Tag Archives: nelly

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!

Janet Jackson’s Homes & Gardens

Janet Jackson’s video for Control opens with a scene in which she argues with her parents about leaving home. She’s seen a real cute apartment in Westwood, she says, but her dad’s having none of it and insists she shouldn’t be living by herself. Spurning her mum’s hot cooking, Janet flounces out. In many of her subsequent videos, we get to see where she’s living. But was she right to ignore her parents’ advice? How’s her housekeeping? Let’s find out…

Let’s Wait Awhile: Never mind Westwood CA, the next time we see Janet she’s in an expensive-looking apartment in New York. We get to see a bit of it when she’s not too busy protesting her virginity, and it looks nice and clean. But can she keep up the standard?

The Pleasure Principle: Janet’s moved into an enormous, ridiculous duplex warehouse conversion. There are four cars in her lounge! When she kicks over a chair and strides upstairs to the mezzanine floor we see, instead of a bed, a large sculpted arch, perhaps representing her own ‘pleasure principle’. And famously, her mirror is in shreds. Her mother would be disappointed.

2300 Jackson Street: Has Janet admitted defeat? Here she is back at home with her family. Although confusingly they’re her real parents and siblings, not the ones from the Control video. I’m going to have to discount this as improbable on the grounds of not being fictional enough.

Miss You Much: No fixed abode (she’s in rehearsals).

(I like the Wikipedia description for this one: “Jackson enters the room and her dancers look at her. One dancer asks Jackson what she has been up to. She calls them nosey, and then demonstrates her love through song and dance.”)

Rhythm Nation: No fixed abode (breaking into factories).

Escapade: No fixed abode (hanging around at a Mardi Gras).

Alright: In a shock twist at the end of this video, we see that Janet has become homeless and is sleeping on a bench, dreaming of the 1930s. Were her parents right after all? :-(

Come Back To Me: Seeking her fortune elsewhere, Janet’s now skulking around an apartment in Paris of all places. Open the drapes and the windows a bit love, it’s a nice day! I mean I know she’s depressed, wallowing in memories of her boyfriend and all, but even in the flashbacks they’re eating off the floor! One word: FURNITURE.

Black Cat: No fixed abode (she’s in performance).

Love Will Never Do Without You: No fixed abode (frolicking on a beach).

That’s The Way Love Goes: Back in a spacious American home, either Janet’s living in a commune or she’s throwing some sort of stoner party. I’d clear those people out, Janet, they’re helping themselves to your stuff and wearing your sofa leather out. And keep an eye on that J-Lo.

If: No fixed abode (pervy nightclub).

Again: Appropriately for perhaps Janet’s loveliest song, it’s her nicest home yet. All sundrenched with adobe walls, wicker furniture, white linen and an adorable boyfriend. The only moment that briefly startles us from the reverie is when he pulls a necklace out of her crotch.

Because of Love: No fixed abode (tour montage).

Any Time, Any Place: Janet’s back in an apartment block, playing at peephole voyeurism with the fella in the opposite flat, letting herself in and having it off in a red chair. If that weren’t debauched enough, she’s back to her old bad habits of eating off the floor.

You Want This: Perhaps thrown out of the last apartment for obvious reasons, Janet’s now living out of a suitcase in a motel, with a girl gang. They pass the time by driving around the desert in sports cars terrorising men. She has quite literally lost all sense of right or wrong.

Whoops Now: No fixed abode (boating in Anguilla).

Scream: Janet’s parents have clearly stepped in by this point. “It’s just gone too far, hasn’t it Janet? Time you moved in with your brother.” But what with Michael Jackson being a bonkers popstar too, they end up living on a spaceship. Despite its futuristic charms — anti-grav Zen garden, interactive sculptures, room full of guitars and all — neither of them seem happy and it’s no time at all before Janet’s trying to break the toilet by jumping on it and Michael’s smashing all the vases.

Runaway: Back in New York in a modest, happy apartment (there’s a bike by the window and a cute dog), Janet’s still in thrall to her wild urges and jumps out of the window, having developed some sort of superpower of leaping between continents. Is it time we accepted she’s not a natural homemaker?

Twenty Foreplay: No fixed abode (swanning about in Hollywood).

Got ’til it’s Gone:  No fixed abode (putting things to rights in South Africa).

Together Again (Deeper Remix): Janet’s in a particularly lavish and beautiful apartment complex now. Well, lavish and beautiful as long as you don’t mind caterpillars crawling around everywhere.

I Get Lonely: No fixed abode. Wind tunnel & black bra.

Go Deep: What is Janet thinking?! She barges into a h0me-alone teenage boy’s house and holds a party! Disappointingly it turns out that she’s only done this in his dream, after he fell asleep fantasising about her. In this context the scene in which she and the lad both get covered in foam is most amusing. She’s like Freddy Krueger in A Nightmare on Elm Street 2.

Every Time: Hard to see the rest of the house, but she’s got a massive bath. Hopefully she won’t drown in it as Britney did in her own bath-based video for a song of the same name.

Doesn’t Really Matter: No fixed abode (getting freaky in Tokyo, although she sends a postcard home which we see going unread and trampled on).

All For You: No fixed abode (cartoon world with what appears to be a branch of Morrison’s in it).

Someone To Call My Lover: No fixed abode (on the road).

Son of a Gun: No fixed abode (on a voodoo rampage with Missy Elliott).

I Want You: No fixed abode (wandering through neighborhood).

All Nite (Don’t Stop): Further than ever from her mother’s dreams, Janet is seen living in a dirty squat with her new friends. They’ve got a good soundsystem, a lone sofa and a glitterball, but that’s about it.

Call on Me: No fixed abode (quinquereme with Nelly)

So Excited: Still living in a dirty squat, still kicking chairs over, and now Khia’s moved in too — her influence on Janet is all too clear, as she wanders around topless and has sex by a filthy urinal.

And that’s it. No subsequent Janet videos show us where she’s living. It’s 25 years since she turned her back on her parents, and this is where she ends up. Let’s remind ourselves of that fateful initial conversation, and let’s have a little think about our own life choices at the same time.