[sic] Magazine

Pop Goes 2016

hazarai-copy

How the hell do people write about pop music?

Actually, scratch that. How the hell do people write about music?

I mean, what is there to say that can’t be said infinitely better by the sounds themselves?

Okay, I can see the rationale behind a technical analysis of a piece of music, in terms of explaining the compositional choices opted for by the artist in order to help further enlighten any budding composers out there, but to the “average” music aficionado, this information will be entirely recondite, thus rendering the words irrelevant to a vast swathe of the writer’s potential readership, resulting in a rather extraneous effort undertook by the author.

Consequently, the writer must then make a decision as to whether to craft a piece of literature which will be virtually meaningless to the majority of people who will cast their gaze upon it, or whether to approach the subject from one of two alternative angles: either speaking about facts related to the music but not the actual sounds which constitute the phenomenon itself, or offering an opinion on how the music affects one’s perception and emotional situation.

Now, the “sensible” writer will tend towards the apparent objectivity of the former option, satisfying themselves in the knowledge that they can likely both say something with (near) universal meaning, and also something which can aid the reader in their presumed quest for more music (as is surely the want of all music fans). Therefore, if a text on the topic of a piece of music mentions information concerning the artist(s) who created the work, the record label which issued the object (either “physically” or virtually) containing the sounds for wider listening, the ancillary personnel whose input was essential to the ultimate realisation of the artwork, and so on, then the reader is at least presented with data which can potentially open up new avenues of sonic exploration for them, thus validating the writing as being, at the very least, a tool for enabling future pleasure.

However, this position necessarily assumes that the reader will find no “worth” in the text in and of itself, only in relation to how it can provide education regarding either the piece of music in question, or just music in general, meaning the possibility of the writing creating immediate pleasure on its own is heedlessly discounted from the equation; which would surely be a very short-sighted thing for any creator to do.

Nevertheless, if the writer chooses to serve up their opinion of the music to their audience, then these subjective elements of the text instantly become divorced from the music itself, instead existing as refractions of a tangential phenomenon; or thoughts without “substance”. Which is to say, the opinion ultimately says nothing about the music, and everything about the listener.

Of course, that is all well and good, and I have no problem with those music writers who choose to follow that course of articulation in their work (probably because I have done such a thing many a time in the past, and even now often lapse into such modes of expression), but I find myself thinking one thing about this critical method of communicating an idea, and that is that what is being put forth are words for the sake of words.

By this, I mean that, by expressing an opinion, the writer is saying something just to say something; there being nothing more to the action than that.

Now, obviously, there is nothing wrong with “pointless” words, as what is the Internet if not a gigantic deposit of such things, but, out of the myriad experiences open to examination, why write about one’s interpretation of certain sounds if that is one’s wont; why not write about that which is inherently personal and therefore needing to be transformed into words in order to be conveyed, rather than music, which already exists as beauty free from the limits of language; a “pure” vessel of emotion.

And now, having said all that, I am going to contravene every word of it and write some shit (loosely) about music; for I am a hypocrite, and this is a time to debase myself (in a very minimal way, mind).

However, as this piece is going to be about pop music, the most popular of all musics (at least nominally so), then chances are there isn’t much left for me to say about these songs that hasn’t been said before at some point or another.

I mean, I could take the “objective” route and provide some auxiliary information about all these pieces of art, in the hope that this will help you uncover some slightly less popular pop songs, but if you’ve listened to even a few hours of commercial radio this year, or flicked through any of the music video channels in the same timespan, then chances are you’ll have heard both some of these songs, and also others which are stylistically related to them, and so my suggestions will be superfluous; the cultural behemoths of mainstream media already doing that task for me (and much better, I should add).

So that leaves me with the subjective method in crafting this literary work, meaning this piece hitherto becomes all about me (as if, like all expressions of thought, it wasn’t already).

Thus, what I’m going to do is present some of my favourite tracks of 2016 (well, mostly of 2016), and put some words of mine underneath them, so you can listen to one, and read the other. (I think that’s how these year-end items are meant to work: the writer feels it’s not enough to just list a load of music, so they intersperse some words in there to make it seem worthwhile creating a piece of writing, as opposed to just a YouTube or Spotify playlist, or whatever. Well, that’s what it was like for me anyway; a search for a reason to spew claptrap. So, now the question is, after I’ve just said how my words are effectively a load of disparate bollocks, at times so obliquely related to the music that inspired them as to boggle the mind as to exactly how I got onto the topic of discussion in the first place, do you still proceed to read them, or do you show some sense and just listen to the music? Well, do ya, punk?)

Also, just to let you know, there’s nothing even remotely obscure about most of my picks here, with the majority of these videos having millions of views on YouTube and the like; but that isn’t the point of this writing at all. If you want to discover new artists, then check out my piece on DJs in 2016, as that is undoubtedly chock full of musicians you’ll have never heard of, and so there should be plenty for you to get your teeth into there.

No, this piece is more about those songs that, when they come on the radio whilst you’re in the shower, will get you singing at the top of your lungs; or if you listen to them whilst you’re in the kitchen cooking, will make you do a little shimmy around the room; or if they are used as the soundtrack to a Match of the Day Goal of the Month montage, will get you going on Google as soon as possible to type in “MOTD Goal of the Month December 2016 music”; or if you hear them just before you’re about to leave somewhere, will make you hang around for a couple more minutes until the track finishes; basically, those pieces of music which put you in a good mood, which is surely the best thing that pop music, nay music, nay art, nay anything, can do, right?

DJ Fresh & High Contrast ft. Dizzee Rascal – How Love Begins

If you are a woman and have an athletic physique, then why would you choose to wear anything other than a high-cut leotard to exercise in?

I mean, Deanne Berry already demonstrated over a decade ago in the video for Eric Prydz’s “Call on Me” that a high-cut leotard is the optimal garment in which to perform aerobic activity in a boner-inducing capacity (not to mention the ample evidence from the height of the lycra clothing bubble, the 1980s, of the possibilities that the outfit had to offer), so why would one not take advantage of the added aesthetics of the apparel, and be more aphrodisian in one’s terpsichorean endeavours?

Of course, being a man with a cock and balls, I have never felt the need to try one on to see how they feel during vigorous movement, as I am more than satisfied with boxer briefs in that regard, but unless they seriously chafe the vulva or perineum, then I can see no reason why these aren’t the go-to choice of clothing for the female fitness fanatic; they definitely being more telegenic than the alternatives, as displayed in the video above.

Kygo ft. Maty Noyes – Stay

I don’t know how to pronounce the name “Maty Noyes”, but the way I say it is like “Matty Noise”, which sounds like the kind of moniker some aspiring young garage (or maybe D’n’B) MC would have adopted in the late 90/early 00s.

Then I looked up Maty Noyes on Google and saw that she is a blonde girl from America who was not yet even in primary school (or elementary school, or whatever Americans call the first stage of formal education) when garage was at its zenith, and so I listened to her more recent song “In My Mind“, which, as expected, contains no traces of garage or two-step whatsoever.

So next I googled the name “Matty Noise”, only to find an Italian DJ who goes by the name “Matt Noise”, and happens to be the same age as Maty Noyes, yet he also has no connection to garage; instead he spins what I guess would be included under the extremely vague umbrella term of “EDM”.

This means we have two people operating under titles that sound like they should now be 40-something-year-old MCs from Hackney or Lambeth (or some other inner-city shit-hole), but who are in fact still teenagers finding their way in the burgeoning electronic music scene, full of hope and aspiration, eager for a slice of the “big cake”, and I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

Fresh Hex – When You Were Mine

My review of Fresh Hex’s Reflective Romantic EP.

