Beyonce Is Not Your Enemy

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Beyonce on stage

By Niall O’Conghaile

Beyonce killed it last night at Glastonbury, and this morning the world woke up to a swarm of positive reviews all over the interwebs. However, some people are not happy with this situation, and have taken to leaving comments on sites like The Guardian (where the gig received a 5 star rating) and YouTube (where a clip of Lauren Laverne and Zane Lowe talking about the gig for the BBC has received critical attention), slamming Beyonce for being talentless, boring, pop shite, etc. Don’t worry though, they’re wrong and I will show you why. Beyonce’s been my girl since Destiny’s Child first broke through in the late 90s. That of course makes me biased, but I’m still going to approach this article in as subjective a manner as possible. If I fail … well, you can fucking sue me.

The first thing that struck me about the gig was listening to the crowd singing back Beyonce’s own music, and realising how many women were there. Glastonbury is a massive (and truly diverse) festival, but it’s easy to forget just how much of the musical coverage we see on the TV is male-orientated and how this skews our view of who exactly goes there. Who would have thought that the headliner on the final night could attract a capacity crowd that was majority female? And who would have thought that those women went there not because of sexual attraction or seeing naked flesh (though undoubtedly there were a few) but because they actually wanted to see a good show by an artist they like and respect?

You wouldn’t know this by reading the comments on The Guardian website, which seems to be the new place where Mr £50 Rock Bore hangs out online, spouting off opinions about how rubbish Beyonce and pop music in general is. There are three main assumptions being touted by Mr Bore there, and in a nutshell they are: 1) Beyonce makes pop music, thus has no talent 2) Beyonce’s stage show had dancers thus it was The X-Factor, and 3) having pop performers at Glastonbury is going to kill the festival. Although comments like these come from a place of ignorance, they are to an extent understandable, as we are living in the X Factor age where mediocre talents receive huge media hype they do not deserve. What is less understandable is how Mr Bore is willing to overlook the vast discrepencies in talent between, say, Cheryl Cole and Beyonce, in order to make his own world view work. So, let’s analyse them, shall we?

1) Commentators assume that because Beyonce makes pop music she has very little input into her own product, into the choreography, the styling, the performance and least of all the music. Have they listened to much of her work? Just like any other artist who has produced a substantial body, you can listen to it and analyse it. It seems obvious to me that, since the days of ‘Bills Bills Bills’ and ‘Bugaboo’ that Beyonce has had a large hand in the process of writing her songs. Not because I have been told that, but because they sound similar. They have recognisable tropes that link them. Mr Bore could argue that it’s the producers adapting their individual styles to fit for the artist, but the simpler, more believable explanation is that Beyonce can actually write music too. Working in a studio day in day out for 15 years has probably helped with that.

But let’s just assume for a minute that she has never written a note of music in her life. How does that reflect on her singing talent? Sorry but that IS a talent – you may not like it but it’s undeniable. The same goes for her dancing. Look at the way Beyonce moves her body. That’s natural – yes she may have trained for years to move like that, but if she did not have that natural talent in the first place she would not be as good as she is now. In particular, focus on the splits/dip in the middle of ‘Single Ladies’ and then remember that she’s wearing heels that are at least four inches high. She’s a brilliant performer, and has more command of the stage and connection with her fans than either Bono or Chris Martin.

2) Somehow think Beyonce’s performance (featuring *shock* dancers!) has turned Glastonbury into the very pit of evil, the X Factor itself. For fuck’s sake – if any of these people had bothered to watch X Factor for any protracted length of time they’d soon realise that that show has never in its history seen a performance as good as Beyonce’s Glastonbury set. In all honesty, Cowell, Walsh et al wouldn’t know what to do with a talent like her’s.

Do people who listen exclusively to rock music and for whatever reason think that pop is the spawn of Satan, really believe that consumers of pop music have no way of discerning what is good and what is bad? That Beyonce is in fact equal in talent to Cheryl Cole? Because this to me is the only way one could equate Beyonce with X Factor. Sorry, but pop consumers speak with their wallets, and the bombing of Cole’s album is testament to her lack of genuine talent. On the other hand, the reason Beyonce was offered the headline slot on the Sunday night is because she is very fucking good, and anyone who has watched one of her gigs before can see that. The big mystery to me is how utterly boring shite like Kaiser Chiefs and Coldfuckingplay get gigs at the festival year after year. On that evidence, it seems to me like it’s the average rock fan who swallows whatever guitar-based drivel that is shoved down their earholes.

3) Putting pop acts on will kill Glastonbury? This argument is getting old now. It was trotted out in the early Nineties when rave and dance sound systems started to become more popular at the festival, and for whatever reason rock fans felt threatened. It was trotted out when a hip-hop act headlined the main stage – all of three fucking years ago, thirty years after the birth of the genre. Yes, very forward thinking of you, Mr Rock Bore. As if rock music is the only music that works in a live arena. As if rock music is and was the sole form of music that should be performed at Glastonbury (which actually started out as a folk and rock festival). For a form of music that loudly proclaims to be revolutionary, rock fans seem awfully reactionary to me.

