Alex Turner was the centre of controversy last week with his unconventional, ‘rebellious’ acceptance speech, claiming ‘Rock & Roll will never die’ which galvanized both criticism and appraisal. His words have divided the nation, with some disregarding it as arrogant, pretentious nonsense, whilst others have glorified it as a heroic rebellion against the current dissatisfying pop culture. Generally, Alex Turner has been completely misunderstood. The fact that the mainstream media have transfigured and manipulated Alex Turner’s overt nonchalance into disdainful arrogance magnifies their misinterpretation of something quite brilliant.
Every year, the Brits is thrusted upon us, and each year we eat up those tediously dull acceptance speeches, that reel off a dozen publicists, producers and family names. It’s not vaguely interesting or captivating, and let’s be honest it’s hardly sincere, but it’s the staple element of any awards show. Alex Turner interrupted the chain of ‘pop puppets’ being precariously grateful for their award and eating up James Corden’s tiring penchant for awkward one-liners. Alex dropped a dose of sincerity into the environment. And as we all know, overstated award ceremonies and sincerity, by the laws of physics, naturally repel each other.
The Sheffield frontman began his acceptance speech with ‘That Rock & Roll, eh?, That Rock & Roll, it just won’t go away. It might hibernate from time to time and sink back into the swamp’. Now, immediately this is a dig at the current state of the music industry which is often exemplified in ceremonies like the Brits. It would seem that guitar music has been marginalised for a while, but with Arctic Monkeys beating One Direction at this year’s Brits, the public are weaning back to the illustrious clutches of Rock & Roll. He then delves into the theories of the universe and states that ‘And I think the cyclical nature of the universe in which it exists, demands it adheres to some of its rules’. It is around this point I expect that the critics and the media are deeming it as ‘pretentious waddle’, however coming out with something so profoundly abstract like this whilst somewhat intoxicated, requires some talent. Most of us can barely perform the facile task of walking in a straight line whilst under the influence, and Alex Turner uses the cyclical laws of the universe as a theoretical metaphor. Brilliant.
…have a history of stirring ‘controversy’ at award ceremonies…
So, perhaps it did enter the territory of pretentiousness, but underneath that, there was sincere disillusionment and frustration towards the music industry, and an intent passion for the genre that made them who they are. So far, critics have regarded Alex Turner’s final note of ‘Oh and uh, invoice me for the microphone’ before seconds later, dropping the microphone, as an arrogant little tantrum. Unfortunately, once again they have completely misunderstood the point. Alex Turner’s disregard for the microphone wasn’t his pièce de résistance, the unorthodox heroic disregard for the ceremony was. Of course, this begs the question, if they disregard the Brits so much then why did they go? Turner and Co have a history of stirring ‘controversy’ at award ceremonies. At the Q awards in 2007, Alex Turner claimed that ‘even I know Take That are bollocks’. What Alex Turner said last night wasn’t particularly controversial, however it just goes to show how easy it is to be controversial in today’s pop culture, which preys on the outsiders who don’t express an opinion that fits the consensus.
The speech can essentially be seen as an appraisal of the reckoning and abiding success of Rock & Roll, not arrogance. It was everything Rock & Roll is supposed to be, unpredictable, unorthodox and riotous. In a way it is almost a humble response by devoting the award to the genre of music that inspired them, cultivated them and shaped the Arctic Monkeys’ sound and attitude. It was also this week that Radio One producer, James Murphy, stated that ‘Guitar music is definitely on the way back’. Arctic Monkeys’ success at the Brits, voted by the public, certainly proved that. Alex Turner completely satirised the whole event and the music industry whilst definitely aggravating many. However, it was unequivocally refreshing, and it has irritated the little mind numbed ‘sheeples’ (Yes, a portmanteau of ‘Sheep’ and People’) who voluntarily brainwash themselves in the current depressing state of pop music. If it annoys those ‘sheeples’, who defy anything with an organic sound or a hint of musical talent, it’s probably a good thing. However, it’s unfortunate that the mainstream media disregarded his speech as ‘pretentious waddle’ rather than embracing the rejuvenation of Rock & Roll. ‘Pretentious waddle’ or heroic defiance, it’s certainly put them and Rock & Roll back into the spot light, and for that, us outsiders that you spoke to and inspired, thank you Alex Turner.