AlunaGeorge ft. Popcaan – I’m in Control

Right, I’m not sure what the exact lyrical intent behind this song was, but regardless of the artist’s message in the music, I’m going to use the convenient fact that Aluna Francis is both a woman, and a bit “black” (well, at least swarthy enough to be classed as belonging to a “racial minority” in “the West”, which is all that is really relevant for my ensuing point), as an opportunity to tackle what I see as a growing problem in not only the music world, but in the culture as a whole, and that is the divisive rhetoric of those who champion diversity and inclusiveness at all costs. (To be perfectly frank, the following discussion would probably have been better reserved as a response to the output of an artist like Beyoncé, or possibly Meghan Trainor, but I didn’t fancy including a song here just to make a point, and so AlunaGeorge are being implicated in my critique purely by virtue of releasing what I consider to be a “superior” track to those issued this year by other, more appropriate, candidates for acute scrutiny.)

Now, not only in the past year, but for the past decade or two, there has been a gradual infiltration into the collective consciousness of the idea that to be truly egalitarian, a person must be willing to disregard the concrete in favour of the abstract; or, in other words, to allow that which is irrelevant to a decision as to act dictate the rationale for acting (I say, as if this hasn’t been the case throughout man’s history). The main issue here being that, as noble as the quest for equality may seem, it is a fundamentally flawed venture, in so much that it is both a myth, and worse still, a notion running counter to any goals it wishes to achieve.

Allow me to explain using an example of a societal attitude which may possibly have had an effect upon the creation of the track above: feminism.

Firstly, obviously, feminism came into being as a reasonable reaction to a degree of discrimination present within the cultural mores of the time (and, indeed, this time), but whilst it may have been intended as a “righteous” response to an identified “wrong”, it was clearly misguided in its attempts to improve the lives of those were considered to have been “wronged” from the very start. It (I say, as if “feminism” was a single entity, rather than a nebulous conglomeration of related concepts) begins on the wrong foot immediately by assuming two things; the first being that men have more freedom than women, which is obviously a subjective proposition, and thus dependent upon too many irrational factors to be universal; the second being that by highlighting this perceived disparity in the sexes, the best course of action was to divide the species into the “haves” and the “have-nots”, with this schismatic modus operandi ultimately being the downfall of the movement; it positioning it as but a new form of prejudice.

Which is to say, “feminism” (metonymically speaking) transforms an inevitable “us and them” mentality into an unnecessary “us versus them” situation, thus breeding both misogyny and misandry on both sides by foolishly focussing on the contrasts rather than the similarities between people. (I mean, that there are differences between the male and female of the species in certain aspects is blatantly axiomatic, and therefore, this clear apparency warrants no special mention in societal discourse, with the only sensible path towards reasonable expectations of “parity” being the recognition of which supposed dissimilitudes are rooted in fact, and which are the spawn of fiction; a discernment of “the truth” like this surely being the solution to all ideological disputes anyway.)

Hence, the goal of the movement should not be for the better treatment of women by men, but for the better treatment of humans by humans, with the obsession with gender only further hindering progress towards any more “just” a civilisation than existed previously.

So too can it be said that any social momentum which favours a particular branch of humanity over the entirety of the populace eo ipso harbours elemental deficiencies in its core ethos. (And yes, my use there of the term “eo ipso” was probably unnecessary, but as any pseud worth their salt knows, never squander an opportunity to insert some superfluous Latin into one’s text, as what better way to bolster the illusion of intellectualism than to utilise the recherché language of academia, with communicative clarity playing second fiddle to semiotic elitism in impressing one’s cognitive credentials upon the audience, naturally.)

However, not only that, I believe it can actually be counterproductive for widespread “goodness” and compassion to emphasise too much the role of only a certain gender, race, ethnicity, or any other social demographic, with such an activity serving to implicitly suggest the inadequacies and faults of those people excluded from the group being praised or commended.

Consequently, “positive discrimination”, “political correctness”, and the like, are inevitably doomed to failure (assuming, that is, that their raison d’être is universal fairness), as they simply ignore the actualities of the world, instead trying to solve a problem which they themselves (again metonymically speaking) help to create.

Thus, by being preoccupied with the injustices toward one specific kind of human, even the most benevolent philanthropist can only further corrupt the overarching mindset within society, with it being essential that a humanitarian works, as the name would suggest, for the benefit of all humanity (or, at least, all “good” people), lest the liberator become but a different type of tyrant.

The first step in the process of “cleansing” the culture of this fallacious route to equality being either the removal from the shoulder the chips which only a certain strata of society bear, or conversely, to share this chip across the shoulders of all; which is never going to happen with alienating doctrines like feminism being positioned anywhere close to the helm of the vessel that is our culture.

So, musicians take note: instead of celebrating being a woman, or being black, or being gay, or being physically disabled, or being any other quality which is not inherently related to moral “worth”, why not craft a paean to those individuals who have done something extraordinary through their actions, independent of those immaterial facets of their being, and thus, are actually role models?

Flume ft. Kai – Never Be Like You

The featured artist on this track, Kai, shares her name with Wayne Rooney’s eldest lad, and so this gives me a nice (albeit extremely tangential) opportunity to talk a bit about the Manchester United and England captain.

First off, I’ll just state that I am a lifelong fan of both of the aforementioned teams, and whilst supporting my nation has always felt like a duty rather than a delight, thanks to the perpetual disappointments and constant under-performing by players wearing the white of England, the reverse was never true of my United experience; up until recently that is.

Now, it’s not exactly a controversial opinion to state that, since Ferguson retired, United have been in a bit of a shambles, with both David Moyes’ and Louis van Gaal’s tenures as the gaffer resulting in lacklustre performances, atrocious results, and baffling decisions made by employees at all levels of the club. I mean, it’s obviously pointless to point fingers and try to determine who precisely was responsible for this downturn in the club’s (on-field) fortunes, as there are myriad factors that contributed to its actualisation. Nevertheless, apart from the manager, the captain is the primary figurehead of the team, and so some questions must be asked about Wayne Rooney’s role in all of this.

Right, I’m well aware that to someone who knows nothing about football, it might seem ridiculous of me to criticise the record goalscorer for both club and country, but as they say, statistics don’t always tell the full story; so here’s my take on the problems surrounding our captain.

Firstly, to give the man his due, I’ll start with the positive, and state with absolute confidence that Wayne Rooney was a truly great footballer for many years. From around 2004 to 2011 he was probably the best player I’d ever seen pull on an England shirt (yes, at his best, even better than the great Paul Scholes), and despite being clearly inferior to Cristiano Ronaldo at United, he was still an integral part of that highly successful period in the club’s history between 2006 and 2009; and, in fact, I’d say, for better or worse, he was our most “important” player up until Moyes’ season in charge.

However, the Rooney we see today is but a pale shadow of his younger self. Sure, he still racks up the goals, and he can shows glimpses of his former class, but on the whole, his level has clearly dropped down a notch or two over the past 4 or 5 years (although, in saying that, his last two or three games he has played very well, so it’s not beyond his capabilities to still be a key element of the team, it’s just whether the right Rooney can turn up on the day).

As most United fans are likely aware, Rooney has been through numerous patches of poor form throughout his career, usually after injuries or rest periods, but now he seems to have more bad games than good; his first touch becoming piss-poor, his passing accuracy being highly erratic, and his general technique descending in quality drastically. However, more than anything, his drive and ambition seem to be on the wane, with that characteristic fieriness that distinguished his early career dissipating all but completely in this older iteration of himself (barring the occasional brain-fart resulting in a red card that he can come up with every now and again), and his overall game becoming diminished as a result.

Consequently, it is quite clear to all and sundry that Wayne’s time as one of the first names on the team sheet is at an end, and that he needs to seriously buck his ideas up if he doesn’t want to end up marring his legacy completely by becoming a farcical figure in the twilight of his career.

But what can be done about this sorry state of affairs?

The man is the club captain, is locked into a fat contract for the next few years, and will likely be regarded as a United legend by later generations (despite surely no current fan rating him alongside the likes of Charlton, Best, Law, Cantona, Keane, Robson, et al., even with respect to his greater longevity and trophy haul compared to those players; his transfer requests forever tarnishing his reputation amongst many fans; well, that, plus his Scouseness, which to many less open-minded Mancs will always be a black mark against his name). Therefore, it’d take a manager with balls of steel to drop Rooney for any serious length of time, especially for youngsters like Rashford, Martial or Lingard (who, to be fair, have had their own periods of ill-form recently).