I am not saying that the festival hasn’t changed – undoubtedly it has. But these changes have got little to do with gigs by Jay Z or Beyonce, as much as they have to do with the tightened security, the limiting of access, the pricing of the tickets, the doubling of the security perimeter, the new generations of music consumer who attend with different expectations, etc. Glastonbury has to be flexible and open to new musics if it wants to remain relevant. It’s NOT the Leeds or Reading festivals, where you know exactly what kind of music you are getting served. If rock is all you want to hear, stick to those snoozefests and let the more discerning listener enjoy the wealth of music available at Glastonbury.

It seems to me that Mr Rock Bore commentator (and, yes, more often than not it’s a man) is happy to judge an act on the trinkets and baubles that surround it, rather than on the obvious talent that underlies it. He allows himself to be blinded by the glamour and gloss, or perhaps more truthfully he allows the glamour and gloss to reinforce his outmoded opinion. Thus: “Cheryl Cole had dancers on that rubbish clip I once saw – and now so has Beyonce, so she must be just as bad!” Yawn. It’s to be expected I guess, as these commentors still cling to the out-of-date, misguided belief that holding and strumming a guitar is a signifier of ‘true’ talent, somehow it’s ‘real’ and you’re “sticking it to the man, man”, another example of focussing on the baubles and trinkets rather than on substance. Rock music got co-opted into consumer culture in the early Nineties, and has had little to offer since – people who cling on to these ideals are living in the past and as such are prone to making statements that contain zero common sense. It would be the same as me saying that some shitty band called The Vaccines used guitars and made me fall asleep during their set, so other bands with guitars like, say, Talking Heads or My Bloody Valentine would probably make me fall asleep during their sets too.

41 Responses to Beyonce Is Not Your Enemy

  1. Princess Stomper June 29, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    “Rock music got co-opted into consumer culture in the early Nineties, and has had little to offer since – people who cling on to these ideals are living in the past and as such are prone to making statements that contain zero common sense.”

    And maybe that’s your problem. You don’t really love rock music.

    Glastonbury was traditionally a rock festival, and that is the beginning, middle and end of my objection to this year’s line-up. No, I don’t like that Beyonce played there. I didn’t like that Jay-Z played there. Any pop act, any colour, any gender, I don’t care: the problem is that they’re *pop*. I like pop. If I want to see a pop festival, I go to a pop festival. If I went to a pop festival and Beyonce played, I’d be delighted.

    The trouble with Glastonbury is that it all got rather too expensive, so they just put on the acts that would pull the most punters. In the most basic and literal sense, the festival has sold out. Us old rock bores (not necessarily male, mind) would rather the festival had just given up rather than putting on acts like Jay Z.

    Then again, I never went to Glastonbury: I never much liked the line-ups, even if I (thought I) knew what the festival was “about”. However dire and dull Coldplay are, you could at least argue that they “belong” there. Reading had the good bands, and I went a number of times.

    Now Glastonbury is “whatever will sell the most tickets” and Reading is the new Glastonbury: full of weak, insipid “thoughtful” singer-songwriters. Download is the new Reading and Knebworth is the new Donington.

    And I’m the new old curmudgeon grumbling about how things were better in my day. I should have had more respect for those grumbling old rock bores when I was a kid. They were right, you know.

  2. Scratchy7929 June 29, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    If you blur the edges things start to loose their meaning.Is that what has happened to Glastonbury (not just Glastonbury by the way).Beyonce statement ‘I felt like a Rock Star’ just about says it all – sorry luv you are not or will never be a Rock Star.
    Beyonce may have a good voice, although her songwriting may be on the weak side – it do have a pseudo-message though, basically girl power affirmation , which doesn’t connect to me sorry being male – just being honest.
    Does she stand for any of Glastonbury’s legacies, which has sadly been eroded over the years – no.Should Glastonbury be held in such esteem any longer as it is by some of the media, especially the BBC – no.Is it just basically another pop festival (with a few artists who still match the old legacy, although in a slightly more watered down form) – yes.
    You are right ab…out Coldplay, Kaiser Chiefs, The Vaccines as well.They are corporate rock / pop bands & have as little to do with the ‘former’ Glastonbury legacy as much as Beyonce is.Perhaps Beyonce was the better headliner than U2, Coldplay.At least she was entertaining for 5 minutes, it got a bit repetitive after that though due the lack of strength in her material / songwriting.Yes U2 , Coldplay were a borefest – this coming from a rock fan.U2 & Coldplay don’t stand for what rock music is about, most of us true rock fans realise that.There is virtually no rock music in the mainstream that truely represents what rock music is really all about these days.Thats were the confusion comes in.Festivals like Glastonbury reaffirm this confusion.

  3. Niall June 29, 2011 at 8:39 pm

    Or maybe *sniff* rock music never really loved ME.

