The 1975 – Naomi Southwell
Hailing from Manchester myself, many are shocked by my contempt for my fellow Mancunians, The 1975. Manchester has an incredibly vibrant and influential musical history, which is being vehemently pissed on by this faux “indie rock” band. The 1975 seem to rely on Matt Healey’s “edgy” image complete with trendy shaved quiff and token leather jacket to sell their records. Admittedly some of their riffs may be catchy, in an entirely predictable way, but their frequent referencing of stoners and weed in their lyrics reeks of try hard, not “Chocolate”. The reality of this style over substance vibe is ever present in their music videos. The video for “Girls” sees the band intermittently replaced by conventionally attractive white women in lingerie. This video was supposedly an attempt to poke fun at the standard pop music video formula that sees women frequently used as props for male fantasies. The irony is that a video where the band played in their underwear surrounded by fully clothed women would have been a better satire but this may not have been quite edgy enough. If we have to rely on bands like The 1975 for the future of British rock, then it’s not going to be a bright one.
Out of the Blue – Henry Holmes
There are a lot of bands I despise, and thousands of words of vitriol I could unleash about the soul-destroying state of the modern music industry, but most of these already have prominent critics. However, the one act that seems to go totally unscathed is Oxford’s own Out of the Blue. I’m pretty sure all male a capella groups are one of western cultures greatest crimes against itself, and while it usually seems to be quarantined to America, the perfectly-harmonised miasma somehow managed to descend upon our dreaming spires. There’s a reason choirs have both men and women in them, and it’s so nobody has to attempt to beatbox just to fill out the utter lack of any interesting texture. My gripe may be with the genre rather than this specific group, but can anybody really tell the difference between them all anyway? Yes, there’s the initial novelty of it all, but then you realise you couldactually listen to the actual songs instead of having to pay attention to some breathy blue-suited twink for more than the thirty seconds that you can keep the bile down. So, in in a language that they’ll understand: “Can you not?”
Coldplay – Lucy Clarke
A quick visit to Urban Dictionary presents a dichotomy of opinions about Coldplay. On one hand, you have your slavish devotees, citing the powerful emotional succour of lyrics like ‘and it was all yellow’. On the other, you have those who recognise the crippling awfulness of a band led by the human personification of beige. Perhaps some people enjoy listening to music that leaves next to no impression upon them. I, however, am almost insulted by the blandness of a band that seems to take inspiration from whatever’s successful… and then make it boring. It’s almost impressive how an album subtitled ‘Death and All His Friends’ could be so painfully unmemorable. Whether over-played earworms or horrific dirges, Coldplay’s music crucially lacks heart. Ballads like ‘Fix You’ and ‘The Scientist’ seem calculated to hit at some generic feeling, while Chris Martin counts his royalties under cover of minor piano chords and appallingly trite lyrics, while ‘anthems’ like ‘Paradise’ and ‘Viva La Vida’ are just wails of nonsense with absolutely no soul (or stage presence, for that matter). There’s an emptiness at the centre of their songs that no amount of flashing concert wristbands can disguise.
Led Zeppelin – Alex Bragg
I could have used this space to smack down Bieber, Swift, Sheeran or any other of the nauseating denizens of the hit parade, and indeed, I would have relished it. But, it seems to me a simple truth that to truly, deeply love an artist, you must be aware of their flaws. Therefore, it seems it falls to me to expose the many and varied flaws of Led Zeppelin. As a younger music geek, I venerated them as no less than the greatest band in history, it’s probably thanks to the late great John Bonham that I first picked up a pair of drumsticks, and even recently, I would have done terrible, unforgivable things to get my grubby mitts on a ticket to their 2012 reunion. They brought a frenetic fury to rock and roll that the sedate likes of the Beatles and even the Rolling Stones lacked. But this doesn’t excuse the wholesale, uncredited pilfering of their beloved forbears’ material (‘Whole Lotta Love’ is nothing more than a reworking of a Muddy Waters song with a Hendrix riff tacked on), the Spinal Tap-inspiring proto-prog silliness of some of their later material, the monstrous pseudo-reggae misdemeanour of ‘D’yer Maker’. Also, Robert Plant’s ubiquitous chest hair was a bit much.
PHOTO/ Andrea Labate https://www.flickr.com/photos/earthmover/