Graham Higgins Illustration - Literate Graffiti Dept.

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November 19, 2013

18-11-13 Give It Some Awe.

18-11-13 / Give it some awe…

Saturday night Chez Higgins and we’re finally getting down to plates of mint-peas and two hefty baked potatoes and the start of The X-Factor. We’re at that stage in the series where my weekly doses of astonishment in the auditions phase shelves away once it becomes a steeplechase, The Market Penetration Stakes.
I was in the end quite glad that my retreat to an hour or so messing about in Photoshop was delayed long enough to see – witness, if truth be known – a live performance by Miley Cyrus, a chanteuse with whom I’m unfamiliar but whose name translated into the proclamatory dialect of the X Factor people is a full-throated Maaai-la-a-ay CY-raaaasssss! I stifle a reflex to answer A-haaa!
It was a live appearance, live, but not quite yet. First, a rapid-cut montage of vids from Ms. Cyrus’ ouevre. She poses and throws shapes; a glamour-puss not scared to wear the most darling designer-kitsch novelty sunglasses and stick out her tongue; at some point it appears that she was at least in the presidency race, giving it some noble profile against the Stars And Stripes billowing in the backdrop. She is briefly caught in an outfit of dark feathers – not burlesque but a pretty good realisation of one of Max Ernst’s bird-women.
Who could remain un-piqued by this array of personalities portrayed by this versatile musical dramatist? And in case there was any doubt – as if! – 00:17 into the info-bomb blast a graphic executes a perfect parking manoeuvre and Thhe VOI-usss! Helpfully reads it to us, “Number 1 in 70 countries!”.
More Mylie, at a Teddy Bears’ Picnic; in her dungarees and cap, down, I shouldn’t wonder, with her crew.
At around 00:24, they’re back, “Over 30 million albums sold worldwide!”
00:35: “1 Billion video hits!” You will have to imagine the weight of incredulity The Voice can pack behind that plosive in “B – illion!”
00:43 – The Pop Princess
00:45 – The World’s Talking About
00:47 – MILEY CYRUS
…and… studio cameras… tableau vivant please.

I might a couple of weeks ago have written up a very brief chance meeting at a Camden snackerie. I’ll return to the MC performance but it has a place here.
I am happy to be parked in baggage reclaim for the duration of Jo’s tactical reconnaissance missions to target Ladies Footwear. So we find a café and I settle and glance up and get a shock of ‘I know you from somewhere’ at the face across the table. I thought I might as well say so and… was I wrong in thinking he was a music journalist?
Turns out it’s Jon Robb. Tuh! That Oor Wullie-inspired trademark mohican crest. Jon Robb! Come on, catch up. Robb was one of that new wave of rock writers who could hardly remember the wholemeal goodness of pop music before the purging fire of punk and who inhabited the new musical landscape and its network of venues as a native.
So we talked about a shared sense of relief that John Cooper-Clarke has had an injection into his pension-fund by lending his voice to a McCains Oven Chips TV ad; Jon’s current band and Wreckless Eric’s two-chord wonder “Whole Wide World”; that quaint old time culture of the public voting in popularity contests by buying vinyl discs. Can you feel close to a downloaded file?
Then Jo returned triumphant and we said well see ya to Jon and I had to explain all of the above. Wrote for ZigZag! (Uh, ZigZag…? Oh never mind.) Brought up in Blackpool – where did I keep that dusty bookmark for thirty years? Wrote for Sounds at about the same time I was drawing for Punch, next floor up in the same building.

Anyway, more from him at:-
http://louderthanwar.com/

We now know that Mylie Cyrus is a success d’estime by several statistical measures. No mention of her pension-fund, which must be eye-wateringly substantial. That would get my attention.
She is discovered, a gold-sheathed turbanned odalisque, live, atop a mountain, with a hi-res back-projected close-up of flakey paint on crumbling plaster, which is very… I’m sure this word cropped up in the creative team’s conceptual synergy group-work… real.
Apparently beset with the weighty portent of the lyric she is prepared to proclaim, she can hardly sing, and spends the opening moments beckoning to someone off-camera to bring her a quick hit of Himalayan Organic Chamomile essence. With an expression more of disappointment than anger she swallows hard and rises above.
As the camera pulls back, my heart rises as the mountain is revealed, clearly modelled on the background art of Chuck Jones’ Road Runner cartoons, so there’s also an outside chance of a live appearance by a CGI’d Wile E. Coyote.
She begins her descent from the mountain-top, using the ramps provided behind the pantomime screen. To everyone’s relief she gets to the shouty bit and the back-projections echo her wrath, so mighty that cities crumble to the plain, solid brickwork explodes into dust, all in fast-cut squazz-filtered stock footage (“footage” – a curious survivor from the film-age, especially as a loose measure of time).
Man, when this Royal Mite opens up the pipes to unleash the big vowels of Wre-e-e-e-ckin’ Ba-a-a-a-awl! she could rival my mate Kenneth’s Mum calling from their garden in the next street that his tea was on the table and she wasn’t going to tell him again.
As she bends to deliver the vocal she clutches at her frock – wearing it and walking down a ramp were evidently not a feature of rehearsals – expressing through the medium of mime a sensation that she’s so worked up she may be in danger of doing a bit of wee. We can all relate to that.
By the time the camera has retreated to take in the full stage, the set appears to be a biggish box, about the size of a mobile fast-food caravan.
Job done, she adopts a fragile expression in the face of a thundering tsunami of ecstatic rapture. She’d put the effort in.

OK, right, so… On one hand a chance encounter with someone I sort-of recognised who it turns out I also rather admire as a writer. A human face to attach to The Work. A bit of a chat, conversational ping-pong. Just about enough to make an anecdote.
On the other, Pop Princess Miley Cyrus, live, and by no means understated, leaves me feeling “Should I know you from somewhere?”