Mourinho, on paper, seems to be the ideal man to either get the best out of Rooney again, or to consign him to the bench till he’s out of the club for good, but only time will tell if he can achieve either of those things, and considering our shaky start to the season, who knows how long Jose will get to put his plans into place and turn the situation around.

Anyway, the point is that no player should be undroppable, with it not mattering whether they’re on €300k a week, had a transfer fee in excess of €100 million, have just come through from the under-21s, or are on loan from another club; the only measure of worth on the pitch should be performances on the pitch, with the more recent ones being weighted over those from months or even years ago.

Thus, unless Rooney can keep up his recent upturn in form for longer than a few weeks, then he shouldn’t be starting for a club like Manchester United; it’s as simple as that.

I mean, sentimentality and respect are all well and good, but the punters are paying hard-earned cash to see the team put out the best that they can, with it being both the manager’s and the player’s responsibility to ensure that that always occurs.

As things stand, Mkhitaryan, Mata, Martial, Ibrahimovic, Herrera, maybe even Rashford and Lingard, are regularly putting in better performances than Rooney, and so it makes no sense for him to be consistently playing ahead of any of those guys.

Sure, dropping Rooney indefinitely (or any other single player for that matter) won’t solve all of United’s woes immediately (as evinced in our recent draws without his input), with the club’s issues running much deeper than just the names on the team sheet, but logic must be implemented across the board for it to flourish, and so the manager must do what makes the most sense in footballing terms at all times, lest United become the new Liverpool. *shudders at the thought*

Galantis – In My Head

4/4: Am – Am – G – G – G⎪C/G – C/G – F – F – F⎪F – C/E – F – F – C/E⎪2/4: F – C/E – F – G⎪

or

4/4: vi – V⎪ Ic – IV⎪IV – Ib – IV – Ib⎪2/4: IV – Ib – IV – V⎪

Philip George & Dragonette – Feel This Way

Okay, so Philip George’s first single, “Wish You Were Mine“, made it to No. 2 in the charts; his second single, “Alone No More“, climbed as high as No. 4; yet this track, his third, and in my opinion, “best” single, peaked at a lowly No. 136 (if Wikipedia is accurate, that is); I don’t get it.

I mean, I’m obviously not the typical pop fan (if such a thing exists), so I might not hold the best vantage point from which to adjudicate which tracks will or won’t strike a chord with the mainstream market, but this is just a really fun piano-led house track, and I can’t see any reason why it wouldn’t perform similarly to his previous singles at a commercial level.

Now, of course, the placing of a single on the charts bears no relation to its perceived “quality” in any sensible way, but it is a reflection of the popularity of a piece of music among the demographic who still purchase singles (i.e. young people), and so the reason for a song that is akin to other high-charting songs to not chart well should be quite apparent: exposure.

Much like the ouroboros, pop eats itself, with a song needing mainstream airplay and mass marketing in order to sell it to the wider public, and thus, even in this age of diversified media portals, rather than the market dictating what gets played on the radio and on the telly, the radio and telly decide what is consumed by the market, with it being quite evident here that Philip George and his management didn’t quite play (or, indeed, pay) the game “correctly” on this occasion.

Now, the word “payola” summons up images of under the table bungs and dodgy dealings, but once one looks past the semantics, it is quite clear that all airplay is “pay to play”, with the only variation coming in the form that the payment takes.

The more renowned artists carry around a kind of cultural capital within their fame, with this being apportioned automatically to those channeling their art for public consumption, and hence, the draw which the recognition engenders results in a non-monetary, yet still highly valuable, exchange taking place for both parties; the media outlet and artist both increase their audience, hence income possibilities, via mutual association.

However, in order for an artist to become prominent in the first place, they generally require that initial boost from the giants of the media to get a solid foothold in the public consciousness, and thus, the situation exists whereby, when taken as a whole, the media has total control over determining which artists become the kings and queens of the commercial arena, yet, when taken individually, each media entity is entirely reliant upon the previously established pop royalty in order to maintain their niche in the market.

Consequently, a sort of symbiotic relationship is necessarily preserved by both sides of the table, with it being down to those players who play this game of tact and guile the best to transcend this reciprocal arrangement and become the true kingmakers of this particular industry.

Nevertheless, no status quo can be sustained in perpetuity, with the “chaotic” nature of all things extending too to the realm of the musician; and so the joker in the pack that is the caprices of fashion ensures that the deck cannot be stacked in one person’s favour for too long; the house of cards being forever at threat from even the slightest gust of wind, or indeed, soundwave in the air.

Billon – Slave to the Vibe

Who here amongst us is not a slave?

Who is not a slave to their belly? Or their bladder? Or (for those that possess them) their balls?

What is “freedom” but a relative measure of an immeasurable concept?

Is a wage-slave any freer than a bond-slave if both will likely die if they do not work for another?

Is an “unemployable” person any freer than a forcibly-employed person if they cannot obtain that which is necessary to survive, and thus continue to experience any kind of freedom?

Can he who is never free truly be enslaved?

Can he who is truly free ever be enslaved?

Sigala ft. John Newman & Nile Rodgers – Give Me Your Love

“Give me your love” sings John Newman here, but what he really means is “You, give me my love”, as “love” is not something that exists in such a way as to be able to be gifted from one person to another; instead it is an emotion that is wholly generated by ourselves through external stimuli, thus dependant upon nothing but our own “will”.

Therefore, someone can provide an opportunity for one to become imbued with love, but this action requires no transference of any thing between the parties; the true work being carried out entirely by the self. Which is to say, love is born within us, and dies without ever escaping from us, with its entire lifespan being exclusive to the sole mind.

However, this is not to say that love is imperceptible to others, as obviously, there exist two aspects to that which we call “love”: the abstract and the concrete (assuming a Cartesian duality is the case, naturally).

So whilst it is patently impossible for anybody other than ourselves to be cognisant of any abstract impressions of a love sensation, it is quite possible for someone to estimate the presence of an emotion like love within us. By that, I mean that it is clearly plausible that an increasing of one’s heart rate, a ruddying of one’s complexion, an ebullience in one’s demeanour, a brightening of one’s expression, or an extra spring in one’s step, can all be interpreted by another as indicating the presence of love within oneself, but it is inevitably unverifiable from the outside as to the actual cause of these exuberant upturns in somatic condition.

Anyway, the point is, it doesn’t matter the reason behind the emotion, the ability to generate it lies squarely at our feet, and so Newman has no need to verbalise his desire to be given love, he merely needs to allow himself to bring it into existence.


Drake ft. Kyla & Wizkid – One Dance

I’m not even going to put a link to the track here, as, mate, if you didn’t hear this track this year, then, firstly, congratulations for existing in some kind of parallel dimension free from the ubiquity of popular culture, and, secondly, what the fuck are you doing reading this, a piece of writing centred around pop music; it makes no sense.

Mike Posner – I Took a Pill in Ibiza (SeeB Remix)

I’m not normally a guy who’s big on the lyrical aspect of a song, with the undefined content of the music generally being my primary focus when listening to an opus, but Mike Posner’s words in this track strike me as somehow being ineffably poignant, particularly this one line:

“But fuck it, it was something to do”

Isn’t that just the reason why anyone does anything ever? Because it’s something to do.

One could analyse any and every aspect of one’s life and ask the question “why did I do that?”, and the ultimate answer would be analogous to that which Mike gives in this song.

This is because everything is but a body moving through space-time, with there being no rhyme or reason for anything which occurs in life. Every thread of logic one perceives in existence can inevitably be shown to lead to the inexplicable, and thus, the nonsensical, making all attempts at rationalising an action completely futile; it just being.

Yet this is a grimly nihilistic view of the world, and one which does nothing to aid living, and so I begrudge no one an imposition of fiction upon this “reality”, as, if I’m being completely honest with myself, I too prefer to live in the dream than to wake up and smell the coffee of “the truth”. (Note the inverted commas well there.)

