Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Popular Culture No Longer Applies To Me.

"MTV makes me want to smoke crack"


It's not that I hate music. It's not that all, I'm just extremely specific about what music I like. I'm specific what I listen to in general. I can't remember the last time I walked into HMV to buy a CD.

I'm with Sambow on this. Celine Dion, Chris Brown, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Elton John can take a hike, to paraphrase the indie band Art Brut; popular culture no longer applies to me.

"Beautiful girl, you know it'll never work, you're gonna make me suicidal, suicidal, suicidal" sang Sean Kingston. I remember it was the straw that by far broke the camel's back. It made me 'suicidal, suicidal, suicidal'. What's going on there? It was summer, it was the number 33a coming back from one of my many badly paid jobs where my boss didn't know what a fag break was, or a break in general was.

Needless to say, I was ratty. Extremely ratty.

Some youth (yes, I am sixteen, and yes, I want to kill nearly every teenager I see) decided to play that song on repeat for the entirity of the 20 minute journey. Given, if I'd had an mp3 player on me to block out the offending noise or a book, it wouldn't be so offensive. If it wasn't the hottest day on record, I would be okay with it.

It was rush hour. The bus was packed. All I could hear was that tinny song coming out some 'sickkk' phone from the back of the bus. Yeah mate, that's right, that is sick, that is gangster, you know, I think that's what Tupac did during his spare time. He rode Cardiff Bus and played **** music out of his phone. I'm so out of touch, hold on, I'm running upstairs to burn all my music, books, put on MTV Base and put on my best Nikees and jeans. I just can't 'like' the music that's broadcast on television and on the radio.

That's when I gave up, my will to live died right there, right then at the bus stop outside the Malsters Arms in Llandaff.

Cheryl Cole? 'We gotta fight, fight, fight, fight, fight for this love'? Mate, aren't you getting divorced? Shouldn't you 'file, file, file, file, file for divorce'? Your timing couldn't have been better. Seen her hair adverts? 'Dull, limp, lifeless'? That's not her hair, that's her personality.

Hannah Montana? My cat sounds better. My cat is dead. She's been dead for 5 years.

'Bitches, guns and bling were never part of the four elements, and never will be' rapped Scroobius Pip on their hit 'Thou Shalt Not'. I wonder if 50 Cent keeps this in mind when he raps, along with every other 'rapper' we get nowadays. What happened to meaningful rap music, hip hop that inspired people, bands like Public Enemy and KRS-One? We get Eminem instead of Grandmaster Flash? Since when was that fair? G-Unit? No thanks, but how about Immortal Technique, Sage Francis and Mos Def?

I'm really sorry. I don't mean to come across as a music snob, but I just am. Yes, I'm slagging off popular music, and no, I won't back down. Can we say 'mediocrity' as a whole? M-E-D-I-O-C-R-I-T-Y. All together now, breath in, breath out; mediocrity.

Paramore makes me want to vomit, they've taken every female musician and blended it into an Avril Lavigne-esque sound. Look at Paramore, compare them with Hole, Bikini KillI and Joan Jett, then tell me who was more talented and innovative. I avoid popular radio shows like the plague and now my favourite bands are back in fashion? They're like No Doubt when they destroyed their fan base by becoming a generic pop rock band a la the album 'Hella Good' fused with Kelly Clarkson. They've shown appreciation for bands like 'Death Cab for Cutie', 'The Cure' and 'Sunnyday Real Estate' which begs the question: how can they listen to such brilliant music and come out with such excrement? Then again, Fall Out Boy murdered 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' as Joy Division are one of their influences. It's such a shame that **** sells.

A cover of the Cure's 'Close to Me' by Kaki King is on an advert, along with La Isla Encanta by the Pixies. Now 'Blister in the Sun' by the Violent Femmes is being used to sell Fosters? I heard 'I Got Love' by the King Blues on a cat food advert.

I don't want to 'shake it like a poloroid picture' like Outcast, I can't shake my 'bodonkadonk' like Missy Elliott, I'm not 'down in albion' with Babyshambles, and I have no idea how to dance to 'Pokerface'.

'Oi, you, are you gonna band Doe? Oi you, are gonna-'. Stop there. We've gone from the likes of L7 and Queens of the Stone Age being popular to the internet sensation of 'Are You Gonna Bang Doe'? Who's Doe? The only Doe I know is the Duke of Edinburgh? Yeah, I'll punch him, purely for his racist comments he's so famous for peddling, but I don't know the other Doe you're on about. You got a chicken, but it Nando's? Fuck off.

