A friend and I are both similarly shameless man boys, and are equally shameless enough in our arrested emotional and intellectual development to get together once every week to watch old wrestling PPV events from the early 00s, 90s, 80s and – if we’re feeling especially fruity and devil may care in our appreciation of video quality – even the 1970s. After each event – some amazing; some unintentionally hilarious; many, many, many absolutely fucking awful – we look back at the evening’s entertainment, give each match a star rating, hand out our individual awards. And read out the Death List. The Death List is the number of wrestlers and personalities we’d witnessed perform that night at an event forty, thirty. twenty or even just ten years ago who were now no longer with us.
It’s unquestionably a morbid joke, one that never allows us to forget the insanely short expected lifespan of professional wrestlers, particularly those from the steroids n’ cocaine heydays of the so called Golden Era, from the 80s to early 90s. Despite our flippancy, it’s not a completely disrespectful exercise, it’s rarely less than depressing to note how many great talents were lost to us early by being sucked into such a thoughtless and treacherous business. It never allows us to forget that people are killing themselves and being killed just in order to provide us with our shits and giggles. Considering that I’ve only been writing these lists since 2007, and in an era when musicians’ and pop artists’ lifespan is considerably longer than your average professional wrestler, it’s not a trope I’d ever imagined repeating for my Necessary Evil end of year countdown.
2. There are no wars or anything (real wars, that is).
3. Ummm. Very little continental drift going on (that’s probably normal).
4. Somewhere, the president’s daughter is “like, totally wasted” right now.
There. One minor problem. Otherwise, things are swell. I haven’t really researched this much, but if something major was going wrong, I’m sure someone would have told me. So what are these Manic Street Preachers bitching about?
And despite everything I’ll discuss in this review, I still absolutely stand by that visual point. It’s simply inconceivable that the band ever believed that ‘Know Your Enemy’ would be a commercial success, and it’s likely that they correctly assumed that it would cut ties with the mainstream to such an extent that they would never again experience anything close to the success that they enjoyed in the late 90s. Their previous album, 1998’s ‘This is My Truth…’ sold five million copies worldwide (!), while ‘KYE’ sold 500’000. Nicky Wire would later even concede in Mojo Magazine that much of those sales were to dissatisfied customers, and also remark on how it marked the band’s commercial downturn: “To this day, you see ‘Know Your Enemy’ at service stations for £2.99, because they bought so many thinking it was by one of those commercial bands! In retrospect, it sold half a million copies. Imagine what we’d give for that now.”
So, yes: commercially, it was ritual suicide. But was it any good?
They came number one hundred and twelfth in 2016?! Sorry, I’ve just made myself feel a little ill by reminding myself of how many fucking albums I used to include on this dumb year end list that nobody reads. I did one hundred and seventeen albums in total that year, in one of the greatest years for music of the last two decades at least, so The Joys were unfortunately near the bottom of the pile with easily their weakest album. Dead bottom was Damian Lazarus who – and you’ll like this – actually slagged me off on Twitter because of the review!! I mean, fuck me, I know these days I am The Most Trusted Voice in Music™, but back then I think I had about 300 views in total across the whole year!! I had only just started my current Twitter account and had nine followers!! Damian Lazarus, you absolute fucking muppet.
Luke Haines is always going to earn a place on this list. Aside from his near legendary cantankerousness these days best evidenced through his Twitter account now that he doesn’t sell anyway near enough records for any journalist to want to bother talking to, but he might actually be one of the most influential and important British music artists of the last 30 years without anyone really noticing or caring (least of all Haines himself). Unfortunately, a lot of that influence and importance isn’t really valued in 2020, like Haines has spent a large part of his career building up a collection of several billion Yugoslav Dinar. His previous band, The Auteurs, didn’t just release the greatest album of 1996, but are widely considered to have been the first Britpop band and their 1993 debut ‘New Wave‘ is considered the first album and perhaps the ultimate example of the genre. Unfortunately, crowing about an artist’s importance to Britpop in 2020 is like raving about one of the most important engineers ever because of their revolutionary idea to build houses using asbestos. People are unlikely to share your enthusiasm, and will likely debate whether it should be considered a ‘good thing’. Regardless of the nonsense that Britpop quickly descended into though, it still can’t be denied that Haines played a central part in solidifying the importance and artistic/financial viability of British guitar music at the beginning of the 90s, and without him we may never of had… erm… what British guitar band are they nowadays? Royal Blood. Without Luke Haines we may never have had Royal Blood. Can you even imagine? But, yeah, he doesn’t care, he’s happy enough by ow (all relative, of course) releasing extremely decent but lower scale and borderline comedy solo albums.
Have you ever considered that maybe Princess Nokia has a point? Maybe everything is beautiful? Maybe you don’t agree. Maybe you’re one of those overaged (and- my goodness- way over sized) wannabe teenage edgelords who have developed multiple subconjunctival hemorrhages due to the dangerous amount of times you’ve rolled your eyes at something. Maybe your detachment from positivity and any sort of approving conscientiousness has rendered you completely numb to appreciating any good thing in life. Maybe when the vicar asked you if you take this person to be your lawful wedded spouse you merely shrugged your shoulders and said “Whatever”. Maybe when the doctor handed you your new born baby, you rolled your eyes at how unbelievably mainstream the whole thing was, with the baby crying and wiggling its arms, like that hasn’t been done before. Nothing is beautiful for you, because you refuse to allow it to be.