London Grammar earn political kiss of death

BERNARD ZUEL
Last updated 16:12 08/04/2014
London Grammar

KISS OF DEATH? British PM David Cameron (right) has given his vote to London Grammar (left: singer Hannah Reid).

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Oh dear, poor London Grammar. The young English trio may be one of the most talked about groups in Britain but they may have been given the kiss of death.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has announced himself a fan. Not just a fan but someone who would like them to perform at an official best of new British talent show in the US.

"Well, when we had the White House dinner in Washington we had Mumford & Sons, which was great because it was before their last album got really big," Cameron told the London Evening Standard newspaper, somehow avoiding mentioning that since that White House dinner Mumford & Sons have become the favourite whipping boy of all who consider themselves cool, edgy or just disagreeable.

Political stamp of approval ... Tony Blair (inset left) was a fan of Oasis, while Gordon Brown (inset right) liked the Arctic Monkeys.

Political stamp of approval ... Tony Blair (inset left) was a fan of Oasis, while Gordon Brown (inset right) liked the Arctic Monkeys. Photo: Wires

"But who I really like right now is London Grammar. I think they're brilliant. So if I could do it again I'd have them."

Now Cameron is a man of some talents, having taken the Conservatives from almost certain crushing victory against the then-deeply unpopular Prime Minister Gordon Brown to a precarious governing coalition with the Liberal Democrats, and now a highly likely loss in the next general election.

He also achieved the impressive feat of uniting the long-ostracised songwriters of the great British band of the 1980s, the Smiths, when he declared himself a fan, only to have both Johnny Marr and (Steven Patrick) Morrissey demand he stop listening to them.

That said, Cameron's fatal fandom is almost a British tradition with one of his predecessors, guitar playing Tony Blair, marking both the high point and the beginning of the end for Oasis when Blair had the band around for a cup of tea in 1997 after the Labour Party swept away nearly two decades of Conservative rule.

Blair may have earned some street cred having the working-class boys from Manchester in the official residence at the height of Brit Pop but is it a coincidence that Oasis never made another very good record?

A similar fate was just averted for another bunch of northerners, Sheffield's Arctic Monkeys, when the then-luckless and dour PM, Gordon Brown, surprisingly named them as one of his favourite British groups. You could argue that escaping the mockers put on them by such endorsement was partly down to the Arctic Monkeys not too long after shifting their recordings to the US and partly to the fact no one thought Brown - at that point already looking like a dead man walking - could tell the difference between the Monkeys and the Monkees.

American politicians have a habit of attaching themselves to iconic musical figures, to varying degrees of success. Ronald Reagan's misreading appropriation of Born in the USA earned rebukes from its writer Bruce Springsteen, while Bill Clinton's use of Fleetwood Mac's Don't Stop (thinking about tomorrow) seemed in tune with both his relative freshness as the first post-WWII president not to have served in that war and his embodiment of the indulgent if aspirational "me generation".

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A decade later Barack Obama was both hip and soulful, taking on existing giants Springsteen and Aretha Franklin but also the indie favourites the National - who have grown bigger since that endorsement. Meanwhile his opponents have struggled to find anything more than oafish country star Toby Keith or superannuated rocker Ted Nugent to soundtrack their campaigns.

- FFX Aus

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