Skip to main content

POP WON'T LET YOU DIE - Suicidal thoughts worked out via a singles page, Plan B Magazine

I'VE A FEELING she’s not listening anymore.
Every night I’d pray to my little goddess. She sits on a tiger, the cosmos spinning around her 50-odd fingers, a beguiling smile playing across her lips, knowing that hope and faith are not maintainable as permanent conditions. She knows that they should take you over like love, a last resort when the will and its inevitable futility have been exhausted.
   Every night I’d throw the day at her and every morning I’d ask her to throw it back at me. And for a while things went my way. Then I forgot my little goddess. She became another religious artefact on my mantel, alongside the two Ganeshes; the Jain figurehead, proudly secular (that’s the benefit of being a Hindu – you don’t have to believe in God); the wallet-sized laminate of the Virgin and Child plucked from a Chicago sidewalk. Like every other object around me, the goddess just became another distant taker up of space within my planetsized demise. I let things slip and 2004 became perhaps the shittiest year of my life, not only in events – my job, lovelife, and car all died – but also my response to them, a plain, expansive, debilitating depression that made every moment of hope seem cruel, every spark of effort snuffed out by inexpressible anger and the bone-chilling damp of self-loathing. Of course, if I’d made my daily orisons to the sacred mantelpiece, nothing would have been different.
   It’s just that today is Christmas day, I can see the end of the year looming and, startlingly, I feel hope. I have new holy artefacts that are spiritually re-arming me right now, telling me the only viable response to this bleak, miasmic fog is to thrash out with beauty, with anger, with hope. And I want to talk about these sacred tablets, these pop records. Cos together, they’re a new prayer for my little goddess.

   Hip hop holds my brain in a state of FUCK YOU. It tells me, yeah, you can’t imagine a worse fate than the future, but you wanna be there when the shit goes down having FUN.

Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz’ ‘What U Gon Do’ (TVT) makes you feel like Robocop going from chassis to completion, clamped with only forward vision while the spods in your peripheries are retooling you for war. Edan’s ‘Fumbling Over Words That Rhyme’ (Lewis) continues his mindblowing mission to marry psych and rap with his finest since ‘Primitive Plus’. On the flip, ‘Beauty’ is putting a spring in my step that sproings me stellar, an overt attempt at ‘hip hop surrealism’ that manages simultaneously to sound like both Ultramagnetics and also United States Of America’s ‘Love Song For The Dead Ché’.

On a similarly maverick tip, J-Zone’s hysterical ‘Greater Later’ (Old Maid), Sage Francis’ ‘Sea Lion’ (feat. Will Oldham) (Epitaph), Cee- Rock’s ‘Anderson Iz Nice’ (Wolftown),Example’s ‘The Sell Out’ (All The Chats), and Count Bass D’s ‘DownEasy’ (Ramp) are all infernally, inspirationally full of incisive insight, insane abstraction, hilarity and sheer bloody joyful LIFE.

My new year’s resolution is to give this music the exposure it fucking deserves, cos in a world where hip hop’s still thought of in terms of yer Eminems and Ja Rules these people need to be made stars as quickly as possible. Hip hop is still a faith to get irate and agitated about, and people working within it are still not getting their due. Just dig the fact that Roots Manuva’s ‘Colossal Insight’ (Big Dada) will be analysed everywhere as a UK rap tune, and not for what it is – one of the finest British pop records of this decade. He’s been listening to Cabaret Voltaire, The Cure and the second side ofMore Specials, bigstyle.

‘Colossal Insight’ pivots on a poignant downward spiral of Doppler effect electro spliced against a snappy lounge-ska beat. The lyrics are hilarious when they’re not winceworthily accurate; a dead funny, deadly serious, deadpan, dead-on look at Roots’ journey of the past few years and where he imagines he’s going. He’s sensible enough to end up with the colossal insight that predictions are pointless when you, the world and your music are this uncontrollable. The Soft Pink Truth remix is brutally irreverent to its source– Roots’ vocal shredded down, everything surrendered to the disco-pulse. You’d better take a deep breath and keep following the R in 2005.

   POP HOLDS MY HEART together and strokes the breakages with tender, glue-exuding fingers. I don’t mean Manic Street Preachers’ appositely titled ‘Empty Souls’ (Sony), Kasabian’s storm-in-a-shitbucket ‘Cut Off’ (BMG), Interpol’s inappropriately titled ‘Evil’ (Matador), Client’s ‘Pornography’ (Toast Hawaii but basically EMI), The Killers’ dismal ‘Somebody Told Me’ (Pinnacle), The Others’ shockingly mediocre ‘Lackey’ (Universal) or the Chemical Brothers’ menopausal ‘Galvanise’ (Virgin). These are the records that the megastores andmags and PR-dependent broadcasters want you to think matter in January ‘05. Oh sure, they ‘matter’ in a depressingly real sense (all the above will get in your way at some point soon), but not to those smart enough to know we’re too dumb to be pleased by such middling thought, too bright to be suckered by such tepid ghosts of fire. Nah, dig Soulwax’s ‘E-Talking’ (PIAS) for its honesty and humour, 65daysofstatic’s wonderfuel ‘Retreat!Retreat’ (Monotreme), which is like Mogwai with all the hmmmmmpffffftttt taken out and all the WOW!JESUS!!HOLYFUCKINGMOTHEROFPEARL!!! put back in, and The Silent League’s ‘Breathe’ (Something In Construction), cos it’s like all the best bits of the Joyzipper and Fiver albums condensed into three wondrous minutes. Most of all, dig Hood’s ‘The Lost You’ (Domino).

