One of the things about being on holiday – apart from the constant, hour-by-hour wallet-emptying – are the daily drives back and forth to whatever pleasure palace the kids have demanded we take them. This also entails huge dollops of Heart FM on the car radio. Or Kiss FM. Even when I sneakily switch ro Radio 2 it doesn’t help, throwing out something so off-limits kids-wise I am soon detected and flogged.
There is, however, a positive to this. The realisation that there are some seriously top-drawer artists and records out there. Case in point: Ed Sheeran and Pharell Williams ‘Sing’. People talk about the golden days of Motown, or of soul. But this mother is up there, trust me. A wonderful, glorious pop-soul-hiphop moment guaranteed to make your sun shine hard. But then another Ed Sheeran comes on, ‘Thinking Out Loud’, a ballad, completely different and utterly masterful. If James Taylor of Rod Stewart had done this in 1973 it would be heralded today as an all-time classsic.
Then there’s Bruno Mars, who is so prolific he makes Elton John in his two-albums-a-year heyday look slovenly. And each song a true pop gem. Or Jesse J, who whatever you think of her on The Voice, has to be one of the most talented singer-songwriters this country has ever produced. Or Sam Smith. For fuck’s sake, what a voice, powerful, nuanced, real. And rock oldies still harp on about Coverdale and Hughes and so forth. Sam Smith pisses all over them. He sounds more like one of the great 60s soul men than he does a powder puff Heart FM boy-toy. And don’t even get me started on Adele, the current Queen of Soul who also does a stunning cover of Bob Dylan for fun. I don’t find gigs fun anymore but I’d pay to see Adele.
But wait. None of this is to say I now listen to Heart and get my jollies off singing along to Katy Perry. Just how astounded and impressed I am at the sheer quality of the stuff out there that my kids listen to. If only some of the odler rockers could still produce stuff even half as good as this, as new and fresh and full of imagination. We might even start buying their here-today-gone-later-today albums again.