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Two bars in control

By Tara Brabazon - posted Wednesday, 17 October 2007


Secretly we know that rock stars never die too young. There are only three options for the high rolling (ex) rocker.

The first choice is a big bang early death and lifelong fame. Ian Curtis, Janis Joplin, Keith Moon and the two Jims - Hendrix and Morrison - mobilised this path to posterity.

The other option is looking like Mick Jagger, a broken down rooster in a jumpsuit, who is only attractive to pencil-neck models so starved of carbohydrates that their brain has ceased functioning. In a calorie-starved hallucination, even Mick looks sexy.

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The final option is to become Keith Richards - cool beyond belief - with a face like the worn tread of a Doc Marten boot and a mouth that works ten seconds out of phase with his brain. Keith is clearly living in two time zones most of the time.

The early death of pop music icons encourages nostalgia. Factory Records, having lost both its founder Tony Wilson and talisman Ian Curtis, has spilt its history into two films: 24 Hour Party People and the newly released Control. Such cinematic memorials are only a taste of the obsessional fan behaviour that juts from pop mortality.

In February 2006 for example, the BBC Radio 2 listeners voted for the best song of the last 25 years. The palette of performers from which to choose was odd enough: the Pop Idol winner Will Young, Queen, Kate Bush, Robbie Williams and Joy Division. The omissions were odd: where were The Smiths, New Order, The Stone Roses (“Waterfall” anyone?), The Happy Mondays or Oasis’s “Wonderwall”?

While aware of the gaps, let’s try to understand this list. Queen produced high quality stadium rock. Will Young who? Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights” is a better choice. It changed the structure of popular music, lifted the standards of lyric writing and produced one of the strangest dance sequences in a video. Ever.

And the winner was … Robbie Williams for “Angels.” The decision caused controversy. The BBC website was filled with complaints.

Daz: You’ve got to be kidding.

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Thomas Crawford: I’m actually embarrassed to be British if that is the best song we have produced in the last 25 years!!

Chris Ward: A sad day for music.

Andy Smith: Predictable and laughable.

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About the Author

Tara Brabazon is the Professor of of Education and Head of the School of Teacher Education at Charles Sturt University.

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