Saturday, January 03, 2015

McCartney goes West; internet goes stupid

The Paul McCartney/Kanye West hook-up came out on New Years Day, bringing together, at last, the man who did Give Ireland Back To The Irish and the man who did George Bush doesn't care about black people.

Presumably the recording session breaks were filled with conversations about how easy it is to go from being a threat to the establishment to being a national teddy bear.

Anyway, the thought of Macca and West coming together brought out the wry side in a lot of people on Twitter:

Okay, not the best joke of the season, but funnier than anything in Mrs Browns Boys. Fair enough, that's a pretty low bar, but given that the tweet wouldn't have been worded in quite that way if, erm, :/ had really not known who McCartney was, the joke is obvious, right?

Apparently not, as Buzzfeed's Brian McManus managed to miss it:
Yesterday we told you about Kanye’s New Year’s Day surprise collaboration with Paul McCartney, “Only One.” Today on Twitter, some Kanye fans are wondering just who this Paul McCartney fella is.
Brian even manages to reproduce two Tweets which are sodding identical, like a man still expecting to be soaked the third time the clown throws an empty bucket at him:
It's even got the same poorly-chosen emoji, Buzzfeed. It was a laboured joke.

Trouble is, a depressing but not surprisingly large chunk of the internet followed Buzzfeed's line, as if we'd all drunk so much on New Years Eve we'd forgotten how the internet worked. Because if people are online and really want to know who someone is, they don't type his name into Twitter, they type it into Wikipedia or Google.

The only people who really try to find out background details about people by sticking names in Twitter are your gran and Ed Balls, and both of them would be far more likely to be asking who Kanye West is.

But beyond the anger of those with an inability to spot a joke came the counterwave - unfortunately, still comprising people who were unable to spot a joke, but with a different angle:

It's a spirited defence of young people, but manages to add being spectacularly wrong to not noticing the gag.

So let's at least allow the possibility that some of the people going 'who iz McCartney Beatle lolz' might, genuinely, not know who he is. Would that be justifiable because it's like someone in 1964 not knowing the Ray Miller Orchestra?

While it's true that McCartney and Beatlemania might have peaked a few decades back, it's not like he then went and lived under a rock - he did the Superbowl show in 2005; he headlined Live8; in 2009 he did a benefit gig in New York which raised three million dollars. It's fair to say he has something of a profile.

Indeed, it's that profile which is the reason for Kanye West wanting to work with him - it's not like West stumbled across the Wings theme from Crossroads and thought 'I need to find this person and work with him'; the attraction is that it is Famous Beatle Man McCartney. West is relying on people knowing who he's working with. Otherwise it'd be like having your photo taken with Prince Charles only Prince Charles has his back to the camera - it might as well be anyone. West's calculation is that his fanbase will know who the man is, otherwise it'd be pointless.

But beyond that: is it unfair to expect people to be at least aware of McCartney? Ray Miller might have been a mystery in 1964 partly because he'd not left as big a crater in popular culture as McCartney has - working a time when even radio fame didn't spread very far, and recorded music was less popular than sheet music; and on the far side of a world war which fractured and remade a lot of the culture, even someone passionate about big bands might have struggled to have much contact with Miller's work.

But in a 21st Century with Spotify and YouTube and never-ending channels of Gold and silver memories, it's harder to imagine someone growing up without having come across something Beatley - if, for example, you genuinely don't know roughly what the Abbey Road album cover is, a lot of modern culture will be inexplicable to you.

Whether you like The Beatles or not, the band and its members are surely on the list of shared assumptions of things you know in modern Western Anglophone culture - like Shakespeare and Star Wars and Dickens and Mark Twain and Elvis.

Frankly, not knowing who McCartney is would be the mark of someone culturally inept.

Which is, of course, exactly the point the Kanye fans were making with their jokes in the first place.

Shayne Ward's heart is in the right place, kind of

Shayne Ward has given an interview to Attitude, in which he sort-of says the right things, but not quite:

I get called gay all the time. Normally, from a jealous boyfriend of a girl who’s a fan or a group of guys in a pub shouting at me because I’m a pop star. It doesn’t bother me. I am very thick skinned and can handle situations very well. Plus half of the idiots shouting abuse are probably hiding in the closet and fancy me as well. Ha! I’ve always known I was straight thanks to my brother’s collection of magazines. I love boobs. If I were gay my family are amazing and wouldn’t shut out anyone. They’d never have a problem if any of my family said they were gay. Only welcoming arms full of love!”
First of all: Shayne, honey: your last top ten single was in 2007, nobody is doing anything because you're a "pop star".

It sounds all vaguely positive, though: I don't mind if people call me gay, and even if I was, my family wouldn't mind.

Except, leaving aside the complete erasure of the possibility of bi or pansexuality from his world, there's something problematic about the suggestion that being called gay is something that requires "a thick skin". And the "they're calling me gay because they're probably gay" is hardly very socially aware when you come to it.

But mostly, it's the pop star thing.

Let's get 2015 under way with an "we've all done it" story

After all, who hasn't done this at some point:

Crown counsel Kate McKay said that at about 10.15am on Christmas Day, a 999 emergency call was made to police by a male caller who stated two men were making threats to kill him. Police were unable to obtain further information as the caller appeared to be intoxicated.

Mrs McKay said that five minutes later the same man called 999 and told operators he wanted to cancel the first call. He also claimed during the second call that there was a poltergeist in his house and that he was the pop star Nicki Minaj.
The man involved was released but banned from using 999 unless in a genuine emergency. He is free to continue to pretend to be Nicki Minaj if he chooses.

It's not clear from the court report if he was so drunk he actually believed he was Nicki Minaj, or just so drunk that he thought he could get away with pretending to be her.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Forever: Valete

Lauren Bacall, last of the icons referenced in Vogue
Jon Fat Beast, promoter
Acker Bilk, clarinetist
Dave Brockie, Oderus Urungus, GWAR
Gary Burger, singer, The Monks
Bob Casale, guitarist & keyboardist, Devo
Joe Cocker, singer-songwriter
Johnny Elichaoff, drummer
Go Eun-Bi, singer, Ladies' Code
Santiago Feliu, singer-songwriter
Jeff Fletcher, guitarist, Northern Uproar
Fergie Frederiksen, singer, Toto
Peaches Geldof, magazine editor
Gerry Goffin, songwriter
James Govan, soul singer
Peter Gutteridge, founding member, The Chills
Tim Hauser, singer, Manhattan Transfer
Jimi Jamison, singer, Survivor
Michael Johns, game show contestant
Frankie Knuckles, house pioneer
Rik Mayall, comedian and kind of a legend
Idris Muhammad, drummer
Tommy Ramone, Ramone, The Ramones
Paul Revere, singer, Paul Revere & The Raiders
Kwon Ri-Sae, singer, Ladies' Code
Jimmy Ruffin, singer
Pete Seeger, singer-songwriter
Chris Sheehan, singer & guitarist, Starlings
Barkat Sidhu, sufi singer
Jill Sinclair, manager, publisher, much more
Mike Smith, dj
Tom Sneddon, Michael Jackson's prosecutor
Alvin Stardust, rocker
Wayne Static, singer, Static X
Nick Talbot, writer and label owner
Alfred Wertheimer, photographer
Alan Wills, founder, Deltasonic; drummer, Shack
Jesse Winchester, singer-songwriter
Bobby Womack, soul legend
Robert 'Throb' Young, guitarist, Primal Scream

[Part of 2014 Forever]

2014 Forever: Releases - a selection of interesting records

[Part of 2014 Forever]