Tak­ing a mu­si­cal stand

Bray People - - 2008 Review -

NEW YEAR’S res­o­lu­tion: e-mail Ro­nan Collins and thank him for the stand he’s tak­ing against the mu­ti­la­tion of the mu­sic in­dus­try by the likes of Louis Walsh and Si­mon Cow­ell.

Collins has been re­fus­ing to pol­lute the RTE air­waves with the ver­sion of ‘Hal­lelu­jah’ recorded by Bri­tish karaoke cham­pion Alexan­dra Burke, ask­ing ‘who in the name of Jay­sus gave her that song?’ - quite rightly point­ing out that the Leonard Co­hen clas­sic about an em­bit­tered man looking back on a bro­ken re­la­tion­ship is sim­ply not suit­able ma­te­rial for a young woman like Burke.

‘Lovely kid, great voice, but how can they get her to sing that? It’s not a karaoke song. The line has been crossed here,’ Collins said in a pre-Christ­mas rant that saw him jump sev­eral notches in our es­ti­ma­tion. ‘This is crass, and it in­ter­feres with peo­ple’s affin­ity for a great song. Louis Walsh and Si­mon Cow­ell just want to foist their own ideas about how the mu­sic busi­ness should be on the world.’

He’s quite right. Burke may as well be singing ‘An­ar­chy in the UK’ or ‘Come out ye Black and Tans’ for all the rel­e­vance the song has to her. She should in­stead be singing sug­ary pop tunes for a twee­nie audi- ence who haven’t learned to dis­tin­guish yet be­tween gen­uine mu­si­cal tal­ent and the sort of man­u­fac­tured overly-ma­nip­u­lated tripe that Walsh and Cow­ell put out, but in­stead a sem­i­nal clas­sic has been dressed up into a sweet lit­tle tune to fit all sizes, so that some­body can cream mil­lions off all the money that’s spent on mu­sic at Christ­mas.

The only sav­ing grace is that Jeff Buck­ley’s ver­sion of the same song has been fea­tur­ing promi­nently on the air­waves too over the past cou­ple of weeks, so hope­fully peo­ple will come to re­alise the dif­fer- ence be­tween a gen­uine and heart­felt ren­di­tion of a true work of art, and the clap­trap that mas­quer­ades as ‘mu­sic’ in the world of peo­ple like Walsh and Cow­ell. And maybe then we’ll see the beginning of the end of cover ver­sions of great songs by peo­ple em­i­nently un­suit­able to sing them, like Ro­nan Keat­ing tak­ing on Shane McGowan’s ‘Fairy­tale of New York’ a few years ago, or even worse, Amer­i­can teen favourite Hi­lary Duff hav­ing a go at The Who’s mo­men­tous ode to angst, ‘My Gen­er­a­tion’, when the line that summed up the atti- tude of the whole song - ‘Hope I die be­fore I get old’ - was changed to ‘Hope I don’t die be­fore I get old’.

Mu­sic can no longer be real, you see – in­stead, in the hands of peo­ple like Walsh and Cow­ell, it’s sim­ply an­other prod­uct to be re­cy­cled and re-sold to a gen­er­a­tion of ‘X Fac­tor’ view­ers who sim­ply don’t know any bet­ter.

Karaoke is the new rock and roll. God help us all.


The Christ­mas pe­riod saw the coun­try bid a fi­nal farewell to a true one-of-a-type, as the late Conor Cruise O’Brien was laid to rest. Opin­ions on the Cruiser were di­vided up and down the coun­try dur­ing his hey­day, but one thing no­body can deny is that he left be­hind a legacy of some of the best quips and one­lin­ers in the po­lit­i­cal his­tory of the State, in­clud­ing his leg­endary one on what turned out to the se­verely-pre­ma­ture an­tic­i­pated demise of Char­lie Haughey in 1982: ‘If I saw Mr Haughey buried at mid­night at a cross­road, with a stake driven through his heart - po­lit­i­cally speak­ing - I should con­tinue to wear a clove of gar­lic around my neck, just in case,’ he said.

They sim­ply don’t make them like that any more.

‘Karaoke is the new rock and roll. God help us all.’

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