As 2016 ends in a mire of disappointment, Shaun Ponsonby takes a look back at the year in innocuous bullshit via self-serving conceit.
Originally published on Getintothis
I often come across as grumpy in these pages. There is a reason for that; I have to watch, read about and listen to all the stuff you wouldn’t touch with a sheathed bargepole. You might not have sat through the VMA’s, but muggins here did. I sift through this shit so you don’t have to. I say it often, but I mean it; thank me in your will.
There have been 49 editions of Cosmic Slop this year – that’s a whopping 96,538 words. I don’t know if that latter point is true, but it certainly sounds impressive when I say it with confidence. If it’s anywhere near true, though, it probably means I have vomited more words onto your phone/laptop/mac than any of the other Getintothis contributors, and for that I am truly sorry.
Sadly, with such consistent moaning about pop culture and all its punchable faces, it is easy for the reader to miss a masterpiece of imaginary proportions.
Let’s face it, all end of year lists exist primarily to stroke the ego of said publication, who feel the need to Ron Jeremy themselves because they have a much better music taste than you, yeah? Who the fuck would write that bollocks, and who the fuck would want to read it? Morons, sycophants and people begging for validation from the aforementioned sycophants, that’s who! “Read my list of obscure music, recognise my coolness and VALIDATE ME!” Incidentally, you can check ours out here.
So, I thought if self-serving and pompous attempts to look more important than we actually are is the name of the end of year game, I might as well take it one step beyond and cut out the middle man. I decided to ask my loyal audience – Steve, he lives in Walton with his mother and their cats – what they thought the best Cosmic Slops of the year were. I disagreed with Steve’s choices, so I disregarded them and wrote my own list. Fuck you, Steve, you useless prick. May he rest in peace.
I have chosen my Top 10 least terrible Cosmic Slops of 2016, all the while pretending it’s a brilliant way for us to look back on the year in innocuous bullshit together, even though considering that I’ve already covered the bigger stories of the year (it’s a weekly column about music/pop culture news, duh!) doing so would be entirely moot.
Best of all, because all the hard work has already been done, it means I get an extra few days off. Nice that, innit? Because Zeus knows you lot aren’t worth the FUCKING EFFORT.
- Beyonce and Jay Z – let’s be honest, there probably isn’t a “Becky” [Cosmic Slop #61]
Ah, yes! Beyonce shocked the world by releasing a surprise album…again. But, no, this time it was completely different, because it was a “video album”, a pretentious way of saying she had made a music video for every song.
The main crux was about the pretend controversy surrounding the bullshit “Becky” publicity stunt – and, yes, it was a publicity stunt – and I actually like this one way more than having it at number 10 implies.
Regrettably, I made a crack about the line “Becky with the good hair” that went thus; “If you are going to take anything away from this, be disappointed that the most descriptive thing Beyonce could muster to say about “Becky”’s hair is that it was “good”. Five people wrote and produced that song, and that’s the best they could come up with. That’s talent, folks.”
A while later, a friend of mine (in a conversation unrelated to this piece) pointed out that “good hair” is a common racial slur against African-American women, that white women are seen to have the “good hair”. I feel it was probably something I should have researched first, and looking back I do look ignorant on that point. Therefore, I take that line back entirely (thanks, Niloo!). But I stand by the rest of the article, for sure.
Incidentally, Beyonce kind of spent the year going up in my estimation following this (I’m sure she has only been doing this music malarkey for my approval). Lemonade in general was a much superior album than I’d heard her do before and her performances at the BET Awards and the VMA’s knocked the ever-loving shit of pretty much everybody else performing. The Becky stunt got under my nose, but credit where credit’s due.
Favourite line: “If The Mirror said that the existence of ankles was controversial, would you believe it? I wouldn’t. I’d call them insufferable twerps and be on my merry way.”
