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Talk About. Pop Music

Musings on music and the culture that is pop

 

ABOUT THE BLOG

Welcome to Friendly Fire, a blog about the wonders of great pop music from the past (mainly), the present (sometimes) and the future (ha ha, not really).

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WHOO-HOO!: BLUR

Too-clever-by-half Essex boys invent a genre, disown a genre, disown themselves, then kiss and make up triumphantly. Tales of London flyovers, suburban boredom and prescient vignettes about modern Britain abound. But take out the knowing winks-to-camera and there's an uneasy feeling that what they're trying to tell us is true. Modern life really is rubbish. Here are Blur's best bits.


10. Coffee + TV

Take a bow Graham Coxon. A sweet outsiders anthem for the socially awkward and introverted, displaying a sly humour ('Do you feel like a chain store. Practically floored?'). A song for anyone who feels life's getting too much. Also the video is one of the best of the 90's and will have you sobbing over a milk carton by the end.



9. He Thought of Cars

A dystopian snapshot of the future where motorways have merged, there's panicked queues at Heathrow waiting for flights to the moon, and there's a Cold War dread of nuclear East vs West war. A pessimistic, cold sweat of a nightmare set to a woozy, hypnotic soundtrack



8. Out of Time

More uneasy pessimism (for a band characterised for their chirpy knees-up Cockney-isms they certainly had their dark moments.) Reduced to a threesome, this downbeat African- tinged treasure was released at the time of the Iraq War, and reflects a world spinning out of control, with no apparent solutions to the hard questions being asked.



7. Popscene

Anarchic pre Britpop stomp, reflecting the cliquey scene-within-a scene gang mentality of a Thursday night out in Soho in the early 90's. Popscene! Alright!



6. Song 2

A simple, Nirvana-inspired 2 minute thrash, sounding like it was casually knocked up in half an hour. Made it big in an America they once disdained and - as Alex James describes - "still used on TV when they want to show something going really fast".



5. Beetlebum

A (very) thinly disguised soporific hymn to heroin addiction, brilliantly capturing life under a hazy, narcotic cloud.



4. This Is A Low

A gentle, peculiarly British patchwork quilt of cultural references as seen through the shipping forecast. A jog round English piers, rivers and seaside towns, but back in time for tea. Here's them at Glastonbury in Parklife-era 1994



3. Under The Westway

Referencing their past, a reformed Blur released this understated update to "For Tomorrow", taking a sad sideways look at what London has become. Beautiful.




2. Girls and Boys

Brilliantly squelchy, 80's discofied singalong, chronicling the cattle market of 18-30's holidays with an ever present wink. Yes, there's an element of condescending cultural tourism about the song as it takes arrow shots at anyone who's been in lust for a week and is trying not to catch something nasty, but it's done with a straight enough face that it's doesn't veer into parody. Du bist sehr shchon.



1. For Tomorrow

Beautifully wistful, early Bowie-esque love letter to the capital city, finding a strange beauty in motorway flyovers and concrete. Ending with a view of the city from Primrose Hill, it's their most "London" song, and their best.






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