It’s worth getting one thing straight before I start: children in need is a good thing. Anything that raises nigh on 30 million pounds for various children’s charities cannot be anything other than a good thing. Whether one finds dancing newsreaders a little bit hackneyed and probably best left in the 70s with Angela Rippon and Morecambe and Wise, and whether it’s patently obvious that Sir Terry should have been mothballed along with Sir Bruce years back, that doesn’t make CiN anything other than a good thing. It’s a British institution; it’s proof that we’re not all greedy bankers and we’re willing to give to a good cause; it’s a good thing. Have I protested too much? Probably. Have I made my point? Hopefully.
I’ve just watched ‘teardrop’ by ‘The Collective’, which is the official CiN single. It’s a curious mix of young black British musical talent, Ed Sheerin rapping (well, speaking) in a sort of ‘mock-ghetto public-schoolboy in his bed-sit with pictures of Tupac on the wall’ accent, and an occasional focus on Gary Barlow doing what I presume is the face he would do were he to come across a run-over, though still partially alive, kitten.
It’s a terrible cover of what is a very good song. It’s basically the same music, with a lazy rap done over the top. It’s got some strings in it; you can tell this because of the Gormenghast-relic bearded chap doing some conducting in the middle of the video. But, with CiN being a good thing, even this poor song represents a case of the end justifying the means. And if one sees it as nothing but a bad song making some money for a good cause, well, it’s probably a good thing too, all in all. At least it’s better than ‘The Stonk’.
The mistake I made was to listen to the lyrics. They’re such incredible dross. It takes a while to get going, but it’s as if by the two minute mark, the lyricists decided that it was time to get all insprirational. Thus we have gems like:
1. ‘you can be anything you dream of…’
This is patently untrue. I’d like to be a professional footballer thanks. What’s that? I’m not good enough at football? But Ed Sheerin said…
2. ‘value everything you own, somebody probably dreams of the bed that you sleep on’
Nice guilt trip. As long as I own a bed, that should be enough to make me feel guilty. Unlike the rabble of x-factor types in the video, who have really had to struggle with the instant fame and fortune conferred on them.
3. ‘be anything, it’s your choice’
A similar conundrum to point 1. It may be your ambition, but very rarely is it your choice. You can be a writer, but you still need a publisher to get your words out there. You can be a singer, but you still need a record deal to get your music heard. And you’ll never be an astronaut or a footballer – best just get used to it.
4. ‘always speak your mind’
This is a bad idea. Questions such as ‘do I look fat in this?’ and ‘isn’t he such a cute baby?’ may get you into a awful lot of trouble for speaking your mind. There are times when speaking your mind is a good idea, and no-one’s trying to suggest you should be a wall-flower at all times, but there will be times when the advice is plain irresponsible.
5. ‘you can turn silver into gold with 4 coins’
A mathematical question. With one 50p coin, two 20p coins and a 10p, you can indeed turn silver into gold (a pound coin) though I’m pretty sure that they’re not made of gold. Then again, the ‘silver’ coins mentioned above are mostly nickel-alloy; nevertheless, it works mathematically, despite the confusion between colour and value of coin. Having said it, this is probably the only true part of the song, though I doubt many people will be inspired by the basic metric system of currency.
Maybe I’ve looked into things in too much depth. In fact, I know I have. But sometimes things aren’t glamorous, they don’t represent instant gratification and they don’t always end with the success you’ve worked towards or the success you deserve. Sometimes things only come with hard slog, and even then, you’re not going to be famous doing them. But you should be happy with your own achievements, even though you have to realise that you can’t do anything you want, or be anything you wish. Better to hear the truth now.
If you’re after inspiration, eschew Barlow, and head to another great man, Marcus Aurelius:
‘Be like the Rocky headland on which the waves constantly break. It stands firm, and round it the seething waters are laid to rest’