Chasing the Shitegeist:The Dacade's Worst Pt. 1 - 'Somewhere Else' by Razorlight.
Although it seems a strange -and some would say heretical- way to start this piece, I would like to draw you a parallel between two tales from the annals of musical history.
As a young black man growing up on a plantation in the Mississippi Delta, Robert Johnson was obsessed with the blues. He spent his days idolising the great guitarists of his day, but historical accounts suggest that his lack of talent stymied his dream of playing in the style of his heroes. His hand was forced; his ambition got the better of him, and a deal was struck with a monolithic, egregious being whose power dictated his musical output for the rest of his life.
As a petty bourgeois layabout growing up in the leafy environs of Hampstead, Johnny Borrell was obsessed with himself. He spent his days in a stupor of auto-idolatry, but historical accounts suggest that his lack of talent stymied his dream of bringing his unique brand of vainglorious narcissism to the masses. His hand was forced; his ambition got the better of him, and a deal was struck with a monolithic, egregious cultural phenomenon whose power will dictate his musical output for the rest of his life.
Strikingly similar, no? Who would have thought that the King of the Delta Blues would ever have the good fortune to be mentioned in the same sentence as the Prince of Forgettable Cock Rock? Unfortunately for Mr. Borrell, this is where the similitude ends…
Johnson was a pioneer of his age, and a man who was simply hell-bent (ahem) on becoming a master of the blues. Borrell and his protégés came in through the back door and, using Q magazine as a divining rod, transformed themselves from passable, indie, Strokes rip-offs, to whimpering purveyors of MOR pap in the blink of an eye. A transformation that – wait for it – unbelievably coincided with the triumphant rise of venerable stadium rockers and childhood bed-wetters Coldplay, Snow Patrol and Keane. For a songwriter of such genuine triteness, the opportunity to have 20,000 pairs of eyes trained on his every move seemed to be too much to pass up. So Mr. Borrell wrote ‘Somewhere Else’ and delivered Razorlight into the arms of the baying masses.
But how did the song come about? Until St. Johnny deigns to furnish us with a ‘Making of’ video for this aural miscarriage, I will have to fill in the gaps and imagine the creative process for this song myself. It goes something like this:
The band arrives at a new rehearsal studio. There is a foreign and exotic instrument in the corner that none of them have played before. Someone tells them it’s what has been used to sell formerly semi-credible indie bands to the Great British Public. Borrell’s piggy eyes light up. It’s a piano. Apparently it can play the same chords as a guitar, only it sounds different. The band picks 3 chords. They play them ad nauseum, put some strings over the ‘emotional’ bits, then add that killer new instrument and hey presto, Wembley Arena here we come!
Can anyone deny the shitegeist is in this one?