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‘Class’ of 2011

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Will the future Kings of Pop rise from the four walls of Kings College?
by Cheri Amour

The war of the classes rages on as the rise of posh pop has spawned numerous harsh critiques on many of the well-educated sorts currently positioned in our charts. Pete Waterman spoke on Radio 4 about the last two decades of music having “been the worst”, while, on the same show, John Humphreys received outcries from both fans and parents alike [ah, dear Madame Blount] as their beloved acts were subject to ridicule in light of their backgrounds. Such feelings were only reignited recently when the news that Freddie Cowan, the guitarist of NME darlings The Vaccines, childhood home had been put on the market several years back for £2.45m. Hardly, the struggling working-class guitar heroes of days gone by…

“Smoke some fags and play some pool, pretend you never went to school”

I’ve never been one for the kind of uber cool characters who covet the pages of the New Musical Express anyway. I prefer a more independent, arty approach in both my publishings and my latest band crush. The Vaccines are the NME’s newest ‘saviours’ of indie rock’n’roll … but can you truly be a valid prophet of something you fell into more for the ideal than the actual expression of self and sentiment? Recent track ‘Post Break Up Sex’ by the band has haunted me every time I so much as look at the BBC 6 music iPlayer. I can’t think of a more obnoxious slur or subject matter. One may be posh, but surely it doesn’t take a Duke or a Lord to pen a song on something like this … Actually, having sex with a ‘Vaccine’ is probably the only thing more unsettling than this song. It’s like writing a hit on toilet behaviour; it happens but we don’t have to make a song or dance about it. What did you expect from post break up sex? What did I expect from an NME recommendation these days?

“When your birth right is interest, you’ll just accrue it all”

Dress The Vaccines up in a tailored waistcoat, add a dash of pacified country conformity, et voila – you have private-schooled folk-pop Mumford & Sons who, similarly, have their musical core bound to their corduroy clad exteriors and Ivy League college aesthetic. The recent Grammy performers were primed for a roasting by Jon Savage who deemed the group “Tory rock lite” and he wasn’t the only one to disapprove of the fivesome. Despite this, Mumford & Sons’ meandering melodies have risen from their insipid songwriting birth-pool and into the limelight. Is it cynical to suggest the ability to pay for fancy equipment, studio-time, industry connections and a plethora of tweed has giving them an advantage over bands that struggle simply with affording the petrol to get to their next show?

“It’s not fair and I think you’re really mean”

Perhaps what is important here is not the idea of class but crass. Maybe it isn’t reasonable, or refined for that matter, to critique a band on their background or trust funds. Of course we can’t blame these people for the class into which they were born. Joe Strummer was the son of a diplomat, after all. Neither should we condemn the silver spoon-fed types for whiling away their time playing a banjo because, ultimately, it seems inevitable that The Vaccines will follow in the footsteps of the surge of these posh popstars and onto the daytime radio play lists and covers of, disappointingly supportive, musical publications.

Mumford & Sons even admit to referencing some of their lyrics to the great Shakespeare himself. Thus, with such a dwindling level of self-motivated material, one has to ask, does the world really need another dreary bunch of indie upstarts creating much ado about nothing?

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