The media influences us more than we realise. We're exposed to more and more adverts everyday on the radio, television and internet. We're told what to watch and when to watch it, people mistakenly think that because it's on MTV it must be good. No, many artists and musicians have had to censor their work or compromise their vision to gain mainstream success: MTV wouldn't even show Michael Jackson as he was a black artist at one point.

Killing the music industry is the best thing that we're doing as sa youth movement as a whole. For more information on this, check out Matt Mason's 'the Pirate's Dilemma' if you're interested in this topic. It's well known musicians make more money out of merchandise than signing huge record deals with record-giants like Virgin. Even smaller labels are compromising their traditional sounds, signing emo-pop-punk bands to gain more attention of younger listeners, for example, Epitaph's signing of Farewell.

There's no generation gap anymore. We're listening to the same music as our parents; my Mum's even got a copy of 'Riverside' (which she once affectionately got mixed up with Michael Flatley's 'Riverdance'). There aren't any differences, not anymore. Generation gaps are important. We need to have our own distinctive culture, bands, fashion and books to say 'that's ours' to look back on when we're older. How are we going to do that with the same rubbish being peddled everywhere?

Not all's lost. Subpop (a legendary American record label famous for being the first to sign Fugazi, Sonic Youth and Nirvana) are still signing artists who have been propelled to fame through hard work like Modest Mouse, famous for their hit song 'Float On'. The Postal Service, Low and the Go!Team are still signed. The Black Lips, an offensively less than well known band (given their talent) are signed to Vice Records. They played 'The Globe' on City Road last year, which, by the way, is under threat of closure unless they get the money to soundproof the venue. They set it up knowing this would happen; jeez, it's really close to residential properties! Then again, Clwb are under threat of having the same problem themselves. . .

The smaller bands who have more talent and work harder to avoid the Devil who goes under various pseudonyms such as Kerrang!, MTV2, MTV etc are finally getting the recognition they deserve. Hardcore group Fucked Up's album 'The Chemistry of Common Life' won the 2009 Polaris Prize.

I don't read the NME anymore.

I don't have music channels.

I don't read the NME at all.

My music reading extends solely to Vice Magazine and Kruger.

I find out about new band solely online.

I'm so out of touch. I didn't even know who Crystal Castles were until around a year ago.

You know what, all of my favourite singers couldn't 'strictly' sing, there's some comfort in knowing that 20 years from now The Velvet Underground will still be widely listened to, along with Tom Waits, Elliott Smith whereas bands like YouMeAtSix will fall by the way-side. There's no way they have the talent and durability to have a career like The Cure's.

Deep down, I'm worried that independent music is going to be ditched by our generation. That's what I worry about the most. You know, I think I'm getting bitter in my mid-teenage years.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

The Anti-War Cheat Sheet!

As a student I find myself spending a hell of a lot of time online just surfing the net, reading news sites, using social networking sites et cetera. I got into a debate online on a rather [in]famous group named 'Soldiers are Not Heroes' where I outlined my opposistion to the wars. I complied a list to prove my points, and here it is. It's a cheat sheet for when you get into debates online, or just browse through it for some interesting reading from a number of news sources including the Guardian, the Independent and New York Times.

1. Afghanistan's well on it's way? This is what I've gathered:
I have nothing more to say on the matter.

2. Support for the Taliban:,8599,1923303,00.html

3. Pakistan & the Taliban

Bringing in Shariah Law in Taliban strongholds in Swat:

Pakistani support of Taliban:
Taliban-linked bombings in Pakistan:

4. Other interesting things
As a democracy, why would Karzai bring in a law that would allow shia men to legally rape their life? The Qu'ran itself says you're not to rape. Surely all of this well. . misogyny, this can be interpreted as Taliban-style treatement towards women coming in through the back door?

Went in for Oil & death count of Iraq:

America want to use Afghan base as 'new guantanmo bay'; if they wanted to get the terrorists in a matter that's compatible with human rights (that prohibits the use of torture) why would they want a new guantanmo bay?

If we wanted to restore peace and proect people, why are we using missiles with chemical weapons that are causing a high number of birth deformities? Surely we're suppose to protect them, not cause this?

5. Iraq civil war: Link showing how bad things have become.

British intelligence recently released as to the capabitlies of Iraq's missiles on page 55 of the Iraq Dossier showing that Iraq couldn't possibly reach the UK weapons-wise:

This says it all:

If Bin Laden did 9/11, why isn't this stated on his most wanted poster?
This is why the Taliban wouldn't hand him over.

They [Taliban] said if you have evidence, you can have him, but if you haven't, no chance

We all know that the war sucks, so if you know anybody who'd use this 'cheat sheet', please copy and paste it in an email! Or, alternatively, send it to your local MP today! Quickly, before the Royal Mail goes on strike again. . .

