This story is over 5 years old.

Deep Ass Questions

How To Explain The Year's Music Videos To Your Family This Christmas

You're just flicking through the music channels and suddenly your mum has *a lot* of questions about "Anaconda"
Emma Garland
London, GB

Aside from eating and drinking with the wild abandon of someone who has just been told they have less than 24 hours to live, one of the best things about going home for Christmas is the free pass you get to spend as much time as you like on the sofa, eyes glued to the television set, without wincing every two minutes under the crushing guilt of a thousand looming deadlines.

But when there are at least three generations piled into one living room, there is very little you can put on that will sit well with the whole family - unless you resort to three hours of soap operas and make everybody equally unhappy. So what tends to happen, because you parents have sweet sweet Sky+, is you end up watching a music channel together.


It could be MTV, it could be VH1, it could be The Box; it literally doesn’t matter, because every single one of them will be running the same Top 200 Songs Of 2014 feature on loop. The only thing that will change is who does the talking between videos (my advice: avoid the one that will inexplicably opt for David Gest, unless watching an animated Dali painting regale you with questionable tales from his time as Michael Jackson’s best mate is your idea of festive fun).

What you will quickly come to realise, is that this is your big moment. You may have massively let down your side on the family quiz because you pushed every ounce of GCSE history knowledge out of your brain to make room for more conspiracy theories about Solange and Jay-Z in the lift, but praise Yeezus will that come in handy now because it is highly likely that you, dear Noisey reader, are the one with the most up-to-date understanding of pop culture in your family. This is a brief window of time in which you’re allowed to gob off about the year in music to a group of people without being rightfully told to shut the fuck up.

Having said that, you don’t want to scare them off by vomiting up all the thinkpieces you’ve read over the last twelve months every time something #problematic arises. Christmas is the season for fun-sized everything, so why not package your pop culture in the same manner? Here’s how to summarise some of 2014’s most topical issues in a language that won’t make your entire family wish they were watching the Queen’s speech.


Taylor Swift “Shake It Off”

Wait I don’t understand. Why is she dancing if she can’t dance?

She’s trying not to dance.

Oh so she can dance?

No she definitely can’t.

Should she be a popstar then?

Right but the thing is she’s good at being a popstar because she sort of undermines the expectation that people have of celebrities to be perfectly-coiffured and graceful. People like her because she's quirky and clumsy.

Oh I see. So she goes for a more scruffy look?

Oh hell no, she literally steps out of the gym looking like a 50s catwalk model. Listen, you know how Nigel Farage sells himself as a pint-drinking man of the people even though he went to public school and became a city trader? It’s like that but without the xenophobia, she wants you to feel like you’re just like her, even though you’re definitely not.

You’ve obviously thought a lot about this.

Yeah. It’s been a weird year.

Nicki Minaj “Anaconda”


Calm down, surely it’s no worse than Elvis swinging hips or Jagger’s thrusting crotch.

It most certainly is young lady. They didn’t have their bare behinds waving in the air.

It is different but it’s not that different. Women have danced raunchy in videos for decades. The only difference now is that they’re the star of the video rather than hanging out in the background as an accompaniment to a male artist singing about sex.

So you're saying this is a step forward?



So is this what boys like these days then?

Maybe, but it’s really more about embracing or taking back your culture, your body, your sexuality. Girls quite like it too.

Who’s that guy at the end sitting down. He doesn’t look very pleased to be there.

That’s Drake, the saddest boy in all of Canada.

And what does Drake do?

Judging by his collected life decisions in 2014, I’m not even sure Drake knows what Drake does right now, but he’s one of the most memeable musicians of 2014 despite having been relatively inactive.


Oh sorry, “newsworthy”.

How can someone who doesn’t do anything still be all over the news?

Well he didn’t do nothing. He got an erection in this video. Also he went to a lot of basketball games and sat courtside all season so everyone noticed him throwing tantrums, lint rolling his trousers and dressing like George Costanza.

And that’s popular is it?

Seems to be.

Katy Perry “Dark Horse”

That colour scheme is so offensive.

That’s not the only thing that’s offensive.

What do you mean?

Well, she’s dressed like a nu rave Cleopatra and she just obliterated a symbol of Islam.

Oh, so she’s like Nigel Farage too?

I honestly don’t think she realised what she was doing.

You’d think someone as big as her would have a team of people paying attention to things like that.

Yeah, aesthetic tends to come before context in some cases. Other people certainly noticed, though.

Like who?

Like whom. People on the internet were angry. Others reacted with “it’s political correctness gone mad!”. Then the EDL showed their support for her on their Facebook page.


Oh dear.

Yeah. Adopting another culture in the name of “fun”, parody or simply because everyone else was doing it was a big thing this year.

And that’s bad?

Well it’s kind of like pinching roast potatoes from everyone else’s plate with one hand and using the other to jab a fork at whoever tries to have a go at yours, isn’t it?

Hmm. Wasn’t she married to Russell Brand for a bit?

Yes she was.

Sam Smith “Stay With Me”

Aw, I like him. What’s his name again?

Sam Smith. He’s awful.

He has a brilliant voice.

Okay, yes, objectively he has a good voice. But as a pop star, he’s crap.

What could possibly offend you about him?

Nothing, that’s the problem. He’s every single Richard Curtis film stuffed into an expensive suit, he’s Downton Abbey the musical, he’s probably got a selfie with another famous person set as his own phone background. He is a conspiracy designed to ruin Christmas by instigating violent family feuds like the one we’re about to have as soon as I finish this sentence.

If he had his arse out would that make him less boring?

Absolutely, but I really don’t think anybody wants to see that, do you?

Future Islands

Who’s this bloke from the rugby club taking the piss?

That is Samuel T. Herring of the popular indie rock band Future Islands.

What on earth is he doing?

Enjoying himself?

He looks like a drunk Stephen Graham at a karaoke bar.

Pretty great huh?

He looks like a cat being sick.

Will everyone stop picking on Samuel T. Herring? He is a very serious musician.


One Direction

Oh I know them.

Good for you.

Your sister likes them.

No she doesn’t. That was two years ago. She likes Against Me! now.

Blast. I’ll have to go back to HMV and swap her present.

What’s HMV?

Oh so you don’t know everything. It’s a shop where you buy CDs.

Oh like iTunes?

Right but you actually go in there pay £12.99 for a physical CD you can hold in your hands.


£12.99. Pretty reasonable, no?

Guys, let me show you Bittorrent. It’s going to blow your minds.

Follow Emma on Twitter: @emmaggarland