery of the whole process - jesus, even if they'd had Geri; at least she had that UN job briefly.
The 100 Names in full [BBC] - we're shouting for Nye Bevan, natch

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