Nevertheless, my fantasies are far from those of many an inhabitant on this planet, who eschew empiricism entirely in favour of purely conjectural hypotheses, and proceed to conjure something from “nothing” in an attempt to make sense of the world around them. No, I choose to accept the absolute subjectivity of my extrinsic influences; my preferred “lies” being those of morality and aesthetics, with these mental constructs surely being the only things which motivate any of us to do anything other than subsist and procreate.

Consequently, if Mike Posner took a pill in Ibiza because it was something to do, and the end result was this song, with no directly “bad” actions occurring at the hands of Mike himself as a byproduct, then what’s the problem?

I mean, I’m as against the use of any kind of “mind-altering” substance as anyone alive, with drugs never holding any appeal to myself, and my time spent dallying with drink ending not long after it began, but if there are people out there who cannot face the starkness of “reality” unaided, and have nothing else with which to combat the crushing vacuity of a “purposeless” existence other than chemical compounds, then maybe they are the “lesser of two evils”; at least they offer somebody, somewhere, something to do.

MØ – Final Song

Is it pronounced like Moe, the bartender from The Simpsons? Or is it uttered more like Mew, the 151st Pokémon? It could even be spoken like moo, the noise a cow is said to make; who knows?

I’ve heard pretty much every possible permutation of sounds which could be interpreted from the letters MØ over the last twelve months, and still I’m none the wiser on which is the most correct.

Personally, I prefer to just make a sound like when one tries to say the letter “M” phonetically: “muh”. Not that that’s the right way to pronounce her stage name or anything; I just enjoy making that sound.

Fifth Harmony ft. Fetty Wap – All in My Head (Flex)

I think Dinah Jane is my favourite of the girls. Sure, Normani probably has the “better” body, and both Lauren and Camila can be said to possess the “prettier” features, but there’s just something about Dinah that appeals to me more.

I mean, they’re all attractive girls, obviously, but something about those powerful-looking thighs and imposing hips does it for me; her somewhat statuesque stature separating her from the others too, especially when compared to the neotenic physique of Camila, or the minor “squareness” of Ally.

Of course, being of Polynesian stock, it is highly likely that her figure will not remain so svelte into middle age, with South Sea Islanders seeming to harbour a natural propensity towards piling on the timber as they mature (hence the appeal of rugby and gridiron to the people of these nations over sports that favour smaller frames perhaps?), and so I must commend her on combatting the weight gain and managing to maintain such an impeccable body shape (although only time will tell whether she can halt any innate metabolic tendencies indefinitely).

Dua Lipa – Hotter than Hell

Dua Lipa’s music feels to me like it’s the natural soundtrack for a youth-orientated clothing chain; the kind of songs which make one more likely to purchase crop tops and leggings. I think this is slightly truer of “Blow Your Mind (Mwah)” (plus, as an aside, I’ll just mention that the Alex Metric remix of that track is well worth checking out), which even has a music video that looks like an advert for Topshop or H&M (or whatever store young women shop for clothes at nowadays), but pretty much all of her extramusical aspects exude cynical “hipsterism”, as if tailored directly for the kind of cunts who bandy around terms like “bigot” and “fascist” without any idea of their general meaning; awash in a sea of irony without a working moral compass for navigation.

That’s no slight on Dua herself, mind, as she seems like a lovely girl, and she’s certainly quite the looker (that being in addition to her vocal talents, naturally); so just take this is as my crotchety reaction to latter-day, unthinking “liberal” culture, with my capacity to stomach anything remotely “yoof” waning as I realise more and more that intolerance is a many-faced beast; the response to Brexit and Trump only further highlighting this discrepancy between what is preached and what is practiced by the supposedly more “progressive” amongst us.

(Just to be clear, I am neither pro-Brexit, nor a fan of Donald Trump being the US president, but maybe these two realities will at least generate a positive reflex out of people in the long-term, especially by jolting into consciousness those sleepwalking toward the even more perilous position of misguided moral myopia; not to mention those who are unable to reconcile a definite concreta with their own personal abstracta, and thus choose to prioritise that which is patently subjective over that which could possibly be objective, creating a cognitive dissonance that obscures the wood with trees in the process. In other words, maybe it’s better to be able to see the snake out in the open, rather than have it hiding in the grass, as this way one can at least identify any poisonous intentions and react accordingly, either by dodging the toxin altogether, or by locating the antivenom in time to save one’s life; after all, it’s a lot easier to wake from your nightmare than it is to rise from your grave.)

Danny L Harle & Carly Rae Jepsen – Super Natural

Anyone remember that Santana album Supernatural? That was a massive album for them wasn’t it? And it kind of came out of nowhere too, with Carlos and the lads going through many years in the commercial wilderness prior to “Smooth” blowing up and being all over pop radio for a couple of years around the turn of the century.

However, for mine, their early 70s albums are where it’s at for them, with Carlos’ record with John McLaughlin, Love Devotion Surrender, also being worth checking out, especially if you’re a lover of the electric guitar. (I’ll just add the caveat that I haven’t listened to many Santana records released post-1980, and didn’t even know that they had steadily been releasing albums for the last few years, so I’m far from an expert on their work, all things considered.)

Christine and the Queens – Tilted

I think my first encounter with pinball (which is where I presume the origin of the term “tilted” in this context comes from) was not with a physical machine in some arcade, but was instead with Pro Pinball: The Web on the Sega Saturn.

I don’t know why, out of all the games available for the Saturn, my father chose to get me a pinball simulator, but he did, and so I played it. I mean, at that point in my life I would have been about 8, and so maybe my dad thought that a nice, straightforward game would keep me comfortably occupied; or, more likely, he fancied playing it a bit himself, and so ostensibly got it for me so that he could whack it on after my beddy bobos and have a few games to relax before he retired to sleep himself. (I think that must be one of the perks of fatherhood: having an excuse to indulge in childish things, with one’s offspring being a handy gateway back to the simple delights of youth.)

This is not to say that I was denied the joys of the Saturn’s more acclaimed titles at all, with the likes of the Panzer Dragoon games, Guardian Heroes, Nights into Dreams, Virtua Fighter, Duke Nukem, Saturn Bomberman, Sega Rally, and so on, all being key components of my early memories; although I’m sure that my dad enjoyed playing those games with me as much as I did playing them on my own, they constituting a crucial part of a mutual bonding experience between us. Obviously, I was too young and unskilled to complete games like Resident Evil or Tomb Raider, and so my dad would end up doing most of the tricky gameplay whilst I watched and egged him on; thus both parties felt involved in the process throughout.

Anyway, after being a Sega kid from the time of the Mega Drive through to the Dreamcast, due to their exit from the console market, I was forced to switch allegiances to Sony with the PS2, and then Microsoft with the Xbox, and whilst I enjoyed many a game on those consoles, they became more for me and my friends, rather than for me and my dad, with the outcome being that on the increasingly rare occasions that we did play together on, say, Pro Evo, or Halo, I would be so far ahead of him in ability as to make the contest non-existent, rendering the exercise particularly fruitless all around.

I think the last games that we properly played together were The Warriors and Rainbow Six: Vegas, which were both cooperative in nature, and so I could somewhat “carry” his lack of skill, making the process more satisfying for the both of us.

I’ll just add that, around that time, music entered my life in a big way, and so I had pretty much stopped playing games entirely by the late 00s, with the only titles I’ve played in earnest since being, I think, Red Dead Redemption and Skyrim.

Needless to say, my dad also stopped playing games when I lost interest in them, and so they have become merely memories to the both of us; artefacts of a shared past sat in front of the television; fingers dancing upon the joypads; conversation rooted in polygonal exploits; smiles aplenty.

Ariana Grande – Into You

If Prince would have wrote this song, surely it would have been titled “In 2 U”; but he didn’t, and he’s dead, so the point is moot.

TIEKS ft. Dan Harkna – Sunshine

Is “cuteness” the most useful quality for a creature to possess in terms of survival in the face of the unstoppable rise of homo sapiens?