Monday, 29 March 2010

Pakistan's Future?

“For every time your gun goes off
A new rebel is born
When there’s forty one bullets
there’s forty one thousand thorns”

- Erik Petersen, Mischief Brew

Pakistan has seen its fair share of warfare throughout the years since its formation as an Islamic State after the Partition, a splitting of India by the British based on religious demographics. The Indian subcontinent was divided, India was giving to Hindus and Sikhs, Bangladesh became Eastern Pakistan (and later during a civil war, Bangladesh) and Pakistan was formed, splitting the state of Kashmir and the Punjab, the latter much to the dismay of Sikhs as it's the founding place of Sikhism,Nakana Sahib, the birth place of Guru Nanak Dev is now in Western Punjab, Pakistan. When the border lines were drawn up what ensued is one of the largest mass migrations of people recorded in history, and is still controversial on the subcontinent, it displaced up to 12 million and up to a million died.

Gandhi is widely accepted as the figurehead for the struggle of independence from the British using the Hindu doctrine of Ahisma, non-violence, although many other figures were prominent such as the Indian revolutionary anarchist Bhaghat Singh. In my opinion, Gandhi and Bhaghat Singh are like Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, I see many parallels: both the peaceful King and Gandhi the figurheads of the movement but radicals too had a strong influence on the movements. Gandhi was one of many who met in India along with Winston Churchill to plan out borders, but was against the formation of a Muslim state, despite much inter-communal violence between people of different faiths. This has been portrayed in many films, such as the recent 'Slumdog Millionaire' where Hindus storm a Muslim slum and kill Muslims.

Despite Partition, a large amount of Muslims remained in India and even though the film is based after partition, it's a good insight to how different communities treated each other. A lone boy painted in blue is decorated in the style of the Hindu god Krishna so that those entering are aware of his religion, and therefore will not kill him. Imagine what happened there; but on a much wider scale. The stories told from generation to generation, as Partition is still in living minds for many people on the Indian subcontinent are simply horrifying and some collected stories were published by Penguin which you can buy here. Not all the violence is one-sided, as there was much Muslim on Hindu violence during the Muslim conquest of India and were severely mistreated under the Muslim casts system. For more information on this, check out the Gujarat riots of 2002; religious prejudice-based violence is sadly common in the Indian subcontinent, such as the ongoing Pakistani-Indian conflict of Kashmir.

Three military dictatorships of Ayub Khan (to which Urdu poet and revolutionary Habib Jalib was extremely opposed) Zia-al-Haq and Musharraf, where does this leave Pakistan? Bhutto got kicked out on alleged charges of corruption, reinstated a few years later, kicked out again, self-imposed exile, then reached an agreement with then-prime minister Musharraf where she was granted amnesty and previous claims of embezzlement and all corruption charges dropped. She was later assassinated after a Pakistan People’s Party [PPP] rally just two weeks before the scheduled election. Nobody is quite sure who did it, in Pakistan it’s a ‘whodunit’ on a scale similar to JFK’s assassination. Many think the prime minister himself was to blame when the road was hosed down a few hours later: what does this tell us? What about forensic evidence? My money’s on it’s the same guy who shot Tupac; let’s be honest, they both disappeared with no clear leads despite large numbers of people being around! Joking aside, if she was to win- which did look probable- it’d be Musharraf & Co whose powers would be diminished; ultimately they benefitted. I guess we’ll never know.

Arguably due to the new offensive in Afghanistan in Helmand province, Pakistan, especially the North-West Frontier, has become a haven for the Taliban as Pakistan brought in Shariah Law (which the US backed, but quietly), of course for that specific territory. To put this in reference, our troops are fighting in Afghanistan: are they losing their lives so that we can affectively, more or less, move the problem to a different area? “It’s okay, we can fight the Taliban, they’re in Swat province now, they’re bombing Pakistan, it’s Pakistan’s problem now”? There are Taliban bomb attacks in Pakistan regularly and public support for the elected PPP has diminished; economic unrest is rife with commodities and staples hard to find, not to mention the power cuts. Sugar is almost impossible to get hold of, except on the black market at more than a day’s wages.
Where does this leave Pakistan
? A friend in Pakistan told me that public support for shariah law is growing under the rule of the PPP and public support for the government quickly diminishing. Washington called Islamabad ‘the most dangerous place on earth’ and Obama stated that he would be willing to ‘attack Pakistan’, with or without Pakistani consent, exacerbating the situation in an already discontent and troubled country. He's already thereatened troops in the region. This presents a very worrying prospect: would America & Co invade Pakistan?