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Oct 15

S CLUB 7 – “Don’t Stop Movin'”

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#896, 5th May 2001

S Club DSM The unspoken advantage of kit-built pop groups, especially ones made for kids: they’re liberated from attempts to be cool. Often they don’t make full use of this potential. Some decide they want to be cool anyway. Some don’t, but never try for anything more than slush or formula. So why is it an advantage? Because it gives groups access to a toybox of sounds and poses they can use, combine and discard, severed from fashion. Vocoders, for instance, were actually in minor vogue at this point – Daft Punk had found a way to use them sentimentally – but S Club 7’s deployment of synthesised voices is a guileless joy. “Don’t stop movin’ to the S Club beat!”

Their upbeat hits are where the point of S Club 7 comes into focus. Like “Reach”, “Don’t Stop Movin’” is bold hooks and primary colours, an instant infant disco classic that’s just the right side of the line between obvious and banal. The division of vocal labour helps the track enormously – Jo a smooth and secure contrast to the more enthusiastic, slightly rawer Bradley. It’s a fine way of making male-and-female voiced pop work when you don’t need to frame it as a duet. The rest of “Don’t Stop Movin’” mixes the classy and cheesy in similar measure – glossy string punctuation next to sharp vocoder buzz. The results are endearing, an easy high point for the band – finding a space where they can be the likeable, bouncy everybodies they are on TV.

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  1. 31
    JLucas on 21 Oct 2015 #

    #28 allSTARS really were to S Club what Scooch were to Steps. Didn’t they even have a short-lived TV show?

    ‘Things That Go Bump In The Night’ was brilliant though. I always enjoy digging it out around this time of the year.

  2. 32
    The Arn on 21 Oct 2015 #

    I know, as per Cumbrian’s comments at #5, that this is at some level deploying a lot of pop tricks – it’s a manufactured band surfing a disco revival wave with vocoders a go go – but dammit there’s a genuine joy to this that just bypasses my filter of scepticism and hits my reptile brain. It captures the wonder of dancing to a great song and catching someone’s eye. And what really makes it is the sort of British amateur ethic of the group, a whole lot of enthusiasm covering any vocal or musical limitations. Basically it’s the idealised essence of a great cheap, sweaty night when you first start clubbing, before adult cynicism gets in the way. And on that front, it can give older listeners a sense of nostalgia for a purer, simpler time so it’s a superior example of the sort of record standard histories paint over when remembering Top of the Pops, the showbiz performers aiming for universal appeal. Think the sub-Abba types like the Nolans or Brotherhood Of Man, the ones that cool couldn’t possibly let you like. Actually, seeing it as an updated I’m In The Mood For Dancing makes a lot of sense…

    Although if I’m being critical the chorus doesn’t quite come in with the impact it probably should have, it’s where the record lets the listener take a breather. So I can’t quite mark it as perfect but it’s a cheap high that felt like a great pop moment at the time. And the power of cheap music always wins over considered analysis.

  3. 33
    cryptopian on 21 Oct 2015 #

    I’ve been lurking a couple of months, so now seems like a good time to join the party (pun not intended). I would’ve been 9 when this hit, so I was bang in the middle of S Club’s core target demographic. Indeed, it’s one of the first songs I remember being a favourite of mine and listening again brought on a great wave of nostalgia. It’s one of those where the whole mood overrides my ability to think about it critically, so it would get a 7/8 from me.

  4. 34
    wichitalineman on 21 Oct 2015 #

    Re 32: I’m In The Mood For Dancing is a good comparison. But it’s no Attention To Me.

  5. 35
    Andrew Farrell on 21 Oct 2015 #

    #27 I think you’ll find it’s “Photocopier fumes in the windowless room / you and I together in the nuclear June.”

  6. 36

    Nah.

    The apex of “just good pop” Drowned in Sound users and Guardian columnists pretend to like as if someone held a gun to their heads. Essential hint: here, no-one’s holding a gun to anyone’s head.

    Except S Club themselves (and their writers) who commit pop’s cardinal sin: nobody should ever self-consciously try to make a “guilty pleasure” hit single that forces mandatory fun down everyone’s throats. Especially when it’s a genre as hypothetically unsnobbish and accepting as disco. You can’t chew that up, spit it out, and melt it down into lukewarm dumplings of “You must like this or you’re a humourless rockist vaccuum who goes to Halloween parties as yourself.”

