day 01 – your favorite song

Guttergeek writes about The Singles Club, framing the piece by Moore first becoming aware of me when I introduced Ellis to a certain song, and Phonogram and its eventual fate were that song incarnate. It’s one of the nicer things anyone has said about it.

So, yeah, Phonogram was my attempt at jamming my 00s into a comic-shaped bottle. You Were The Generation Who Bought More Shoes And You Get What You Deserve was its muse.


It wasn’t just Phonogram’s muse. In Rue Britannia’s cute-faced sister Busted Wonder’s too. It’s even more obvious in Busted Wonder, where its themes were directly mirrored the song’s. Coming of age in an age which doesn’t really believe in ages any more, a world which sinks into its own malaise, a world which is fundamentally cursed and that you’re all too aware of it only makes it worse. Which leaves the question…

It hit Busted Wonder’s Kelly at 11. It could have hit her later. I can imagine her as Lazy Jane on the bus, wondering how she got her name and what she’s going to do about.

What are you gonna do about it?

You have to try and change the world and change yourself and your failure doesn’t matter. You would rather be you and doomed than them but right.

“I just can’t help believing/though believing sees me cursed.”

From its first line, it’s perfect. It’s wonderful before it, but it’s the juxtaposition which turns it into hymn. And from then, it’s just perfect, and pure pop rush of eternal crescendo, with all my favourite things in pop built on top of its Spector Chasis. It’s a song that simultaneously admits the enormous weight of history which overwhelms people into simple retro, then shows what you can still do with it, with the knowledge that the future is the just history which hasn’t happened yet. It’s even perfect even when it’s not perfect, as the song fumbles, trying to work out what to do with its last 10 seconds or so, that failure being the failure in all things, and an encouragement to you to skip back to the record’s start and taking it out for another spin.

“WINTER SWEEPS THE STREETS OF EVENING/THIS FREQUENCY’S MY UNIVERSE”

If I had to choose a moment – and it’s a song of moments – I’d choose that one, the slow build of babys into the second verse, and the utterly gnomic lyric surfing this apocalyptic wave of pop music. It means nothing. It means everything. THIS FREQUENCY’S MY UNIVERSE. It’s less a lyric, than a wedding vow.

Jamie thinks – not wrongly – that how I appreciate music is by transforming it into narrative. It’s a different thing from saying “I’ll forgive anything for a smart lyric”, but all about how the voice and an idea expressed in the voice cuts against the turn of music is absolutely key to my love of pop song. It doesn’t have to be very much words – a random shout is enough to change everything. And – this is where Jamie, I suspect, fails in his analysis – is it’s not always even words, but a sense of purpose and communication and meaning. Mogwai Fear Satan is narrative.

(A failure to do all of the above is why the Foals are shit, but that’s another story.)

Generation… is all about that. How its cynicism and despair cuts against the simple excitement of existence.

There is nothing I like better than doomed romance. Trying something impossible is intrinsically noble. You try and do something possible and you end with possible things. Bless the people who try the impossible, because sometimes the prove that it wasn’t they who were wrong – but the definition of impossible. That’s what Generation… is about, and that’s what Generation is. As in, a towering achievement in 00s pop which sold fuck all. And as it’s the only thing which really captures the confusion of the age, it was my muse. Phonogram was doomed at a genetic level.

If I wanted to critique it, I’d pick up the contempt in it. But I’ll forgive that. It’s the contempt of a friend leaning over a pub table, grabbing you by your lapels and asking WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR LIFE?

Your life is short. You will waste it. How will you waste it?

Generation… is my Teenage Kicks, with the 00s 20-hood instead of initial crushes. It’s a song which I loved because of everything in it, and how it reflects the times, and how stuff was slowly imprinted on it across those years, how it’s simultaneously hymn and lament, problem and solution. It embodies all the frustrations and hypocrisies and unbearable tensions of modern living. It… oh, God. It’s everything I’ve ever loved about pop music, and everything I’ve ever loved, in just over three minutes.

It’s my favourite song. You may have guessed.