- Justin Bieber – shut up and sing [Cosmic Slop #86]
Oh, Bieber. What a year you’ve had. I don’t think anyone appeared in the pages of Cosmic Slop quite as much as you did; your fans being charged $2,000 to stand next to a cardboard cut-out of you, your awful performances, getting your love dart out at every conceivable opportunity when you didn’t think the cameras were around even though you were out in broad daylight, otherwise sensible people falling for your latest album.
The thing about Bieber is, he is by far the weakest link in absolutely everything he does. His lyrics? Dumb. His performances? Lifeless. His charisma? Non-existent. What people like about his new album are the beats and sonic production that were the responsibility of other, more talented people. Everything on there would have been better served on somebody else.
This story was his about his storming off stage when his audience were screaming, instead of listening to his profound words of wisdom. In London, this included an awkward warning to the people in the upper tier; “If Jesus comes you’ll be the first to go”. Yeah, it really makes you think, doesn’t it?
It is irritating that Bieber is complaining that nobody is listening to his on stage bantz, when the truth of the matter is that he has nothing significant to say. It is all a bit self-involved.
The favourite counter-argument of his insane fan base of screaming tweens is “It’s the media twisting things!” And, yeah, there probably is a bit of that going on – but when he is publicly storming off stage in a pathetic sulk, the media don’t have to do anything to twist it, do they?
He has announced a stadium tour for 2017, which is great, because he’s an offensively terrible live act and in a stadium he can mask this further with spectacle.
I’ll leave you with two classic quotes;
“I am an artist and I should be respected.” – Justin Bieber
“I don’t think of myself as an artist, I’m just a musical prostitute, my dear!” – Freddie Mercury
Favourite line: “I can tell you exactly what he was going to say; empty, meaningless crap that would embarrass the most pointless Facebook meme. ‘Life is a journey, and there will be ups and downs…’ etc. Oh, do shut up. Did you read that in The Hungry, Hungry Caterpillar or something? Even Russell Grant would cringe at that shit. Faux-inspirational bollocks that has zero resonance in the real world.”
- Is the world flat? No, but B.O.B. thinks so [Cosmic Slop #49]
I remember I had actually written an entirely different article that was ready to be published when this story came through. B.O.B. (the rapper, not the character from Twin Peaks) went on a series of pseudo-scientific rants about the world being flat because…conspiracy, that’s why. It was too good a subject to let it slip by, so I quickly knocked this out.
The best part of the whole episode was when he got into it with astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson, which culminated in an actual living, breathing anti-Neil DeGrasse Tyson diss track. So much for intelligent debate.
The thing with doing a weekly column like this is that sometimes you write about the effect before the cause. Months later, a day or two after Trump’s election (oh, Jesus Christ, that keeps repeating on me – he’s actually going to be inaugurated), I became incensed by the number of people sharing a continuously disproved meme stating that The Simpsons predicted Trump’s presidency (oh, fucking hell, there are going to be pictures of him hanging in schools). People share unsourced bullshit on YouTube and Facebook and people believe it without thinking.
In the words of George Clinton; “Think! It ain’t illegal yet!”
Favourite line: “Apparently not liking being corrected with facts by an expert in the field, B.o.B. responded to Tyson with an actual diss track. That’s right, instead of engaging Tyson in a debate that he knew he’d lose, he opted for the hip hop equivalent of writing ‘Neil is a slag’ on his maths book.”
- Presenting the official Cosmic Slop Christmas album [Cosmic Slop #89]
The time of year where Michael Buble and his ilk come out of their cave and force middle aged women to debase themselves by listening to their schlock took a nose dive for the even worse this year when I saw an advert where Pointless presenter (that’s both a description and the name of the show) Alexander Armstrong walked around the countryside singing The Stranglers’ Golden Brown (you know, a song about heroin).
I actually did record an album called Shaun Ponsonby Hums Christmas Classics For You, and I picked a handful of tracks to preview at the bottom of the page. I guess the point is that these albums are really a whole disc of nothing. Nothing on there is going to change your life, or make you feel anything. Really, Armstrong might as well be humming. So long as he’s on TV every day, somebody will buy it.