    There’s a hell of a lot of great hooks here, and the band members have more breathing space from each other than the messy Bring it All Back. S Club’s biggest problem is, for a “light-hearted good clean fun for all the family” act, they were so didactic. “Ain’t no destination baby, we don’t even care” SHOULD be a great defining lyric to make a pop song great, but here it sticks out like a sore, apologetic thumb. There are a gazillion Popular songs past and future I love that, like DSM, are tacky, childish, clumsy, preposterous or over the top, or an “I couldn’t stand this lot in the past, but this is great..” scenario, and it’s fine to combine the “classy and the cheesy”, but the problem’s when, like DSM, you combine it with being so damn *needy*.

    Early 2001 (the crest of a slump in national emotional development that began with the death-or-glory hysterics of 1997) was a massively self-conscious time in UK pop culture, obsessively filing music of the past into “guilty”/”not guilty”/”funny hur hur” categories at sincerity and creativity’s expense, – i.e. when every bloody week on “I Love 19xx” the Bay City Rollers were defended by someone from Hollyoaks whilst Peter Kay mocked goth rock a la “ha ha, freaks with silly make up” despite probably never having heard a full Siouxsie and the Banshees or Cure* album, never mind Bauhaus.

    And many who went crazy for DSM are the same disengaged hordes – it’s a lack of engagement out of desperation to get some charm from an era of nu-gruel-metal and reserves of Coldplay or Hear’say. But there’s also a slippery slope from that to today’s sea-nominated hipsters who run finger painting classes and school dinners themed restaurants for grown adults. And the tedious Students’ Union Mighty Boosh fans who run club nights called “100% Cheese” or “absolute shite.”

    4/10. It’s dropping to a 2 if it’s a rainy day tomorrow, though.

    * I know they’re not strictly goffs but it’s late so don’t be, er, toffs.

  7. 37
    weej on 22 Oct 2015 #

    Very that hasn’t been covered upthread, so I’ll just say that DSM is a joy, but never a transcendent one. 7/10

  8. 38
    Phil on 22 Oct 2015 #

    #36 “Oh why does no one listen when I say/Hang the DJ…”

    This is dated now – and was never published anywhere – but I still like bits of it. That bit in particular.

  9. 39
    Andrew on 22 Oct 2015 #

    #24 the very pleasant and charming Natural, based on Pavane by Fauré.

    Little Mix used the same sample recently on a track called Little Me, to much less effect (I like LM a lot but it’s easily their dullest single).

  10. 40
    Tommy Mack on 22 Oct 2015 #

    #36/38 – Christ, I hated the whole student “cheese” thing with a passion and unlike most things I thought and believed when I was 19, I don’t now think I was wrong.

    How bereft is a generation that, at the tender age of 18, can seemingly enjoy music only through a blanket of sneering irony? It also put me off loads of good pop like Queen, Abba and Dexys because it was always lumped in with ‘so bad it’s good’ shite like Vanilla Ice.

    School Disco – remember that? Utterly bizarre: 18-year old kids getting nostalgic for school when they were at school about three months ago. Actually, not getting nostalgic for their own schooldays but getting nostalgic for other, older people’s re-appropriated stylised memories of their childhood. (Also I was told you were guaranteed a snog if you went so I went and I stood on my own and I left on my own and I went home etc etc)

    I suppose the nostalgia boom was so all-pervasive at the time that it spilled over of those too young and naive to understand that you have to live your present in order to have a past about which to later become nostalgic! The best you can say about it is that it probably inadvertently turned some people on to some great pop records they otherwise wouldn’t have heard.

    Members of Imperial’s Alternative Music Society (shudder!) formed LACTOSE: League Against Cheese Taking Over Student Entertainment which would have been brilliant if they hadn’t been a sneery bunch of dicks who just wanted the student bar for themselves to play Mogwai records to ten of their mates. (This did not include me, I was TOO EDGE even for Alt-Soc…)

    All that said, I enjoyed S Club 7 then and I enjoy them now. There’s a joyousness to their cheap and cheerful records. I don’t think they’re cheesy because stuff that got labelled as Cheese tended to be hamfisted attempts at cool from previous generations (Vanilla Ice, MC Hammer, Bon Jovi etc) “OMG, what were they thinking?” etc. S Club 7 were never trying to be cool, they were just trying to make children dance. I don’t think they, or their writers/producers were setting out to make a smirking disco pastiche on this or a Motown pastiche on Reach, they were just trying to make great pop and the limits of their talents were such that they reached for obvious touchstones and still made good pop.