  4. Princess Stomper June 29, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    On behalf of rock music:


  5. Niall June 29, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    Urgh… *sniff* It’s all coming out now *blub*

    WHY did you reject me Rock Music?! WHY?!?!?

    All I ever did was love you, but you never loved me in return. Was it because I am fat? Gay? Irish? Because I use big words? TELL ME!! After all these years, I think you owe me some closure, Rock Music.

    You were always there when I was a child, but I never really noticed you, how attractive you really were, until I hit puberty. The boy with the blonde curtains and the ripped cardigan changed all that. It was love at first sight. He introduced me to his friends – Kim, Thurston, Evan, Tad, J, even his bitchy girlfriend who I actually liked a lot. Through those guys I made some other amazing friends too, like Richey and JD. I felt like I had finally been accepted.

    Oh, the memories Rock Music. We had our first cigarette behind the bike sheds together. It was you who got me drunk for the first time. You made me shout at my parents, and it was fun! You took me to festivals, to my first ever gig, you showed me things I had never seen before – things the telly would never show or the papers would never write about. I felt like I was a grown up, like I was part of the REAL WORLD. And you made me fell like being different was ok.

    But then things changed. Sure it was me, growing in age and confidence I guess, but it was you too you know. You can’t deny that you were part of the problem. You never listened to me, you never took my ideas seriously. The truth is, Rock Music, that even though you went on and on about being friends with people who were “different”, you rejected those who didn’t fit into your narrow little criteria. It made me feel insecure, like I just wasn’t good enough for you.

    All I wanted was for us to get away from this dismal place, to find somewhere better – somewhere different and new. Somewhere exciting, with different kinds of people, with new inspirations, new technology, new drugs and new kinds of fun. I was SURE you would have fit in there, I mean you fitted in with other new situations in the past, right?

    But no. All you wanted was to stay where you were, stubbornly clinging on to your shitty position, happy to go on and on about the past without looking forward to the future. You were happy seeing those same old boring faces, John, Mick, Lou, Dave, the Rottens. The blonde boy and Richey were dead by then, and that was really sad – I missed them so much!

    But it was the new crowd you started hanging with that was the final straw. Because they were the people who used to bully me. They were the ones who would spit in my face and call me “faggot”, and “fat bastard”. Because I didn’t like football, because I liked to draw and write, because I was “weird”. And I never told you this before Rock Music, but those guys used to corner me in the toilets at school and beat me up BECAUSE I WAS WITH YOU.

    And you said they were your FRIENDS?! How could you?? Even when they openly rejected you by calling themselves “BritPOP” (which I seriously didn’t get as they still all bashed away on guitars), you stupidly, slovenly clung to the bullies with tongue lolling like a bloody idiot. I couldn’t bare to see you debase yourself for those bastards Rock Music. I just couldn’t take it.

    That was when I met HER. Well, we had known each other for a long time, but for some reason I started to see her in a different way. She never talked about how amazingly different and important she was, the way you did, she just LIVED IT. She meant so much more to so many people, black, white, straight, gay, male, female, than you and your so-called friends did. What I wanted from you, but could never get, she gave me. She never asked for anything in return, she had no expectations, she was happy for me to be me, whatever way that was. Sure, we’ve had our ups and downs, but she’s still one of my closest, dearest friends. When I have problems I turn to her, and even if its in a small way, she really helps. More than you ever did.

    And most importantly of all, she taught me how to DANCE.

    Looking back now Rock Music, I think the truth is that you were scared. Scared of yourself, scared of me. Sure I was insecure and childish, but so were you, even more than me, and YOU were the older one!! And the worst thing is, you’ve still not changed. Your still happy to live in the same shitty conditions as ever, looking to the past, still happy to slag off everything that doesn’t conform to your narrow world view. Still happy to hang out with that bunch of fucking dickhead assholes. Because deep down inside, despite all the shit that comes out your mouth that’s who you REALLY are, isn’t it? The truth is you’ll NEVER push yourself to do better. You were scared then and you are scared now. Scared of your reputation and your responsibilities, scared of things that are different, scared of yourself, scared of me. Too scared to try and live up to what I thought you could have been.

    Goodbye Rock Music, and I wish you all the best with the rest of your life.

  6. Trent June 29, 2011 at 11:08 pm

    I have a myriad of problems with this article. So many in fact that I’m finding it difficult to muster the will to address them all, vacillating as I do between a keen interest to interact about musicological issues and the feeling that said interactions on this kind of criticism are essentially a waste of time.
    Having said that, I’ve decided to give it a shot, one dubious point at a time. This is going to be long.

    Firstly, it seems to me that the crux of your argument lies with the suppositions or presumptions you make regarding Beyonce’s critics, and if flawed, ultimately undermine the lion’s share of your position.
    In the world of philosophy and rhetoric there is a practice called sophism. One commonly used aspect of this is called the strawman fallacy where an opponents position is misrepresented in order to make them appear foolish, while giving the appearance of a logical argument where no logic exists. The speaker essentially creates a caricatured image of another speaker’s position, which undermines their validity (ethos) but critically, doesn’t actually address their argument.

