Friday, 4 June 2010

Week 37

Those of you who read the blog often will know that there’s a trainer shop downstairs from us that plays hip-hop, reggae and R&B, loudly, from 11am until 9pm. Here’s one they’ve been playing recently. I can write the lyrics out in full, because the same words are repeated all the way through:

Something about you girl that turn me on
Oh, something about you girl that turn me on
Yeah yeah yeah yeah, turn me on
You turn me o-o-o-o-n, o-o-o-o-n

I'd say they play this five or six times a day on average. The whole song is sung through an auto-tune (the computerised voice effect that you hear on most modern R&B). Now, I won’t deny that these lyrics have a certain subtle poetry, but what this bloke is essentially singing is:

I’ve got an erection
I find you attractive, so I’ve got an erection
Yeah yeah yeah, I don’t fully understand the process involved
But I’ve definitely got an erection

Initially, I chalked this up as another victory for the geniuses who make modern R&B. Any day now, I thought, they are going to discover their own bottoms, and then they’ll have another bodily function to sing about. But then I realised that this song is actually very clever. More than any other, it distills the central message of all popular music, which is: let’s have sex.

Take any pop song from the last fifty years, and think about what it means. Are You Lonesome Tonight – if so, I have some suggestions; I Wanna Hold Your Hand – as a prelude to taking off your clothes; Ain’t No Sunshine – when she’s gone, which makes me sad on account of there not being any sex involved; Don’t Stand So Close To Me – or I’ll try to have sex with you; Do They Know It’s Christmas – probably not as they’re mostly Muslims but hey, I gave to charity… reward me with sex?

The list is endless. In the light of what I have learned from Tommy Guns Sneakers, even Bob the Builder’s Can We Fix It?  becomes a saucy ballad intended to lull Wendy the Builder into a receptive state. By isolating the central theme of all pop music so effectively, Somethin About You Girl That Turn Me On holds up a devastating critical mirror to everything on the radio. What is the point of all this bland, genital-gazing dross, it asks? What kind of species would turn its back on complex aesthetic systems like European and Indian classical music, both of which took centuries to produce, to listen to the dull uh-uh-uh of a copulating moron?

On the other hand, maybe it's always been this way. Was Mozart's Oboe Concerto in C Major composed purely to lull a buxom fräulein into loosening her bodice? I must go down to Tommy Guns Sneakers at once, and discuss it with them. 

 At the end of the 18th century, French scientists calculated the distance from the castle on top of Montjuic to Dunkirk, as part of an effort to establish the distance between the North pole and the equator (the metre would then be calculated as one ten-millionth of this distance). This line, known as the Paris Meridian, was a contender for the status of Prime Meridian – a title which eventually went to the Greenwich Meridian, presumably once it was realised that if the French had their way, the basis for all time standards around the world would be not Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) but Paris Mean Time (PMT).

 (is currently involved in some sort of ludicrous dance craze, and could not be reached for comment)

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