Historians and undertakers are divided over the exact moment rock’n’roll surrendered so much dignity that it became ‘mock’n’roll’ but, just for the sake of argument, if we accept [a]Robbie Williams[/a] wowing Glastonbury as the zenith of ‘mock’, then we can welcome ‘Northern Star’ as the point at which every discerning music fan worth their [a]Mogwai[/a] albums stood up and stomped the bastard into bloody smithereens.
Now there have been occasions upon which the undoubted chart success of utter trash like ‘Northern Star’ could have been considered a timely blow against the empire, an ironic bloody nose to all those indie artsy fartsies who mince around like metaphysical poets and forget that they owe us a living. But right now is not that time. When Melanie Chisholm – Indie Spice, apparently – makes a record that says nothing whatsoever except, in exact track order, “Tonight, Matthew, I’m going to sing like Elaine Paige but close my eyes real tight and pretend to be…” Shirley Manson (track 1), Madonna , Justine Frischmann , Madonna again , Phil Collins (I kid you not, she’s rewritten ‘Another Day In Paradise’! – 5), Lauryn Hill , Beth Gibbons , [a]Robbie Williams[/a] , Shirley Manson again … You get the picture – we need it like we need a fucking hole in the head.
Listen, Melanie, what we [I]do [/I]need right now is a little [I]belief[/I], a little [I]commitment[/I]. Words, of course, from which you and your ‘sisters’ have wrung all meaning and turned into empty slogans. You may think it’s cool to reduce rock to karaoke but you’re very much mistaken and, in the sheer, unshakeable arrogance of trying to show that our music can be assimilated, mastered, bought and sold by any little stage-school twerp daft enough to get tattooed, what you have actually achieved is the exact opposite. ‘Northern Soul’ is such a pathetic pastiche of the music we’re all trying so hard still to love that the more the tabloids puff it up and the more successful it becomes, the more our hate will grow.
What the existence of ‘Northern Star’ tells us is this: once a Spice Girl starts doing Portishead-lite (‘Why’), once we are asked to stomach such lyrics as, “I couldn’t live without my phone/But you don’t even have a home” (‘If That Were Me’, about the conscience shock when you swank out of the Met Bar and bump into that [I]Big Issue[/I] seller), it’s time to call cease and desist.
We should take out a court order on Melanie Chisholm and her like (and that includes other cred-by-association slags like Tom Jones). It should be fucking illegal for them to come within a million miles of our music. And if she ignores the order and gets out her pencils and starts to trace around another Britpop song, BLOW HER AWAY! After hearing [I]’Northern Star'[/I], there’s not a court in the land would convict.