by James Fleming

People have always liked what’s bad for them: excess, junk food, heroin. It tastes better and feels better and it’s all presented in a more immediately satisfying package.

“Banal and Mediocre.” That’s what Bill Hicks called it.

This package is brightly coloured and catchier than the plague, it comes pre-packed in under 3-and-one-half-minutes and you can swallow it down with a double vodka before sprinting onto the floor, following your friends into the bathroom or walking cool and composed to the smoking area, bumming a Silk Cut off your smoking buddy on the way.

It also, in this day and age, wears a distinctly aryan nation haircut: long front, short back and sides.

It might strum an acoustic guitar while looking dreamily off into the middle distance. It might prance about looking better than you or your significant other. It might promise you, that special person, the world.

But, for sure, it will have a chorus.

A sing-a-long, chant-a-long chorus. One you’ll remember for ever. You’ll know the words after one listen. And that’s all you need to know; the rest is filler. Just fodder to fill up the remaining seconds.

But, the thing to remember is: it’s just a package.

That’s all it is.

A package.

When banality and mediocrity go multi-platinum, we’re taught to hold it up as an achievement. That this is something to aspire to. In the process, we do lasting psychic damage to our collective consciousness; accepting less than we deserve.

By celebrating less, we get less, and become less. By not striving to reach our full potential, to really push boundaries, we remain captive. Caught in a cash trap, a money pit.

Captive in an empty wallet, smelling of alcohol-infused sweaty leather. The average pop song not only sucks your wallet dry, but your humanity as well. It robs us of our status as human beings and reduces us to simple consumers. Unacceptable.

Not everyone should have the same opinion, not everyone should like the same sort of music. There is nothing wrong with a good pop song, just listen to ‘Good Vibrations.’

However, ‘Good Vibrations,’ is a perfect example of a person breaking boundaries and pushing the envelope. The song is literally revolutionary, nothing like it had been heard before or, indeed, has been heard since.

Bowie did it. He pushed himself creatively, raised the bar time and time again, almost to an impossible height. So high it was easier to jump out the window.

When the bar is raised that high, the rest of us have to work to reach it. And, if we strive to reach it, we further ourselves as free-thinking and creative HUMANS. Not consumers. Not empty wallets. But humans.

And that’s why boy bands are bad for your health. One Direction and groups of their ilk are the real Devil’s music. A package, complete with action figures and novelty condoms. To be bought and sold at the price of your heart. They don’t provide an example to the rest of us, they don’t raise the bar, they don’t push us or help us push ourselves. All they say is what not to do. But that gets lost in translation.

For legions of fans the world over, these guys and gals are idols. The false idols of pop culture. The real-deal get dismissed as hipsters. The fakes are the new thing. Money makes the world go ‘round. And lies make money.

Aforementioned: celebrate less, get less, become less. Mediocrity is not the goal, and neither is perfection. Progress is the goal. So avoid that package. There’s a letter bomb inside.