Thanks to my friends Dan Wright and Simon Price for inspiring this, I’ve been talking about Suede and Robbie Williams and One Direction, so thought I should elaborate on it. The point is that my favourite bands have always come from either the metal world or the alternative world (I’m allergic to the word ‘Indie’, to me it just means any old losers with guitars and a fiver in their pocket making an unmistakable racket – of course many of my bands are firmly seen as part of that arena, just the TERM I hate) but there has always been a pop edge there too.
When I went to the NEC back in the day, I saw Aerosmith and Thunder and then a few weeks later saw NKOTB. So began the endless “How can you like A and also like B?” questions which are still all there in 2013. Now of course, it is because I am listening to Hovercraft Pirates or Rival Sons or Joe Bonamassa next to One Direction and Jonas Brothers. Why? Because they make great pop music. Simple.
The return of Suede has been a very strange one, they are one of the most important bands of my life, I can remember going to my friend Ant’s house the day Animal Nitrate came out and playing the CD while he displayed his vinyl version. I remember the fan club gigs, hanging with Jack, Divine Comedy and offering Neil Codling help as a minder. I remember the Hanover Grand gig when we were first introduced to what would become Coming Up. I kept a piece of Brett’s top from the Exeter gig in my wallet for years, cutting a piece off for a girl I loved. Suede were amazing. And now, Suede are amazing again. I avoided Bloodsports (okay its only been two days, but that is a LONG time when it I a band that important!) as I was worried that it would just be a Xerox version of what we used to love, utterly pointless in the new millennia. Turns out it isn’t, it’s brash and stroppy and epic and sounds like a band reborn, still necessary, still electric.
Which makes it even stranger that Brett has fallen into a classic guitar band trap of slagging off pop, in terms of interviewing, this is as close to shooting fish in a barrel as it gets, without literally getting a barrel. I mean, you just say “Hey! That One Direction, eh? What a load of shit?” and people will nod insanely and agree, even if they have never heard any of the songs they are slagging off, because they are ‘manufactured pop’ and therefore have to be awful, right?
Whining about pop bands is a little silly, and bringing history into it, it all falls apart. Brett commented “There has always been crap pop music. I remember when we had all the crap boy bands in the 90s – stuff like that has always been around.” – Hmm, the nineties, Take That, New Kids On The Block, Spice Girls, sounds pretty good so far. Yes, yes, there were a million second division fucktards releasing rubbish but so were guitar bands, I’d rather listen to A1 than The Gyres.
If Brett is feeling savage, then perhaps he should be punching at those in the same sonic arena. I mean, what does he think about Alt-J? Foals? Peace? These are the targets he should be aiming for as they are the bands that Suede will be fighting against in the musical wars of 2013 and it’s a fight that should go easily to Anderson and the boys, as 99% of modern guitar bands look like they just got out of bed and their songs are just exciting enough to perhaps make you raise an eyebrow, rather than wear glittery trousers and whack your ass like a Bowie. Suede win. Easy.
It’s strange how some pop grows up instead of disappearing. Justin Timberlake is probably the best example of this, JT is one of the biggest artists in the world, yet those buying his new record would not have been seen dead with NSYNC’s ‘Celebrity’ when it came out, despite the fact that it was pretty much the perfect pop record. You see, you ARE allowed to like pop sometimes, it just has to be labelled differently. The new Timberlake is not as good as ‘No Strings Attached‘, sorry, JT. 8 minute songs? Hmm.
The latest One Direction album is great, it has a couple of shaky moments when for some ungodly reason, they let Ed Sheeran write a couple of his hideously bullshit lyrics but the rest is great. There’s a great song written with McFly and plenty of massive choruses, that’s what it is there for, Brett, massive choruses. Whilst Suede may have led you to go back and check out Bowie or key authors or art, that’s not what One Direction are for. They are instant gratification in sonic form. Will it still sound good in a year? Dunno, don’t really care. Right now, it sounds brilliant. And that, my friends, is enough.
Robbie Williams has been standing up for pop in the face of Brett’s comments, again fish in a barrel time, but let’s remember that he also co-wrote ‘Back For Good’ which is as good as anything in the Suede catalogue. And goodness knows, I don’t say that easily. He suggests that more hearts will be beating faster thinking of a new 1D release than a new Suede record. I don’t see this as a diss on Suede, it’s simply a fact. Fighting arena pop is akin to fighting windmills, shake your weapons all you like, you really are making no difference. For the record, up until the last two albums which have been a case of all filler, no killer, the Williams solo collection has a million great songs, both the epics written with Guy Chambers and the left of centre stuff with icon Stephen ‘Don’t Call Me TinTin’ Duffy have produced some great work down the years and that is before we even talk about tales of monkeys getting high and watching Sheena Easton in Vegas.
Brett, you have a fantastic record out, let the music do the talking and you are sorted. Some of us are still sat wide eyed in front of the Brit Award, VHS whirring as Suede changed the face of the awards show and the lives of those of us who were already following with a trilogy of perfect singles. Remember THAT you, don’t become a tedious spectacle of clichéd opinion, we already have Noel Gallagher for that. Here’s to 2013, enjoy the view. Or if you don’t, just look elsewhere. Bowie and Suede are back in business, pop is alive and well. Everyone wins because at the end of the day, there’s room for both.