28 January 2011

We don't need no education

I love my mum, but if she tried to defend me during the course of my work, I'd be mortified. It was bad enough having to go through the primary school rigmarole of parents' evening with her.

So James Blunt's mum defending her son's music and background might not have been enthusiastically welcomed by him. She contacted the Today programme after hearing a feature on how much more middle to upper class British popular music is becoming.

To be honest, all I knew about Blunt's background was that he was a soldier who saw action in the Balkans with his guitar strapped to the side of his tank. I didn't know anything about his education. I suspect that was because I didn't especially care, and I still don't. But his mum wading in has made him interesting for the first time since You're Beautiful entered the charts.

I'm not entirely sure he gets stick because of his education. I think he gets it because of his blandness. I'm sure classism exists in music just as it does in society but music is such a personal, divisive issue which allows barely two individuals to have identical tastes that it has to be about what emerges from the speakers, first and foremost.

Get Blunt to talk about his military background and he is a fascinating, articulate and very pleasant man - indeed, he's a cracking raconteur in a one-on-one situation; that tale about how he found his sister a husband on eBay is quite brilliant. However, get him to sing Goodbye My Lover and he becomes utterly excruciating. I think it's perfectly possible he could have been both interesting in speech and cringeworthy in song even if he'd attended the local comprehensive.

Still, it could have been worse. We could have had Keith Allen defending the expensively-educated Lily. I suspect that had he tried to do so, she'd have smacked him one at the next family gathering.

Now, into the weekend we go, with Blunt's willingness to send himself up...

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