Friday, 11 April 2014

11/04/14 - Bandwagons

I’m not really a fan of bandwagons. It’s very easy to go along with common consensus in order to fit in, but it’s much more interesting to analyse things for yourself, isn’t it? Blindly agreeing with things removes any element of confrontation, but it might also leave you feeling hollow and fraudulent. So with that in mind, here are some things that everybody seems to unanimously agree are shit, but I actually think are OK.

Woah! Hang on there. You’ll have to bear with me a minute. I’m not actually saying that I like Coldplay as such – just give me a moment to explain. When their first album, Parachutes, came out fourteen years ago it was a genuinely interesting debut. I maintain that it’s a fundamentally alright album with numerous decent tunes.
It’s just everything else they’ve done afterwards that’s been awful and annoying, both musically and in terms of Chris Martin doing a Bono and gradually disappearing up his own backside, drawing on his hand and all that nonsense. (Naming his kid Apple was regrettable too – did Steve Jobs give him a free iPod to do that…?)
So yes, on the whole I find Coldplay supremely annoying, but this is largely because I wish they’d disbanded after that first good record and left a legacy of being ‘that band that made one good album and then disbanded’. Yeah? Yeah. Don’t be ashamed to listen to Parachutes, it’s good.

Lotus Notes
People in the office have been shitting on for years about how they hate Lotus Notes and it’s the worst email programme ever. We’ve just switched to Outlook and now everyone’s saying ‘oh, it’s so much better’, and ‘ding dong, the witch is dead’, and blah blah blah. But what was honestly so awful about Lotus Notes? I used it for years and never really had any problems with it. It’s a thing that lets you send and receive email, what more do you want? (Also, at least the webmail was mobile-optimised. Outlook is impossible to use on a phone.)
I think people just liked joining in. ‘Ha, you think Lotus Notes is shit? Yes, that’s what I think too! We’re so militant in our scathing views on software! Let’s have vigorous intercourse as soon as possible.’

OK, let’s be honest – Poundland is a fairly horrible place to be. Well, the Wandsworth Southside branch is anyway, and that’s the one I go to. Screaming kids running about the place, chav mums swearing at them at extraordinary volume, staggeringly obese people loading up their mobility scooters with cheap biscuits, merchandise scattered all over the floor… but push past all that and you find a very simple premise: it’s got exactly the same things there that you’d otherwise be buying in Sainsbury’s, but it’s all cheaper. You’d have to be some kind of belligerent cretin to buy your Dove soap for £1.59 or your Cillit Bang for £3.50 at your regular supermarket outlet simply because you consider yourself to be above Poundland. It’s exactly the same stuff, and it only costs a pound. Duh.

See above, kinda. A lot of people view Primark as a comedy store, an outlet to be ridiculed. But it’s a shop in which you can buy clothes for not very much money. You wear clothes, right?
Would you rather spend a tenner on a pack of socks in M&S, or £2 for basically the same socks in Primark? I mean, yes, the checkout assistant in Marks will smile at you and be polite whereas the one in Primark will barely notice you’re there, but if you’re willing to fork over an extra eight quid to get someone to smile at you for a few seconds, you probably have some lifestyle priorities that require adjustment.

The Fast & The Furious movie franchise
You’re right, these aren’t very good. But they’re not total shit either. (Well, the second one is, but just don’t watch that one.)
They’re riddled with errors, the acting isn’t great, the scripts are poor, but if you like to switch your brain off and watch some fast cars screaming about the place, the big budgets ensure some pretty entertaining mischief. Don’t expect the exquisite imagery of Wes Anderson or the sparkling colours of Stanley Kubrick, but hey – you can’t eat steak all the time. Sometimes it’s nice to wolf down a dirty burger.

The Stone Roses – Second Coming
This, I reckon, was the Roses’ best album.
I ducked then, just in case one of you threw something. But I think history has been most unkind to Second Coming – the five-year hiatus between it and the eponymous debut that preceded it created a shocking weight of expectation, and most people’s response to it was ‘oh, it doesn’t sound like the first one, which means IT’S SHIT’. This is wrong. The production is muscular (and not tinny like the first album [I’m ducking again]), the stylistic breadth encompasses a vast range of fascinatingly emotive sounds, and Love Spreads is one of the greatest songs ever written, by anyone, ever. So there.

The Big Bang Theory (the TV series, not the theory)
This doesn’t totally belong on the list, because it’s not something that’s generally considered to be bad. But I’m putting it in because the first time I saw it I thought it was terrible, and refused to watch it again. This was in about 2008.
…but I relented a couple of years ago, gave it another shot and discovered that I was, in fact, utterly wrong. It’s a terrific show, I genuinely love it. I’d created a one-man bandwagon in my head, silently judging people for watching what I then considered to be appalling bilge; I have now reworked this bilious solo bandwagon for the purpose of judging people who enjoy Mrs Brown’s Boys instead. That really is awful.

Morris Marina
Shut up, they’re good. It may be terribly fashionable to mock the old Marina – particularly since Top Gear seem determined to cement its reputation as a risible pantomime car by relentlessly dropping pianos on them – but they have a lot to offer. It was one of Britain’s biggest-selling cars in the mid-seventies, you could buy a rakish coupe version (or a snazzy coachbuilt convertible, if you were loaded), and the TC model had snorty twin-carbs. They’re rear-wheel drive and not that heavy, which means they’re fun, and they came in brilliantly 1970s colours like Limeflower Green and Black Tulip.
Also, there’s only about 1,200 of them left in existence (from a total sales figure of 807,000-odd – a survival rate of 0.15%, making it one of the most-scrapped car models ever), so buying one now will net you far more exclusivity than those common-as-muck Rolls-Royces you see everywhere.

Super Noodles
A staple ingredient of my diet when I was a student. That was over a decade ago, and I’m still alive. In your face, doctors.
Super Noodles are great – only a couple of minutes to boil ’em up, combine with a slice of buttered bread and you’ve got a whole meal. (I mean, if you forget about the supposed necessity for humans to ingest fruit and vegetables. Like I say, I’m still alive.)
…and even better than Super Noodles are the generic own-brand noodles that all supermarkets sell for around the 40p mark. That’s value, that is. Stop judging the noodle-eaters, they’re happy.
Oh, and while we’re at it, there’s nothing wrong with Pot Noodles either. They may embarrassingly market themselves as ‘the slag of all snacks’ (urgh), but they’re onto something – people acknowledge that it’s a food that enjoys a less than formidable reputation, but they’re very much in the Peperami camp there: their consumers honestly don’t give a fuck. By harshly judging such choices, you’re basically saying that you don’t agree with people making themselves happy. And what sort of person does that make you, eh? Eh?

Much of this is nonsense, of course. You like what you like and you don’t what you don’t. But it doesn’t hurt to think about it, does it? Opinions are so much more interesting when they’re actually your own. I expect you to ignore everything I’ve just said.

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