Nelson Mandela: Happy 90th Birthday, ITV1, Glastonbury Festival, BBC1/3, Nokia Green Room, Channel 4, MTV1

by | Jun 28, 2008 | All, Reviews

Did we like them?

Music, music, music! You love it, we love it! Everybody loves it! So why is it always so shit on television?

What did everybody else like, and us too?

• Thank Christ Edith Bowman is attached to the lead singer of Editors. We’re not usually approving of celebrity nepotism, but their relationship ensures that after one song from Gossip and one song from a non-descript rap band so nondescript the camera wanders to picking out gluttonous teenagers in the audience, we’re treated to almost a full set from Editors. This means that along with their new uninteresting songs about smokers and hospitals, we get to savour the brilliant All Sparks and Munich.

• The bit when the singer of Foals had to abandon his act of teenage rebellion of climbing on to the outer gantry of the main stage because his guitar lead became taut and he had to sheepishly walk back strumming the chords with extra gusto to cover up his red face.

• The desperate camerawork during Lupe Fiasco’s set to zoom in on the sparse ethnic faces in the crowd to show that Glastonbury welcomes everyone from everywhere. And that black people are only interested in hip-hop.

• The singer in MGMT’s bulging veins on his forearms that resemble unsettling satellite images of underground rivers on Mars.

• The Sugababes are good people. They must be. Who else put themselves out to turn up to every single charity concert held in Britain in the past five years? And they don’t even have a record to promote. You can count on them rain, shine, luxurious backstage facilities – it really just doesn’t matter to these game gals. Well done, again.

• Fearne Cotton interviews Gordon Brown. He, like so many of the other celebrities appearing there, seems to want to praise Mr Mandela as much out of a desire to elevate his own credibility through association as a genuine appreciation for his life’s work. It’s amusing as the prime minister is visibly recoiling from Cotton’s microphone as though it’s a poisonous viper.

• Singing Mandela Day, Jim Kerr of Simple Minds dances like a broken-legged whirlwind to the end of the platform that protrudes from the stage like a pirates’ plank. When his feet reach the end of the platform, his torso penetrates the first five rows with its rotund girth.

• Nokia. The Saturdays are dressed in all different colours and are all slim. Nokia. So they look like the offspring of Shawaddwaddy and Jerry Hall. Nokia. They are “hotly-tipped”. Nokia. One can even play guitar. Nokia.

What didn’t we like, but because more than 200,000 whooped and hollered in blind adulation we felt compelled to appreciate?

• We don’t know what to think about Ting Tings. There are probably 500 better singers gawping up at her from the audience, but they don’t have long legs – which we know as the cameramen keep zooming in on them. They did the same to the keyboardist from Reverend and the Makers’ arse a little later. That’s Not My Name may be single of the year, it may not be, but it’s dumb, iconic lyrics will ensure the royalties keep flooding in from mobile phone ads and reality TV shows about young people trying to be famous, for years to come.

• We keep on hearing about Mr Mandela’s modesty and selflessness, but if we’d reached the grand old age of 90 and was seen as one of the world’s most eminent statesmen, we’d want someone better than Philip Schofield hosting our big concert party. It would be like making Darren Day the next Doctor Who, and be as embarrassing as being dead and the tabloid media pillaging Facebook for personal messages of condolence on your page.

• Sir Trevor McDonald tells the audience that Nelson Mandela was a political prisoner and that apartheid discriminated against black people. Anyone not knowing this shouldn’t be up at 9pm, and instead be tucked up in their cot.

• The problem with the Glastonbury audience is that generally they’re all so very nice. Any bastards attending are either rooting through empty tents for left-behind cash or applauding louder than their neighbour at the Jazz Stage. This means that anything rubbish is lapped up as if nectar handed down by the gods. We Are Scientists are feted with all the exaltation of a returning army, but they are so grey that watching them is like a coach journey to Dawlish Warren when you bite into the seat in front of you to remove the taste of boredom from your mouth.

• The BBC’s interactive coverage so that at one point the five screens represented the true expanse of music with a choice of The Feeling, The Ting Tings, The Hoosiers, The Young Knives and The Young Knives.