    I wrote a passionate Op-Ed piece in Felix about how the indie kids shouldn’t be so sneering about pop and the cheese bunch should make an effort to expand their musical tastes. It was all a bit pious, I’ll freely admit, though well-intentioned. I’m not sure that the breaking down of boundaries ‘tween mainstream and underground since then has had a net positive effect on the quality of popular music: it’s a weird thing, tribalism is silly at best and positively dangerous at worst but it does tend to go hand in hand with fecund periods in pop music and the auxiliary creativity around pop music (fanzines, fashion etc).

    Bit of a tangent there, a few ideas I’d been mulling over for years and it took the genius of S Club 7 to tease them out…

  11. 41
    JLucas on 22 Oct 2015 #

    #39: ‘Natural’ (probably my favourite S Club record as it goes) is actually an English-language cover of ‘Tous les maux d’amour’, a French top ten hit for Norma Ray in 1999 which was also built around the Pavane sample.

    https://youtu.be/qZuEvkLLWSQ

  12. 42
    Phil on 22 Oct 2015 #

    Also I was told you were guaranteed a snog if you went so I went and I stood on my own and I left on my own and I went home etc etc

    Things You’re Least Likely To Hear From A FT Commenter: “ah yes, the Smiths, I’ve heard of them – were they any good?”

  13. 43
    Tommy Mack on 22 Oct 2015 #

    Phil @ 42: Funnily enough it was probably around then that I was first grudgingly getting into The Smiths. As a younger teen I’d found Morrissey’s solo stuff dull then I’d heard he was a racist, then I’d read Steven Wells hilariously defaming him so it took a while for me to come round to actually liking The Smiths!

  14. 44
    Ed on 22 Oct 2015 #

    Emily Nussbaum, the peerless TV critic of the New Yorker, made the good point recently that there are some pleasures that genuinely are – or should be – guilty. Reality shows was her example: talent contests and docu-soaps that are diverting and sometimes gripping entertainment, but that can also involve real misery for their manipulated “stars”.

    The musical equivalent, I suppose, is songs that are appealing even though (or because) they express toxic impulses: ‘Under My Thumb’, ‘Straight Outta Compton’, er, ‘Survivor’.

    Perhaps it would be a good idea if we re-branded those songs as guilty pleasures, and left S Club 7 out of it.

    (It also reminds me of the way our moral language has been completely co-opted by all this care of the self bullsh*t, as in the fantastic Amy Schumer sketch where she and her friends talk about how “good” and “bad” they’ve been, based entirely on what they have eaten.)

  15. 45
    Ed on 22 Oct 2015 #

    Also, with all due respect to Tommy Mack @40, Vanilla Ice, MC Hammer and Bon Jovi were all great, at least at their one-hit wonder peaks.

    I agree with you on the whole “cheese” thing, which is awful, and I am deeply grateful I was too old for School Disco. But I think the motivations here are a bit subtler than you suggest.

    As I’ve written here before, in the context of The Doors, the mixed emotion of “this is silly but also awesome” is one of the most fundamental responses to pop. I mean, even Mogwai are pretty funny if you look at them the right way. I don’t think that acknowledging the ridiculous aspects of a performer or a song – the cheese – is in any way a bar to genuinely enjoying them.

  16. 46
    Tom on 22 Oct 2015 #

    “Cheese” (like GPs, its big brother) is born out of an essentially conservative impulse, but one that reflects a real and widespread anxiety. Like Tommy Mack hints above, it’s an attempt to maintain musical hierarchies in a world where the existing ways of maintaining them (scarcity and critical gatekeepers, which created distinctions between the ephemeral and the lasting) are breaking down. Let’s open the floodgates of availability, fire up the invisible jukebox, but the (temporary) compromise is that we have to accept that some pop is simply lower caste.