    This article uses this device in spades and quite blatantly in the form of the ‘rock bore’ persona. The ‘rock bore’, the main critic of Beyonce apparently, is unlike any human being I have ever met, a completely reductionist fantasy of a person. This strawman only likes rock music, and it seems, their main stay is Coldplay and U2. Now, forgive me if I’m wrong, but everyone I have ever met likes a variety of music, and many of those that are self confessed rock aficionados wouldn’t touch Coldplay with a ten-foot pole, and yet many others who like pretty classic rock fare, would. It is just as likely that people who like Beyonce also like Coldplay and U2 as they sit fairly strongly in the catch-all category of ‘pop’ music, they equally may not. What I’m saying is, that it is practically impossible to generalise about taste, and doubly false to then extrapolate entire personalities and critical positions from that taste in order to attack their imagined positions with their own ridiculousness.

    Doesn’t this sound ludicrous? It is just building falsehood on top of falsehood. In fact it seems exactly like the type of childish comments the ‘rock bore’ allegedly makes themselves on message boards throughout the Internet, just dressed up a bit. They are knee-jerk statements meant only to ridicule and demean others. Incidentally, I have read exactly these kinds of things from ‘pop’ defenders. You only have to look at the tweet fest against Patrick Carney by Gaga fans, or indeed against Zane Lowe on that same youtube video. I’m not defending these types of statements at all from anyone, I see them as meaningless and spiteful, and I worry about the mind that sees music and musical preference as some type of competition, where if one thing is good then another thing that is seen as the opposite must be rubbish and it’s proponents idiots. It’s as if people can’t hold more than one reality in their minds at the same time.

    That brings me to my next point. The word here is subjectivity, used with a sense of challenge at the beginning of the article. Beyonce isn’t objectively good or bad, and neither is rock music. You either like it or you don’t. Let me make it clear right now that I personally don’t like Beyonce’s music, but that doesn’t make me think that she is talentless and rubbish. That doesn’t make any sense at all. In fact, I would go as far as to say that the entire idea of talent is a dubious one. Bringing me to my next point. I personally feel that everyone has some kind of inherent genius that they either manage to tap into or not, especially with regards to music. Singing talent is a case in point. Everyone has the potential to be a strong singer, maybe not the greatest (an idea with no true measure anyway) but their own kind of great. Most just don’t develop the necessary technical aspects; particularly intonation (the ability to hear a note and sing it in tune) and vocal control. I can back up this idea with the fact the humans are practically built to sing. The construction of our lungs, diaphragm and vocals chords testify to this. Studies have shown that in groups of 3-7 year olds, the only ones that couldn’t sing at all, that is, couldn’t hit a note in tune, were the ones that had never been sung to. Those same children improved significantly and quickly with practice and greater exposure to live music.

    Briefly, I also take issue with the use of genre to define musical preference and therefore personality traits and intellectual positions. Categories such as ‘pop’ and ‘rock’ are as broad as they are long. Pop is especially difficult in that it seems almost anything from any other ‘popular’ genre could be included. Indeed, Coldplay is ‘rock’ music you say. Is that because they have a bit of guitar? I would have thought lots of rock music was guitar driven, whereas Coldplay songs are rarely so. I would also say that they were ‘pop’ music in same sense that Beyonce would be categorised as ‘R’n’B, an subsumed into the far broader category of ‘pop’. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that ‘pop’ isn’t a genre in the true sense at all, but rather an umbrella grouping like ‘classical’ or ‘world’.

    Now, the points about women in music and media on the other hand, are much more valid and important. However, I feel like they are really there only to add credence and ethos to your position, as if we should listen over and above the ‘rock bores’ just because you can spout a critically popular position, albeit a legitimate one. In fact, that sort of thing in many ways just belittles that position, reducing down to just another scored point in the game of argument. If you want to address gender in the music and media, I suggest you do so more thoroughly.

    Next. It’s true to say that many criticise musicians based on the fact that they don’t write the music they perform. This is obviously dubious as a means of attack on many fronts. Some compose, some compose and perform and others still, perform exclusively. This is true of most every music form including so-called art-music such as classical. Few would argue that even the 3rd chair violinist in The Orchestra of God Knows Where is therefore without talent, even ignoring what I have previously said regarding ideas of talent. It is difficult to say whether a person is truly excellent at composing any kind of music, but my experience is that most anyone can try their hand at it and come up with something, for better or worse. I don’t suppose the fact that someone manages to write a piece a music is justification enough to say that they are wonderful, just as not composing material is enough to claim they are lame. In all likelihood, Beyonce writes, and having scanned some of the lyrics, it isn’t hard to say, from a literary point of view, that she won’t be winning awards for poetry, but then, neither would the Beatles. Literary brilliance is rarely necessary or even desirable in the world of song. Equally, as a strong singer, it seems incredibly unlikely that she doesn’t come up with a great deal of the vocal, even if, like most musicians, she is aided and abetted by those around her. The point, either way, is therefore largely irrelevant to the debate.

