Saturday, 20 March 2010

Welcome to the UK, Adam's Musical Home!

This is a post mainly aimed at my international friends to tell you a little bit about the UK through my eyes and ears. It's by no means definitive and does contain some affectionate stereotypes. Many people equate the UK with England, but it is made up of more than one country. There is Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales who each have their own self-governing political systems. There is a fair amount of piss-taking between them. For example, Scots are branded as drunks who live off deep-fried Mars bars, the Welsh as singers with a penchant for bestiality with sheep. There is also a North-South divide in England. Southerners are ponces, Merseysiders are small-time crooks, those in the West Country are country bumpkin farmers and Geordie girls are famed for dressing like slappers (easy women) in little more than skimpy underwear, even in the depths of winter. It's all part of our banter.

The majority of musical influences Adam has cited are British, so I see this visit as a return to his musical home. I hope he's taking the opportunity to delve into the music scene while he's here and find even more inspiration. I'm more of a gigger/clubber so I'm not particularly knowledgable about British pop music and rarely follow the British pop charts. I do know that the singles chart is extremely fickle with songs often entering at the top spot before dropping away rapidly. The album chart provides a much better indicator of what's popular. Both of these charts are released every Sunday afternoon and can be found here: 1.Official singles chart  2.Official album chart
We have plenty of local radio stations but the channels with most listeners are the nationwide radio channels provided by state broadcaster BBC. The music channels with the biggest audiences are BBC Radio 2 (adult contemporary), BBC Radio 1 (pop), and Heart FM (adult contemporary).
Pop acts receiving a lot of media coverage at the moment include Florence and the Machine, JLS, Cheryl Cole, Ellie Goulding and Pixie Lott. The closest we have to male artists who would be in direct competion with Adam are Mika in terms of sound, and Robbie Williams in terms of showmanship.
EDIT: I've had some additional thoughts since posting and discussing this with some of you so I'm jotting them down. According to my unknowledgeable opinion, the songs I think that have most potential to take off are the electropoppy ones like FYE, Fever, IIHY and DTRH. I don't think straight-up rock such as WWFM can cut it, unless he's already established or it's boosted by use in film or TV. If Adam can get DJs to play his music and remixes in clubs, it will help to earn him cred before he does his TV promo and music snobs realise he's an AI alumnus. His music doesn't get released until late April so for most people here, he's still a relative unknown. It'll be interesting to see how he's marketed as a celebrity here. So far we only really have the NOTW article and the SuBo misquote, which have painted him out to be an edgy and outspoken rebel. Although the references to drug use may have put many off, attitudes here are quite liberal when it comes its recreational use. Celebrities + drugs = eyeroll.

The TV slots where music acts do their usual promotional performances are on shows such X-Factor, Britain's Got Talent, Strictly Come Dancing and Dancing On Ice. It's also common to have performances on chat shows like Jonathan Ross, Graham Norton and Alan Carr. There are music programmes such as T4, 4Music and Jools Holland that show live studio sets, concerts, or highlight specific artists. Artists also get exposure through quiz shows such as the music-oriented Never Mind the Buzzcocks. I'd love to see the exchange of smut between Adam and Norton and Carr, an acoustic set on Jools Holland and Adam headlining a festival on T4. Another wish would be for him to do the intros round on Buzzcocks, where contestants use their voices to reacreate the instrumentals of songs but aren't allowed to sing them. One thing I'd love even more though, is for Adam to make an appearance on Doctor Who as a singing rockstar alien with a fabulously freaky costume.

The British tabloid press is vicious, intrusive and thrives on sensationalist scandal but we know to read it with a huge dose of cynicism. Here's a brief summary of our print media:
Trashiest papers: The News of the World, The People, The Daily Star.
Informative papers: The Guardian, The Times, The Telegraph.
Most popular papers: The Sun, Daily Mail, The Mirror, Metro.
Popular music magazines: NME, Q, Kerrang!, Mojo, Mixmag.
Popular celebrity gossip magazines: OK, Hello!, Heat, Closer, Now.
Popular men's magazines: FHM, GQ, Maxim, Nuts, Zoo.

The country is multicultural with London being the hub. I tend to think of it as a mini world in a city because of the number of nationalities represented. I think Adam would enjoy shopping for OTT rocker accessories in Camden with all its fashion-bold goths and punks. We are a nation of binge-drinkers and drink to get drunk with bars being the venue of choice rather than pubs or clubs. I'm partial to heading to Shoreditch's bars to check out the fashion of arty and new-media types, often ending up at quirky venues for after-parties. And I think Adam might like to take a trip to Soho to check out the abundant prettiness and friendly atmosphere amongst the many gay bars. But he should smooch carefully because tabloid kiss-and-tells are quite lucrative with careers having been built around them. Homophobia is fairly uncommon though the word 'gay' is still used as a mildly derogatory insult. Brighton is our gay capital and same-sex civil partnerships were made legal in 2005. We have plenty of public figures who are openly gay, ranging from politicians to TV personalities to musicians, so Adam's orientation should be a complete non-issue.