    There are other – more respectable maybe? – responses to this anxiety too. Expanding the net of gatekeeping – no longer is 100 albums enough for a list, it has to be 1001, 6000, or 10,000. And bringing pop within the ambit of critical respectability – like this site does. But these are still cousins of the “Cheese” impulse, I’d say, doomed attempts to maintain at least something of the old order.

  17. 47
    Ed on 22 Oct 2015 #

    @46 Agreed. But in defence of Tommy Mack’s callow 18 year-olds, I think you could make the case that an enthusiasm for cheese can actually subvert those hierarchies.

    In the context of a group of new students thrown together for the first time, uncertain of how to negotiate all the complex social signals encoded in musical taste, I can see that “ironic” enthusiasm could be a useful tactic. Counterfeiting an air of superior detachment is a way to earn permission – from others and from yourself – to enjoy music that you would otherwise be ashamed of.

  18. 48
    Mark M on 22 Oct 2015 #

    Re47: I was thinking along those lines – that those nights played a lot of music that people actually liked, regardless of the rationalisation.

    My question is: when did the self-consciously ‘trashy’ student disco thing start? It was certainly felt well-established when I got to Leeds in 1989.

  19. 49
    Phil on 22 Oct 2015 #

    In 1988 I went back to the old college and was startled to see a poster for a “school disco” type event – startled, because the poster was promising the likes of Showaddywaddy, whose big hits dated back to my school days; the first-years of 1988 would just have been starting primary school. It was as if the mid-70s had been retrospectively claimed as everybody’s embarrassing teenage years.

  20. 50
    Tommy Mack on 23 Oct 2015 #

    #45: I wasn’t really saying Ice, Hammer and Jovi were awful (although in Vanilla Ice’s case I was earlier when I described his music as shite!) I was saying that they fall victim to the sneer of the ‘cheese’ malaise because they were once cool or at least shooting for something that could be considered cool at least by an audience naive to hipper notions of cool. Whereas S Club 7 are surely immune from such in that they were never cool in anyone’s books. Although maybe if you were 5, S Club 7 were cool so maybe a ten year old would feel edgy sneering at a 5-year old’s enthusiasm for S Club. Everyone else gets guiltless pleasure by virtue of being so removed from the childhood layers of cool and uncool that it collapses on a singularity of ‘fun’.

    I’d say Bon Jovi were frequently silly but awesome but not on Living On A Prayer which is just boring (and manages talk-box guitar and union busting within its opening half minute).

    #47 and 48 are very perceptive: I for myself went to plenty of the cheese nights but always wearing a sub Robbie ironic smirk so anyone properly cool watching would realise I was above it all. I can’t understand why I didn’t pull back then…

  21. 51

    Haha, I created a monster.

    To be fair, I was also 15/16 in 2001 so my pride/embarrassment and “tune!”/”faeces for the ears” yin and yang were at all-time extremes. If I twigged an amazing guitar solo on a relatively ordinary indie-rock hit like My Vitriol – Always Your Way, I’d replay it for days, in love. If I was enjoying, say, If Ya Wanna by S&M and the Noise Next Door are Absolute Nuggets, when I heard the lyric “Do it, do it, do it to me baby” it felt like a complete stranger walking into my house, taking a leak on my birthday cake. To paraphrase Linkin Park, every slightest sense of cheese, don’t want “One Step Closer*”, want The Edge, a rockist’s Welcome Break.

    Hence why the mid-90s were a procession of dignified “sixes” – even for Cotton Eye Joe and nearly everything post-31 August 1997 has been a “9” or a “2.” That’s puberty for you. Also, someone a few months ago mentioned a startling generation gap with pop-punk (i.e. how nearly all his friends three years younger put Blink-182 in the canon, but his own year group have almost no interest.) Green Day, the Offspring and Sum 41 have a great appeal to crude teenagers even past skate park age, and the genre is older than acid house or grunge! – but being those crucial few years older, I just couldn’t engage with S Club 7, Steps or the All*Stars. Trying to like Don’t Stop Moving felt like I was punching below my weight, retreating when I wanted to see the world, and whilst many childhood favourites I haven’t grown out of – i.e. Tintin, Sensible Soccer, shouting “Contenders, you shall go on my first whistle!” this felt a bit like asking my mum to make fish fingers, Alphabites and spaghetti hoops for tea. (I was also, for my sins, a Stella-supping, FHM***-reading bigmouth with mild Burnley hooligan tendencies, but a slightly bigger bookshelf than the average “lad.”)