I mean, man has clearly become master of this organic world, and those beasts which appeal to our sensibilities surely have the greatest chance of genetic propagation through virtue of being encouraged to breed by ourselves, the dominant species. Therefore, surely most animals will eventually become experientially conditioned to pander to our preferences themselves through the existential rewards they receive for being “cute” in relation to us, thus practical evolution is trumped by the whims of a cultural notion.

Take the dachshund, or the sausage dog. These are canines that were specifically bred by man for the purpose of hunting badgers (hence the name’s German etymology), but now whose continued prevalence is determined more by the perceived “cuteness” of their stubby, wee legs and Wurstian torsos, than their proficiency in exterminating unwanted wildlife.

But whereas the ability to take down a dangerous animal for its master is tangibly useful, be it in protecting livestock, quelling diseases such as tuberculosis, or simply as a means of culling overabundant species, the endowment of appealing-to-humans cosmetic traits is helpful for the creature only so long as the notion of “cuteness” remains consistent within our collective conscious; with any radical change in our unified mindset being disastrous for those breeds rendered inefficient at their original tasks through an inclination in the breeders towards aesthetics over functionality.

Thus, eventually, there exists the possibility that “cuteness” can kill, with our conceptions of what is attractive in an animal being fatal to its species’ long-term subsistence if not in accordance with that which is universally useful, both to us and the creature itself.

Pitbull ft. Flo Rida & LunchMoney Lewis – Greenlight

Why do pit bulls still exist?

Actually, why is anybody allowed to keep any “realistically” dangerous animal as a pet?

I mean, surely their cons outweigh any pros, right?

It just doesn’t make sense.

Then again, in some countries, guns, tools specifically designed to be dangerous to others, are still legal to bear; so maybe I need to keep things in perspective when considering the irrationalities of humanity.

Kanye West – Fade

Surely everyone’s aware of the stereotype of black women having ample arses, and that may well be a notion based on some fact, but I’ve also been noticing recently how relatively scrawny the calves of those of African pedigree (or, more accurately, recent African pedigree, as scientific evidence obviously informs us that every human’s roots lie in that particular continent originally) seem to be.

Now, this could well be an optical illusion based upon the increased girth of the thighs and buttocks in proportion to the lower legs, or it could have something to do with the seeming higher likelihood of having larger or flatter feet exhibited by members of that race, but whatever the case, it’s something I’ve picked up on lately, and found interesting enough to keep in mind. Maybe it could even help explain the faster sprint times of African-descended athletes compared to those of other races; the higher muscle density in a smaller area aiding the high-speed running action. (Of course, this isn’t a “universal truth”, and there are numerous exceptions to this anatomical observation that can be readily evinced, like, for example, Serena Williams, or, indeed, anyone of the “chunkier” persuasion, but, generally speaking, the darker the skin, the thinner the shin.)

Obviously, my reason for broaching this subject is due to Teyana Taylor’s bodacious body (as displayed abundantly in the potent video for Kanye West’s “Fade”), and my eventual looking past her more eye-catching features to consider the apparent congruence with my perceived stereotypical characteristics of her kin; not that that detracts from her pulchritude, mind.

(I’ll just add that, clearly, Teyana isn’t “black black”, as in a “pure” African, and so likely has some more recent European, American or Asian influence to her genetics, meaning that, despite its accuracy in this instance, my hypothesis should be less applicable to her and other mulattoes like her. Oh, and to clarify the racial classifications I’m using as a guideline for discussion here, I’ll draw an analogy to the colour spectrum, in that much like the situation whereby, whilst visible light consists of a near-analogous continuum of wavelengths, there are essentially less than a dozen distinct kinds of colour that we can perceive; white, grey, black, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, brown, pink; with all other noticeable hues of the world being but a form of those basic colours; so too, in human skin tones, whilst there are seemingly infinite gradations of complexion pigmentation to be seen amongst our species, in effect, there are only a handful of discrete races in existence; “white” people, “black” people, “brown” people, “yellow” people, and “red” people; or, in historical geographical terms, Europeans, Africans, West Asians, East Asians, and Americans, respectively; with everyone alive being but a composite of these abstract ideals. Therefore, when I describe Teyana as being a “mulatto”, I am simply saying that she lies in-between the extremes of these racial archetypes, which, I suppose is pretty self-evident, but probably necessary to state nonetheless thanks to the increasing number of close-minded people knocking about who conflate “racism” with prejudice, or, to be more precise, the connotations associated with a word with its meaning or the intent behind its usage.)

The 1975 – Somebody Else

1975 AD is supposedly 1,975 years after the birth of Jesus Christ, which is the point our Gregorian calendar uses as its year 1 reference, and whilst that is as good a year as any to start counting from, it does seem that the BC portion of the calendar outweighs the AD side just a tad, what with the Earth being around for over 4.5 billion years, and the universe existing for at least triple that time (assuming scientific estimates are accurate, naturally).

Obviously, it’s handy to have a calendar that begins more recently so that we don’t have to write 11-digit numbers every time we wanted to indicate the current year, but if we somehow did miraculously discover the exact point in time at which the universe came into being (if, indeed, it had a beginning, which one must presume, like everything else in existence, it did), then we could start the calendar era from that moment, only rather than write out, say, 13813572017, we could just omit the first 7 numbers and simply use the last four, to give us the year 2017 in this instance, as clearly everyone would know the first 6 or 7 numbers in the sequence by rote, they being the same for 100,000 and 10,000 years, respectively. Actually, if we kept those last four numbers the same as the current system regardless of the actual “year zero”, then nobody would have to “relearn” the dates of historic events (at least in the AD era), as they would be identical to those in present use, only with an extra 7 digits tagged on their front (e.g. D-Day would be 6/6/13813571944; reduced to 6/6/1944 as before).

This would eliminate the need for a BC/AD (or BCE/CE, if you’re a PC wanker) divide, with all year numbers flowing uniformly forward in time.

Consequently, this band would then be known as The 13813571975, or, as spoken, The Thirteen-Billion-Eight-Hundred-and-Thirteen-Million-Five-Hundred-and-Seventy-One-Thousand-Nine-Hundred-and-Seventy-Five, which, admittedly, is quite the mouthful, so maybe they can stick with The Nineteen-Seventy-Five for the sake of brevity.


Lushington – You Got Me Baby

I suppose that the title of this track could be seen as a reply to Sonny & Cher’s “I Got You Babe”, which was famously featured in the film Groundhog Day as the song which Bill Murray’s character awoke to every morning whilst he was stuck in his own personal time loop.

And now, thinking about it, I nearly always enjoys films that employ some kind of time-related gimmick: the Terminator films, the Back to the Future trilogy, Source Code, both Bill & Ted films, 12 Monkeys, Looper, Edge of Tomorrow, Interstellar; all very enjoyable spectacles. Maybe it’s because the concept of alterations to the regular flow of time (or, more accurately, space-time) gives the creators a lot of leeway in steering the story down unexpected paths, with the divorcement from generally-accepted laws of physics enabling multifarious possibilities to be explored, as disbelief is automatically suspended once fundamental time-rules become distorted, so any further absurdities inherent within the narrative are more readily accepted by the audience as a consequence.

Thus, once a basic “unreality” is tolerated as being permissible to enhance the tale, then so too can a more grandiose escape from axiomatic natures be incorporated into the fiction, with the doors to creativity being blown open by a simple manipulation of temporal constraints.

But in saying that, isn’t the idea of fitting a plot which can span days, weeks, months, even years, into a period of less than a few hours already manipulating time by removing all that is unnecessary for narrative progress from the equation, thus birthing an experience free from the inactive trappings of everyday life. The whole idea of a film being to condense the trials and tribulations of an existence into a medium that can imbue similar emotions into the viewer in a single sitting; a particularly “time-efficient” mode of esoteric (albeit unidirectional) communication between minds.

Aah, but what is any art but a time machine; an enjoyable way of filling our brief moment on this Earth; a pleasure vessel which temporarily transports us from one intermediary point to another en route to our ultimate destination of death.