    In regards to the death of Glastonbury I can only claim ignorance, as I have never been. However, most commercial arenas for the arts are now under the control, or at least heavily influenced by, corporations, and it is my experience that corporations are not a force for good in most aspects of society; they are only a force for profit. Good art on the other hand, is often the polar opposite, which doesn’t mean it is without commercial viability or that commercially successful art is by association, shit. But it is often true to say (another generalisation, I know), that where the arts are controlled by social institutions of one kind or another, they tend to suffer and grow limited. That goes equally for the avenues through which art is allowed to shown to the public. From what people have said, Glastonbury was never about music, but about feasting on the arts and entertainment in general, and coming together. However, as I understand it, modern day festivals are traditionally, and by their very nature, part of ‘alternative’ culture, which I’m not entirely sure Beyonce, Coldplay or U2 could claim to be part of, but then, they do seem currently have a great deal of pull for people in all walks of life. If you went to Glastonbury and didn’t want to see Beyonce, why not just go checkout someone else. If you didn’t go at all, well, what are you worried about?

    I’d like to apologise for my occasional wordiness. I don’t mean to be a smart arse, but this is how I express myself in writing. I think the upshot of what I’m saying is simply that this article is full of commonly held false ideas about music. I’m not setting myself up as someone who has all the answers, I don’t, but I do like dialogue and the exchange of ideas, though I’m less keen on sweeping generalisations and fatuous opinion.


  7. Niall June 29, 2011 at 11:26 pm

    Hi Trent, I don’t have the time to go into it in detail just now, but thanks for the wordy comment! 🙂

    I am well aware that I am generalising in this article, in response to the gross generalisations that have been made about fans of Beyonce and pop music on the Guardian and YouTube threads. Two wrongs don’t make a right, but to counter your assertion that the “Rock Bore” persona I mention does not exist, I refer you back to the first comment in this thread by Princess Stomper, which to me fulfils this category very neatly (except for the “Mr” bit).

  8. Trent June 29, 2011 at 11:55 pm

    You’re welcome. Though I feel I could have been more concise. You seem to have summed up many of my objections yourself, in one paragraph. Frankly, I wouldn’t blame you if you never read it. 😀

    In Princess Stomper’s defence, she does say that she likes pop, which doesn’t entirely fit your ‘Rock Bore’ persona, but despite my lengthy critique, I understand what you are driving at. Some people are definitely narrow minded with their musical tastes and views in general, I’m just not so sure that’s exclusive to people who like rock, just as I doubt that for most of us, Beyonce is a paragon of musical excellence and genuine expression. With the utmost respect for your personal preferences, and without wishing to offend you, she is every bit as turgid and unimpressive as U2 and Coldplay, neither of which represent rock music to me at all. As far as I’m concerned, and this is entirely debatable, her music lacks any real content and is largely materialistic and commercially orientated. I submit to you, that this is the reason she is lumped together with the Cheryl Coles of this world.

  9. Princess Stomper June 30, 2011 at 1:28 am

    “I would go as far as to say that the entire idea of talent is a dubious one.”

    Not so. Practice can get you competent but it can’t get you world class. Taking singing, I put my 10,000 hours in as a teenager – lived in a detached house where I could make a lot of noise – and though I got good, I could never be Beyonce good. I realised that though there weren’t very many people who could sing better than I could, there were plenty who could sing as well, and all of us just reached a point where we sort of levelled off. Only the tiny handful with real, unique talent could get any further – and that’s why they earn their millions.

    “If you went to Glastonbury and didn’t want to see Beyonce, why not just go checkout someone else. If you didn’t go at all, well, what are you worried about?”

    I wouldn’t say I was “worried” about it. I just made a passing comment when the bill was announced along the lines of “Wow, Glastonbury’s really lost it, hasn’t it?” and didn’t think about it again until now.

    Too busy being a rock bore, I suppose. :p

  10. Rock Bro June 30, 2011 at 2:00 am

    “Wow, Glastonbury’s really lost it, hasn’t it?”

    What were the good times?

  11. Trent June 30, 2011 at 2:01 am

    You’re probably right, and I have over stated my case, but for all the ‘talent’ evident in her voice, I really, personally have no interest in her unique singing at all. I’m not so sure the millions are evidence of anything other than mass appeal rather than brilliance. Gil Shaham is a uniquely brilliant violist who I doubt makes millions, and I’m quite certain his ability is more unique and the product of considerably more effort. Isn’t that kind of fame as much the result of chance and promotional power than anything else. I mean Madonna has made a lot of money, but she hardly has the most unique voice in the world. So has Gaga, and I’m not sure she even has very good material.

    To be honest, I thought the same about the bill, and I’m still not sure what place Beyonce has at that kind of festival. But then, there’s so many mainstage acts at all the fests that I would be equally disinterested in. It’s maybe important to realise that the festival going public has changed. Some of the people that i know who go to ‘glasto’ now are the ‘type’ of people I couldn’t have imagined going 15 years ago. It seems festivals are largely about making money, not about music and culture, so i’m not really suprised when they try to appeal to as mass an audience as possible.

