Of course, I’ve heard the suffix ‘-narian’ to describe people of certain ages before, but for some reason only as applied to people of advanced seniority. ‘Octogenarian’ for 80-somethings, or ‘sprightly septuagenarian’ – alliterating and slightly patronising for the 70-somethings. The combination of polysyllabic term with high multiple of years accrued seems an appropriate fit.

Today, however, fumbling about for something Q-based to post that wasn’t simply a quartet (or quintet) of Queen videos, I discovered that there is – perhaps somewhat obviously – a list of words to describe age groupings for every decade (except, as far as I can glean, between the ages of 0 and 9, though I welcome further input on this).

Some of the nouns have pleasing suggestive qualities, such as sounding a little like Dr Who villains (denarians), or warring factions in a Swift pamphlet (vicenarians vs tricenarians; advocates of pure hedonism ranged against an officious clan that requires supporting paperwork signed in triplicate? Something like that.).

And, to the point, I was interested to discover that as I am between the ages of 40 and 49 I am a quadragenarian, with all the solid, square connotations implied in all of that, as well as the suggestion of being vexed with non-specific thigh pains. In my fifth decade.

 

SO MUCH TO DO.

 

With that in mind, here is a single Queen video:

 

 

Put your feet on the ground
Put your hand on your heart
Lift to your head to the stars
You’re a quadragenarian.

Radio GaGa… Radio GooGoo… Radio UrdleDurdle… It’s a Radio Toddler Queen Special!

This post was actually scheduled to go out the other week, when the closure of Queen musical We Will Rock You was announced, but didn’t, to avoid accusations of fiddling the picks, payola-style. Really, though, one can never have enough Queen, darlings.

Despite taking an early shine to the Flash (AAAH-AHH!) Gordon Soundtrack, our diminutive DJ has most recently been transporting a double entry from Freddie and the boys across the carpet to the turntable.

Hot Space, from 1982. An interesting time for the band, then in an experimental – even more experimental – vein. Fully enjoying the world of squelch afforded by liberal use of synthesizers, it showcased interests in new wave, funk and gay disco, their “new sounds” drawing a mixed reaction from fans and critics. Freddie’s response, playing ‘Staying power’ live at the Milton Keynes Bowl:

“I mean, it’s only a bloody record. People get so excited about these things.”

Under Pressure was the big single, but as well as Staying Power there are quite a few boogie-down numbers else to be had, such as this one:

Apparently, Roger Taylor hates the video.

Oh yeah see what you've done to me

Oh yeah see what you’ve done to me

Can’t imagine why…

The Hot Space album was cited by Michael Jackson as an influence, apparently also, also apparently. Like the vivid yellow of Flash Gordon, Hot Space has a very Toddler friendly cover as well.

Queen-Hot_Space-front

“Right, this is Freddie… John… Roger… and Brian…”

Queen-Hot-Space-back

Next, Radio Toddler (clapclap!) Radio GooGoo toddled back in time to 1974, pulling out the magnificent Queen II album, and its frankly fabulous cover.

Queen-II-front

Queen-II-back

Not forgetting the absurd glossy pouting genius of the centregatefold:

Queen-II-middle

Ah, hair. Perhaps our still-wispy-scalped sweetie is coveting Roger’s locks. Musically, there has been a great deal of frenzied little DJ dancing (and some enthusiastic mum and dad dancing, sort of Michael Flatley meets the dwarves of Stonehenge) to Seven Seas of Rhye, which concludes the delights on an album full of Fairy Feller’s master strokes.

“I challenge the mighty titan and his troubadours,
and with a smile, I’ll take you to the Seven Seas of Rhye.”

All hail Freddie Mercury… and Brian andJohnandRoger.

Next edition: DJ Little Pumpkin gets a leg-up at the record shelves to reach the first half of the alphabet.

Happy news today that the Queen musical We Will Rock You is to finish.

we-will-rock-you

My glee is not due to Queen hatred, nor is it cultural snobbery. Well, alright, it is a bit culturally snobbish. Yet it is my culture, so permit me do weird self-loathing and disdain as I please. I wrote an article about We Will Rock You the musical in 2006, on a previous blog (Slalom Speaking).

