I Coulda Been Somebody

Those songs that get stuck in your head, them's cheeky little scamps. Usually it's something you don't want in there, and so it's proved this week. Reverend & The Makers have been getting somewhat overplayed on my radio station of choice recently, and of course it's become ingrained in this cranium of mine. It's a catchy tune you see, reminiscent (to me at least) of some sort of horrific corporate merger of Arctic Monkeys Co. and LCD Soundsystem Ltd. Very now, or so I'm told.

In this respect, Heavyweight Champion Of The World hits it's mark admirably. It has that roguishly charming quality in its vocals, which come across like a slightly less spotty Alex Turner, and there's that insistent groovy beat that reminds of LCD's Our House. In fact, it's a little too right in some respects, almost like it was tailor-made for that sort of halfway house audience. For evidence, Exhibit A is the almost-certainly-written-by-band-or-PR of their wiki, detailing the band's Monkeys connections, their celebrity-spangled Sheffield (of course) club night, and the blindingly obvious John Cooper Clarke connection. The more one delves, the more artificial it all sounds, John McClure (Reverend himself) seeming to be a scenester-hit-the-gold-mine type. Maybe I'm wrong, I really don't know. The terse section describing the dismissal of a former guitarist and the improvements in sound of his replacement is a little too editorial, even for Wikipedia.

Then there's that refrain, "be like everybody else." A cutting take on the make-do mentality of this generation, no doubt. It's a cautionary tale of not letting yourself get "caught in the rat race," the lyrics
describe the descent of individuals into suburban oblivion, the act of letting society get the better of you, of giving up your dreams. A brutal indictment, to be sure.

But let's look a little closer. Hardly subtle in its implementation, "I could have been a contender" is more Rocky than On The Waterfront. There's nothing at all new here, which makes me wonder what the point behind the exercise is if it's not a PR trip. Does Reverend offer any solutions as opposed to just ticking off those that have let themselves fall prey to this? Does he offer up any reasons why it's no good beyond the far from pithy sarcasm of the main refrain? Does he explain his point of view? No. He doesn't. If I wanted a warning not to let my dreams die, I'd probably go watch Joseph & His Technicolour Dreamcoat or something. Don't Let The Man Grind You Down has been said over, and over, and over again. It's the subject of Hollywood movies, and of pop-punk bands dressed up neat for the little girls. It's integrity for the pre-pubescent dressed up in a zeitgeist-y kind of sound.

On my mind this week has been Dostoevsky's "impudence of stupidity," from The Idiot.

"There is indeed, nothing more annoying than to be, for instance, wealthy, of good family, nice looking, fairly intelligent and even good natured, and yet to have no special faculty, no peculiarity even, not one idea of ones own, to be precisely 'like other people'... to have decent education but to have no idea what to make of it, to have intelligence, but no idea of ones own.

There is an extraordinary multitude of such people in the world, far more than appears. They may, like all other people, be divided into two classes: some of limited intelligence; others much cleverer. The first are happier, nothing is easier for 'ordinary' people of limited intelligence to imagine themselves exeptional and original and to revel in that delusion without the slightest misgiving.

Some men have only to feel the faintest stirring of some kindly and humanitarian emotion to persuade themselves that no one feels as they do. Some have only to meet with some idea by heresay or read some stray page to believe at once that is their own opinion and has sprung spontaneously from their own brain."

I work in an office. I take the tube each day to work and I sit at a desk, then I come home and make dinner. And you know what? I'm really happy with it.

Reverend & The Makers - Heavyweight Champion Of The World (single, 2007)

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