Monday, August 6, 2007

some thoughts on britain

i moved in to my new flat in edinburgh last week, but with work and everything else, it's taken a while to set up. we got a tv the other day, and i sat down and watched some of it last night. i'm embarrassed to say what i sat through (the scorpion king), but i actually learned a few things - not from the rock, just from the adverts. two especially struck me, not because i was actually watching them at the time, but because i recognized the melodious strains that accompanied their attempts to sell their vile products. i first looked up during what turned out to be a sainsbury's ad, as i was filled with "light & day" and the desire to "reach for the sun." apparently, sainsbury's has a history of using the 'spree - the same song - for christmas some years back, in an advert with tv chef jamie oliver. i can't find the one i saw last night on youtube, so you'll just have to trust me on this one, considering "light & day"'s own history of appearing in unlikely places. still, it was most surprising to me, considering the most "indie" commercials in america have been volkswagen's over the past few years - from "pink moon" to "either way" - while respectable (more nick drake albums sold after the cabrio ad than had in the preceding thirty years), major advertisers using songs from niche bands is rather unknown in america. apparently, not so in britain, for mere minutes later, this came on. while i was not a fan of the album, there is no mistaking "it overtakes me" for anything else (also, it was mystics' best song). at war with the mystics did not get half of the critical or public acclaim that yoshimi received, so, in a way, it's strange to hear this song in an advert (a beck's one, no less), though, i must admit, it works rather well. the point, however, is the same as before - how often do you hear "indie" bands in commercials? you don't, generally. anyway, just an observation of a cultural difference where the brits obviously have one up on us americans.

the polyphonic spree - "light & day / reach for the sun"

so, if you've battled your way through that much-too-dense collection of links, here's a paragraph that should be much simpler to swallow. here's one link. it's about the itunes festival, which was held in london last month. now, you may ask yourself - why in london? isn't america good enough for california-based apple? well, i can't answer definitively, but i think it probably isn't. bitches. anyway, channel 4 replayed a segment last night (again with the tv!), which featured kasabian (gag), amy winehouse, and remi nicole (new s/s, mediocre). obviously, my eyes were all for amy, who was MOST disappointing. the controversy/ discussion around her has been pretty non-stop for months, and it was obviously with good reason. she seemed to be on more drugs than this guy, and the two songs we saw - "tears dry on their own" and "back to black" - were just as devoid of soul as amy herself seemed. she stared blankly, she sang mindlessly, there was nothing in her performance that reminded me of what i had been so excited about, back when i heard "rehab" for the first time. it's actually depressing - she's obviously not coping with fame and if she doesn't get some help soon, she's going to be as much of a butt for jokes for the rest of her career as pete doherty. i hope she gets it.

amy winehouse - "tears dry on their own"

photo by robin lingwood.

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