And Finally Artist News Beef Of The Week

CMU Beef Of The Week #195: Pop v Scotland

By | Published on Friday 21 February 2014

David Bowie

If there’s one thing Scots don’t like, it’s being told to “stay with us” by an English man who has lived in the US for several decades. Especially when that message is delivered by proxy through the drunken mouth of Kate Moss.

Yeah, so David Bowie won the Best British Male trophy at Wednesday night’s BRIT Awards (it turns out he IS better than Jake Bugg). After reading out the name, the award’s presenter Noel Gallagher laughed openly at the people in the audience who seemed to think that The Thin White Duke might be there to pick it up. Then Kate Moss staggered onto the stage wearing one of Bowie’s old stage outfits to deliver an acceptance speech he’d emailed over.

The speech went something along the lines of, “When the seagulls follow the trawler, it’s because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea”. I forget the exact wording. Bowie/Moss then signed off with the words, “Scotland, stay with us”.

Now, he wasn’t referring there to a worry that Scottish third channel STV might depart the BRITs telecast at any moment to put on a ‘Taggart’ rerun or something (though James Corden’s last link at the awards show did plug the ITV2 BRITs after show programme, which STV hates, because while it operates the main ITV channel in Scotland, it doesn’t have a stake in the UK-wide ITV2 digital station). No, Bowie was referring to the referendum on Scottish independence due to take place later this year. Well, I think he was. If it turns out he was talking about STV’s programming policies then everyone’s going to look very silly.

Anyway, a lot of Scottish people had rather strong opinions about those four words at the end of the Bowie speech – not least the much quoted Twitter comment that he should “fuck off back to Mars”. But what about the non-Sots who were actually at The O2 to hear them delivered live thing? (Not that Scottish people aren’t allowed into the BRITs – well, not yet – I mean, once they stop being BRITish that might change).

Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner – a Northerner, which is almost Scottish – told BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme that if an artist feels strongly on a political matter, they should be allowed to talk about it. Which is a fair point. Though dropping it into the end of an award acceptance speech you’re not even delivering yourself is perhaps not the best time. Seemingly aware such topics aren’t best dealt with by throw-away lines, Turner himself declined to discuss his views on the Scottish independence matter, saying that while he felt strongly, his opinions would perhaps be better saved for a “half hour special”.

Elsewhere, a slurring Harry Styles off of One Direction said that Bowie is “a legend” who can “do no wrong”, though he refused to comment on Scotland’s political status himself. Let’s just take that as a vote for retaining the union from Harry.

But what about the Scots? Well, let’s turn to Twitter, where Glasgow band We Are The Physics tweeted in response to the speech closer: “David Bowie wants Scotland to stay in the union because he’s never tried to spend a Scottish tenner in a London chip shop”.

I’m not sure what that’s got to do with it, but I sometimes have trouble understanding the Glasgow accent. Speaking of which, CMU approved comedian (also Glaswegian, and pro independence) Limmy tweeted his views, saying: “I don’t understand why David Bowie wants Scotland to stay under the control of a Tory government it didnae vote for, I just don’t get it”.

Which sort of sums up the view of a plethora of pro-independence Scots (including the non-famous ones) shouting on the social networks since the BRITs on Wednesday. Unsurprisingly, Bowie himself hasn’t responded to any of this, though his son, movie director Duncan Jones, did. Seemingly in agreement with Dad, he argued in response to Limmy’s tweet: “When you’re independent, and a vote doesn’t go your way, are ya going to sub-divide the island again?”

Anyway, as you can see, there are strong opinions on all sides. These quotes definitely made that clear, right? But I must stress, that’s not all that Scotland has had to contend with from the music world this week.

American rapper Danny Brown turned up at the Guardian’s offices yesterday to partake in a Q&A for future publication. It did not go well. In fact, Brown apparently walked out of the interview once it became clear that later in the chat – as part of a “British snack taste test” – he would be asked to eat a Scotch egg. He was seemingly not impressed by either the presence of the “Scottish egg”, or the possibility of ingesting it.

Interviewer Paul MacInnes explained: “He was having difficulty getting into ‘the zone’ and was discussing his dislike of the egg. It occurred to me that some jokey ‘banter’ might loosen him up, so I said ‘you can’t come over here slagging off Scotch eggs’, and things went rapidly downhill from there. I had intended, after discussing the Scotch egg, to give him a miniature bottle of Jack Daniel’s from my booze collection as thanks. I went to grab it, and when I came back he was gone. I apologise whole-heartedly for any egg-related offence caused”.

Now, it’s one thing to have your democratic right to choose the constitutional status of your home country interfered with by an emigrated pop icon, but it’s quite another for a man with a missing tooth to poo-poo your national cuisine (shush, yes it is). Some things just can’t be debated. If anything, we should all be calling for independence from Danny Brown. And with immediate effect. And whatever David Bowie might think about the rapper.

I may not have thought this through.

Speaking of things that weren’t properly thought through, here’s how ‘Newsnight’ chose to illustrate the Bowie BRITs story last night: