Wednesday 6 June 2012

Music that saved (trumped) the Queen

So its time for the Queens Jubilee I see. 'God save the Queen!' the nation echoes, but while the general public rummage and rediscover their poshest frocks, I am struck down with an untimely illness. An illness that disables me from taking part in such a facade rippling throughout the otherwise ignored nooks and crannies of our country. Yes, unfortunately the bright colours in the flag that is so proudly littering around every window, the bunting choking every lamp post, and the eerily accurate masks people have chose, for some unknowable reason, to cover their own face in has caused me to spiral deep in to a Britannia depression. Why yes, I hear you bark, it is rather un- British of me, but, how can I put this, I'm just not really feeling it. I mean, I can't say I've ever really thought about the queen, except when I have to check if her face reflects through the notes at work, therefore, as grateful as I am for her patronage, I do not feel like I have a right to celebrate her jubilee to the extent in which other people are. Also, I do not think that my street, surrounded by students (If any at all, at this time of the year) will be roped in to celebrating

HOWEVER, I have the ultimate anecdote for those who understand my reluctance. I decided to grasp the few strands of willingness I possess for this holiday, and made a list of a few British musical heroes that fly the flag for the United Kingdom.

Sex Pistols

Formed in London in 1975, the Sex Pistols were a Punk-Rock band who were responsible for the creation of the Punk movement in the United Kingdom, and influencing many Punk and Alternative Rock acts in the future. Although their success lasted only two and a half years, this band had opened a new direction for many British civilians,their music a raw, angry and frustrated sweep of wet sweaty hair, channeled through animalistic growls, haunting shivers crawling down the spine of Steve Jones' guitar, and energetic punches from Glen Matlock/Sid Vicious' Bass. Most important of all, Johnny Rottens southern sneers are recognised world wide as the frontman of one of the most influencial bands of the music genre.

Coincidently, in a gentle nod to the jubilee, I will point out how this band attacked social conformity, and encouraged a rebellion against the hierarchy. In their only album Never Mind The Bollocks, heres the Sex Pistols they included the aptly named single God Save The Queen in which they released during Queen Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee in 1977. Although the song reached number one in the NME charts, it remained only number " in the official charts. A main reason for this probably being the fact that this song claimed that 'She ain't No human being, and theres no future, in England's dreaming'.

However, Sex Pistols provided an outlet for many socially and economically frustrated citizens, and gave a voice for prisoners of social oppression everywhere. Hurrah!

The Beatles

I know my Grandfather would definately agree that this liverpudlian band is 'up there with the Queen' but does our dear Elizabeth II hold the record for most number-one hits on the Hot 100 chart with 20? No, I think you will find that this is all down to John, George, Paul and Ringo. Formed in 1960, this foursome became a commercial sensation, with teenage girls drooling over their pictures, and viciously scratching flesh of one another to catch the tiniest glimpse of these four heartthrobs. According to the Guinness Book of Records, The Beatles have estimated sales of over one billion units, and with these guys collecting 7 Grammy Awards, and being collectively included in Time magazines 100 most influential people of the 20th Century, it's hard to doubt their success.

The upbeat deliverances of Hello, Goodbye, All You Need is Love, and With a Little Help From My Friends s ell as many more, provide the soundtrack to a beautiful sunny day, and the nostalgically sour tasting twangs of , Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane this band truly offer a buffet of tasty dishes, ready to fulfill every desire your appetite desires. It is hard for anyone not to have heard of The Beatles, with their presence still echoing through societies music today, many musical idols of today continue to claim how they pined for their unrequited love with Yeterday, and, with their beautifully evoking lyrics, and ridiculous sense of humour it is unheard of to not fall in love with The Beatles.

Click here to see my favourite Beatles performance, with George Harrison sporting a rather wonderful moustache.

Pink Floyd

As you can probably tell in their chosen name, Pink Floyd flirted with Progressive, and Psychedelic Rock, and created some of the biggest performing masterpieces ever to be performed live (in my opinion). These four geniuses combined philosophically questionable lyrics, with their experimentation of sonics and acoustics, and placing a big fat elaborate cherry on top in their individual brand of live performance. Having sold over 250 million records worldwide this band has been added to the Rock and Roll hall of Fame in celebration of the outstanding musical journeys this band directs you to in their performances, heightening the bar for live acts everywhere. When you listen to Pink Floyd, you can almost feel yourself floating and bending in to thin air, dancing with the birds, as the cooling drops of rain massage your body along to the hypnotizing murmurings.

Formed in 1965 as mutual University students, with the original line up being that of Roger Waters, Richard Wright, and Syd Barrett, and previously playing around with names such as The Tea Set, and The Abdabs Barrett came up with the name Pink Foyd by combining the names of Pink Anderson, and Floyd Council in which he saw on Paul Oliver's sleeve note for Blind Boy Fuller's LP.


Its hard to believe that the band Queen was ever yet to be created, the destiny of these four members surely must have been decided when earth was created (however it was created). Time was just an alarm, waiting to come alive when Freddie Mercury became a fan of a band named Smile,and later, in his attempts to make the band more elaborate and entertaining live, he joined Brian May and Roger Taylor, with John Deacon later fulfilling the bands fate just before they shook the world with their thundering guitar licks and Mercury's harmonies of the four-octave range delivering lyrics that tackled issues including his own experiences and struggles with AIDS, and he basked in the glory of his audiences love for him, a statement chillingly ehoed in Kurt obain's suicide note, in which he staes how he envies Mercury for being capable of this.