KDA ft. Tinashe – Just Say

I had a dream a few weeks ago that featured Tinashe (well, my psyche’s impression of her, to be more accurate).

Now, I’m not someone who can normally remember their journeys in the land of Nod too well, but this one was curious enough for it to stick in my mind longer than most.

Nevertheless, I have, somewhat inevitably, forgotten many of the dream’s details over the past few weeks, as I didn’t think to note them down for future reference in writing a piece on pop music (foolish, I know), so excuse any vagaries in the narrative; they are but the product of a hazy nocturnal recollection.

Right, so the dream is set in some city in the Far East (Kuala Lumpur, perhaps?), and the first thing that I can remember is being in an open square surrounded by high-rise buildings. This area is heaving with people, all of them silent and stony-faced, many gazing towards me, the only patent foreigner in the vicinity. I try to make my way through the throng, but when I reach a break in the mass of bodies, I am confronted by a couple of men with knives. I can’t understand what they are saying, but it’s quite obvious from their gestures that they want my money, and as everyone else nearby appears entirely indifferent to the unfurling events, I decide to make a run for it. However, I’m quickly stopped in my tracks by an unseen third fellow who was waiting behind me when I began to leg it off. Then, once I’m apprehended fully, the three of them proceed to rough me up a bit before taking my money and scarpering off into the crowd.

So now my memory of the dream becomes very indistinct, but I somehow end up at a kind of airport building. I think I had went to the British embassy for assistance as all my cash had been taken and I had nothing with which to buy a plane ticket home to England, and from there I received a pass onto the next flight going to Manchester. Like I said, I can’t remember much of this section of the dream, with the next part that I can semi-reliably recall taking place in a part of the airport where there were individual rooms for awaiting passengers to rest.

Anyway, whilst I’m waiting outside one of these rooms in a large, open-windowed corridor where other passengers are also seated, I notice Tinashe walking toward me. She sits beside me, and we get chatting as I’m one of the few people there who can speak decent English.

Okay, so one thing leads to another (as they so easily do in dreams, as opposed to the disappointingly logical flow of actions in “reality”), and we end up in one of those private rooms with a bed in them, although neither of us are particularly tired, of course. So things continue all well and good, until Tinashe removes her dress to expose her stomach, at which point I notice that she seems to be in the relatively early stages of pregnancy; her normally toned abdominals belying the presence of an embryonic life within her. Nevertheless, I take this in my stride and plough on, until, that is, a far more disconcerting discovery is made when I begin to go down on her.

Firstly, not only does her belly begin to undulate unnaturally, as if the not-yet-child inside was doing The Worm or something, but also when I look within the crevasse of her vagina, I can clearly spy what appears to be a man-sized bellend (that is, a bellend of a size you would expect an adult man to possess, not a bellend the size of an entire man’s body, just in case you were in any confusion as to what I meant there). However, this isn’t a case of an enlarged clitoris or the like, but rather that there is an actual penis emerging from her vaginal opening, the japseye of which lying flush with her external labia.

Obviously, this is a highly unsettling sight to behold, and poses an almighty quandary for my dream self; do I ignore this abnormality and try to make the best of the situation (after all, it’s not often one gets such an opportunity with a woman as impressive as Tinashe), or do I confront the issue head on and ask her what the hell’s going on with her body?

Fortunately for my dream self, I awake from my fantasy at this point, thus preventing my subconscious from having to endure the vacillation of tackling the problem of how to act in such a bizarre scenario.

Anyway, prospective psychoanalysts make of that dream what you will, as I’m not even going to attempt to analyse it here and now. All I’ll say is that I’m almost certain Tinashe doesn’t have some big-dicked baby residing in her womb; that clearly being a manifestation of my fears concerning the prospect of fatherhood and the like… but I said I wouldn’t pick things apart, so I’ll shut up sharpish.

Kölsch – Grey

Notice the “correct” spelling of the word “grey”, as in the colours you are presently looking at right this very moment. Which is to say, although it may appear that you are reading black text on a white background, you are in fact perceiving two different shades of grey. The reason for this being that “absolute” black or white cannot be discerned by the human eye; they existing more as abstract concepts, like those of “infinity” or “nothingness”, than as concrete states of being and perception.

Allow me to explain.

Firstly, “black” is the name we give to the absence of colour, thus the absence of light; but seeing as we, as human beings, emit light ourselves (i.e. biophotons), we can never be in a situation where there are no photons in between our eyes and a so-called “black” object; hence, “blackness” is an abstracta.

Conversely, “white” is the name we give to the presence of all colours in a light source, but seeing as for light to be truly “white”, all these colours (i.e. photon wavelengths; or, more precisely, sensations triggered by photon wavelengths) must exist in entirely equal amounts, which, due to the nature of photons at a quantum level being completely uncertain (not to mention immeasurable), means we can never know if a light is composed of the precise mix of colours to constitute actual “white” at any given time; hence, “whiteness” is an abstracta.

(Then again, one could just as easily say that all colours are abstractions, due to the dependence upon perception in ascribing a sensation to that which exists empirically only as photonic movement in space-time; or, in plainer English, what we call “colour” cannot exist outside of the mind because colour is an optical interpretation of a noumenon that exists only as a physical motion, much like all things which are said to be concrete, and thus, the ontic world is “intrinsically” colourless. Of course, one could equally take the position that noumena themselves don’t exist, and that everything is but a phenomenon, thus everything which can be seen has a colour; but it’s all very subjective at this point in the discourse though, so I’ll stick with my more “scientific” rationale for the time being.)

However, there is also the issue of semantics, in which one can then say that, whilst “white” and “black” may not truly exist in nature (or in our perception of the world), whatever we regard to be as “white” or “black” is, to all intents and purposes, “white” or “black”.

Therefore, in much the same way as when we refer to a human as being “white” or “black”, we evidently are aware that these are merely terms of convenience used to denote contrasts in skin hue and are not representative of a person’s “true” colour, so too when we refer to anything as being “white” or “black”, we are simply saying that those things are close enough to the concept of either colour to be regarded as such by virtually everyone, and thus, anything that is an extremely dark grey is effectively “black”, and anything that is an extremely light grey is effectively “white”, with this being the best that our eyes and our language can muster in the face of incomprehensibility.

Although then, this mode of thought can be extended to include the language in toto, with all words being imprecise means of attempting to describe the indescribable.

Consider something which is manifestly concrete, like, let’s say, a chair.

Everyone understands what is meant by the word “chair”, but what exactly is a chair? I mean, if one takes it to be anything that can be sat on, then there would exist many things which no one would consider to be a “chair” being referred to as such; which would obviously be nonsensical. So how about we say that a “chair” is only something which has been designed by someone to be sat on by a person. Using this definition, we definitely limit the potential objects which can be termed a “chair”, but the requirement of intention in manufacture renders the definition invalid again. For example, I could stumble upon a piece of driftwood that looks exactly like a chair that I have seen in the past, but because it was forged by the sea and not by man, it cannot be regarded as a “chair” using this definition, which again is nonsensical; that which is tangible, thus empirical, must be the basis for universal distinctions in language, not the unknowable intent of another individual (i.e. the chair-maker).

Hence, we arrive at a point whereby it is impossible to precisely define something as common-place as a chair, with there being no consistently applicable method of deciding what does and doesn’t constitute such an object. Accordingly, what chance have we of defining something as inherently subjective as colour perception, or, by the same token, sound recognition?

I mean, it’s easy to say A4 is 440 Hz, but what does that make 440.1 Hz? And what instrument, either “analogue” or digital, is ever going to be able to produce a tone with a frequency of exactly 440 Hz? Sure, we might not be able to discern 440.000001 Hz as being any different from 440 Hz precisely, but does that mean that such a frequency doesn’t exist? And if it doesn’t exist, where is the cut-off point on the frequency spectrum where the next highest separate tone can be said to truly exist?

