listen without prejudice


I SHOULD explain something here. Not only do I not believe in utopian ideals (the concept of paradise seems to cancel out that most basic of human instincts - the need to struggle), but I don't even believe in rock music - if that doesn't sound too stupid. In terms of vibrancy or potency or potential for change or anything, rock music got supplanted a fucking decade ago - in the UK, at least - by such weird shit as rave, dance and, recently, Bristol trip hop and the Mo' Wax demons. (God knows about elsewhere. I'm British. I suffer from xenophobia like the rest of my race.)

Let's face it, though. The best way of judging the effectiveness of an artistic medium to alter or help shape popular opinion is to observe the establishment's reaction to it. In the UK, the government has tried to bring dance music under its control for over half-a-decade now, even bringing in a law (the Criminal Justice Bill) to try to curb the vast, underground, word-of-mouth happenings which used to be known as "raves", making it a potentially criminal offence for parties of more than 20 people to congregate in the vicinity of "heavy beats'.

Contrast this with rock music where members of the royal family freely hobnob with the rock hierarchy (Princess Margaret at a Rolling Stones concert, Princess Di bopping to George Michael). Rock has the proud boast that it bridges generations: it should not be so proud of that claim, not at all. The vital music has always been that which creates generational or sociological divides.

Listen up. Rock music was founded on a lie - white men usurping the black man's heritage; pretty boy Elvis setting all the teenage kids a-squealing with just a wiggle of his white boy hips. It was also exclusively male (God, how dull!), created for and by men with a compulsive need to strut their cocks now they were no longer in the army. God help you if you were female, wanting in. Put simply, rock equates with MORIBUND WHITE MALE - equating with schoolyard bullying, equating with a dead musical form, equating with lack of options or fun, equating with bastards such as Perry Farrell and MTV who sell Lollapolooza as an alternative lifestyle.

(Incidentally, I have long since argued that for rock music to retain any artistic relevance at all, the only way forward is for women to completely take over the medium. There again, I have also long since wondered why women would want to take part in a medium which is so thoroughly set out on male terms, throughout its history. Copies of the original UK theories on Riot Grrrl are available from the usual address.)

On these terms, then, here are a few examples of mainstream rock utopia.

(i) Bon Jovi on MTV Europe - the new song, the one which taps into the hearts and dreams of smalltown America. The one which doesn't exploit those selfsame dreams at all. Not one bit. Look at the poor jerk who spends his life pumping money into a fruit machine, in the vain hope that things can only get better. Don't believe the song, boy.

Things can only get worse.

(ii) Trent Reznor, with his long line of lipstick-smudged cock-wielding roadies at the backstage entrance. Trent, you're so real! Trent, you're so very nearly like a proper gay man, what with your fishnet tights and fascination for serial killers! Trent, you fucking fraudster of an electro-popping rock star!

Neat light show, though. Or so I'm told.

(iii) Offspring, with their radical reworking of 'Smells Like Teen Spirit'. Wow guys, you're so punk. Wherever did that "nah nah nah nah nah" line come from? Did'cha come up with the idea to rip off the song all by yourselves? Shame you completely missed the sentiments of the original, though, that you had to boast about what studs you are. That's not very "losercore", now, is it?

Chick, from Rhode Island band Scarce, is on record as saying he wants to punch out the singer of Offspring for using the word "dweeb" in a song. I'm with you on this one, Chick. All the way.

(iv) The Stones' tacit approval of the Hell's Angels racist murder at Altamont. Ooh, you're so fucking hard, Keef, you street fightin' man. (v) Live, the band - that video where the bald cunt leans into the camera. Jesus. Isn't one R.E.M. bad enough?

(vi) The Clash's live show in 1977. I always hated the fucking Clash, me, what with their clumsy army fatigues and scummy photo shoots in Northern Island, that dreadful dreadful album "Sandinista" and their sweaty, we're-all-boys- together-darn-t'front approval from every (MALE) critic on earth.

Why, Mick! You almost look like Keef in some of your publicity shots. Why not join Aerosmith and be done with it. At least they never pretended to have any credibility. Although, weirdly, Thurston Moore of ultimate New York hipster band, Sonic Youth, claims to like them. That Thurston. What a wag!

(vii) Henry motherfucking Rollins at Reading Festival. Stared at any interesting walls recently, Hank? Faced down any weaklings in the last few weeks? Corrupted any more innocents with your totally warped, totalitarian, reactionary world-view?

(viii) The new corporate punks Green Day, wherever they are. Sorry, Billy - you may be big, but you're certainly not clever.

(ix) Smashing Pumpkins. 'Nuff said.

I would go on, but I'm boring myself already