Sunday, January 13, 2008

Pop tart

Paul Morley might be a better writer than he is a TV presenter (all extravagant hand gestures to mask his inarticulate ramblings, and a bit like an embarrassing dad talking to Sugababes and New Young Pony Club's Tahita Bulmer) but BBC4's 'Pop: What Is It Good For?' still made for good viewing.

Morley chose six songs - Kylie's 'Can't Get You Out Of My Head', T-Rex's 'Ride A White Swan', The Kinks' 'Lola', The Smiths' 'This Charming Man', Adam Faith's 'What Do You Want?' and Sugababes' 'Freak Like Me' - as a springboard for discussing what makes pop music so special.

Along the way we had poet Simon Armitage analysing Morrissey's extraordinary lyrics and describing the song as being like a sketch (Mike Joyce: "I just thought it was a great riff"...), we heard ex Mud guitarist Rob Davis construct 'Can't Get You Out Of My Head' out of its constituent parts like a leather-faced chef, and we got to see what Richard X looks like - slightly pudgy fella with a goatee (probably a good thing he's faceless). At times there was a bit much over-intellectualising, though - great pop songs don't necessarily have to have depth and layers, after all - and I could have done without the Elvis impersonator performing snippets of all six songs.

So, what IS pop good for, then? Perhaps the best and most succinct answer came from Robert Wyatt: "It connects you with other people". Didn't Madonna once say something rather similar?

And thus the start of a beautiful friendship with BBC iPlayer was born...

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