Why I’d like us to be able to show joy

I was making a cup of tea alone in the office kitchen the other day, singing to myself and doing a dadlike jig, when someone came in and I hurriedly called a halt to my fun.

It struck me afterwards, though, why I felt I had to stop. I’ve often seen kids dancing in the street while holding a parent’s hand and singing out loud is hardly a crime – you only have to watch the wonderful video of Respect on the Underground to see the joy it can bring.

What is a ‘cultural norm?’
Society places an awful lot of cultural ‘norms’ onto us that can be hard to break and expressing yourself in public is one of them.

The British reserve is well-known, but by contrast watch the reaction of Winesi whose sight was restored thanks to a cataract operation funded by Sightsavers.

It’s a lifechanging moment sure, but the spontaneous dancing is typical of many cultures in Africa that is often conspicuously absent in Western society. Continue reading “Why I’d like us to be able to show joy”

Will Gary Glitter ever get radio airplay again?

Gary GlitterMention the name Gary Glitter to most over-30s in the UK and you’ll usually get a look of contempt. Once one of the darlings of the 70s glam-rock music scene, he is now synonymous with his various convictions for child porn and transformation from a slightly manic-looking pop star to a bald-headed weirdo with a grey goatee.

In fact, you’ll rarely – if ever – hear one of his songs played on the radio. Radio 2 – the most likely outlet for his tunes – regularly overlook him in the likes of Pick of The Pops or their festive/bank holiday countdowns.

So there was naturally a bit of a kerfuffle when Gwyneth Paltrow decided to perform a cover version of Do You Wanna Touch Me on the TV show Glee – a song, in case you’re interested, that in January 1973 reached No.2 in the UK singles charts.

Glitter – real name Paul Gadd – committed a pretty heinous crime, but is that a reason to expunge his music from the annals of history? I don’t think so.

Take the following music artists, for example: Jerry Lee Lewis (married his 13-year-old cousin), James Brown (convicted of armed robbery and arrested numerous times for domestic abuse) and Phil Spector (convicted of murder).

If radio bosses carried out the same punishment on their music, as has been on Glitter’s, the likes of Great Balls of Fire, I Feel Good and Be My Baby would rarely be heard ever again.

And imagine what a dilemma radio bosses would have had if Michael Jackson had been found guilty of the child abuse crimes of which he was accused back in 2005. Can you imagine radio stations without the option of playing Beat It, Billie Jean, Wanna Be Startin’ Something or Smooth Criminal?

As I said before Glitter is obviously a disturbed individual, but his music should be separated from the man. Let’s not forget that his music was loved so much during the 1970s that he achieved 3 No.1s and another 8 Top 10 hits – no flash in the pan.

And in case you think he’s been completely expunged from popular music, take a closer listen to Katy Perry’s worldwide smash hit I Kissed A Girl. Do you recognise the drum beat that kicks it off and continues throughout the song. Yup, it’s a sample taken from none other than Gary Glitter’s Rock and Roll Part 2.

Let’s hope that someone finally decides to make the sensible decision and allow people to make up their own mind and hear Gary Glitter’s music for what it is – whatever the actions of the man.

Can’t buy me chart positions

The BeatlesLast week the world stopped (well, Apple thought it would), when Steve Jobs announced that tracks by The Beatles can finally be downloaded from iTunes.

The earth duly continued spinning and thoughts turned to the impact this development would have on the UK singles charts.

Surely, the public would suddenly rush to download a rash of Beatles tracks that they didn’t already own on LP, cassette or CD, wouldn’t they?

To increase the likelihood of chart domination, Simon Cowell conveniently scheduled a Beatles week on The X Factor, allowing the remaining finallists to ‘make the songs their own’.

As if that wasn’t enough, Apple ran iTunes TV ads, featuring black-and-white photos of the Beatles, the whole weekend.

And the result of this endeavour? The biggest-selling Beatles song of the week-ending 21 November was Hey Jude, which rocketed into the charts at… No.40! Yes, you read that right – no.40.

OK, so The Beatles did score 31 tracks in the top 200, but that’s not the same as taking over the entire chart, is it?

Now I like the Beatles (not obsessed), but as an average fan my first thought was: don’t most people own their favourite Beatles songs on CD already? If they don’t own the ‘red’ and ‘blue’ albums, then the relatively recently-released No.1s must have made its way into their collection.

And, if they do own any of these, then putting them in their CD drive and ripping them to iTunes sort of negates the need to download Hey Jude, doesn’t it?

Surely, there’s only so much Beatles you can flog to people. Yes, they were revolutionary in 1963, but most people are a little bored of ‘new’ Beatles now.

Also, the cynical X-Factor tie in was let down by the fact that most of the performances on Saturday were so poor, that younger viewers probably think the Beatles are about as relevant to them as Al Martino. Where’s the Elvis week – that’s what we want to know!

On a sidenote, it’s interesting that not all ‘modern’ reworkings of classic artists go unrewarded. Ellie Goulding’s version of Elton John’s Your Song (currently doing the rounds on the John Lewis Xmas ad) has stormed into the charts at No.3, just behind JLS and Take That.