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Talk About. Pop Music

Musings on music and the culture that is pop



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).

 Feel free to stop by, subscribe, comment, argue, throw things and generally say hello or wave goodbye

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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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