Mercury was famous for catapulting the bad to stardom with his incredible stage presence, a famous image of him shows him punch the air in a celebratory stance whilst performing one of the bands songs, however Mercury claimed that "When I'm performing I'm an extrovert, yet inside I'm a completely different man." offering a more human insight in to the Rock God's personal struggles with his confidence.

When asked about the bands choice of name, Mercury explained that "I thought up the name Queen. It's just a name, but it's very regal obviously, and it sounds splendid. It's a strong name, very universal and immediate. It had a lot of visual potential and was open to all sorts of interpretations. I was certainly aware of gay connotations, but that was just one facet of it." Not only highlighting Mercury's love of confusion his fans to whether he was gay, straight, or bisexual, but also leaving an essence of confusion postmortem, for fans to delegate even after his unfortunate death. He need not have bothered though, if he thought he was going to be forgotten he was wrong, Queen still remains a largely played band, with their songs jumping up everywhere and reminding everyone just how important this band is. Although the rest of Queen continue on with a variety of front men, there will never be one who fills such a wide void at the front of the stage.

Together, this band has released 18 number 1 albums, 18 number 1 singles, and 10 number 1 DVD's, with an estmat of 300 million albums sold worldwide, a lifetime achievement award in 1990, and members of the Rock and Roll hall of Fame (2001) under their belt, this band, HAS to have trumped the Queen herself. It's in the name.

Spice Girls

Flying the Feminist friendly flag of girl power, (probably once seen barely covering Geri Halliwell's secret areas) this collective of five, sometimes four, beautiful women provided idols for pre-pubescent, pig tailed girls everywhere in the 1990's.

Once upon a time, father and son business team Bob and Chris Herbert decided that there was an opening in the market for a feisty flirtatious girl band, that provided an offering of anthems both inspiring and catchy like machines, and still looking good after hours of filming a music video in the freezing cold. Another reason being that the teenage customers of the 90's swallowed and consumed anything on the lines of East 17 and Take That, cleverly recognising that if there was an act that appealed not only to the confused lust of the girls dreaming of their definitive wedding to Peter Andre, but to the previously ignored audience of spotty boys, whose probable only other mode of entertainment is hiding his sisters Backstreet Boys CD until she cries. Yes, these guys set out to find five willing princesses to glitter in the spotlight of tean angst and create a new wave of feminine domination.

In a 1996 edition Top of The Pops magazine devised a separate image for each member of Spice Girls, and, in order to appeal to a wider audience (who were now kindly allowed to choose which female stereotype they felt more inclined towards), the band and their management adopted these images and channeled them in their outfits, their performances, and even their haircuts. Rolling Stone journalist David Sinclair claims that "Scary, Baby, Ginger, Posh and Sporty were the most widely recognised group of individuals since John, Paul, George, and Ringo" highlighting the bands success.

These females took over the world after signing with Virgin Records in 1995, due to several trust and control issues with Heart Management. Spice Girls, have sold over 75 million records world wide, with the majority of that number no doubt being classmates of mine, as a 90's child, there is no doubt in this bands success, the world welcomed this band with open arms, and they shot to musical hierarchy, mini skirts and all. Although they did not particularly spice up my life, I listen to their hyperactive renditions of love, boys and friendship, and in my unexpected knowledge of most of the lyrics I realise that they really have had an influence on even my life.

Take That

Middle aged mothers and their teenage daughters unite! These fellas have not only combined two generations of audiences, but they have also bagged 27 top 40 albums, 16 top 5 singles, and that is just in the United Kingdom, 11 of these reaching number 1, and 7 number one albums. They have also all aged very gracefully, especially lead vocalist Gary Barlow.

1989 saw Nigel Martin-Smith envision a British, all male vocal group, however his version of such was imagined as a teen band. In his search for said band, he found young singer-song writer Gary Barlow, and was so impressed with his talents, that he moulded his vision around Barlow's qualities. Manchester, and nearby cities were then visited in an audition process to find Barlow's future band mates, with a wish for men gifted particularly in Dancing and Singing. After the members of the band were decided, their first performance was on popular teen show The Hitman & Her in 1990 (quick fact here, and my very own claim to fame, is that my father was a dancer on this show, pink shorts and all). The next few months saw the band touring small venues such as clubs and bars, before they hit gold and released a cover of 1975 hit It only Takes a Minute Girl which peaked at 7 on the UK Singles Chart. Their first album Take That & Party was released in 1991, and included Barlow's very own first ballad A Million Love Songs.

Take That have had their fair share of drama, from the tantrums of Robbie Williams leading to him leaving the band, to their 1996 disbanding, where the hearts of fans everywhere broke tragically, only for the band to reunite in 2005 to cough up a fresh list of ballads celebrated in the media everywhere, from a Take That musical, to a Singstar game based on the bands songs.

So, to conclude my list of musical heroes, that have had an undeniable affect on England, if not the rest of the world too, I shall add that my list could probably harbour a handful of other acts, such as; Depeche Mode, Elton John, Fleetwood Mac(or half of them anyway), Ultravox(tickets to whom I begged for on my 18th birthday, Midge Ure still has it!), Eurythmics, and many more, I could go on forever...

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