After some introductory associative waffling, the main thrust of the article was about what a disappointment Ben Elton turned out to be:

“‘…bah, pre-packaged nites out… hardly ‘Lifehouse’, is it? Rock n’ popcorn…’ brought me to remembering that Bruce Delamitri is the name of a Tarantino-style director in one of Ben Elton’s later book/play/whatever it is, Popcorn.

This witless combination of hamfisted satire and late 20th century media obsessions (actually, I’m going to put that on my ‘about’ page) kind of exemplifies where it all went wrong for Ben, or Baron Benjamin of Elton as he is now certain to become, thanks to his close links with the Royal Family. When his essentially reactionary jobbing farty persona was revealed to be, well, not a persona. Yes indeed.

Align Left (until 1993)

Align Left (until 1993)

I mean, I let him off to a certain extent because he co-wrote Blackadder. However… the chamber of horrors West End [of London] rock musicals lays like a fat grease spot on a napkin undulating over a contentedly stuffed gut.

It’s not just Queen, but “Tonight’s the Night”, about Rod Stewart (Actual quote: “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy sung by groupies, Hot Legs sung by masseuses, Sailing sung by sailors” – SWEET JESUS!) “The Beautiful Game”, about football – Benny, will you give it up? It’s a short step from “Tonight’s the Night” to ‘Ben Elton announces his new project, a musical about T.Rex called “Dandy in the Underworld”, in which Marc Bolan returns from the dead to show people how we can save the world with glam rock, feather boas and eyeliner…”… and then I’m afraid I shall have to call the police.

Here is my idea for a new musical: “Elton Benny & The Jets”, a rock-musical about a wealthy but washed-up comedy writer in his fifties. Elton Benny has rejected glam glitz and spangly suits and pseudo-political engagement and being funny in favour of novels about banal bourgeois mating rites and doing the book for a succession of feeble yet toweringly successful musicals which allow already insanely, impossibly wealthy 70’s rock musicians to further milk a bored public for their hard-earned readies. Watching some old comedy clips and punk videos on YouTube he rediscovers his political mojo and with a refreshed engagement with reality inspires a new generation of performers, before being tragically, farcically, crushed by a giant eclair.

Featuring the music of Elton John. Starring Jake Shears from Scissor Scisters as Elton Benny. Rik Mayall as The Pinball Wizard (until September). One stalls seat: £274.50.

I can pinpoint the exact moment I knew it was over between me and Sir Lord Benjamin-Benjamin of Eltonia. It was the juncture at which, hosting the Queen’s Golden Jubilee celebrations in 2002, he turned to the crowd at Buckingham Palace with that familiar elbow-out microphone gesture and upturned shiny face and intoned the deathless phrase:

‘Ladies and Gentlemen, will you please give it up for The Spice Girls?!’

Yes indeed.”

Well, I’m sure that told him. Fortunately, all that tide of bile can now ebb, because the ‘jukebox musical’ We Will Rock You has closed, which perhaps might signal an end to That Sort of Thing in general.

Still, I like Queen a great deal – so do lots of people, they’ve sold squijillions of records. Which was why I suppose I always hated the idea of the musical. My sister saw it. She said it was enjoyable crap – terrible dialogue and story, but Queen songs. I’m pretty sure she said there was no way she would have gone if it hadn’t been someone else that paid for the tickets. We-Will-Rock-You-at-The-Dominion always struck me as a bit of a tawdry cheat, when you could just stick on a Queen album. Or, as anyone who has read Good Omens will tell you, any tape at all in a car, seeing as they will over time transmute into a Greatest Hits of Queen.

So, happy news. Besides, whenever I feel sad about anything, I just pop on this version of ‘Somebody to Love’, recorded at the Milton Keynes Bowl in 1982.

Free, I tell ya.

It’s a bit after the fact to complain about the use of pop music in adverts, a bit post-some shit or other. Witness the bleating that took place when Iggy Pop popped up in ads for car insurance: people who were but a glint in their grandad’s TV eye when Pop was raking bottles across his chest and vochowlising the missile trails of the nuclear A-bomb, these people, getting personally affronted, as if a) Iggy fucking Pop didn’t invent punk, b) Pop cared what they thought, or b) something really mattered about it. He is the passenger, but also the driver, yeah?

