The other night we were lounging about the sitting room, and D was doing that annoying flicking-through-the-channels thing that boys seem to do more than girls, when my attention was arrested by a truly hideous sight - and more horribly, a truly hideous sound.
It was Westlife. And they were butchering 'Mac the Knife'.
Seriously, it was horrendous. They were dressed in suits and were trying to do some dreadful swinging moves, clicking their fingers and shaking their hips in a fashion reminiscent of Jessica Wakefield. But what really enraged me was the fact that they were daring to touch a Brecht/Weill song. I wrote my BA dissertation on the Threepenny Opera
("A Talent for Roguery: Satire in Brecht's Dreigroschenoper
and John Gay's Beggar's Opera.
" Fascinating stuff!), and I've always found it kind of amusing that glitzy showbiz types have happily performed a song from what is, effectively, a commie musical. Lots of terrible people have covered 'Mac the Knife' before, and it always makes me roll my eyes a bit.
But none of those would-be Sinatras (who is very un-Brechtish, but who could at least perform the song with verve and charisma) are even nearly as irritating and stupid as Westlife. Westlife sum up everything that's wrong with the music industry. They're charmless. They're gormless. They're talentless. They have delusions of grandeur. And most of all, they sing really, really, really shit songs. I woudn't care about the fact that they're manufactured and bland if their songs were good - look at Girls Aloud, who've produced a string of genuinely fantastic singles despite being boring (when they're not punching people in nightclub toilets) and pretty charisma-free. But Westlife have produced nothing but mind-numbing crap throughout their career. And now they're going (sigh) "swing" (this practice of calling all jazz standards/pre-war pop songs "swing" annoys the crap out of me, but that's another rant).
Check out their website
. They look like a bad secondary school production of Guys and Dolls
! And then check out their new album
, 'Allow Us to be Frank', which promises to be jaw-droppingly appalling. First of all, no, I won't "allow you to be frank", you buffoons. Second of all, "Frank Sinatra covers" is a meaningless phrase, as Sinatra wasn't a song-writer and wasn't even the first person to perform virtually all of these songs. And third of all, go away. And take your old mate Brian "No Y!" McFadden and his preposterous "I'm a real songwriter!" schtick, including that godawful new song in which he implies he grew up in the Dublin of the 1950s, with you.
To paraphrase my old pal Bertolt, when I hear the words "Louis Walsh", I reach for my revolver. Or I would if, you know, I had one.