Friday, 7 November 2008

Me And Joss

It's been a while so let me tell you where my inspiration to return to my blog comes from.

On an otherwise idle Friday night I was flicking through the TV channels when I came across one of those appalling list shows on BBC Three. In case anyone has had the good fortune to avoid these abberations of TV slot-filling slop let me elaborate. These shows feature minor celebrities, such as former Steps band members and no-mark comedians, desperate to get their mugs on the box commenting on all manner of things which have made the so-called Top 50 or 100 in their field as compiled by God Knows Who.

Tonight's subject matter was annoying songs. Mercifully I only caught the top 8, but became inspired and irritated in equal measure when the realisation hit me that I LIKE AT LEAST 6 of the top 8 alleged most annoying songs of all time. To give you an idea of the absurdity of the list, it featured Robbie Williams' 'Angels.' I have yet to meet anyone who does not like 'Angels', save for a few lifeless nihilists determined not to approve of anything from the pen and voice of a self-important coke-head sex pest from Stoke-On-Trent. No, not Phil Taylor, the other one.

All of which house-rounding ramblings brings me to my central point. There are, it seems, a whole society of people out there who want you to feel bad about what you like because it does not tally with their idea of 'cool'. I realise that this is all terribly stuffy of me but I'm no longer prepared to feel shame for my musical tastes. Especially since it is shame which is foisted upon me by the sort of Dickwads who downloaded the Crazy Frog's version of Axl F because some gobshite DJ somewhere gave it the seal of 'coolness'.

And so to the Joss of the title of this piece. Joss Stone. Five years ago Joss Stone was hailed by the Fascists Of Cool (FOC's) as the greatest soul singer of a generation. Comparisons with the great Aretha Franklin (what's that? You prefer Rihanna?) came easily as the then teenage star sold copies of her debut album at a rate normally reserved for Mr McDonald and his hugely over-rated hamburgers. Yet the acclaim didn't last, until now we have reached the point where Joss is little short of a pariah in the country of her birth. Her music is now described using quite meaningless words like 'cheesy', and is generally derided by all.

So what makes Joss a target for the FOC's? Apparently it is her accent. Despite her freakishly impressive voice, seemingly limitless talent and simply awesome beauty she is disliked in the UK because she has a rather confused Transatlantic accent. Now I am as firm a believer in keeping hold of one's original accent as the next FOC, but to disown the UK's brightest and most stunningly gorgeous musical talent that I know of is perhaps going too far. Could someone tell me why it is that the similarly afflicted Mark Ronson, a man who has never even attempted to sing a song much less inspire comparisons with soul legends, gets away with his muddled accent?

I fear for Mr Ronson. His time will come. Two, three or maybe four years down the line he is set to be vilified for almost everything he does by the FOC's. Consequently, his current fan base will suffer the awful indignity of having to feel feintly embarrassed that they ever listened to Amy Winhouse's version of 'Valerie'. It is a fate which has befallen not only Joss, but also James Blunt, Daniel Powter, Daniel Bedingfield and Dido to name but a few.

At times Joss does not help herself. Getting out of her face at the Brit Awards before presenting an award was perhaps a less than intellectual decision, while her rendition of God Save The Queen at the recent NFL Wembley clash between the San Diego Chargers and the New Orleans Saints served only to support the argument that she has been Americanised beyond all recognition. Yet none of this should detract from the fact that she IS the best soul singer of her generation. While no-talents like Rihanna continue to enjoy the plaudits despite destroying the concept of soul and R'n'B with their generic, listless wailing, the real gems like Joss are lost to an ignorant public desperate for style over substance.

But do you know what? Having said all of this I am glad. I don't want everyone else to suddenly decide that Joss is the best thing since chocolate. If there is one thing I detest more than the philistines it is bandwagon jumpers, always waiting to express their admiration once the media, press and 'in-crowd' (whoever the fuck they are) decide that it is acceptable to do so. If Joss's album sales in the UK were to truly reflect her brilliance then it would paradoxically indicate that she had gone downhill. Britain's Got Talent, but to celebrate it would be one of the most Un-British acts imaginable. It's little wonder that Joss might consider her British-ness to be something of a negative.

Besides, being the only one who really 'Gets It' has a satisfaction all of it's own. It gives one a sense of originality, and makes it a Hell of a lot easier to get concert tickets too.

Which is good news for any Mark Ronson fans willing to stick by him when the FOC shit hits the fans.