19.6.16

Bands people love to hate



A recent Gawker post on Smash Mouth got me to thinking about those bands people love to hate.

I loved the first "Shrek" movie in all its rabelaisian grandeur. Like the equally wonderful "How To Train A Dragon" and the first "Ice Age" film - it's an animated masterpiece. In fact I like those three films more than anything Pixar ever did. The Pixar films are always preachy and bourgeois. As opposed to adult films made for children, they're children's films made for adults - the decidedly creepy "Inside Out" being the culmination of this; the cinemas were full of weeping self-indulgent adults and bored, perplexed children. The best children's books, "Treasure Island" or "Tom Sawyer" are just good books that are known as children's literature chiefly because they happen to describe the child's world with the insight and respect it deserves.

I never knew the band Smash Mouth before their song "All Star" which was in the "Shrek" movie - but I understand that they had a number hit, and something of a career before. Indeed their twitter feed is keen to point out that "All Star" was on the way to number one even before the movie. Smash Mouth are not exactly my kind of thing, but that's a hell of a catchy rock-pop tune and it fits the film like a glove. I say go fucking Smash Mouth. You guys are great - seriously, without irony, good on these boys.

So what the fuck is wrong with people that they want to slag them off? Does something like Smash Mouth impinge on them? Are Smash Mouth pretending to be something they aren't? Are Smash Mouth dishonest artists? [actually, no, they are not]. To me people who want some game out of something like Smash Mouth are the worst kind of empty, trendy, bourgeois losers. To these people art and its reception is nothing but a debased transaction made as kind of social-climbing. These people have no soul basically. They have no aesthetic criteria at all. They don't even know what they like, they only care what other people think. That makes them worthless individuals.

The very first comment in the Gawker thread [and for its failings around Hulk Hogan - was it at all necessary to post that guy's sex tape? - I like Gawker, they're funny and irreverent] is by someone called Dumpterbaby. Dumpsterbaby says: "Why you gotta be hating on Smashmouth so much? Like it has become the badge of cool hipsterdom to hate Smashmouth. They were fun at least. Hate someone who deserves it, like those douchefucks Coldplay."

Which brings me to the second part of this post. What is supposed to be so awful about Coldplay? Hating on Coldplay has become one of the great cultural clich├ęs. It's a position generally held by people without a massive "investment" in music - although I did notice friend and colleague Mr Agreeable getting some mileage out of it and he could never be accused of that. It's a very middlebrow, Guardian-reading opinion. But really there's nothing whatsoever wrong with them! Are people's fragile sense of their own coolness (an entirely irrelevant thing to cherish in the first instance) so threatened by them? Coldplay aren't especially derivative; they make the occasional lovely track like "Clocks" or "Magic"; Brian Eno is their producer for goodness sakes; Chris Martin is a million miles from your typically boorish misogynist rock star, his ex-wife Gwyneth - come on - she's absolutely gorgeous; Kraftwerk actually let them sample "Computer World" on the very nice "Talk". In fact you could make a pretty watertight argument for them as a really positive gateway to other great music - like old David Bowie used to be; but actually I'm entirely happy to accept them on their own merits.

Is it even OK to detest a musician or band with this kind of venom? Well ultimately the answer to that is no... of course. In its essence it's not an acceptable position to take. One should seek the positive and ignore the negative. However, obviously one finds oneself in positions where it is simply impossible or too delicious not to turn on something publicly. Speaking personally I detested MIA from the word go for very strong aesthetic reasons. She was a fake who traded on a whole raft of strictly authentic culture - and foolish middlebrow people fell for her shtick hook, line and sinker. Eventually the entire world came round to my way of thinking. Back in the days of the inkies people used to hate Eric Clapton and Phil Collins for their right-wing, borderline fascist views on immigration - but eventually people forgot why they were detested in the first case and just hated them for no reasons at all. I'm very happy to welcome as many immigrants to live in this country who want to come but I don't mind Eric at all. Phil is OK for me too.

Thinking now about who really deserves to be a hated musician and I'm almost shocked to reflect that the one living musician who probably deserves to be treated with total contempt is Kanye West. His "Famous" track with its "I made that bitch famous" line directed at Taylor West was a total disgrace - especially given the fact that he stormed the stage and wrecked West's video award in 2009. That event prompted none other than Barack Obama to reflect that he was a total bell-end. The same POTUS who West, like the fool he is, pretended he frequently spoke on the telephone to. There was the frankly ridiculous appearance on Ellen where he came out with some of the most arrogant and self-important remarks ever witnessed on television. Then I read recently that, like a turd, he failed to pay Glasgow-based producer Hudson Mohawke for beats he had made for him. On top of all this, since the wonderful "College Dropout" in 2004, and 2008's good (but deeply twattish) "808s and Heartbreak" Kanye has made precious little in the way of good music. One good track on "Yeezus". And still fawning Pitchfork praise him to the skies, garlanding 2010's decidedly average "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" with entirely inappropriate accolades. Not an uninteresting individual but certainly one more deserving of the kind of hatred that is thoughtlessly directed at the likes of Smash Mouth and Coldplay.