    But someone a few years older than me might say similar things about 2 Unlimited, Corona and Haddaway. Then again, by the time we get to Bunnies Aloud, in real life I’ll have reached adulthood and once again my pop fundamentalism will have relaxed into “Just enjoy it and take it for what it is, don’t be a Q-worshipping prick!!!”

    I remember reading a broadsheet feature about School Disco the day Year 11 of Bentham School had their leaving do in Tristan Hey’s garage. I thought “Damn, I’ve missed out on all that carefree behind-the-bike-sheds fun as I was a pussy who left my local comp and went to this private school in the middle of nowhere with only 70 people, 65 of whom who said I was the school Boo Radley**!” But somehow, Clitheroe Grammar Sixth Form provided that anyway. Plenty more on that later.

    Talking about “getting nostalgic for other, older people’s re-appropriated stylised memories of their childhood”, it’s a little bizarre seeing 16, 17 year olds dressing like the Fresh Prince (clean, normcore, vintage sportswear look) or Kelly Kapowski (floral bustier crop tops, high jeans, see also: the video for bunny #1258) – my mind’s always rooted those shows in 8-bit, unmistakably American, LA the centre of the universe 1990-94.. though just like Phoenix Nights with Northern England in 2001/02, they provided daft, sunny, carefree optimism in a time of destructive race riots (and bad second-division grunge) :-/

    I think a way to destroy the “guilty pleasures” taste gulag from the inside would be having an “anti-cheese” night where everyone had to listen to white noise remixes of Animal Collective B-sides which had so much distortion they made your throat turn into popping candy****, and nobody was allowed in unless they had “>75% angular” haircuts.

    * The S Club Juniors one!
    ** Both the Harper Lee and Britpop one.
    *** I had both Rachel and Hannah’s posters on my wall back then. This might be another reason for not joining in the DSM love-in, out of guilt for playing the shallow, pervy, cat-calling builder.
    **** Didn’t this happen at early Jesus and Mary Chain gigs?

  22. 52
    will on 23 Oct 2015 #

    Re 48: When did the student trashy disco thing start? Didn’t G*** G******’s comeback start in the early 80s on the university circuit..?

  23. 53
    Phil on 23 Oct 2015 #

    Patrick M, you’re making me feel old and unhip, all over again. I wonder if there’s something about the particular age gap involved (viz. 25 years), or if anyone born after 1970 would baffle me in the same way if they really got going.

    Mind you, on reflection I’ve been feeling old and unhip since the autumn of 1980. We’d had punk, OK, and power pop (which never really happened), then there was that mad brief wave of bands like Neon, and then there was Magazine and Public Image Ltd, and Desperate Bicycles and Scritti Politti and the whole d-i-y scene, then there was Closer and Metal Box… and generally speaking I felt like I knew what was going on.

    Then all of a sudden I didn’t. I’m not going to slate Davy Henderson, here of all places, but it was something of a turning-point for me when a friend and I admitted to each other that we didn’t actually like the Fire Engines. And Peel, at the time, seemed to be playing little else. We still had the Fall, but it wasn’t the same.

    In retrospect that was when I started focusing on more idiosyncratic & ostentatiously grown-up bands like Sudden Sway and Wire, and on people who were basically singer-songwriters, although I would have rejected the label at the time (Ed Kuepper/Laughing Clowns, Jackie Leven/Doll by Doll, Cope/TX, Costello). 1980: the year the New Wave stopped making sense.

  24. 54
    Tommy Mack on 23 Oct 2015 #

    #51 – “Trying to like Don’t Stop Moving felt like I was punching below my weight, retreating when I wanted to see the world” – this sums up what I really disliked about student cheese: We were eighteen, bright, away from home for the first time, in bloody London no less, we could go anywhere and do anything our loan cheques would stretch to and what lots of people wanted to go to a grotty union bar and smirk over music that was being openly advertised as rubbish.*

    In terms of the actual music, plenty of the songs were bona fide classics and even the genuinely naff stuff had some enjoyable qualities (the worst problem with the real cheesy stuff is that it comes on, everyone laughs/quasi-ironically shouts ‘tune’ and then 15 seconds later realise they have to spend the next three minutes dancing to a mediocre record)

    *Mind you, for 19-year old me, ‘go anywhere and do anything’ meant spending hundreds of pounds going to mainly mediocre alt-rock gigs and hurling my slight, skinny frame into the moshpit like a kamikaze waif**. I don’t claim this as an ideal for living either! Most of us are pretty insecure and searching for identity at that stage in life and ‘angry self-destructive outsider, living my life to the total-freakin’ extreme’ is obviously as much a crutch as ‘wacky, happy, it’s all a big joke, let’s laugh at the silly cheesy music!’ and quite possibly a worse one since it entails being unhappy on principle a lot of the time. What a silly boy I was.