  12. Princess Stomper June 30, 2011 at 2:20 am

    I wouldn’t worry about it: Beyonce is only an Illuminati puppet anyway.


    Now where did I leave that tin foil hat?

  13. Retch June 30, 2011 at 2:31 am

    Just to chuck in my 2 pence worth, I think while no individual may totally fit the ‘rock bore’ mould it is an attitute and way of viewing and categorising music which does definitely exist and which implicitly divides music and pop culture into a hierarchy based on gender, race and sexuality, with music made primarily by and for white men at the top, judged to be the most real, honest and rebellious. Next is music by and for black men, which reinforces a stereotypical idea of black men (violent, sexually voracious, criminal etc); then music usually made by the same black men for black female singers (this is deemed to have a mark of authenticity) and lastly, at the bottom of the pile is music by and explicitly for women and gay men.

    This, I believe is the uncomfortable background discourse going on in any discussion of pop versus rock and the assumptions going on either side. Niall is quite right to bring these aspects into his writing as to ignore them would not mean they weren’t present anyway.

    I know many people who express ‘rock bore’ views and I can’t think of a single one who doesn’t also love something which doesn’t fit the ‘rock bore’ caricature. But the real issue to my mind is how these views, that pop has intrinsically less worth than rock (read: white guys whose music features guitars), that pop ruins the party when it ‘invades’ rock’s spaces (as a DJ who likes to slip in the odd pop/disco song into my set, I know first hand the ire you can face) become the only thing that’s heard when it gets voiced in the media (even as comments). A performer like Beyonce can sing fantasticall, put on an amazing show, dance for hours in heels and generally blow the roof off, but will we have the exact same cries of ‘It doesn’t belong at Glasto’ when Girls Aloud who whoever are booked in 2012. You bet we will. So I’m glad Niall has written something to redress that.

  14. Trent June 30, 2011 at 2:40 am

    Haha. See, I told you it has nothing to do with talent.

  15. Trent June 30, 2011 at 2:42 am

    Oops, out of sync comment there.

    Do women and gay men listen to the same music?

  16. Retch June 30, 2011 at 2:53 am

    Hi Trent

    Not really my point. It’s the perception of who the music is by and for in the eyes of those who expound the ‘rock bore’ viewpoint that I’m talking about.

  17. Trent June 30, 2011 at 3:04 am


    Though I have never heard anyone but you divide music quite so precisely into those hierarchical categories, some people are obviously very narrow minded, and nowhere more so than on the internet. But while your initial sentiments appear high-minded, I feel like you reveal your motivation at the end there as simply the fact that you like Beyonce.

  18. Retch June 30, 2011 at 3:40 am

    Erm, I don’t really like Beyonce.

  19. Trent June 30, 2011 at 3:45 am

    Haha, fair enough. Was this a quote ‘A performer like Beyonce can sing fantastically, put on an amazing show, dance for hours in heels and generally blow the roof off.’

  20. Retch June 30, 2011 at 3:50 am

    Yeah, I thought she put on a really good show (from how it looked on TV anyway). She’s a really good all round entertainer but I’m not that bothered about most of her music.

  21. Princess Stomper June 30, 2011 at 5:49 am

    Just to chuck in my 2 pence worth, I think while no individual may totally fit the ‘rock bore’ mould it is an attitute and way of viewing and categorising music which does definitely exist and which implicitly divides music and pop culture into a hierarchy based on gender, race and sexuality

    Gotta disagree with you there.

    It’s just that people like music they can “relate to”, which is generally made by people who remind them most of themselves. People who talk about music by white men being at the top are themselves usually white men. Music made by black women is predominantly enjoyed by black women, who don’t give much of a fuck about white men or what white men think about their music.

    That’s what I think is so hilarious about these debates:

    Wire Magazine (to pick one at random) can be as white-middle-class-male-exclusive as it likes because I just do not, on any level, give the tiniest bit of a fuck about what anyone at that magazine thinks – and I’m not saying that from any viewpoint of bitterness or something. I just find it comical just how much importance people attribute to things and people who *just do not matter*.

    How many records does Jay Z sell? How many rap stars are selling millions or even tens of millions of records that you have never, ever heard of because you just do not – in your heart of hearts – give a shit about that music? I don’t have a problem with not giving a shit about it, though sometimes I’ll hear something and think, “Hmmm, missed a good one there”, but frankly it’s not often. And before anyone gets all uppity, I’d say the same about country and western music: it’s just not my scene. All those people go on and do not give a shit about what “importance” you place on their music.

    Do you really think that Dannii Minogue ever cared that aforementioned white-middle-class-male music critics didn’t take her terribly seriously? Do any of the pop fans? Seriously, all those teenage girls buying records by Cheryl Cole are not sobbing into their cornflakes and wishing that oh-so-enlightened rock critics would show them the way. You mean as much to them as some fucking darts expert would telling me I don’t know jack about sport.