I used to get all stressed out about “selling out”. Being young and idealistic and making music in bands… haunted by the fantasia of the untainted artistic vision… for the majority of ‘mainstream’ bands, was it ever ought but the preserve of the financially secure, something easy to rationalise once the nasty period of ‘having a few hits’ was safely out of the way? And surely this model is now obsolete in any case, as ‘the music industry’ struggles to cope with new economic and technological paradigms? And has ‘the real story’ not always been one of artistes toiling for years in obscurity on their personal statements to the multiverse? (That’s enough pseudo-Žižekian economipop rhetoric? – Ed.)

Basically, moaning about pop music being a popular commodity is like dancing about Phil Collins retiring. I’ll be happy for a minute then feel like I’ve just wasted an opportunity to do something useful. However, I must express my extreme dissatisfaction with Queen’s ‘One Vision’ being included in a puff for British Gas. Witness the shitness here (embedding disabled because it’s AWFUL).

Of course, I was prepared to overlook the desperate appeal to aging Britpoppers now raising families that was the use of ‘The Universal’ in a previous, similar work. That ad also portrayed a number of animated planets, atomised individuals and families, looking in joy to the stars as their gas bills arced by in Newtonic splendour. The song playing the while was the one in which Damien Adenoidalbalm intones that “it reallyreallyreallycouldappen,” the associative grounds being that this is what we have been waiting for, this is the coming together of which they had a dream in them there 60s… I suppose it sort of fits with the advert, and the fact that Blur are, well, astronomically bollocks.

But! To continue the cosmic theme (because I know Brian May will like this, and it’s always worth nicking a great joke from Douglas Adams), with the use of One Vision in the recent ad, Earth has surely developed a minor eccentricity in its orbit, from Freddie Mercury SPINNING IN HIS GRAVE. It’s not even an asteroidal announcement of a pledge that a full third of British Gas profits will be going to fund renewable technology or something. It’s Nectar points.

Contrary to some arguments about his motivations, I think it is clear from the records and the record that Fred was, above all else, an idealist. The pomp, the nonsense, the ambiguities in life and death, were all part of one big Queen’s attempts to come to terms with life on this plane. Watch the bit from 01.58 in the video below. I almost cannot bear the expression of a desolation of ideals, an UNDERSTANDING of a better way swept aside by politics and economics, the assertion of the (naive but crucial) belief that, despite this, coming together and ROCKING THE PARTY can and will make it better.

Fred’s dead, baby. Fred’s dead. British Gas, with CHI and Partners, cast their eye around the world now, at different peoples striving for political autonomy and such, and thought ‘You know what, people NEED to know that being a British Gas customer means you can collect Nectar points.’ Then they thought that the best possible way to emphasise this was to use a song with basically incredible (in both the ‘I really dig this’ and the ‘Yeah, come on though, BUT…’ senses) lyrics of redemption through music. ‘No hate, no fight, just excitation…all through the night, it’s a celebration’. This fits, because it emphasises how you can also REDEEM Nectar points against a range of goods and services, and accumulate these points simply by being a British Gas customer. Simples! (That’s the wrong advert, you twat – Ed)

It’s a crazy little thing to get wound up about, maybe, but I saw it happening, that global harmony thing was, is, MY dream too. Nelson Mandela was let out on my birthday, and the Berlin Wall came down! ONE LOVE! But we’re STILL fucking fighting each other round the world, still living in a North Sea Bubble. Never mind, I shall amass Nectar points and CEASE MY WORRY. I mean, what’s the worst that couldappen? I suppose ‘One Vision’ could be used in a film glorifying militarist quasi-individualism or something.

Let us instead imagine the BEST that could happen. Clearly, the post-Freddie years of taking care of business with Baron Sir Ben Elton of Selloutavia have nullified the surviving (and participating) Queens’ aesthetic sensibilities too muchly. It has numbed the tongue in cheeks that Mercury brought them. But Brian… Roger… there’s still time. Time to tell British Gas to hitch a ride on someone else’s rocket ship. Then time to do a video with 5ive and JLS, in which you roll over their oiled bodies in homoage to the ‘I want to Break Free’ Video. Then go Stone Cold Crazy in some daft cover band midlife crisis mince. DO IT DO IT DO IT.

Meanwhile, here’s the full fried chicken silliness: