Thursday, 11 November 2010

Slaughtered with a Blunt instrument

I bought a Sunday paper the weekend just gone, a rarity in itself these days, as I had the luxury of the time to sit and read it on the train back from York. Not being into music, and being a self-confessed ignoramus on the matter, I usually don't bother to read reviews of singles or albums, but I did happen to catch their review of the new James Blunt album. The digital version is here, should you wish to read a review as vituperative, venomous, angry and scathing as any they're ever likely to publish.

The passions that this bloke incite in people have always intrigued me. A mate who's into his music in the same way I am football is moved to visible fury just by talking about him. I suggested that he's just an inoffensive warbler, but that was what seemed to move my mate to such ire in the first place. Mr Blunt's very inoffensiveness was what so offended said friend. Apparently he, and others like him, would rather listen to a diabolical, assault-on-the-senses cacophany than any of James Blunt's efforts because at least they incite a visceral response, even if it's a negative one.

This idea baffles me. You could probably put Blunt's album on in the background and, unless you're of a similar mind to my muso mate, not even notice it's there. The same could not be said of loud, tuneless, cacophonous shite. This is probably one of the reasons I'm not really into music, I just can't see what can get somebody so cross about something because it doesn't offend you. I simply don't care if it's just musak, fit for the lift or as hold music. Let it go! You musical types out there are a funny lot.

I suspect that there are plenty of people out there who will buy this thing and I seriously doubt Blunt gives a toss what the IoS make of his album as the royalties come in, but it's most interesting to note the almost plaintively furious response of the critics like Simon Price, who seems almost personally affronted that he should put it out. Unlike many of the things that get me wound up (X-Factor being the main culprit, surely a more deserving candidate for such ferocious opprobrium from music professionals) it's not sufficiently ubiquitous as to be unavoidable, so just don't listen to it.

That said, the album cover is faintly irritating.


  1. Let me explain. The James Blunt Aggravation Factor can be expressed thusly:

    (1/k)cxp = A

    Where "k" is originality (reciprocal formula implies lack thereof), "c" is cliche quotient, "x" is measure of success (in terms of record sales and radio play), "p" is posh-determinant of singer/performer and A is, of course, measure of aggravation.

    Blunt is off the f***ing scale.

    For a genuinely worthy, sincere, passionate yet inoffensive love song, deserving of its humungous success, may I suggest going on to Youtube and searching for Bruno Mars "Just The Way You Are".

    And if you fancy a laugh, do an image search on Google for Simon Price.

  2. Eloquently put, mate - although I do side with the funny old musos, in that if I hear music I find challenging, like a shouty, gruff metal band (proponents of a genre I'm really quite non-plussed by), I tend to switch off because it doesn't speak to me or feel relevant, disposed as I am towards moderation and not railing against The Man and His System. However, it is exacting a response, like all art should, and those that peddle stuff that incites no reaction can tend to raise the hackles with their inspid fence-sitting.

    Can't say I've heard Blunt's latest or indeed any other album by him, and for that I could be accused of jumping onto a bandwagon like Theresa May onto a Mail editorial, but I will say this about James Blunt in particular: it's not his simpering, palty ouvre or inoffensiveness that bothers me, it's that RUDDY VOICE. The man's got posh adenoids, giving him a throaty, silly tone which sounds even worse through his almost surgical perma-grin. It would be churlish to find a voice irritating purely because it's posh. After all, for every Boris Johnson (oafish, self-deprecating), there's a Ben Fogle (expectant of some kind of self-satisfied biscuit for every deed done) to counterbalance. When Blunt speaks, he's definitely of the very irritating sect; but when he lilts into his divorcee-hypnotising falsetto, I swear an angel dies. I suppose that is a response, to his credit.

  3. I met Simon Price a few times - firstly on a tube where i got chatting to him because we were MySpace friends as a result of The Darkness...he wrote the first positive review (followed by subsequent positive reviews) of The if I ever read any newspapers or music reviews I would probably safely believe whatever he said.

    If you think about it though - you're not into music as such, but there are a couple of songs that get you tapping a foot near the edge of a dancefloor (even if said dancefloor happens to be someone's living room).

    Whatever it is about that particular piece of music that has such a positive impact on you that you can actually say you like it, is the same as for the rest of your muso friends - except they actively seek out music that does that and therefore have a much larger catalogue to choose from to get that same effect.

    The reason for such extreme negativity towards someone like James Blunt is, as already suggested, because we can't understand how something that inspires so little reaction can be so successful.

    That in turn leads on to the hatred towards the music chart, the mindless following of the mass market and the type of people that make the X Factor single go to number one.