    I. Don’t. Care.

    Get. Over. Your. Fucking. Selves.

    As for pop being “worth less” than rock and that’s why it’s unwelcome at rock festivals, I think you’re missing the point in a major way.

    It’s more like when you bite into an apple and find it tastes of orange instead. You might like apples and equally love oranges, but when you pick up an apple, you expect it to taste of fucking APPLE.

    And DAMN RIGHT Girls Aloud do NOT belong at Glastonbury – and I fucking LOVE Girls Aloud.

  22. Princess Stomper June 30, 2011 at 5:52 am

    (PS my comment about people generally preferring the type of music made by people who remind them of themselves: that’s not to say that a white-middle-class-male rock fan can’t love a Beyonce record, because that’s just bloody stupid.)

  23. Princess Stomper June 30, 2011 at 6:20 am

    (PPS – and, yes, I *have* just acknowledged that my disapproval of the Glastonbury billing doesn’t matter much to anyone – least of all to Beyonce – but it says here “Leave a Reply”, and, y’know, it seemed rude not to.)

  24. Lucy Cage June 30, 2011 at 7:45 am

    Ooh, I would LOVE Girls Aloud at Glastonbury!

    I really liked the fact that at Glastonbury this year (although I didn’t go, just sat in front of BBC i-player three evenings in a row) you could’ve seen a blinkin’ carnival of wondrous acts: pop, rock, cabaret, improv, jazz (trad. & free) and hurdygurdy folksiness, music of all varieties in fact, and quite a lot of it was bloody brilliant. I mean, far, far better than Glastonbury of yore. I think people forget how dire the line-ups used to be. Sure, I saw pockets of genius (the year Pixies and Throwing Muses played: mmm!), but they were pockets. It wasn’t a mad dash between tents to catch every last act you’d underlined in the programme. More a stately stroll with lengthy and frequent stop-offs at the Workers Beer Company stall and several sit-downs to pick beanburger out of your sandals. When I last went Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine was headlining. Oh yes. Guess why I didn’t go back. This year, however, I could’ve taken my pick from Wild Beasts, Those Dancing Days, Everything Everything, Crystal Castles, Pulp, Warpaint, TV on the Radio, Bright Eyes, Metronomy, Chemical Brothers and so many more. OK, so those are the choices of a particular subspecies of pop-scoffer, and, yes, the general bookings policy leans towards the obvious and the easily palatable indie-safe, but, given that, there’s a fairly wide assortment to take your pick of from the Glastonbury biscuit tin: you’d be unlikely to be stuck in front of a stage wishing a plague of murderous, be-glittered, shrieking pop vamps on Ozric Tentacles these days.

    I loved what I saw of Chase and Status. Chemical Brothers. Omar Souleyman. And, bloody hell, Lykke Li and Robyn are just as pop (POP!) as you like, they just happen to be European pop goddesses. I don’t see the point or use of dividing up music into traditions which have to be defended and authenticated: if it’s good, if it can get a field of thousands jumping up and down and screaming, if it struts its stuff and knows how to party, why the hell not have it headline a big ol’ hippie festival? Isn’t it just meant to be FUN?

  25. Lucy Cage June 30, 2011 at 7:51 am

    Oh, and, Beyonce, her marvellous hair and her shiny sex-queen thighs were awesome! AWESOME. Sure Jim-Bob and Fruitbat (that was it, wasn’t it?) had their charms, but BEYONCE doing ‘Independent Women’ on a light-spangled summer’s night after two days of rain and partying? Fuck yeah.

  26. Collapseboardtroll June 30, 2011 at 9:43 am

    “Wire Magazine (to pick one at random) can be as white-middle-class-male-exclusive as it likes because I just do not, on any level, give the tiniest bit of a fuck about what anyone at that magazine thinks – and I’m not saying that from any viewpoint of bitterness or something.”

    Although to be fair they have entire review sections of the magazine every month devoted to dub, hip hop etc, can you say the same about Collapse Board, you miserable shower of honkies?

  27. Everett True June 30, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    Doubtless they also have an editorial staff that consists of two (totally unpaid) members and a handful of very enthusiastic (and wonderful) volunteers.

  28. Darragh June 30, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    “The trouble with Glastonbury is that it all got rather too expensive, so they just put on the acts that would pull the most punters”

    Princess Stomper – I suggest never moving to Australia. Glasto is unbelievably cheap compared to the festivals out here. And the lineup at Glasto is also unbelievably better than it’s unsophisticated, retarded cousin – Splendour in the Grass.

  29. Princess Stomper June 30, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    I don’t think I’d ever move to Australia. From what people tell me, absolutely EVERYTHING is stupidly expensive. Probably need the money to guard against drop bears.

  30. Niall June 30, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    Princess,when was the last time you went to Glastonbury, and when you went was it really only rock music that was being played at the time?

