Can Pap-Pop Save the Planet?

by | May 18, 2011

A couple of commenters on my last post questioned my judgement of misery-act, Radiohead. I hope that we can find a consensus on this little number more easily…

[youtube h65xXOVrQzQ]


It’s the Finnish entry to the Eurovision Song Contest — an annual high camp, low-brow event.

There’s not much to be said about it, apart from the fact that it’s a little sad that a young man, naive as he is, has such a bleak view of the world, even if he finds inspiration in the idea that an even younger person could somehow change it — all us grown-ups have ruined the place, you see. It’s if-you-wish-hard-enough-it-will-come-true sentimental mush.

There are more important things going on, of course. Today, the UK government announced the carbon budget until 2025, committing the UK to more and more expensive energy. This has been sold to the public — not that they had any say in the matter — on the basis that it will i) save the planet; and ii) create green growth and jobs. The answer to these points is that i) no it won’t, and ii) the idea that making things much more expensive creates ‘growth’ and ‘jobs’ doesn’t belong in the version of reality most people are familiar with.

Somebody should write a song about it.

No, wait, they shouldn’t.


  1. George Carty

    How many pensioners will die of hypothermia because of the unholy alliance between the Greens, the renewable energy hawkers and Big Natural Gas which instructed the Government to pass crap like you just mentioned?

    “Green jobs” are unsustainable and dependent on there always being a “greater fool” to buy worthless renewable energy technology. What do you expect though from the political class that thought during the Noughties that the real economy didn’t matter as long as you keep house prices going forever upwards?

  2. Luis Dias

    Well sorry for the last post’s comment, but it is true…. although they aren’t “consensual”, they are usually thought out as one of the best bands of the world the past ten years or slightly more, and with good reason…

    To make my point, I just provide a little evidence:

    To this video, I agree, it’s quite horrible ;).

  3. Ben Pile

    So is the music, in my view.

    That they are regarded as ‘one of the best bands of the world the last ten years or more’ says more about the world and music criticism than it says about Radiohead.

    They should join up with Coldplay and become Headcold. It would be appropriate to both acts’ miserable whine.

  4. Ben Pile

    Here are the lyrics to the song, Luis:

    You can’t take it with you
    Dancing for your pleasure

    You are not to blame for
    Bittersweet distractor
    Dare not speak its name
    Dedicated to all you
    all human beings

    Because we separate like
    ripples on a blank shore
    (in rainbows)
    Because we separate like
    ripples on a blank shore
    (in rainbows)


    Take me with you
    Dedicated to all you
    all human beings

    Subtle and insightful? Or deep and meaningless?

  5. Sceptical Guardian Reader

    Ben, I don’t want to get a flame war over personal taste, but your comparison of Radiohead (one of the most original bands in recent years) and Coldplay (one of the most derivative bands of recent years) shows your knowledge of modern music isn’t up to the same level as your knowledge of modern politics.
    This is your blog so write what you like (and listen to what you like too), but if I want to hear opinions about pop music there are about a billion other websites I could look at.

  6. Ben Pile

    SGR, this blog take frequent diversions from the political to the cultural. For instance, there are a number of discussions about the transmission of ideas, and about the reflection of the political in the cultural and vice versa. My comment about Radiohead being ‘crap’ was passing; you made it the talking point of a discussion by challenging me to justify it. I gave you my view: Radiohead may well be competent musicians, but are empty, hollow, and shallow, hence their preoccupation with misery, which reflects a broader ‘zeitgeist’ — the subject of this blog. If you want to argue that Radiohead have transcended the banality of the present, to say something inventive and insightful of the human condition, go right ahead. If you just mean they write pretty songs… again, yes… it’s a matter of taste. I don’t see such a demarcation of the political and cultural, however.

    For what it’s worth… Radiohead are from my hometown. Several of my schoolfriends (as they were at the time) are in the crowd in the video of ‘creep’, which was filmed in the Venue, just 150 meters from my home. I’ve always thought that Radiohead were crap… before they charted. I could not understand why anybody would want to listen to music that indulged in self-hate to such an extent — ‘I’m a creep, I’m a weirdo’. I could not understand why people with such privileged backgrounds could find nothing to enjoy about life. I could not understand Radiohead’s success. I could only conclude that it spoke to people’s inner-misery-guts. In this respect, they are undoubtedly successful. Hooray. Congratulations to them; they have shared their joyless existences.

  7. StuartR

    Radiohead do seem to be a band that require the listener to have to get them in some sort of spiritual way rather than actually needing anyone to enjoy them. If I ever feel the need to be lectured by a pompous middle class prog rock band I much prefer the far jauntier Jon Anderson trilling about saving the whale ;)

    I am surprised no one has mentioned the classic Father Ted episode where the suicidal priest Kevin embarks on his journey home after finally being cheered up by Ted only to encounter…


  8. Mooloo

    Subtle and insightful? Or deep and meaningless?

    Shallow and meaningless. So shallow, in fact, that people can read into them all sorts of things. Just like the Book of Revelation is the crank’s favourite because it’s lack of meaning allows all sorts of drivel to be found in it.

    The first time my wife and I heard Radiohead it was “Fake Plastic Trees”. My wife’s first reaction was “are there other sorts of plastic trees?” Listening to the lyrics did not help.

    In the end it’s only pop music, and taking it even remotely seriously is a category error.

  9. Sceptical Guardian Reader

    “you made it the talking point of a discussion by challenging me to justify it.”
    Maybe that’s true, I was just a little supprised to see radiohead being discussed here and a little annoyed to see them bashed in the comments below.

    “In the end it’s only pop music, and taking it even remotely seriously is a category error.”

    By the way I happen to be a (moderately succsesfull, part-time) DJ, producing and playing mostly Electro House & Disco, so shallow lyrics are something I know alot about!

    I wont direct you to my music blog because I’m a coward.

  10. Alex Cull

    The Da Da Dam song starts well. “Peter is smart”. That’s good.

    “[H]e knows each European country by heart”. Ah, that’s not quite so good, because Peter is obviously learning things by rote, rather than figuring things out for himself or developing a questioning attitude.

    “He likes to sit under an apple tree on his yard / And wait for an apple to fall.” That’s not so bad, maybe – patience, observation, empiricism.

    “When Peter is nine, / His teacher tells him that this planet is dying.” And it’s here that everything goes downhill from then on. Peter is nine – he lacks maturity and a questioning attitude. The teacher tells him “this planet is dying” and straightaway he believes it completely. The rest of the song follows a predictable pattern. He tells his mother – she doesn’t listen. He tells other people, but they don’t listen. He tries to tell the king and parliament, but they don’t listen, either. No-one is listening to Peter!

    How does Peter know that the planet is dying? Not from looking at evidence. All he has is the assurance of one single person, a childhood authority figure. Note that the teacher just “tells” him the planet is dying, rather than showing him or proving it to him. And yet Peter is absolutely certain of it.

    Here’s a final verse for this song, that I just made up.

    And now Peter’s walkin back from the world
    Thirty years on, and he suspects the planet’s not dying
    Young Peter became a professor of sustainability studies
    But the funding’s been cut, and no one is listening
    It was all a big heap of festering compost

    Da da dam, da da dam
    Da da da da da da, da da dam

    I can’t help thinking, however, that this alternative ending, even though it adds a welcome note of realism, would probably not have been able to save the song from getting only 57 points and finishing in 21st place.

  11. click

    Im having a teeny problem. I cant get my reader to pickup your feed, Im using msn reader by the way.


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