STOP THE PRESSES! Since we published this piece, the Church Of England have decided that St George’s Day is actually next week, not today. Which is weird, but feels very 2019. Anyway, suspend your disbelief and read on, if you will…
Selfish Cunt – Britain Is Shit (2004)
Sure, stuff’s not great now, but listen to how bloody bloody angry this London duo were in 2004! Raging against the Iraq War, the provocative pair debuted with this searing indictment of the home nations. “Britain is shit/It’s full of lies/White men spout their shit/In their shirts and ties,” they sneer, like Johnny Rotten being served Benecol spread instead of Country Life. Same same same, chaps.
Most English moment: The lyric “Put your kettle on/Because a war is on”, because tea doesn’t fix everything but it can help.
Morrissey – Everyday Is Like Sunday
No no, don’t worry, I’m not going to say anything about the Mozman’s politics (though today of all days we could get away with it as he’ll be too busy hanging bunting and watching On The Buses DVDs to notice, amirite?). No, this song is legitimately here because it’s the most wonderfully evocative summary of that most English of things: a depressing seaside resort, and that’s likely where half of you spent most of yesterday trying to find a parking space. Picture the scene: a seagull’s attacked your cod & chips, you lost your wages on the penny falls and some log flume water got in your mouth and now you have Weil’s disease. And there, relaxing on a bench amid this tableau, is Morrissey, surveying the scene and thinking: “Good”.
Most English moment: The bit in the video where two white-haired ladies are watching an animatronic teddy bear in an amusement arcade with a level of wonder that suggests they’re front row at Cirque De Soleil.
Blur – Bank Holiday
God, do you remember yesterday? Brilliant wasn’t it. Sunshine, long drive on the M6 and a double hit of the Sunday night dooms. There’s a theory that the key to having a hit song is to make its sentiment as universal as possible (see: ‘Things Can Only Get Better’, ‘It’s My Life’). Every English person loves a Bank Holiday and Blur were the first ones to immortalise the experience – barbecues, lager, remembering that you have to go back to work – but tucked it away as a ‘Parklife’ album track. Is that the reason we don’t all gather with our families and sing it on a BHM? No, it’s cos it’s really fast and quite unpalatable.
Most English moment: This lyric – “John is down the fun pub (drinking lots of lager)/Girls and boys are on the game (and all the high streets look the same)”. Fun pub? All pubs are fun!
Kate Bush – Wuthering Heights
BUSH DOES BRONTE! Yes, here was one female English genius being inspired by the work of another, setting her mystifying, mercurial debut single on the Yorkshire Moors, wild national treasures that remain today, as they were in Bronte’s day, a symbol of the bleakness and brutality of the English countryside. Oh, no, wait, some twats with disposable barbecues burned them down over the weekend.
Most English moment: “Heathcliff, it’s me, I’m Cathy/I’ve come home, I’m so cold,” cos it’s cold up north (when there aren’t two raging moorland infernos).
The Maypole Song
Yes, yes, this is from The Wicker Man, which is set on a fictional island off the coast of Scotland – back in yer chair, pedants. But it’s here because the ‘grassroots Tory party’ – whoever the blimmin’ flip they are, are having a poll – geddit – about whether to oust Theresa May – geddit – with a no confidence motion, even though the actual Tory Party blew their beans on that get-her-out clause last year. ALSO: after Brexit, we will be able to return to our pagan origins, meaning dancing around the Maypole will once more be a legit pastime and I, for one, cannot wait to nail a crow to a tree and wassail in the scrumpy fields then relax with a bit of Morris raving.
Most English moment: A sense of it being really fucking creepy in the countryside.
The Clash – London Calling
“London is drowning and I live by the river”? Extinction Rebellion have gone one better, pal – they’ve been living over the river on Waterloo Bridge, admiring that Waterloo Sunset and thinking about the systematic destruction predicted some 40 years ago by Strummer and co: “The ice age is coming/The sun is zooming in/Meltdown expected, the wheat is growin’ thin”. Don’t say they didn’t warn you.
Most English moment: The lyric “London calling, see we ain’t got no swing/Except for the ring of that truncheon thing,” cos that was the establishment response to the protest: arrest Swampy.
Bucks Fizz – ‘Making Your Mind Up’
It’s the perfect anthem for Brexit, chapter 927. Theresa May and co couldn’t decide what to do before March 29 so they just didn’t bother turning their homework in and went to ask the teacher for an extinction instead, then – SPRING BREAK, MOTHERFUCKERS! May went walking in Wales with that man who follows her around. Parliament returns to session today, and May will no doubt continue to heed the words of the Fizz that have propelled her through the process so far, inspiring her modus operandi of continuing a ruinous course in spite of all logic, reason and reputation. “Don’t let your indecision / Take you from behind / Trust your inner vision / Don’t let others change your mind,” the song says, and we believe that Theresa May is absolutely a woman who refuses to be taken from behind, no matter how often that man lurks on her six.
Most English moment: when this song won Eurovision because – get this – there was a time when everyone in Europe didn’t hate us.