Pop artist and 'very determined to let you know she's got the range' singer Jessie J (the one who once did that song about money and then shaved her head for a bit) recently marked the end of a two-year hiatus with comeback video, "R.O.S.E. Confessional". Maybe you've seen it? If you haven't, here's a quick re-cap: she strokes her face and hair a lot, stares intently into the distance and says things like "I feel everything so deeply. It's a blessing and a curse" and "I don't want to make music anymore. I said that out loud. Wow". It's real *pensive*. And it's also in a field of wheat!
If you've been paying any kind of attention to pop music, you'll have seen that crop fields are increasingly becoming associated with an image-cleansing attempt at a career revamp. Earlier this year Miley Cyrus relaunched her next 'I'm not wearing blackness as a costume anymore I guess!' phase with the wholesome-looking video for "Malibu", and real wheat heads will remember when Rihanna shot the video for "We Found Love" in a field in 2011 (and was later kicked off the land after the Irish farmer who owned it felt her "state of undress was becoming inappropriate"). So why does an open field of crops = revamp? Is agriculture the new pop culture barometer? We asked some farmers about what they make of the whole "wheat field as image cleanser" situation.
Sam Fairs, 45
Noisey: Hi Sam, why have Jessie J, Rihanna and Miley ran through fields of wheat?
Sam: Well, I've never really thought about it Patrick.
I can see that.
Yep. Well, I suppose all three of them are very welcome to come and dance through our fields any time they like, which is in Suffolk.
I'm sure we can arrange something.
And I don't know the recurring theme – I suppose they would have to answer that – but I would imagine freedom is a pretty large part of it.
Do you feel free in your fields then?
It's a good place to be if you're claustrophobic. Big, open fields and big, open Suffolk skies is not a bad place to be is it, Let's be honest.
Would you be open to renting your field out for fans to run through?
Well, I could, but I'm not sure many people would turn up. At the end of the day, what do people love doing? They enjoy being in the great outdoors. The hills are alive with the sound of music Patrick. It's been going on forever. Look at The Sound of Music, where did they learn to sing?
I feel you Sam. Anyone likely to run through yours soon?
I mean we've got Ed Sheeran on the doorstep, in Framlingham, just by the by. He's a good lad. He can run through some fields.
Noisey: Hi Richard, what do you think about pop stars using fields of wheat as visual symbols?
Richard: If people knew what was on the crops, they wouldn't see it that way.
What do you mean?!
Well, you put muck on the field.
You mean the fields are covered in loads and loads of shit right?
Obviously... yes! It's good for the growth of the plant.
Do you ever feel inspired by the fields?
Personally I'm always inspired by anything relating to agriculture. Even spreading shit across it… it's part of the process.
That sounds great. Do you think..-
-Was that a cow?
Haha. Yeah sorry mate.
Who would you pick to run through your fields if you could choose?
Urm, Johnny Cash. I really like Johnny Cash. With a few of the drugs he used to have, I'm sure he'd get across pretty quick.
Noisey: Hey Pete you're a farmer right?
Pete: I'm afraid so yeah.
What's wrong with being a farmer?
I don't know really. It's actually a very nice thing.
You sound confused. Lets confuse you more: what do you make of the whole pop stars running through fields trend?
I suppose I'd be quite tickled if I had pop stars running through my fields. We have orchards ourselves and they're very nice and calming places to be. It doesn't matter what time of year or what the season is.
Yes. Yes it is. And I suppose if you think of a field of wheat, when you see the wind on it, it looks like water. It has a certain amazing aesthetic which I guess perhaps they might be tapping into.
I hear you. Is there a literary reference we're missing here? From a Thomas Hardy novel perhaps?
Yeah possibly, I was about to suggest maybe the writings of Ruskin but I doubt very much Miley Cyrus is big on that sort of thing.
You never know, she may well be.
Maybe. I mean, wheat is quite a blank canvas on which to present yourself isn't it? There's not much in the way of distractions.
Why don't they use your orchard? That's surely a more romantic setting?
When I started it ten years ago I had visions of the Bulmer's advert with, like, long grass, wild flowers and maidens with long blonde hair running through in floaty dresses. It doesn't quite come out like that in reality, there's lots of posts and wire and it's not quite the same. If they want to switch to orchards though, they can give me a buzz.
Maybe I shouldn't be so surprised at the lack of imagination in modern day pop music videos.
It's quite a sad thing that they still haven't moved on.
Noisey: So loads of pop stars are running through wheat fields Bertie.
Bertie: I'm a beef and cheese farmer so it doesn't make a lot of difference to me.
Fair enough. But let's real – why has this been such a thing recently?
I assume it's something to do with the Theresa May thing is it?
It's been a thing since before then. Rihanna was doing fields back in 2011. Are farmers going to revolt?
I wouldn't have thought so. To be quite honest we've got bigger things to worry about.
Like post-Brexit gloom?
Yeah. I mean: if you run round in wheat for 12 hours you probably won't make much difference to our annual yield. However farmers are subsidised by the government, so if we come out and lose the subsidy it would be catastrophic.
Why do people run through wheat over any other crop?
I think it's the only crop the public seem to know about. It's probably quite an itchy thing to do to be honest. It wouldn't be on my agenda but I suppose it's quite romantic.
So when Jessie J is rubbing the wheat against her face...
Yeah. She would have a pretty nasty allergic reaction I suppose. If it's barley, you make your beer and stuff out of, it's horrendously itchy. It's horrible stuff. It's an unusual concept.
You avoid these fields then?
I'm usually happy when I'm not in a wheat field.
What's a better crop to use?
Grass I'd say. About ankle height would be ideal.
Great. Thanks Bertie and thanks to our other agricultural friends.
You can find Patrick on Twitter.