    I’m also interested to know, as you brought up the food metaphor, why you think Glastonbury should only be representative of one singular flavour (“apple”)? Nobody I know who goes to festival would be happy to only hear one type of music while there – they are very happy to have different flavours they can choose from. A fruit salad if you will. As I mentioned before, the people who only seek one flavour are very well catered for with Reading/Leeds/etc, why should Glasto also have to conform to what these other festivals are already offering?

    “And I’m the new old curmudgeon grumbling about how things were better in my day. I should have had more respect for those grumbling old rock bores when I was a kid. They were right, you know.”

    You are right and wrong here. Right in that you are indeed the new curmudgeon, but wrong in thinking the old curmudgeons were somehow right. Because this very debate was happening 20 years ago, only you could replace the word “pop” with the word “dance”, or perhaps more specifically “rave”. The rockists trotted out the exact same arguments then too – “Glasto has always been about rock”, “those punters are going to cheapen it” etc. Had they had their way though Glastonbury festival would now be dead. It was already heading down the dumper (see Carter USM, as mentioned above) until it was resurrected by the fresh energy of the ravers, the new sound systems, and sets by Leftfield, The Orb, The Prodigy, Carl Cox and in particular Orbital, who have become one of the most popular live acts in Glasto’s history.

  31. Princess Stomper June 30, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    Niall, you clearly didn’t read my earlier grumblings (I don’t blame you – I do tend to waffle). I have never been to Glastonbury and always preferred Reading.

    You acknowledge it there: “Glasto has always been about rock” – people wouldn’t have been saying that if there wasn’t a grain of truth in it.

    It was indeed already heading down the dumper by the time when the ravers arrived, and – yes – I would have grumbled about Carl Cox too.

    Yes, the rock festival is already well catered for by Leeds and other festivals that just did not exist back in Glastonbury’s heyday.

    It’s redundant; superseded – so now its only chance of survival is to scrabble about trying to find whatever will sell the most tickets rather than bear any resemblance to its roots.

    Sad, really. Should have been put out of its misery years ago.

  32. Princess Stomper June 30, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    (Though since the point of your question was presumably to ascertain what I regard as a traditional Glastonbury lineup, here’s some historic bills that I would call typical:

    1971: Hawkwind, Traffic, David Bowie, Joan Baez, Fairport Convention
    1981: New Order, Hawkwind, Aswad, Gordon Giltrap
    1984: The Waterboys, The Smiths, Elvis Costello, Joan Baez and Ian Drury
    1990: The Cure, Happy Mondays, Sinead O’Connor and World Party.)

  33. Niall June 30, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    “I have never been to Glastonbury”

    So why are you getting your knickers in such a twist about a festival you’ve never been to? And if you are happier going to Reading as you said, why impose your expectations of Reading onto Glasto (a festival that you have no direct, first hand experience of)? It seems a bit silly to me.

  34. Darragh June 30, 2011 at 11:49 pm

    Princess – Glasto is the ultimate festival – regardless of lineup. It’s not just about the band’s headlining (most of the most interesting ones are the ones not even advertised on the bill who play on the Wednesday and Thursday nights….)

  35. Princess Stomper July 1, 2011 at 12:14 am

    I love how when I make a comment in response to your rant, I’m “getting my knickers in a twist”.

    You make a long, impassioned rant making a lot of assumptions about the people who criticised the lineup.
    I made a remark explaining why such criticism exists.
    You wrote an even longer rant, still not getting why people might feel differently.
    I responded, by way of explanation.

    This is one of those arguments you get to win simply by virtue of dismissing the other person’s opinion as hysterical and irrelevant, at which point the other person gives up and moves on, because it really just is not that important. You had asked a question; I had answered it.

    *bows out of discussion*

  36. Niall July 1, 2011 at 12:42 am

    Hey I never denied that I too was getting my knickers in a twist! 🙂

    Being impassioned is an integral part of debating/arguing, but you taking offence at my comment is actually, I think, a crafty way of avoiding the questions I asked you. Which still stand, by the way. So no, I’d say that this is an argument I get to win by pointing out that you have no actual first hand experience of what you’re on about.

  37. Retch July 1, 2011 at 2:32 am

    “You make a long, impassioned rant making a lot of assumptions about the people who criticised the lineup.
    I made a remark explaining why such criticism exists.
    You wrote an even longer rant, still not getting why people might feel differently.
    I responded, by way of explanation.

    Why is it trolls often feel the need to slip into a kind of meta-commentary of online debates?

    It’s an odd thing, like they sense the debate is slipping away from them (not hard), and they have to sum it up in a totally biased way before flouncing off.

  38. Rock Bro July 1, 2011 at 2:55 am

    One word, people:


  39. Collapseboardtroll July 1, 2011 at 4:17 am

    So a small staff gives you honkies the right to only cover honky music, and your prize honky the right to spout her outageously honky musical views in the comments? AND you have the audacity to criticise Odd Future?? Honkies.

  40. Pingback: » Collapse Board is Where It’s At!

  41. Naa Naa December 12, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    I think her songs all blend into eachother, could all be the same song. And that warbling, and plastic hair …. ” meh “

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