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A Magazine for Sheffield

Pop Ate Itself And Got A Dicky Tummy

Loathe him or loathe him, part-time lover and paint can power pop balladeer Phil Collins is a revelation. Yes, Phil Collins, the ferret-faced uncle of pop, with his vocal sack of heartache from his Su Su studio of emotional longing, is a living, breathing revelation. Before you start choking on your biscuit-shaped prejudice, I understand that Phil Collins is probably an anathema to everything you believe music should be - soul, blah, integrity, blah blah, artistic vision, blah - but we are talking about pop music here, and pop is a genre that will always be the giant turd on the dance floor of life, because the general public are an inordinate bunch of yapping dogs. You know you are miles better than them simply by owning a Clash album that isn't London Calling. You win, but in the realm of pop Collins is a revelation, worthy of respect and admiration. Why? Because there is something glorious and hopeful in the fact that at one point, Phil Collins was the world's biggest pop star. He couldn't dance, couldn't talk. The only thing about him was the way he walked. Ellie Golding or Rhianna he ain't, and yet it was probably his song your Auntie Margaret danced to at her wedding to Uncle Peter while wearing that big orange pom-pom toilet roll cover dress. Phil Collins was hugely popular even though he looked more like a plumber than a pop star. He wasn't cool, he wasn't sexy, he didn't have elaborate dance routines with a harem of scantily clad women, but he did have number one hits and that was a wonderful thing that seems sadly lost in our current pop climate. There will never again be room in the pop sphere for another like him or his ilk - Daryl Hall and John Oates, Midge Ure, Nick Heyward, Feargal Sharkey, Michael McDonald, Billy Ocean and loads more - who all looked like depressed Geography teachers. Pop, with a few honourable exceptions, is a well-oiled machine churning out repackaged, ever-younger versions of the same sexually explicit, high-tempo music of beautiful, toned, made-up glamour model kings and queens. I can't see how the ordinary Collins's of the world could ever compete against these godlike creatures. If you think I'm talking nonsense, I have done the maths. Poorly remembered GCSE maths, admittedly, but nonetheless I have worked out that the average age of a singer with a number one hit single in 1985 was 31. In 2015 it was 25. At least five artists were 21. This is why whenever I look into the shining bald head of Phil, I'm filled with deep despair. In 2015, a bald head in pop music is as likely as a dodo for Christmas dinner. It's a sad indictment of our culture that with the rise of the music video and the instant proliferation of images we are becoming more obsessed with appearance, and this trend is only set to continue. Today there are very few pop acts that work beyond 30, because we don't want to look at them and their crusty, ageing faces. There's just no room for wonderful naffness. Everything has to be so edgy and cool. It's tiring. Back in the 80s there was at least some hope that if you wrote a catchy song with a pleasant melody you could have a hit record. I can't see that happening now unless it's a novelty, push a pineapple up your arse kind of record. It's a great loss, because anyone who has ever had a conversation with a 21-year-old will tell you that they're all idiots, obsessed with drinking in the klub, having fun and enjoying life. Yuck. What the hell can a 21-year-old tell me about the vicissitudes of life and the pitfalls of love? Phil suffered a divorce after his wife had an affair with the painter decorator. That's real pain. So thank your lucky stars that Phil is now out of retirement. He is a walking relic of a different age, soon to disappear into the air tonight, and we'll be left with toddlers shouting their incomprehensible nonsense. )

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