Friday, December 31, 2010

An Idiosyncratic History of the Music Video, Part 3

Ridicule is nothing to be scared of.

One for panto season this, but there's also the fact that the video to Adam & the Ants' Prince Charming (1981) is, from about 1.40 in, one of the finest music videos ever made.

The video serves to illustrate something that I think is missing from chart music at the moment. At some point in the late 1980s or early 1990s, pop music lost its ability to be as gloriously, brilliantly strange as this. It's probably to do with the increasing development of manufactured acts. Acts have always been manufactured to some extent, of course, but up until the 1980s it was a question of management finding a subcultural scene which developed from below and developing acts from it. The New Romantics are an excellent case in point. In the era of The X Factor the programme is its own scene, allowing things to be controlled almost completely from above.

Friday, December 10, 2010

If You Know Your History


University College London, December 2010.


On this lower level faint and far off I could just barely see some of the old wooden derricks of the oilfield from which the Sternwoods had made their money. Most of the field was a public park now, cleaned up and donated to the city by General Sternwood. But a little of it was still producing in groups of wells pumping five or six barrels a day. The Sternwoods, having moved up the hill, could no longer smell the stale sump water or the oil, but they could still look out their front windows and see what had made them rich. If they wanted to. I didn't suppose they would want to.
- Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep (1939)