But if people enjoy it – whatever the fuck, right? A few people told me they found the “album” I recorded hilarious, others said it was stupid and they couldn’t even get through the first track. Personally, I think it is no exaggeration to say I genuinely surpassed literally every other single person’s artistic intentions.
Though you can sneer at the intention of something, I don’t quite like sneering at other people’s enjoyment. Unless they enjoy, like, Triumph of the Will or something. That would be wrong. Although I did put in that James Corden line (that doesn’t count – it’s James Corden).
Favourite line: “I decided to use the album to raise awareness for all the starving children in Rhyl, hence the first track being Do They Know It’s Christmas? (Feed The Welsh). There have been millions of children going hungry in Rhyl since The Sun Centre closed and local legend Carol Vorderman left Countdown, it’s just been a prolonged downward spiral.”
*In truth, though, my favourite bit is the albums clips themselves.
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- Prince, Springsteen and the deluxe reissue [Cosmic Slop #46]
This is a true story that actually happened. Getintothis’ editor, Peter Guy, gets pissed that I constantly re-tell it. I’m guessing he’s jealous. But, yes, I did spend a fair portion of Christmas Day 2015 having a discussion with Prince on Twitter. Really, I only wrote this piece to show off a little (wouldn’t you?), even if he didn’t seem to like me.
I don’t know if I would have included this in the list had we not lost Prince this year. I’m still not quite over that. In fact, this was less than four months before he died, which is a sobering thought. But I do think it’s a pretty funny story, especially seeing as he deleted his tweets almost immediately after sending them.
We were talking about his lack of reissues, as I’ve always felt his classic albums needed desperate remastering (Sign “O” The Times especially). Coincidentally (ha! Yeah, right!), since his death Warner Bros have announced that a full reissue/remaster of Purple Rain will be released in 2017.
Favourite line: “Prince knows I exist and he thinks I’m a twat. I may not have won life, but at least it felt worthwhile for a bit.”
- The 1975’s Matt Healy is basically the new Johnny Borrell [Cosmic Slop #71]
I actually can’t remember when I made the connection between Healy and Borrell, but it seems very apt. The parallels are extraordinary; both are fairly talented songwriters with an overstated sense of self-worth, have found themselves in a position where the band ostensibly becomes about them, have found success fairly quickly, are unbearably pretentious and, crucially, have an apparent need to get their tits out at every available opportunity.
I actually found a hilarious quote from Healy when researching this one; “We’re not worried about becoming a bunch of wankers because the people who become wankers were always gonna become wankers. Johnny Borrell is a wanker because he’s a wanker, not because Razorlight got massive.” Ditto.
I noticed at the BBC Music Awards that the rest of the band just seem to get pushed further and further into the background. Do they have mouths? Can they speak? Who the fuck knows? It’s a mystery beyond all rational thought. He could probably replace them with mops and nobody would notice.
I can see The 1975 going the way of Razorlight, imploding due to the singer being an unbearable cock and then nobody really admitting to liking them, even though they sold millions of albums. They are doing pretty well at the moment though, and they got a couple of decent pop songs. I would rather them than lad rock.
Having said that, my predictions this year haven’t been very accurate. I likened Trump to One Direction because I couldn’t imagine him “gaining much support with people outside of his own, rabid fan base,” so I am no Mystic Meg (actually, I am – she was shit too).
Favourite line: “I can understand the success of The 1975. They’re radio friendly and their frontman’s dad was in Auf Wiedersehen, Pet. If that’s not a recipe for success, what is?”
- Who gives a toss what NME’s favourite album is? [Cosmic Slop #91]
Ugh. Best album of the year lists.
The NME thing made me howl with laughter. There’s a bit of a lack of self-awareness about a gang of straight middle aged white men bawling to the sound of Oasis’ Stop Crying Your Heart Out because they named The 1975’s preposterously titled second album I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it (no, that wasn’t bad grammar on my part, they stylised it without capital letters) as the best of the year.