Why? Let’s go for a walk. Yeah, I know it’s midnight. And it’s Christmas day. But I’ve got to tell you something. Put your gloves on.

    OK, we’re here, this is the highest you get. Now, turn around and look at the horizon. See the lights twinkling into the distance? You can see the runway to the airport and the rolling hills to the south. The dim orange glow of other cities to the North. Now close your eyes and hear the traffic die to no louder than your heartbeat. Feel the wind gash your face open, let your lips rest on each other, breathe in the far-off din of other souls in transit and realise your fragile place in the universe. Look at the curvature of the earth from this blood-spilled Petri dish that is your hometown, realise how broken down you are, get ripped open by the elements, find that small, steady voice of disquiet that is your own, inside your temple. All that despair, all that heartache, all those reasons to leave – why have you remained? Why are you, impossibly, seeing another year begin? Because, like it or not, in-between the stars and the sodden earth, you are what you always were and will always be – a mind, heart and soul open to the universe, hungry for death but ever so prone to rebirth. You are the city and the city is you. There is hope here, and it’s not empty-headed, it’s a full-on throwing out and ingestion of love. It’s gonna be a battle and it’s gonna be a struggle, but what else is there? Yes, we are outnumbered hugely. But that should tell us everything. Hood are up on that hillside already. They’ve found ‘The Lost You’ and turned it into the most soulful, spectral, suggestive music of 2005 thus far. They’ll carry you home. And then, there’s much to be done. These artefacts, these bits of plastic – they’re chances, d’ya see? New ways of seeing and being. Pop won’t let you die. Let’s go home. Let’s stick… apart. Let’s ask that little goddess if she fancies a dance.
I’ve a feeling she will.


Popular posts from this blog


This was my dream. And it was so vivid it really happened. 
I hired a van. The expense was a concern but I needed the capacity. First the long drive north to Middlesborough. I knew he'd be at home, visiting relatives. Made sure my HeadBag was packed. Blindfolds and ballgags. Rope. Some starved, stroppy badgers. Maxi-pack of chloroform-seeped bogroll from Costco. Masking tape. As I eased onto the M1 I told myself again the story of how it was developed from the need for waterproof ammunition casings in WWII. I had to, I was bored, and it's a long schlep up to 'boro. Idly, after securing a mortgage for a bacon roll at Tibshelf, I had an argument with my other personality about whether Middlesborough was in North Yorkshire, County Durham or Teeside. 
Nothing got resolved. A plain-clothes officer pulled me off in the hardshoulder near Malton and issued stern words about punching myself while driving. No hilarity did ensue. I needed to focus. This was a serious business. By noo…


(photo by Pat Pope, full text)  MANIC STREET PREACHERS  ASTORIA, LONDON  SORRY, lifelong fan, but I’m a new convert. I got into them a week ago and here I am. (They start with “Faster and, after the dub and horrorcore they’ve played, it jarrs and fits perfectly.) OK, see it ain’t attitude cos anyone can do that, just cock a snook and suck your cheeks. It ain’t glamour. Glamour is boring. Glamour is loud pretty people who hug, hug, hug, giggling at your geek self all night. And it ain’t rock’n’roll; it was your rock’n’roll that made a nigger-hater the King, your teddy boys who Paki-bashed for Mosley, Notting Hill 1958, your rock’#n’roll build on SAMBO DON’T SELL. I ain’t interested and the Manics are way beyond that. (“Yes” is Stjepan Mestrovic’s “Balkanisation Of The West” turned punk anthem, as if it could be any more punk. No higher compliment exists.)    The four founding points of Manics songs – one: modern life is untenable. Two: no one ever gets used to loneliness. Three: if tr…


Tuesday June 28th, 2016.

OK, a week since the vote and hey, I know the drill. Similar to those habits you kicked back into after 9-11, after 7-7. Heads down. Don't notice the people crossing the road to avoid you. Don't register any reaction to the shop assistants who drop the change with a panic'd repulsion into your foul brown palm. Keep your eyes down, no eye-contact with anyone. Get through the street to safety because the street is a place where you are a target again now, just as you were as a child. Don't ever ever relax again because that moment where your vigilance slips, when you start doubting your own paranoia, is the moment when the van draws up and three pink faces look your way grinning, when the kids see their chance to have some fun, when the guy on his bike who you hadn't thought of leans into the pavement to spit his venom, when the words will come unbidden and deafening, those words that won't just fuck up your day but will haunt your sleep, …