Then there’s the more overarching issue at play here, and that is the irrationality of precision. Which is to say, there is likely no such thing as a specific tone, or, indeed, an exact colour, as the existence of both of these things would necessitate a natural infinity to be possible, which, according to all present evidence (not to mention, “common sense”), seems highly “unlikely” (whatever that means). Thus, the whole analogue-digital duality is a falsity, with the latter being the only sensible* form of physical interpretation. (*I have used the word “sensible” here quite deliberately, because, much like the wave-particle duality, in “reality”, all things are both analogue and digital in nature, with the only factor enabling our perception of something as belonging to one or the other of these states being our particular perspective at a given point in space-time; yet, seeing as this paradoxical position is untenable as a basis for considering the world, one must inevitably “pick a side” to live by, with my choice being the “sensibleness” of the digital distinction. This decision I can rationalise quite simply by saying that, in an analogue world, there is no point at which “you” and “I” become distinctly separate entities, as all things are essentially the same; whereas employing a digital worldview, everything exists as its own thing, meaning you and I can be considered as discrete individuals, which, regardless of the fundamental interconnectivity of all matter, is a thought that fits better with my interpretation of the world around me.)

I mean, think about it like this: for a tone to be measured at 440 Hz, the air molecules must be vibrating regularly at a frequency of 440 times per second, but what does that really mean?

Just consider what exactly a “second” is for, erm, a second.

The most precise definition of a “second” (as an SI unit) is the duration of 9,192,631,770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the caesium 133 atom, and whilst I can quite readily admit that I have no clue as to what parts of that definition describe in “real” terms, I can, however, easily evince a major issue with it in regards to accuracy, and that is that I spy a finite (albeit quite large) number in there, meaning there is a point where this definition becomes indistinct, and thus, effectively “meaningless”.

Therefore, when someone says the tone “A4”, they are denoting the sonic phenomenon perceived as a result of the periodic wave-like motion of air molecules repeating at roughly 440 times per approximately 9,192,631,770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the caesium 133 atom. The inexactness of this whole definition being key to my point, in that much like when one explores the world at a microscopic (i.e. quantum) level, things begin to become less distinct and any semblance of order is all but lost, so too if one examines any facet of being too closely, everything stops making sense, and the opposite of one’s aims are often achieved.

Anyway, the point is, whether in reference to colour, sound, language, or any other aspect of existence, there can be said to be nothing that is truly black-and-white, only a shade of grey. Also, when trying to work out what something is, one’s best bet often lies in first working out what the thing isn’t, with the imprecision of nature lending itself to such methods of deduction, rather than accurate definition, which is obviously a relative description.

Jonas Blue ft. RAYE – By Your Side

I am just under a year older than Jonas Blue, who, in 2016, has sprung out of the proverbial blue to become the new Sigala, who himself emerged with abrupt fanfare in 2015 to become the new Route 94, who, equally, could be said to have been the new Duke Dumont, who, in his time, was the new Tensnake, who was begat by Calvin Harris, who was begat by David Guetta, who was begat by Tiësto, who was begat by Fatboy Slim, who was begat by Paul Oakenfold, who was begat by Frankie Knuckles, who was begat by Larry Levan, who was begat by Nicky Siano, who was begat by David Mancuso, and so on and so forth, back into the shrouded annals of history, until we reach the first man to hit one thing against another in a steady rhythm and vocalise some form of melody alongside that beat; and this is what I call “The Ascent of Man”.

Anyway, before I got sidetracked with that lineage-tracing there, I was going to say that I mentioned mine and Jonas Blue’s age for a reason; and that reason was to say how, although Jonas might have only exploded into the public consciousness in this past year at the ripe old age of 27, there are many an iconic artist of the past whose flame was already extinguished by that time in their lives, and yet, they still seem like seniors to me in my mind’s eye.

I mean, when I look at someone like Jimi Hendrix or Robert Johnson, they appear as if immortal men; my imagined image of them establishing them as perpetually elder to me, despite my constant ageing to their permanent youth. Maybe this will change in time, and undoubtedly a lot of this feeling is due to the eras that they were alive in, but even more recent victims of youthful deaths, like those of Kurt Cobain and Tupac Shakur, feel as if they were still upon this Earth for longer than I. Similarly, I can go way back in time and the same is true for someone like Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, whom I only know through his music, and so feels “outside” of time; an ideal of maturity expressed via exquisite compositions.

With luck, soon I’ll be overtaking in years the likes of Franz Schubert, John Bonham, Keith Moon, Albert Ayler, DJ Rashad, Charlie Parker, Henry Purcell, George Gershwin, Jack Rose, Kirsty MacColl, Billie Holiday, Freddie Mercury, Laura Brannigan, Frank Zappa, and so on, up until I surpass Les Paul, and then, just maybe, I’ll feel older than Jimi Hendrix and those other artists whose talents were taken from us far too early (or at exactly the right time; that is, the only time, if one wants to be deterministic about these things, but I don’t, so I’ll stick with romanticism and say that they were stolen from the world prematurely).

Sia – The Greatest

Now seems to be as good a time as any to discuss the Maddie Ziegler conundrum before it comes fully into being.

Actually, I think that I’m going to begin to tackle this subject on safer ground by using the example of Jennifer Connelly, who underwent a similar transition in perception as that which Maddie Ziegler is currently in the midst of passing through, but whom I can also assess with the assurance of hindsight by virtue of the comfortable length of time which has elapsed since the issue was really relevant.

Right, so I think the first film that I ever saw Jennifer Connelly in was Requiem for a Dream (or maybe it was The Rocketeer or Hulk; either way, the point remains the same), in which she was close to 30 years old, and most definitely a fully-grown woman. Now, I would have been in my early teens when I first saw that film, and obviously, being the burgeoning bundle of testosterone that a pubescent lad tends to be, I could appreciate Connelly’s on-screen presence in a myriad of ways, notably those independent of her acting prowess.

Anyway, the point is, I already had the mental image implanted in my mind of Jennifer Connelly being a particularly stunning and beautiful woman, so that when thereafter, several years later, I watched Once Upon a Time in America, in which Connelly was around 14 at its time of filming, I couldn’t but transpose my predetermined conception of her as an attractive adult over the historic representation of her in a more childish state. (And, I’ll add, age seems to have treated her looks very kindly, with, for my money, her 40-year-old self trumping her 20-year-old version in the aesthetic stakes; her current sharper features and leaner physicality making for an overall more striking package than the soft and slightly “doughy” visage of her youth.)

Now, the opposite is the case for Maddie Ziegler, in that she is currently 14, and is thus still childish, but in a few years she will undoubtedly blossom into an attractive woman, especially if her body develops with the graceful poise and athletic physique that dancers usually possess. However, since I, like many others, know her solely through her choreographed routines in Sia’s music videos, unless she continues to feature in high-exposure visual media deep into adulthood, she will likely forever be designated as a child in our minds (much like, say, Macauley Culkin or Mara Wilson are), which raises some interesting questions regarding memory and morality; the most blinding of which I’ll presently confront.

At what point does it become socially acceptable to describe Maddie Ziegler as “sexy”?

I mean, if someone were to watch the video to “Chandelier” and refer to her as being in any way “sexy”, then big paedophile alarm bells will likely be going off (and rightly so), but in the video for “The Greatest”, on the other hand, noticeable tits can be discerned, and she appears much more mature all around, so things aren’t so clear-cut. Of course, I’d still say you’re in risky territory if you were to call her “hot” even now, but there will soon be a time when such a remark won’t even bat an eyelid, although chances are there won’t be a distinct watershed moment where the world is informed that, indeed, Maddie Ziegler is now officially allowed to be considered sexually attractive, but rather at some indeterminate point in time the opinion will shift from being slightly dubious, to being evidently acceptable, that she can be termed “fit”.

However, several further questions are raised by this gradual process of sexualisation.