It might be true that NME isn’t what it was. But, that being said, it wasn’t very good to begin with. At least not in my lifetime. If indie landfill and lad rock ain’t yo bag, then the chances are that you’ve never given a flying frig what NME has to say about anything. I know Britpoppers think that the rag is some kind of Holy last word in music, but sadly the vast majority of the bands they champion are a load of boring wank.
To my eyes, I just saw a half good indie-pop band made up of straight white men topping the albums list. Sounds pretty NME to me.
Obviously, The 1975 didn’t make the best album of the year – that crown goes to Shaun Ponsonby Hums Christmas Classics For You, and that I was overlooked should really fuel my distaste for their decision. But, honestly, I don’t care. You know why? Because the only people who really care about awards are teenagers.
Favourite Line: “If you want to know Noel Gallagher’s ill-informed opinion on anything – the best materials for upholstery, the effects of the Cuban missile crisis etc – I’m pretty sure you can find it in NME’s pages.”
- Brexit, nationalism and politics via The Simpsons [Cosmic Slop #69]
If there is one word I think we as a public never want to hear again, it is “Brexit”. But it isn’t going to end, is it? Because we voted “out” (or at least Steve did), despite not one member of the British public – or, it seems, political class – having a fucking clue what the EU is supposed to be.
Cosmic Slop is obviously supposed to be dealing with music/entertainment news, but I do think there are times where you can’t ignore the bigger questions. Writing about Coldplay being shit seems a little moot when one of the most significant events of our time is taking place all around us.
The difficult part is making it fit the Slop mantra. That was easy with Trump, because he was a celebrity first, and a walking punchline (who is going to be President – fucking hell, he is going to make state visits).
Brexit was a different beast, so I went to my fall-back position; The Simpsons. Luckily, there is very little in life that can’t be traced back to The Simpsons, and the episode where Apu is nearly deported fit in perfectly, thank you very much.
Probably the best part of the article, though, came out of a conversation I had with a friend of mine, Mike Morralley (he presents the drive show on KCC Live – definitely listen in one day, he is one of the funniest people you could meet). It’s the quote posted below, and the metaphor just became more elaborate as we were speaking.
Favourite line: “Essentially, this has become akin to the Catholic method of contraception; you just pull out at random and make a big mess everywhere. It might feel good whilst you’re making the mess, because you are deep in the throes of passion. But the mood dies quickly when you have got to try and clean it all up, stumbling around with an old tea towel in the dark, as it gradually dawns on you how horrible, disgusting and sticky everything has become. Furthermore, there’s still the possibility that it hasn’t worked and you are going to get pregnant regardless because it is an untested method. And the sad part is, the whole mess could have been avoided had you protected yourself sufficiently before going in.”
- The sad life of a football hating scouser [Cosmic Slop #76]
This is actually my personal favourite of the year, but I felt like I shouldn’t put a non-music post at number one.
There is quite a bit of hyperbole at play in here, but football fans will never understand how strongly the sentiment needs to be heard. One questioned me; “Yeah, but how often do you actually find yourself in football conversations?” All. The. Fucking. Time. My lack of interest doesn’t stop some people insisting on talking to me about it, mainly because for so many football fans it is seemingly the only topic of conversation in their arsenal. In fact, I’ve had people act personally offended, like I’ve just pissed over Christmas dinner, if I say I don’t care about football.
There came a point a few years ago where I got so sick of it that I went to the trouble of researching dressage so that I could speak at length about it as if it was the single most important thing in the world whenever I found myself in a football conversation.
If you don’t know what dressage is, by the way, it’s a genuine sport featuring dancing horses. I gave it up because it was pretty time consuming – I used to look at up to date dressage news so I could loudly protest controversial decisions in the middle of people telling me how such-and-such should be sent off because he whacked off the linesman, or whatever.
Just to be clear; the game itself isn’t the problem I have. I have no opinion on it. It is everything around it that annoys people like me. It penetrates every aspect of society, there’s no safe haven and this was spurred on by football columns appearing on music and arts websites – because, you know, there aren’t enough sports websites in the world where people can get their football news from.
