A terrible thing happened to me recently. I accidentally liked a Travis song.
It happened like this. I was listening to the sample CD from my favourite monthly music magazine, Paste. I like to listen to the CD blind a few times before I read the magazine itself, which often features many of the artistes on the disc. You know, so I’m not prejudiced against a band with a stupid name, like Umphrey’s McGee. And that way, if I like any particular song, I can take the time to read about the band. If not, I can skip the interview or featurette and save a few minutes of my precious life.
Track 4 seemed a little familiar. I might have heard it on the radio a few weeks back while driving around England. It was highly derivative, very 80s, post-indie, melodramatically sung, and catchy. I found myself flicking back to track 4 on the car CD player to hear it again. I started to warble along like an abandoned teenager.
Finally, I looked on the disc to see who the mystery artiste was. Travis. Fucking Travis.
This might not seem a serious matter to you. But back in around 2002 I was in London and saw Travis on some kids’ tv programme performing a few songs, and they seemed to represent everything that was wrong with…oh, I don’t know. The modern world? Youth today? Kids’ tv programmes? What was I doing watching kids’ tv programmes anyway? Still, they were feckless and twee, and the only ideas they had were nicked from all the bands I’d liked 15-20 years earlier, and then battered into chart-ready submission. Or so I ranted to a few people at the time, none of whom looked remotely interested or impresssed by my incisive cultural analyses.
I can describe what it’s like discovering that you like a song by Travis. It’s like eating a succulent, perfectly spiced pot roast and then being told it’s your pet dog. It’s like waking up from an erotic dream involving Isabelle Adjani to find that you’ve been sleepwalking and are naked in the street with your tumescent manhood entrenched in the arse of the rotting raccoon that was knocked over by a truck three days earlier. Possibly worse.
At first I went into denial. I didn’t really like the track at all. Then maybe, I reasoned, they’d made a good song by accident – with all that time and money spent in the studio, a congress of Chacma baboons would have eventually done the same. Then I tried listening to the song so often that I thought I would start to hate it. Tragically, that hasn’t worked.
Bugger me. I’m not hip after all.