    **Oh and forming my second and worst band, the wackily monickered 50ft High Rock Hard Robot, a sort of junior would-be Rocket From The Crypt. Mind you, our one gig at the union packed the place out which was a nice end to the year but we’re getting ahead of ourselves…

  25. 55
    thefatgit on 23 Oct 2015 #

    I was officially too thick for Uni, so my exposure to the type of music you might call “cheese”, was in its appropriate setting: town centre nightclubs and working men’s club disco nights. I had already formed a hard shell of rockism (not that i realised at the time, but was despite this, suspicious of anything overtly conservative), despite reading the NME at the time Morley et al we’re railing against it. I did have a fondness for disco (you never got anything more leftfield than the odd electro track in town), but I drew the line at The Nolans and The Dooleys and especially Showaddywaddy (who by then, were all well on their way to seaside obscurity), which were WMC standards at those events. I had friends returning from Uni during the holidays, enthusing about such & such band or stating quite categorically that the charts were full of absolute shite, and me thinking I had broader tastes than my further educated chums.

  26. 56
    JoeWiz on 25 Oct 2015 #

    This is a pretty joyous, simple pop record.
    And you should never feel guilty about ANY musical pleasure.

  27. 57
    Chris Barratt on 25 Oct 2015 #

    S Club themselves were at the forefront of the student-targeted ‘Cheese’ thing – just five short years after they broke up to facilitate the launch of Rachel Stevens’ solo career, three of them – including primary vocalists Jo & Bradley – were touring the nations SU venues.
    At the time I was somewhat incredulous – it was another sign of the times, alas. I can’t have imagined (for instance) Five Star going down very well in the Uni’s & Poly’s had they done the same with my generation in 1992, but there you go…
    http://www.last.fm/event/827425+S+Club+3+Reunion+gig+-+featuring+Jo,+Paul+and+Bradley

  28. 58

    The problem is, I feel guilty about having the guilt itself (which led me to dismiss hundreds of bona fide classic pop records before I discovered this page at 3 am on a soggy 2012 summer night.)

    I am ashamed to think my teenage cynicism about certain cheerful, uncynical, celebratory and non-alpha male/feminine parts of the charts might have been from some kind of unconscious internalised homophobia. Even at an age when I was graffittiing “Stop the BNP” on public toilets, I said clumsy, small-minded things about gay men when I was 16 or so I deeply regret. Maybe it was OTT, inaccurate stereotyping of LGBT characters on television. Maybe it was reading the sub-Loaded fodder in the media who could only discuss a Kylie record whilst smirking through gritted Roger Daltrey teeth about the ‘pink pound.’ Maybe it was what we touched on with the Eminem threads – me being a teenager and terrified of sexual exploration of any orientation, the teenage jock bullying in PE, Asperger’s and the fear of physical contact definitely making a massive contribution – I really hated anybody physically touching me even if it was just a family member tucking my shirt in – it made me feel unclean – I’ve always been obsessed with cleanliness, if someone farts, say, on public transport, I have to be careful not to let it put me in a black mood for the entire day. We once had to stop the coach when I was 13 on a school trip to Les Miserables because I read a ‘men’s problem page’ asking “Does toothpaste give you a better orgasm?” There were just too many new sights, sounds, smells, tastes and feelings for me to take in with the adolescent world and it’s times like that it would have actually helped me to embrace the warm innocence of “Don’t Stop Movin’.”