• Fearne Cotton interviews Jamelia. “People keep asking me if married life is any different,” Jamelia exclaims incredulously after Cotton has asked her that very question. The reason people keep asking her that question is that with no new music, it’s only her personal life that’s keeping her in the public eye, and such bounteous fruit is the staple diet of celebrity-obsessed ITV. It now even sends capable royal reporter Romily Weeks to cover Wimbledon, viewing the whole spectacle as more human interest/celebrity gossip/ fahion than sport – something compounded by its decision to use photos of lipstick-ridden women players from glossy magazine shoots during the results round-up rather than more unflattering action shots.

• The audience for the Mandela concert are noticeably older than their Glastonbury counterparts and even through the TV screen they whiff of Sunday afternoons spent in IKEA holding the entire Sunday Times under a sweating armpit, perhaps attending either out a love for the music of Annie Lennox or an unsated desire to salve their conscience for having bank accounts with Barclays in the 80s. We’re not sure which is worse, especially as Lennox neglects to sing Sweet Dreams or Love is a Stranger.

• While over on the BBC, the inability to articulate emotions is as much a part of Glastonbury Festival as the Tor and the rain. This year, Zane Lowe asked front row Emily of her views of the festival so far. Kate Nash was “amazing”, The Feeling were “amazing” and The Kings of Leon would be “amazing”. Heralding the imminent arrival on stage of The Fratellis, Zane said “they will be amazing”.

• Lowe will offer the same hyperbolic build-up to Jay-Z tonight. However, we like Lowe as he is willing to sacrifice his dignity in order to get some decent music on TV even if it often means selling your soul to praise the cabaret indie of the Fratellis, do voiceovers for every single indie band under the sun, and host corporate ‘rock’ events.

• The Fratellis are so bad because they are an echo of happiness, the recreation of something good that happened in the past that you can’t quite recall but as this is the most redolent impression you’ll get you might as well enjoy it, however hollow.

• Still, we watch the Fratellis as over at the Mandela concert there’s something much, much worse called Razorlight, an experiment to give apathy a human form.

• On the subject of Jay-Z, we’re glad that hip-hop has made it here, as, even if it’s in a trough at the moment, it’s the only form of mainstream music that has actually progressed in the past decade. But sad that it’s Jay-Z, whose casual sexism, lazy innovation that only seeks to out-do Puff Daddy and, most of all, crap songs makes him as an inappropriate standard bearer for hip hop as Jeremy Clarkson taking a role as envoy for Greenpeace. But, as we’ve said, Glastonbury folk are generally nice and broad-inded so he thankfully won’t get bottled or jeered off.

• We’ve nothing personally against Leona Lewis but with her every performance, it’s like that bit in Doctor Who when people kept spotting “something” on Donna’s back. On Leona’s back we can spy the leering face of Simon Cowell siphoning off cash from Leona’s spinal column and frittering it away on materialistic goods that show just how successful and brilliant he really is.

• Geri Halliwell may have made Mr Mandela pine for the isolation of Robben Island rather than have his ears polluted by the verbal pollution of this relentless harridan.

• Nokia. Mystery Jets ask Swedish DJ Jonah about his “sex tape”, which is as much of a modern media tool for shifting products of insoluble vermin as getting on the Radio 1 playlist. Nokia. It’s 9.05am. Nokia.

• Nokia. Blue Mystery Jet complains: “In Europe, don’t you find they ask you more about music?” Nokia. As opposed, obviously, to sex tapes. Nokia.

• Nokia. We shan’t mention anything about the music on the Nokia Green Room. Nokia. Why should we? Nokia. The producers evidently feel that Keith Lemon asking Katie Melua about bicycles in China is so much more fascinating than mere music. Nokia.

• We couldn’t actually find any music programmes on Music Television to review. It was all chocca with strident-voiced teen skateboarders, spoilt American teenagers, dead ex-music stars trying to resurrect themselves with the power of reality TV and Making Of film clips shows in which semi-actors made from porcelain and glue gush with a greater force than the Niagara Falls about their profound new film centred on a man with a bum on his elbow, He Wouldn’t Know His Elbow…. Oh look, 2am and some music on Music Television. We’re asleep.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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