So, if you don’t recognise why these things might be annoying, you’re probably one of the people contributing to it and you should leave your body to medical science so we can finally find out what exactly makes someone a total cretin.
Favourite line: “In fact, sometimes it can be amusing to listen to all the unintentional euphemisms from fans who really should think before speaking. Just this week I heard people scream; ‘Just stick it in there’, ‘Get him off! Get him off!’ and the pièce de résistance ‘All he had to do was stick it in his own end’.”
- Brit Awards 2016 – Bowie, Adele, Bieber and terrible stage management [Cosmic Slop #53]
Is this really the best Slop of 2016? Fuck knows – or cares. But it is as good as any of them, I suppose.
I always make an effort to sit through the big industry networking opportunities – uh, I mean award shows (Grammys, VMA’s, BBC Music Awards), especially if they are likely to be terrible. I usually end up with more material from them than just about any other subject. They tend to be nothing more than a constant stream of pure bullshit. They exist primarily as networking opportunities or circle jerks. I’m usually all for the latter, but I don’t particularly want to watch Olly Murs climax, despite my sexuality (or lack thereof, as it so often is).
The BRITS feels a bit different to the rest of them. It is like a British institution that nobody wants. We can’t help but watch it, but we really couldn’t give less of a shit. But, it is a fleeting moment, so I needed to get this up as soon as the show ended.
Truth be told, this years’ BRITS was better than most years’ shows, but I didn’t want to say that in the article because Steve (RIP) would say I’ve gone soft (insert innuendo and Rik Mayall gurn). And yet, still, they ignore major genres and massive artists. The award for Best British Female included a woman who has been dead for half a decade (Amy Winehouse) and a group (Florence + The Machine), meanwhile Lianne La Havas was ignored and relegated to presenting an award? Bollocks.
Anyhow, I am mainly impressed with myself (which is a rare occurrence) for getting this up within an hour of the show’s end. I spent the entire two hours with one eye on the screen, and one on my laptop. Special shout-out to the amazing Vicky Pea, who spent the night getting screenshots whilst I was hurriedly writing everything down, and who deserves more credit for the day to day running of the site in general. Kneel before her like the unworthy bitch you are.
Favourite line: “Amy Winehouse didn’t win the posthumous award, because she lazily failed to send an ‘I’m sorry I couldn’t be there’ message in absentia.”
It could be deemed conceited to pick what I deem the best of me as the end of year post, but luckily conceit is a fault and I have no faults. So, there.
2016 has been horrible. So horrible, that talking about how horrible 2016 has been is now an irritating cliche. There is a lot to be learned. Obviously, I’m not the one to teach it – I’m a moron who has so much time on his hands that I have been able to write 94 editions of Cosmic Slop for free. Usually I am not one to celebrate New Year (you’re celebrating a measurement, people), but I can’t be alone in looking forward to the end of this shitshow of a year.
In all seriousness, this column is both a joy to write and a pain in the arse. I have to find something that is as close to witty, clever, insightful or interesting as I can get every week, without being too repetitive and it never really ends. There are weeks where nothing of much interest happens, and I find myself stumbling into areas of the internet that might get me included on some kind of register whilst looking for something – anything – to talk about.
Once in a while, you might come out with something that resonates – I guess that almost makes life worthwhile. Briefly. But it is a bigger task than I ever usually let on. All I ask in return is your unwavering love and support, and that you will build a statue to honour me after I’ve gone. It doesn’t even need to be in a prominent place, put it halfway down the M6 if you want, just please VALIDATE me (yes, we’re back on that).
Anyhow, I’m going to leave you with a song by Beans On Toast that sums up how I have felt for the majority of the year. He played it at Sefton Park Palmhouse before it’s released and I think everyone who was there had a moment whilst he did.
Whilst we await the answer as to whether 2017 will be any kind of improvement, I would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Uncharacteristically, I actually mean that with complete sincerity. We have all earned it.