If you want a straight answer on anything, especially pop music, you have to ask someone over 80...
If you want a straight answer on anything, especially pop music, you have to ask someone over 80.
My grandmother lives in a beautiful flat in a particularly leafy enclave of South West London, surrounded by antique clutter. She's utterly fantastic. She’s a retired actress who never really got offstage. Everything she does is accompanied by some sort of flourish, informed by some secret 1960s thespian code about which I know nothing about. She sings in a choir, and travels abroad a couple of times a year to perform with them.
Her knowledge of contemporary music is, I think, marginally better than most people of her age, so I sat her down and got her opinion on a few tracks the kids are into these days. Here are her thoughts on modern music:
BORN TO DIE
Lana Del Rey
"She has a very good voice, but what a dreary song. It’s a song of despair. I know it’s more fashionable to go, 'Eugh,' instead of, 'Gee, I love you,' but I don't care. I wouldn’t buy that."
I'M HIS GIRL
"This is a bit more upbeat. Is that a drum machine? It sounds very much like it. The problem is that the production isn't designed to help you hear what’s going on. It’s better than the last one, but it’s just such a boring song. It’s in a minor key. That’s not a good song. They’re quite talented, but they’re not showing that they’re proper players. The producer has just muddled it. It’s unacceptable."
"John Cage wrote a piece which was just silence. This is in the same vein, but it's just a girl doodling on a synthesizer. Anyody can do this. Maybe use it as the background for a video of fish swimming in a pond or something."
"Is he saying 'Enough?' At the beginning I thought, 'ah, this is promising.' But then the repetition of the beat, and the distortion… I find the distortion infuriating. Why would you get yourself into a headache-making, insistent beat, with distortion? I’m sure that can’t be good for you."
HOT RIGHT NOW
DJ Fresh, ft. Rita Ora
"Well, this one makes me smile. The dancers in the video are very good, and she’s a cheerful girl. But why that repetitive rubbish for lyrics? What a silly song. And does anybody write anything in a major key anymore?"
BREAK'N A SWEAT
Skrillex, ft. the Doors
"It’s so nice to see people actually playing their instruments. You say this is madly popular? I think this is trying to be all things to all men, that’s why. This is saying, 'Look, we can actually play our instruments, and we’re of a slightly older generation, and we are trying to make a good beaty thing that the discos will play.' I wish him luck."
WHAT YOU WANTED
"The lead singer has a very good voice. He should do better than that. The video is actually faintly disgusting, with that dreadful woman. It's distasteful. But it had energy, and he shows promise."
I then told my grandma that Fred Spector was going out with Peaches Geldof for a while.
"Well as I say, he could do better."