Firstly, if a person is considered an adult legally, in terms of being older than the prescribed age of majority, but they exhibit minimal physical evidence of adulthood (i.e. neoteny), then is it “acceptable” for this person to be considered sexually attractive? I mean, if a 21-year-old woman, due to some medical condition or growth issues, had a similar body and appearance to that of a 12-year-old, then surely she could not be considered “sexy” to anyone who is not a paedophile, yet conversely, due to her actual age being that of an adult, anyone who is sexually attracted to her, and only her, is not technically paedophilic in any way. Thus, desirable sexuality depends as much on abstract morals created to facilitate a working society, as it does on the physical “reality” we see around us, with the laws of man necessarily dominating the “laws” of nature in issues concerning “age appropriateness”.

Secondly, does knowledge of the present supercede memory of the past, or should both exist as separate entities? Which is to say (and I’ve moved far from just talking about sex and attractiveness here, with my focus being more general now), can we apply the standards of what was once an unknown future to a now distant past?

So, for example, can we, as a society, condemn actions of past civilisations because they are discordant with the contemporary moral consensus, or should perspective be maintained at all costs? I mean, there’s been a lot of talk in recent years about retributive justice against those who committed historic sexual abuse against minors in arenas like the television and radio industry, and now in the footballing world (not to mention the more entrenched issues plaguing the Catholic priesthood), and obviously, if those perpetrators are still alive, it makes sense to try them against modern legal standards (and if I was the supreme judicial arbiter in such cases, guilt without a shadow of a doubt would entail capital punishment for those who committed severe crimes against children), but how far must one go back in time before there is too large a schism in cultural attitudes to make a moral judgement sensible? Like, sodomising young boys seemed to be endemic in Ancient Greece, and among the samurai classes of feudal Japan, a similar practice was very much institutionalised as a means of cementing the master-servant relationship (see shudō 衆道), but should those men who engaged in such activities now be considered unmitigated monsters, or are they but relative beasts?

Similarly, should those who enabled mass slavery prior the the 19th century be criticised for their actions using modern modes of thought, or should the awareness and beliefs of the time be factored into the equation? I mean, if the pervading belief was that a certain race or ethnicity was inherently “less human” than another, and so was deemed to be deserving of treatment closer to that of an animal, then to those “believers”, were not their actions just? After all, what is the world but that which we believe it to be?

What happens if, in a thousand or so years time, our current handling of animals as livestock and commodities comes to be considered as barbaric and morally reprehensible by the majority; will all those who were complicit in this “speciesist” system, or even those who regarded this facet of life as being acceptable, suddenly become “bad” people?

And what is a millennia or two in the history of man, never mind in the history of the Earth or the universe, where it is as if a blink of the eye to us. If our behavioural guidelines change so much, even if for the “better”, in so short a relative timespan, then what credence can they truly contain?

I don’t know, maybe we are, as a species, on an inexorable march towards enlightenment, with the mistakes of the past being but stepping stones on this journey, yet equally, what if there are no “mistakes”?

Bonnie McKee – Easy

In my eye, as I behold her, Bonnie McKee appears to be a rather good-looking girl, but the thing that is most distinguishing about her (at least from the video for “Easy”) is the fact that she has pink hair. (Obviously, when I say she “has” pink hair, I mean that she has dyed her hair that colour, as that particular hue isn’t produced naturally by melanin in the follicle, but that should go without saying, I suppose.)

Now, perusing some photographs of Bonnie online, it is quite evident that she likes to dye her hair into shades only achievable via artificial means, with there seeming to exist no images of her displaying her natural hair colour. Not that this is especially noteworthy, mind, with there existing many women who perpetually dye their hair to escape their congenital shade of barnet, either for aesthetic reasons, or to hinder the perceived ageing quality of perceptible grey strands.

No, rather than the mere presence of dyed hair, it is the colour that she has chosen that is of more interest to me.

Why opt for an unmistakably “synthetic” tone over a naturally-occurring one?

I mean, I have nothing against pink hair, and actually think that it looks alright on her, but what would make someone go for it (or blue, purple, bright red, etc.) over blonde, brown, black, or even ginger?

I suppose it’s the same reason why someone would get a body piercing or a tattoo; they are blatantly the product of a man-made process, and that, for some reason, is viewed as a plus point by their, erm, “owners”, I guess would be the word to use here. Which is strange when you think about it, because most other features that are viewed as desirable are, more or less, epitomes of nature, with even artificial enhancements like boob jobs and penis enlargements generally trying to stay somewhere within the confines of their authentic counterparts.

Just consider make-up.

Ideally, cosmetics should “improve” the facial features to a standard that, whilst often being unreasonable, is still somewhat observable amongst a tangible ideal of beauty, with instances of over-application conversely having a negative effect upon perception by removing “realness” from the equation, thus rendering the wearer a “caricature” of nature; the threshold of “believability” being crossed with unforgiving consequences to external appreciation.

Thus, we have two conflicting approaches at work amongst aestheticians here; the first being that naturality should reign supreme, with all alterations to appearance being in pursuit of an innately “perfect” physicality; the second being that artificiality is more than acceptable in and of itself, with superficial changes to one’s form being a luxury of mankind’s own making, and thus positively regarded as expressing our own unique “humanness”.

However, whilst all this can be said to be merely a matter of “taste”, I can readily proclaim that I am 100% in the former category of aesthetes, with my assessment of body modifications (at least those unrepresentative of any inherent trait, like tattoos, piercings, etc.) being that they degrade the quality of someone’s presence markedly. As a matter of fact, I’d even go so far as to consider them akin to intentional scarring or deformation, which is obviously worse than accidental (or externally-forced) marring of one’s body by virtue of the freedom of choice involved. Which is to say, I can see past the “ugliness” in what appears to be a horrendously grotesque birthmark, or a disfiguring burn wound (if it was the result of misfortune or circumstance), as they say nothing about the most important aspect of a person: their psyche; but a giant tattoo, or a nose ring, on the other hand, denotes a willingness to change that which doesn’t “need” changing, and is thus representative of a mentality that doesn’t appeal much to my sensibilities.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that tattoos and the like exist, as they grant people freedom to express their inner self on their outer self; but the thing is, our internal element is forever mutating, and a “permanent” alteration to one’s body is thus a constant reminder of a temporal facet of a past that no longer exists in any reasonable form. Hence, to me, trying to fight the “better” aspects of nature (like a healthy body) is, well, stupid, especially when things like disease and ageing will likely ravage even the most pristine of physiques eventually. Why not just let that which is perfectly beautiful to begin with remain as such, and focus one’s efforts on creating beauty where there is none to be found? (Much like Bonnie has done here by making music, which is literally creating beauty out of thin air.)

Anyway, pink, blonde, redhead, brunette; it matters to me not one jot; as long as Bonnie keeps making music like this; I think I’ll always consider her to be pretty hot.

The Vamps & Matoma – All Night

Imagine if we didn’t need to sleep, and could actually stay up all night, every night, with no adverse effects on our health as a consequence; would this be a good or bad thing?

Well, in answering that question, the first thing that comes to mind is the most apparent benefit of not spending hours everyday in an unconscious state, which would be that we’d have lots more time to get things that we want to do done. You could literally work every day and and party all night, and you wouldn’t be any worse for wear as a result (plus there’d be no such thing as hangovers, with the intoxicant just having to gradually work its way through your body as you went about your business).

In this imaginary scenario, I’m still going to assume that people will get fatigued through physical exertion, but rather than becoming drowsy, we’d just need to relax our muscles for a time so that they can naturally recover (as well as recharging our energy levels with food, of course). Although, in saying that, why do our muscles become tired and sore after exercise anyway? I suppose, ultimately, that’s an unanswerable question, but if our bodies have evolved to enable us to move in such a way as to do things like hunt and forage for food, fight off predators and rivals, and just generally transport ourselves across the landscape, then it seems plausible that they could develop to never exhaust as long as they are supplied with the necessary energy and nutrients.

However, one could play this game of trying to guess why nature is the way that it is until the cows come home, and nothing definitive will ever be garnered from the process. All that matters is that it’s the way that it is, and that’s the way it is.

So, seeing as we do have to sleep, then why not take advantage of that fact, for as old Bill said: to sleep, perchance to dream; and what better state to exist in than that of a dreamer?

The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the writer team on this web site do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of [sic] Magazine nor its editorial staff.

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