surinenglish

THE MUSIC MAKER

Blame it on the boogie

We should have seen it coming, we really should. It wasn't so much written in the stars but rather in the pop songs that the stars were singing. Hits like Free by Ultra Naté from 1997 offered a potted life philosophy worthy of Paolo Coelho at his most absurd.

'Cause you're free

To do what you want to do

You've got to live your life

Do what you want to do...

warbled the singer, studiously ignoring the fact that you're very much not free to do what you want to do, but rather strictly bound by social norms and legislative imposition. Admittedly, it might have been more difficult to find a suitably catchy tune for this more pithy assessment, but it's very much the truth nonetheless.

Around the same time we had The Verve's Bitter Sweet Symphony video, featuring singer Richard Ashcroft swaggering down the high street, employing that irritating 'simian stroll' (Elbow's description) and rudely barging through the crowds as if he was everybody everyself as my granddad would have put it. Impressionable youths who watched this nonsense at the time will be middle-aged by now, which fact might account for how it seems that fewer and fewer people are giving way to others these days as they stride purposefully down the pavements of our towns and cities. Of course, it may also be the face-buried-in-phone/ earphones-clamped-on thing too, I'm not really too sure.

From the Stone Roses with their unambiguously titled I Wanna Be Adored way back in 1991 to Queen's I Want It All, the dog days of the twentieth century were littered with narcissistic pop songs, encouraging listeners to get with the programme and make the world their playground. This ill-advised fashion was a precursor to our present, unenviable predicament. Vast swathes of us have been programmed to see ourselves as the protagonists in our own little soap operas, when, in fact, it's often the extras who enjoy themselves more than the main stars on these occasions.

Still, as things generally go in cycles, with any luck we'll soon witness a plethora of more healthy songs with more humble titles. To start the ball rolling, I suggest Don't Mind Me, Pretend I'm Not Here and No, No, Please, After You, I Insist. Ten years or so of hits with names like these and we'll soon be able to look forward to a whole generation of everyday citizens who won't be in the least bit self-obsessed. Imagine that.