Living wiv…The Streets…for a week

excerpt from The Bull’s Hit Almanac of Rock and Pop Culture (2011 edition)

School of English Mundane music (ing-glish muhn-deyn)
It is widely believed that English Mundane entered the rock and pop scene in the late 70s as a by-product of the punk and new wave movement.  It is centred primarily in the South East of England dealing with the magic of everyday life and loves, delivered usually in a deadpan tone. The song most commonly credited with bringing mundane in to the public eye is Jilted John’s Jilted John, especially the classic lines

“I was so upset that I cried, all the way to the chip shop
When I came out there was Gordon,standing at the bus stop”

It epitomizes the genre with its references to takeaways, public transport and jilted love.  The song rises to a bitter euphoric climax with the classic refrain of “Gordon is a moron Gordon is a moron, Gordon is a moron”.

The most commercially successful mundane song of this early period was Squeeze’s Up the Junction continuing these themes and introducing that of the front room, television, alcohol and personal hygiene:

“I got a job with Stanley
He said I’d come in handy
And started me on Monday
So I had a bath on Sunday”

The television becomes an important barometer of emotion – when times are good the telly is on and everyone is happy.  When times are bad

“No more nights by the telly
No more nights nappies smelling”.

Some have chosen to stretch the genre to its limits with avant garde interpretations.  The most notable is Splodgenessabounds’ Two Pints of Lager And A Packet of Crisps.  The mantric repetition of “Two pints of lager and a packet of crisps, please” ad infinitum evokes the energy of another packed mundane favourite, the local.

Feminist English mundane did not emerge until the 00s spearheaded by Kate Nash’s Foundations:

“You’ve gone and got sick on my trainers I only got these yesterday-
Oh, my gosh, I cannot be bothered with this”.
This time the singer is doing the jilting, they’re not the one getting drunk – the boot (probably a Dr Marten) is definitely on the other foot now.[See Note 1 below]

The movement probably reached its pinnacle with the 2004 progressive mundane rock opera by The Streets A Grand Don’t Come Free.  Lead singer Mike Skinner takes us on an epic journey (warning, spoiler alert) of losing some money, breaking up with his girlfriend and then finding the money again.  The album is more poetic than most in the genre, witness the chat-up line:

“I think you are really fit
You’re fit but my gosh don’t you know it”

Familiar themes abound – the front room, takeaways, booze, the local, jilted love – all seen through the drunken, spliffed world of Mr Skinner.  In addition he brings it up-to-date by introducing  texting.  The television becomes a metaphor for the singer’s dissatisfaction as he moves from house to house in search of one that works.  It then becomes his salvation as he then discovers that’s where he lost the money in the first place.  Definitely no more nappies smelling.  The highlights of the album are the last two songs Dry Your Eyes and Empty Cans.  Perfect poetic mundane!

So where does English mundane go next?  New themes continually open up with technology – gaming, facebook, texting and blogging have so much potential that need to be explored beyond Bieber’s attempts so far.  At the same time, there has not been much work done on multi-cultural mundane…the potentials for the genre are endless.

See also:  Really Annoying Voices; How Not to Read Body Language; Techniques for Improving Mobile Signal; Artistes who Should Really Stop Whinging

Note 1. Lilly Allen may have claimed to be the first in the feminist movement but you can’t be mundane and have a song called Smile.

Glee Watch: The Christmas special in March. Bah.humbug.