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Secret protest: How the OTHER nine songs in the Top Ten are subversive critiques of Margaret Thatcher

Britain is in turmoil! Following Thatcher’s death, a campaign to get Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead from The Wizard of Oz into the charts has been successful, but the BBC say they won’t play it in full on the Chart Show. So on the one hand you might reasonably have concerns about censorship, free speech and your right of dissent, but on the other you’ve got, well, Munchkin fury.

Avon calling

Now, Radio 1 censors songs all the time, generally for swearing or explicit sexual references. The radio edit of Azealia Banks’ 212 sounded like she’d borrowed Norman Collier’s microphone. But to ban a song that you might otherwise hear any Sunday afternoon on Radio 2, because of the motives of the people buying it, is some complicated new level of doublethink.

So if YOU were looking forward to listening to the Top Ten today and enjoying a silent gloat while Dorothy and the Munchkins established that the person in question was not only merely, but really most sincerely dead, what are your options now the BBC have spoiled your fun? What subversive messages are hidden in the rest of the songs in the Top Ten?

“I don’t know about you but I’m feeling 22!” sings Taylor Swift in 22. In a song recorded in 2012 that can only mean one thing – Taylor is positioning herself as the embodiment of the post-Thatcher political scene following the Iron Lady’s resignation in 1990. “We’re happy, free, confused and lonely at the same time… it’s miserable and magical!” Well it’s certainly been a mixed bag.

Thatch

In When I Was Your Man, Bruno Mars blames himself for Thatcher’s fall from grace. “My pride, my ego, my needs and my selfish ways caused a good strong woman like you to walk out my life.” But there’s a double-edged criticism implicit in his dirge. It was Thatcher’s own ideology that encouraged Bruno to selfishly individuate! And now they’re both paying the price.

The Saturdays critique the right-to-buy legislation introduced in Thatcher’s first term in What About Us? – “I’ve been watching and waiting, why don’t you give it or take it?” And Pitbull continues the socio-economic analysis in Feel This Moment – “Ask for money and get advice. Ask for advice, get money twice.” He goes on to tell us how he’s made billions in the free market before delivering the killer blow: “I’m far from cheap, I break down companies with all my peeps” – a clear dig at the Big Idea of denationalisation.

Justin Timberlake addresses the notion of individualism as he sings to his own reflection in Mirrors. “My mirror staring back at me, I couldn’t get any bigger with anyone else beside of me,” he croons in a savage satire of Thatcher’s belief that there’s no such thing as society. And what could be a more pointed attack on capitalist federalism than Nelly‘s Hey Porsche? “I don’t need nobody’s permission” he laughs, in a song that deliberately confuses material pleasure with personal objectification to devastating effect.

trouble at t'pit

Pompeii sees Bastille take the Roman city as a metaphor for the ruined industrial communities of the North. The dark clouds that roll in over the hills in the song are the coal dust of the abandoned pits. “Many days fell away with nothing to show… We were caught up and lost in all of our vices.” We’re warned of the cyclical nature of history too, that Thatcherism hasn’t died with the lady herself – “If you close your eyes, does it almost feel like you’ve been here before? How am I gonna be an optimist about this?” Sad. Pink takes a similar view of a nation’s devastated manufacturing base in Just Give Me A Reason but with a more hopeful tone – “Tear ducts and rust, I’ll fix it for us. We’re collecting dust but our love’s enough.”

And so to the song at Number One (according to the midweeks published on 10th April of course, as are all the songs I’ve mentioned – your actual chart experience may vary). Duke Dumont‘s Need U (100%) featuring A*M*E might seem like just another feelgood dance track. But it’s all there in the video. A man visits hospital with a tape recorder – of exactly the sort you could have bought in 1979 when Thatcher came to power – lodged in his stomach. We see him leave without receiving any treatment and learn that the video takes place in America. The implications are obvious – in a country with no NHS, medical help is the privilege of the few. Our hero tries to go about his life regardless, but constant misery ensues as his condition causes everyone around him to suffer potentially fatal choreomania. Eventually, exhausted, we see him undergoing an operation – but at what cost?! If Thatcher’s policies have led inexorably to the current dismantling of a free health service then are we all doomed to dance until we die? Enjoy tonight’s Chart Show!

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Martine McCutcheon’s Perfect Cheese Moment

Martine McCutcheon Cheese Moments

The other week in ITV’s Midsomer Murders, poor Martine McCutcheon was killed to death by massive cheeses. How cruelly ironic that Martine, who’s spent so many years tirelessly promoting Activia yoghurt on British screens, should meet such a vicious dairy-related death. Here’s that perfect moment in full, soundtracked at last by her biggest hit.