Well I hope this is a useful introduction to get you started as you come over here to follow Adam's visit. Please feel free to ask questions and make yourselves at home while I make you a cup of tea!


  1. Thanks for the intro.....very informative!! Am looking forward to lots of photo's during his stay. In a way, we all take a cyber vacation when he's gone and can enjoy what each Country offers.

  2. Very informative! You do a great job with your blog! Thanks so much. I'm sure Adam will have a fabulous time in the U.K. We've heard how much he loves British bands and their style. Regarding Adam's British musical influences, your readers might enjoy "Adam Will Be Adored in Britain" by my esteemed co-author Xena!

  3. This is great - thank you. And omg I'd LOVE to see Adam do a guest spot on Dr. Who! Can't wait to hear all about his time there.

  4. Great post and as a fellow Brit I agree with almost everything you said. I haven't seen Doctor Who since it used to be on in the 80's and 90's but I can see Adam being great on it. I'm totally a pub person not a bar person in the UK so that's the only thing I differ on! I agree he would love Camden.

  5. AB thank you very much for introduction to UK! I was on business trip in Birmingham long time ago. As a culture part of the trip was visit to Warwick Castle. You see I haven’t seen much of UK. So you gave me insight that I wouldn’t get anywhere else. I’ve learned new English words as well! Thanks for expanding my English vocabulary :)) I’m glad that Adam is on PR tour in UK. I do hope he will succeed there. I’m not very happy that his first appearance is related to meeting with Boy George. Of course it’s very subjective. I just never liked him as a musician and person. Maybe exception is remix of “Crying game” (original is by Dave Berry) and also just because I was very impressed by film “Crying game” and its story. Well but as far Adam is happy about meeting BG, I make a shift with it... I do agree with you regarding Mika and Robbie, but we all know who is outstanding vocally. Before I heard and saw Adam, to me there were only two great showmen – Freddy Mercury and Robbie Williams. Of course Robbie is not best vocalist in the world but I love how he acts on stage and his interaction with public. He owns the stage and so does Adam. Looking forward for new goodies from UK! Diana aka adivianna

  6. AB, what a lovely, informative and interesting post: I loved your introduction to the UK. I visited London just last month, and I was fascinated by everything but the (horrible... sorry) climate, and I wish to return soon! And, I add my hope to the Universe re: Adam Lambert on Doctor Who. WANT IT TO HAPPEN!

  7. mistyluv7, thanks! We have a few pics now of Adam & Boy George from last night. I don't think there'll be other opportunities to dress up until next weekend.

    Juneau, thank you for the link. I've already read it and it's great!

    bklynsam, I've given the Doctor Who idea way too much thought. He'd definitely be the fiercest alien in our galaxy! I think the idea has been inspired by so many of Adam's amazing costumes including the one right on the sidebar.

    Anonymous, I wasn't really into Doctor Who until it got resurrected. If you haven't seen the recent ones, I'd highly recommend them. One of the things I love the most is the humour and its love for the kitsch.
    Regarding the pub/bar/club situation, I often lament the loss of the British pub. It seems that they're all getting tarted up by some chain or other into identikit bars.

    Diana, you're welcome! It's very difficult to get a feel for the country on a business trip. I think it would've been nice on this visit for Adam to experience London as a normal civilian and rub shoulders with the unwashed masses before hitting the big-time. But I think there was business to be done regarding Boy George, which I've just written a post about.

    kosh-1662, thanks! The weather this year has been extra miserable so far. It's best to come during the summer so I hope it's better for you next time! Maybe if we all wish together it might have a better chance of coming true?

  8. A big thumbs up for this post from a fellow Brit. Great introduction for our international friends! Good links too, I shall be keeping an eye on press over here now he had dipped his toe in the water!

  9. Adam on Dr Who is also one of my dreams, preferably in an episode with Captain Jack as well. That would sizzle :)

  10. Anonymous, thanks for keeping an eye open! The more we have the better to get Adam everywhere.

    magsmagenta, that would be fab! I'd so love to bring back David Tennant for it too.

  11. Sounds like home. Kiwi's and Brits are very similar.

  12. The use of the word "gay" as a criticism or insult is a recent development in the UK. A sad indicator that there is an increasing amount of homophobia among the increasingly uneducated and unsophisticated young people in the UK.

  13. "I think Adam would enjoy shopping for OTT rocker accessories in Camden with all its fashion-bold goths and punks."

    Agreed 100%, as a Camden native and former resident.

    "We are a nation of binge-drinkers and drink to get drunk with bars being the venue of choice rather than pubs or clubs."

    I don't agree with this at all. Pubs are still far more popular.

  14. the1gypsyqueen, hi! I've never been to NZ but would love to go some time. How's Adam doing over there?

    Anonymous, I think the thing with the word "gay" is that its meaning has changed. Its derivation is homophobic but more often than not, it's mocking the recipient's desire to be seen as macho rather than mocking gay people. I do also see it often used as a neutral word though, to describe the very camp or kitsch.

    Fraggle, I often have a hard time finding good pubs these days. They all seem to have been taken over and done up by generic bar chains. I guess I've just been unlucky.