Go to bed, Mr Swygart

It’s bizarre what manner of shit the crap-telly-enthusiast can persuade themselves to stay up and watch, sometimes. Last night, for instance, it got to about quarter to two. I found myself sat in front of ever-dire cop series The District, where Craig T Nelson stomps about Doing The Right Thing and Telling It Straight etc. for an hour, and thought I might want to go to bed now, when suddenly it ends and 2001…Forever comes on. For those of you unfamiliar with this series, it involves a string of thirty-second snatches of music videos from a given year or on a given theme being played back to back while a very bored man from South Coast regional television quips over them. It can occasionally dig up something quite interesting – for those episodes dealing with the late eighties or early nineties, the clips are often interspersed with clips of highly disinterested interviewees talking shite about themselves on ‘The Music Box’, the music programme that South Coast regional television man used to do but doesn’t anymore. Look, it’s House Of Love. How silly they look now. Oh, and here’s Warrant. How silly they look now. And so on.

Anyway, 2001…Forever didn’t have any of that because they couldn’t get interviews with any of these people. Instead, we got a succession of clips of stuff seemingly designed specifically to demonstrate that this year’s charts haven’t been that wretched after all. 2001 was the year of new-meddle, of course, which led to fifteen solid minutes of me going “Oh GOD” as laconic regional TV man reminded me of the existence of OPM, Crazy Town, Alien Ant Farm, Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park, Blink-182 (pre-‘I Miss You’) and Sum 41, one after the other. We would occasionally get brief respite, spots of Missy Elliott and Sophie Ellis-Bextor, then they’d go and do something daft like decide that the ideal thing to follow on from ‘Miss Jackson’ is Samantha effing Mumba. In between, South Coast regional television man points out that Mis-Teeq isn’t spelt properly. Still, if nothing else, it did serve as a timely reminder that Claire from Steps really did have a staggeringly cavernous mouth.

Anyway, that’s followed by Cybernet, which you could sort of argue is one of the better television programmes about computer games by virtue of not featuring Iain Lee or Dominik Diamond. What you get instead is an American man doing voiceover in the manner of the commentary track for SEGA Worldwide Soccer over clips of someone playing, I dunno, Onimusha 3 or something. “You are cast as a – JAPANESE SAMURAI – who must battle – EVIL WARLORDS. On your way, you will encounter -VILLAGERS – who will help you with – ITEMS.” Then he reviews them: “The – GRAPHICS – are STRONG, but it is let down by – POOR OPPONENT AI – which serves to – WEAKEN – the – GAMEPLAY.”

It’s all very entertaining for a minute or two, but then I kept switching over to Channel 4’s KOTV Classics, which entails edited highlights of old boxing matches being strung together for an hour. However, it’s the presentation that’s really worth watching for, whether it be the old commentators from the 60’s and 70’s whose style consists of saying nothing for about a minute then piping up with “Nino Benvenuti is from Italy,” or the modern-day sports presenter who does the links between fights and occasionally has to do some over-dubbed commentary, and always talks in the manner of a man who’s just finished doing some woodwork that he’s really pleased with – “And nowww, over to Frarrrnce to watch tough Gharrrnaian Ike “BAZOOKA!” Quarrrteyyy…” The real icing on the cake, however, is that the producers have decided to preface each bout with a mock newspaper front page carrying notable stories of the year in order to set the mood. Hence last night, a fight from 1950 got “KOREAN WAR STARTS – Formula One Racing”. Oh, and regardless of whatever year the fight took place in, there’s always a picture of Roy Jones Jr. at the top of the page.

But anyway – we flitted through that till we got to last night’s real main event, the thing I’d been eagerly anticipating – Planet Rock Profiles: JJ72.

The Planet Rock Profiles series are twenty minute programmes in which the hip bands of the day are interviewed by Irish TV type Tom Dunne, interspersed with clips from their fantastic videos. Last night, Tom was a bit excited. His introduction began by outlining the apocalyptic climate of manufactured pop in which the music lovers of today found themselves, all soulless and icky and ugh. But wait! What light shineth from yonder window? It’s JJ72, who, as Tom explains, “are a real band… who make real music… they play real gigs… they played Glastonbury…”

We then get a bit of interview with Fergal Matthews (the drummer) and Mark Greaney (guitar, singer, visionary genius). Fergal will say something and then sit there and look like he wants to punch you. Mark, on the other hand, sits there and is quite possibly the most boring man alive. He starts wittering on about how they were backstage at U2 and he wondered how many of the sound crew they really needed because it was all about the synergy between the four guys out there on the stage who had the synergy. I went to the kitchen to make a sandwich. i then ate the sandwich. I went back to the telly and Mark is still talking about the synergy. He has a very high yet strangely monotonous voice that sort of twitters endlessly. They talk about starting the band and being in a band and how Mark said to Hillary Woods (the bass player) “D’you want to be in a band?” and she said “Yeah” and then he went “Yeah!” and then they started playing in Dublin in the pubs and then they started playing Glastonbury and Mark was like “Wow, yeah!”

Fergal liked playing Glastonbury. He also liked playing Reading.

Mark liked playing Reading and he liked playing Glastonbury and he liked the connection they got with the audience as well because that’s what really matters as well, like, you see a lot of bands and you think to yourself that’s not what I want to do, y’know…

We also get to see some of JJ72’s videos. This is slightly confusing because they all appear to be exactly the same, in so far as JJ72 are playing in a room in a house. Mark does his vocals and convulses a lot because he is feeling the genuine emotional connection with the music. Hillary just sort of stands there and plucks the bass occasionally. Fergal plays the drums with the face of a man who wants to punch you. However, there is the interesting variation of the video for ‘Oxygen’, where towards the end Mark flings his guitar into the drumkit. He then starts shoving the speakers and the drumkit over. Him and Fergal tussle. And then we go out into the woods, where JJ72 are running for some reason. And then Mark flings his guitar into a tree.

We then get on to the matter of JJ72’s second album, I To Sky (“already being called the most spiritual Irish album since U2’s October” according to Tom). Mark reckons that every lyric on the album is totally honest and they haven’t thrown in any lyrics just they because they needed to add an extra rhyme or something, ha ha ha, and they were really pleased to be working with the producers of the Smashing Pumpkins, (A Famous Record Producer Whose Name I Have Forgotten) and Flood, and you could tell Flood was a really good record producer because he’d just stand in the door and tell you what you were doing wrong, but really you just wanted him to tell you his stories about working with The Smashing Pumpkins. We then get the video for ‘Formulae’, the first single off I To Sky. This marks a progression for the band because instead of playing in a room, they are now playing on a rooftop. Also, Mark has a fringe and a leather jacket. Tom ends it with the statement “JJ72’s fans will hope that the band have a long career with a catalogue of landmark albums, that inspire other people to start bands.” I think they’ve split up now. Hillary’s left anyway.

Oh, and then ITV Nightscreen, where they screen the press releases for dramas about Alex Ferns on a battleship in popular ITV drama Alex Ferns On A Battleship to a funky house backing. I think I fell asleep instead.