The 2012 Mercury Prize nominees explained through the medium of Fruit & Veg

1. Pickled peaches You WANT to like them. They look really interesting. But they’ve coolly distanced themselves from you with a big thick glass jar. Then you finally try them, and the individual elements are things you like – some old-fashioned, some a bit out of leftfield – but it’s a bit much all together.

2. Frozen parsnips One person’s ‘earthy’ is very much another person’s ‘indigestible’.

3. Tinned mango A bit of exoticism BUT NOT TOO MUCH THANKS, let’s keep it safely packaged in a reassuring tin.

4.  A formal knot garden of germander, marjoram, thyme, southernwood, lemon balm, hyssop, costmary, acanthus, mallow, chamomile, rosemary, Calendulas, Violas and Santolina Easy to admire but hard to love.

5. Asparagus The conoisseur’s choice. A delicate and lasting flavour to be savoured. NO I’M NOT SAYING JESSIE WARE MAKES YOUR PISS STINK I’M SAYING I LIKE HER.

6. Courgette Oh it’s all very nice but would you miss it if it had been left out? Would you?

7. Potato Well you know where you are with it don’t you.

8. Dried apple I like dried apple. It’s very nutritious isn’t it. But sometimes, perversely, knowing something is good for you makes it a hell of a lot less interesting.

9. Pepperoncini (or ‘kebab shop chilli’ to give it its proper name) Salty! A bit hot! A bit caustic! Essential.

10. Snow pea In the words of Harry Hill – ‘Mangetouts, they’re lovely aren’t they. But I couldn’t eat a whole one.’

11. Anyone know what this is? Cheers.

12. No me neither.

5 things I learned from Dinosaurs on a Spaceship

1. Stripes on a companion

No couple should ever wear the same pattern. Even if one’s covered it up slightly and they’re not planning to leave the house. Further stripes for Rory came in the form of a Doctor lip-lock. I’d completely forgotten about the old RTD house rule that all companions had to get a snog at some point. Although I think they might have left Adam Mitchell out. Oops!

2. Entire childhood on a SINGLE Saturday night

The dinosaurs looked great. Doctor Who’s got a long history of trying to put them on screen and results have been… variable. It depends how bothered about the quality of special effects you are of course; personally I’m very fond of the Plasticine 1974 ones.

When I think of everything I was obsessed with as a kid I think of robots, dinosaurs, Ancient Egypt, spaceships, spiders… and here they all were in one place! How fitting that Rupert Graves was in it then – the sight of him in a certain scene in 1987’s Maurice was pretty much the point at which my childhood ended.

3. Plot functions on a spreadsheet

But much as the shopping list approach to populating a story set the tone for a decent romp – and I’d happily see Nefertiti back in the show every week – it wore painfully thin towards the end. You see right through the casual ‘Thought we might need a gang!’ shtick when it turns out each new member of the group has a characteristic specifically required as a plot function. It just so happened that to finish the story there needed to be a big game hunter, someone who was related to someone else and a powerful, iconic historical figure. I don’t like it when they show their working.

4. EGGS ON A NEST

EGGS! Did they think we wouldn’t notice? There they were, right out where everyone could see. Nice big ones. Eggs! Say what you like about the ongoing theme of the Doctor’s anonymity or the developing dynamic of his relationship with his companions, clearly eggs are this year’s Bad Wolf/Torchwood/Mr Saxon repeated meme thing. Watch out for the eggs!

5. Passive-aggressive arsehole on the wrong show

Dinosaurs On A Spaceship starts so promisingly – lots of sparkling dialogue and fast-moving fun.  But it all grinds to a crunching halt halfway through as the Doctor enters Solomon’s Chamber of Exposition. I’m reminded of 1983’s Mawdryn Undead, another story in which the Doctor gets stuck on a pre-programmed spaceship with an injured, passive-aggressive bore. And then Solomon goes and makes that comment to Nefertiti about ‘breaking her in’. It’s not every week the Doctor has to stand by and listen to someone announce they’re going to rape one of his friends. I’m not sure it should happen at all. It was a horribly misjudged line, only equalled in tonal dissonance by the Doctor sending Solomon off to be killed at the end while making jokes about it. I’m not sure Chris Chibnall gets the spirit of Doctor Who at all.

I’d like to end this post on a positive note by expressing my love for the Indian Space Agency and the fixtures, fittings, people and uniforms therein