Monday, 6 April 2009

True Blue, Baby I Love Yoooou

Time was, all Madonna had to do to court controversy was squeeze her norks into a glittery double-cornetto bra, pout alluringly at the camera and make a glorified porno film. Agreed, she’s not bad for her age, but at 50 the Queen of Pop has realised that there’s only so long the Ad Man’s favourite phrase ‘Sex Sells’ is going to work for her. Truth is, she hasn’t gotten where she is today without rolling with the times. Haven’t you heard darling?, eroticism and female empowerment are so very over. Oh yes, these days it’s all about having a ‘Conscience’. Ethics are the new black. Fair Trade is favoured over Facebook. Enviro-Friendly is how we all get down. I go, you go, we all go, Eco-Tesco!
So Madge wants to adopt a second baby from Malawi, a country that ranks 164 on the Human Development Index (HDI) A scale that measures poverty from 1 (nothing to see re: hardship here in Iceland, thanks very much) to 177 (Sierra Leone – NEWS JUST IN! – not a premier Holidayee, Celebrate! location).
What better way of showing the world how much ‘you really care, man’ than plucking a nipper from a country with around 1 million orphans, half of whom are without at least one parent because of AIDs. Disgustingly wealthy Megastar makes good. Madonna – (former) ‘Tart with a Heart’. If Angelina can do it…
So why the massive furore surrounding this adoption? Well, does the Malawian government want their nation to be famous for being ‘the place babies have to be rescued from by ‘over-the-hill- former- Material-Girl-gym bunnies’?
Save the Children are saying that International adoption should be reserved for kids who have no family remaining in their own community. If every child were to be snatched from the bosom of their loved ones just because of poverty, wouldn’t that lead to generations of young-uns losing touch with their natural heritage and culture?
Another problem is that families in under- developed countries might be more inclined to dump their kid at the nearest orphanage with hopes of an organic-fed, diamond encrusted future for their progeny. Not ideal for the already under funded authorities.
Ultimately, this whole thing doesn’t sit well with the cynics of this world because we see an attention-hungry Prima Donna making an exhibition of herself as Alpha Martyr. Cut to ten years time when Madders goes back to Malawi for a benefit concert and enlists her (by then) numerous adoptees in a mawkish rendition of ‘this used to be my playground, this used to be my childhood dre-eam’… cue Wacko Jacko Earth Song debacle all over again.
Is there a way of helping large numbers of the world’s most deprived people benefit from the handouts of the privileged elite, or is mercy reserved for cute infants born under a lucky star? Answers on a postcard…

A Lover Not a Fighter

The newspapers tell us we live in scary times. Teenagers getting stabbed, shot, shanked. It’s all pretty standard now, right? It would be overly simplistic to suggest that all this new fangled music about homies popping caps in each others’ asses perpetuates violent behaviour among the youth. The truth is that shouty, shooty, sweary shit appeals to the kids because, rightly or wrongly, it has become their reality. You know you’re getting old when you start to long for a bygone time of pre-murder-a-minute innocence. For years Neil Diamond has been labelled an objectionable purveyor of saccharin, icky pop by all but your gushy, pant-flinging nana. And my God, what’s with those eyebrows? Yet when he did ‘Sweet Caroline’ at this years Glastonbury, there wasn’t a motionless arm in the field. Yes, a change is gonna come.
The crowd gathering to see 24 year old Boston singer Eli “Paperboy” Reed and his band ‘The True Loves’ at London’s Proud Gallery are not your regular skinny-jean fatigued army of trend-clones. Sure, there are some. But there are also folks who look like they’ve come to chaperone their kids or grandchildren. There’s also a chap who looks startlingly like Jesus. With his slick quiff and Teddy Boy threads, Reed looks like he’s just wandered off the set of ‘Happy Days’. His band look like they’ve just popped back from hot-wiring a car and taking it down the brass instrument shop for a ram-raid. When the Paperboy sings, the fresh faced boy next door sounds like he’s OD’d on sexy screech pills. Prescription, of course. He’s no Amy Winehouse. ‘(Doin’ The) Boom Boom’ is an homage to those Funk Soul classics of yore that weren’t allowed to be about fucking so pretended to be about dancing. Reed’s filthy cat call would seduce the most frigid of 60s censors. ‘Take My Love With You’ is both a secular hunger for a long distance lover and a Gospelly conversation with God. Eli’s like a TV Evangelist with a sex-fiend alter-ego. Jesus lookalike guy is certainly getting down and dirty. So are the 50 year olds. ‘I’m Gonna Getcha Back’ wouldn’t be such an explosive floorboard shaker if it was about winning back your Mrs. It’s about paying and playing her back with ‘that fine young thing, lives just down the street’. Naughty, and not all that Christ-yan, but altogether real.
Eli “Paperboy” Reed and the True Loves deserve to be front page news. They’re heralds bringing sex and love back from the soul-stirred past. If all the hate is getting to you, listen to them on your iPod next time you open the Metro. But not Neil Diamond. Someone might overhear.