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Trying to Make Sense of the Negative Comments Blur's Graham Coxon Made in an Interview with The Guardian

Yesterday the Guardian published an interview with the band and by all accounts, it’s an interesting read.
Ryan Bassil
London, GB

Blur formed while studying at Goldsmiths University - an institution known for its strong connection to the art community – so you would think the band’s members are wised up to different forms of culture. Unfortunately though, it seems that’s not the case. On their latest album, The Magic Whip, the band were accused of cultural appropriation – having presented a brief, cursory exploration into Asian culture. Their reply - “What is Orientalism? Chicken fried rice?”


That response came from Blur’s bassist Alex James. Given his fondness for cheese, tweed jackets and David Cameron, his comment, although undignified, wasn’t an earth-shattering revelation. He’s essentially a one-foot-out-the-closet Tory with a £70 barbershop indie haircut. What’s more interesting though – when you consider Blur have always presented themselves as worldly, art school graduates - are some recent comments made by Blur’s guitarist Graham Coxon.

Yesterday the Guardian published an interview with the band and by all accounts, it’s an interesting read. Alex James is pressed on whether he voted for the Tories in the election (“Ummmm” - he doesn’t want to talk about it). There’s talk about whether the new record signposts the final chapter in Blur. The most thought-provoking moment comes, though, when Coxon’s talking about his dissatisfaction with today’s music. “[It’s] shit, isn’t it?” he says. “We need more groups that have a bit more passion or sexiness or politics or something going for them”. The Guardian then bring up Kanye West as an example of a mainstream artist who is doing something interesting to which Graham Coxon replies…

“He’s a fucking idiot, isn’t he”

I’ll give him that one. But…

“Does he even make his own albums?”

Because Kanye West doesn’t play a guitar, people like Graham think he doesn’t make his own albums. But he does! He’s released seven of them: all have won awards. Kanye’s one of the few rappers to successfully create the music and words on his records; as a result he’s the most award-winning Grammy artist of his age. Not only does Kanye create music though, he has inspired its future. Graham: What have Blur influenced? The NME Magazine? Topman?

“People aren’t interested in learning instruments and putting effort and time into it”

This can be said for so many artists – especially guitar-bands who have been dining out on the three-chord formula for decades, Noel Gallagher says he wrote most of his best songs in 10 minutes – but not Kanye. He was producing music long before he became a rap artist and would frequently work after hours to record over other people’s beats. Do you reckon Graham Coxon knows how to use an MPC sampler? I bet he wouldn't have the first clue what button to press, let alone invest the 5000 hours 'Ye spent on the "Power" beat or the eighty or so mixes he put “Stronger” through before it was released.

“All I hear is a loop starting, some bloke starts to sing or rap, and the loop finishes”

Has Graham Coxon even listened to a Kanye West record? Because at this point I’m convinced he hasn’t. What’s the difference between a loop and a chord sequence anyway? Don’t they both play the same thing over and over? Graham’s essentially reduced Blur’s “Out of Time” to a man wimping about his life being in a state of flux.

“The lyrics just seem to be idiotic”

“Girls who want boys who like boys to be girls who do boys like their girls who do girls like their boys”.

Blur have, for a long time, been at the forefront of innovation in British music, particularly in the way they’ve worked with, rather than stolen from, unusual and unheard artists. So why is this latest incarnation of the band so culturally blind to the world they’re in?

You can find Ryan Bassil on Twitter: @RyanBassil