Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Dave Cameron's playlist is hardly a singing endorsement of UK

Out of tune: Gabrielle Aplin was one of a number of singers featured on the playlist David Cameron gave world leaders

It was the moment when the prime minister, David Cameron, presented his fellow G8 summiteers – if that is the right word – with a USB playlist of new British musical talent, so that the heads of state of the world's seven most-powerful economies could plug it into their laptops on their way home (yeah, right) and marvel at the scope and passion of modern pop music being made here.

There are 10 tracks on the Cameron playlist, from Alt-J to Rudimental, and the music is mostly anodyne stuff, with nothing terribly unsettling and nothing terribly avant-garde.

But what did Francois Hollande, or Angela Merkel, for that matter, make of the lyrics? What did the words reveal to them about the people of the UK?

Well, nothing very positive, to be brutally honest. Jake Bugg's Lightning Bolt reports that everyone he sees "just wants to walk with gritted teeth" and people "tell him not to take chances". Good old British phlegm, it seems, is just as choking in 2013 as it ever was.

The Brummie chanteuse Laura Mvula, on her gospelly song Green Garden, repeatedly encourages an inamorata to "take me outside, sit in the green garden" – a wholly disastrous course of action anywhere in the UK this year, until the end of June.

Streatham-born Lianne La Havas sings Is Your Love Big Enough?, a combative inquiry to the average Briton, which may be why the songs ends with her having hysterics "on Second Avenue", having presumably exhausted the possibilities of Holland Park and Balham High Street.

There has already been the (entirely predictable) fuss about the lyrics to Tom Odell's Another Love, because the phrase "I'll use my voice, I'll be so f****** rude" was considered a bit, well, you know, rude. Somehow, I can't imagine Vladimir Putin fainting dead away at that.

The video shows the singer as a floppy-haired ephebe in an armchair, telling his foxy overnight bunk-up: "I wanna take you somewhere, so you know I care." (Where would be that be then, Tom? Stoke-on-Trent?)

And, after ill-advisedly revealing that he can't handle a significant relationship, because his tears have been all used up (on Another Love), continues to sing while she smashes his dingy council flat to smithereens.

Mr Odell's self-presentation as an enervated loser doesn't do much for the reputation of the British lover. Nor does Ben Howard's Only Love, for that matter, which contains the mantra: "Come on, love, watch me fall apart."

Ben promises the fortunate girl that, when he's fallen apart, he'll still be around as "a wind in the shadow, a whale song in the deep". Neither undertaking is remotely likely to stir a maidenly heart to ecstasy.

The off-putting Conor Maynard – just imagine Justins Timberlake and Bieber meeting Baby Face Finlayson from The Beano – at least admits, in his song Can't Say No, to a healthy, non-weeping interest in the opposite sex. But his faux-naive declaration, "Some girls are naughty, some girls are sweet/One thing they got in common, they all got a hold on me" suggests a callow chap afflicted with sadly indiscriminating satyriasis.

Gabrielle Aplin, a star at only 20 years old, contributes a modern version of Paul Simon's Homeward Bound with her song Home.

I just hope that President Barack Obama doesn't check out the video, in which Ms Aplin is shown in the United States being mugged by youths who steal her car and leave her in the desert to be rescued by a grizzled trucker with a snow-white beard.

So that's what modern British culture thinks of the United States, is it? As a place of violence, disarray and uncouth behaviour?

But, then, wouldn't you do anything to get away from a land – the United Kingdom – which is apparently largely populated by emotionally stunted underachievers, chronic adulterers and ladies who ask you to sit outside in the rain and reveal to them whether your love is sufficiently enormous?

It doesn't quite sell the nation to our continental friends, now does it?

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