    Thankfully my mind opened massively since those questionable days and I have a much better understanding of human relationships and desires. Any LGBT people I met at any age I was always totally fine with when speaking to them but in my younger years I was less forthcoming due to a colossal desperation for girlfriends – you know, laddish paranoia, i.e. the ridiculous idea thinking another man was good looking made me gay myself. That’s completely disappeared now, especially since I’ve discovered I’m most comfortable being anything but an alpha male… Though sadly this record slipped beyond my reach, this maturing and broadening of the mind has definitely helped me become a much better “poptimist” so onward and upward. And if anyone gives my LGBT friends any grief, even if it’s subtle UKIP nudge nudge winkness, I’ll give them a same-sex marriage: my clenched fist with their bigoted nose.

    After all “who wants to be a sad little indie noise-freak who alienates everyone?” – Damon Albarn (!) – But you get my drift.

  29. 59
    Tommy Mack on 26 Oct 2015 #

    Homophobia was rife at school in the 90s. You had your hardcore homophobes who were many and vocal (and we’re not talking knuckle dragging EDL twats either but otherwise affable lads, many of whom were and still are mates*), you had your silent majority who would nod along with the hardcore’s repellent bile and then you had those of us who you might loosely call ‘liberals’ who made a token effort to debunk some of the bigotry. But, here’s the thing, even though I hated the overt homophobia to the extent I’d invite ridicule by telling the hardcore they were talking shit, I was still happy to use Gay and Poof as go-to insults. #ladz #banter. As no-one said back then.

    Being gay at high school must have been like being a jew in Nazi Germany, living in fear and shame, constantly worrying that you were going to be found out and brutalized.

    Things seem a little better nowadays. Gay Pride is far more prevalent in the public eye and homophobia is held in the same contempt as racism, at least overtly (there is obviously still plenty of subtle homophobia – and racism in the media. As a teacher I didn’t see nearly as much bigoted behaviour as I did as a pupil (although I realise this is partly because I was a teacher and not a pupil!)

    As for pop, my teenage tastes were tied up with all manner of internalised prejudices, mainly class. I definitely see traces of misogyny and homophobia in the Cheese thing though. It’s like blokes dragging up on stag nights: femininity is something to be ridiculed and mocked. Mind you, the Cheese thing was about belittling anything that didn’t conform to the ultra-bland mores of late 90s fashion. Too camp was cheesy but then so was too macho or too slick or too anything that wasn’t tepid ahedonic wallpaper.

    *I’m glad to say they’ve grown out of it now we’re no longer in an environment where being a twat is conflated with being hard.

  30. 60

    “The ultra-bland mores of late 90s fashion” – Christ, tell me about it. I’ll leave discussing the August 1997 flux capacitor yet again till future Oasis bunnies (oh, the excitement!), but from there to 2001, the “It’s all crash bang wallop”/”You can’t tell what they’re saying”/”Is it a man or a woman?” TOTP parental cliches were eclipsed – across the generations – by “I hope they’re not manufactured”/”Does he/she write their own material?”/”Proper songs with real instruments and real emotions.”

    And that dour, one-dimensional, pipe-and-slippers ideology made people write “100 things better than UK Garage” lists of bile, whilst claiming the new I Feel Love or Good Vibrations to be, er, Embrace – All You Good Good People or Hurricane #1 – Only the Strongest will Survive.

    Much more on this much later, but this “nice one, Grandad” argument has increased in its suffocating influence through the years, and arguably peaked with the deeply unpleasant atmosphere around “no Kanye West at Glastonbury.” It’s no surprise caricatures of a “typical” member of that petition have been a dour, middle-aged Mondeo man with a parka from Liam Gallagher at his most charmless and a bowlcut like Paul Weller at his blandest.

    I don’t think my lack of love for DSM is dour rockism. I appreciate it’s trying to be the ultimate summery disco-pop song, it just appears, bizarrely, like the dadrock I’m railing against in this post – far too studied.

    It’s tricky ground, but the dismissal of US R&B/UK Garage/”can’t stand them, they used to be in the Spice Girls/Take That”, or previously Abba, Queen and Dexys as “cheese” whilst letting off dreadful Noelrock/New Acoustic Movement indie miserablism scot-free……….. is a close cousin of………. rabidly right-wing television and newspapers (and their readers/viewers) blaming economic problems on immigration or the fallacy of mass organised cartels of “benefit scrounging families with 750 kids”… when you never see, say, documentaries on Channel 5 about billionaire tax evaders or Sun articles on how the long-term sick or disabled have received appalling mistreatment from the DWP and ATOS.

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