So, you’ve got a theatrical #1 record about teen alienation under your belt – how do you follow that? Why, more histrionics, greater alienation, and – the trump card – this time it’s all true! This wouldn’t be the last time Bob Geldof’s gut reaction to a news story made a mark on pop, but there’s no good cause associated with “I Don’t Like Mondays” and no good comes of it. Geldof’s dramatisation of a school shooting is simply rubbernecking, hijacking an incident and hitching it to a new wave bandwagon that was running out of puff. He can’t seem to decide whether to sing it snotty or hand-wringing and the result is a horribly awkward song – it’s so terrible, but that’s the nihilistic modern world for ya! Almost the worst touches are his shoehorns of “silicon chip”s and “telex machine”s into the lyrics, hand-waving vapidly at the idea of dehumanising technology.
But the feeblest thing about it is how incompetent Geldof is: how he over-phrases everything, lip-smacking each syllable, and then when he does reach a lyrical climax – “and the lesson today is how to die!” – he smothers it in yet more bloody am-dram piano. You wouldn’t get Elton – and this is very much an Elton kind of joint – screwing that up. “Rat Trap”‘s eagerness to make a statement had a charm – this time it seems like Geldof was shoring up his limited skills as a songwriter by letting the subject’s seriousness take the strain. But it buckles: memorable chorus aside, this is a failure on every level.