Friday, 27 July 2007

Origins and Snark

Joe Queenan has a newish column at The Guardian on the origin of pop songs. Almost unforgivably it's called "The Vinyl Word", apparently the readers voted on this (and it beat "Talking Hits" by quite a margin), but if you can get past that it's informative and snarky by equal measures, here's a bit of what he had to say about My Way a couple of weeks back:

Few of the nitwits who insist that the song My Way be played at their funerals are aware that this hymn to self-absorption originated with a flamboyant French pop singer who died in his bathtub while changing a light bulb.

Sinatra hated the song, ostensibly because it was pompous and smarmy and self-indulgent, but also because he was probably aware that it would ultimately degenerate into the kind of graveside cabaret material that make mourners wish the stiff was still breathing. As recently as two years ago, My Way was the most popular number played at British funerals, but since then it has ceded pride of place to James Blunt's Goodbye My Lover. This is yet another reason to avoid befriending people who look like they might kick the bucket before you get a chance to vet their iPods.

He's also looked at Smells Like Teen Spirit, Wild Thing, Billie Jean and Johnny B Goode. This week That's Amore gets the treatment:
Unlike Pachelbel's Canon or Hot Legs, works intimately identified with those who wrote them, a tune like That's Amore or How Much Is That Doggie in the Window? usually has very little stature independent of the artist who made it famous. Much like oxygen, leotards or vodka, songs such as That's Amore! are viewed with great affection, but nobody really cares where they come from. It is enough that they are here. Perhaps, more than enough.

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