Category Archives: Sociology Songs

Sociology on TV – The 1970s

The first in this four part series took a relatively in-depth look at the very early years of the 1970s, examining the cultural shifts taking place in the context of Britain’s adaptation to a globalising economy.

I don’t teach it, but I imagine the show will be extremely useful for the SCLY1 culture and identity module.

The show starts with Heath’s success in getting Britain into Europe and uses this as context to chart the growth of UK consumer culture – pointing out that the number of people holidaying abroad doubled in ten years to the early 1960s.

There is also a good deal of coverage of shifting gender identities – as new masculinities become increasingly acceptable following the stardom of The likes of T Rex and Bowie. This spread across glass lines and there’s lots of nice images of working class lads with long hair accompanying this.

The show also deals with the influx of 25000 Asian Ugandans and their extraordinary efforts to get themselves jobs after arriving in the UK having lost everything to Amin’s regime. This is contrasted to the ‘send them back’ marches in the East of London

The episode finishes with Heath’s humiliation following the 1972 miner’s strike… The later being cast as an indication of Britain shifting right – the miners after all were simply demanding higher wages after a decade of wage stagnation so they could afford more than ‘a few pints at the weekend’ and actually take part in the UK’s new consumer dream

I think the show I watched was a relatively politically neutral historical analysis, although I’m not sure because it was hard to disentangle thought from the nostalgia – next week’ll be even worse as episode two will be dealing with my birth year – 1973 – And momentous though this event was somehow I think the show might kick off with something else…!?

Related blogs

By the show’s presenter –


Sonny’s Lettah – Linton Kwesi Johnson

Listened to this with my class yesterday – a great way of illustrating the extent of police racism in the 1980s as manifested most obviously under the sus laws – Sonny’s Lettah is taken almost verbatim from a letter written by a black youth (according to this blog) to his mother in Jamaica explaning why he’s in jail – basically he killed a cop in the process of defending his brother from an unprovoked incident of racist police brutality.




I include selected lyrics below, the full lyrics, and translation, can be found here

it was de miggle a di rush hour
hevrybody jus a hustle and a bustle
to go home fi dem evenin shower
mi an Jim stan up waitin pon a bus
not causin no fuss

when all of a sudden a police van pull up
out jump tree policemen
de whole a dem carryin baton
dem walk straight up to me and Jim
one a dem hold on to Jim
seh dem tekin him in
Jim tell him fi leggo a him
for him nah do nutt’n
and ‘im nah t’ief, not even a but’n
Jim start to wriggle
de police start to giggle

mama, mek I tell you wa dem do to Jim?
mek I tell you wa dem do to ‘im?

Dem thump him him in him belly and it turn to jelly
Dem lick ‘im pon ‘im back and ‘im rib get pop
Dem thump him pon him head but it tough like lead
Dem kick ‘im in ‘im seed and it started to bleed

The whole album – Forces of Victory – is stacked full of songs relevant to teaching about police racism in the 1980s –

The Message – RIP freedom of speach in the UK

This blog post reports how, on 3rd July 2011, twenty-six year old Manchester rapper Yosh was just starting his set at a community event in Rochdale’s Broadfield Park. He asked the crowd “who wants to hear how the police statistically stop more ethnic minorities than white people?”, and launched into The Message, at which point the event organisers cut off his backing track. Yosh tried to continue, but then five police tackled him, grabbed the mic off him, before finally escorting him off the premises.

If you want to download, legally, the entire EP for free – click here

If you just want to listen to the song that got the police were so keen for Yosh not to sing – here’s the link – 03. MESSAGE (OBAMA INTRO)– and you can follow along with the lyrics below (handily transcribed by the blogger mentioned above)

I come to topple the tyrants
Bin Laden isn’t dead
Was never really alive
It’s just another lie
To keep the wool on your eyes
Nick Clegg and Cameron insiders
Fabricating characters to give society a fucking enemy
So they can go about tryna take over steadily
Revolution is the only way
A wake up is needed
I can see the way they deceiving
Coming through the TV it’s trauma-based mind control
So you can live, act and think like a mindless drone
Her Royal Highness who’s sat behind the throne
All-seeing eyes popping up to idolise the glow
Speech patterns – I can hear the lies unfold
And shoot holes in 99% of lies we’re told
Fuck the government
Treat us like we’re nine years old
They’re coming for us
That’s the reason why it’s knives we hold

“Yesterday I saw the popo pulling over three men
For nothing but their skin colour
When will they stop?
Turned a head to see a poster saying ‘vote’
I nearly choked
I know it’s just a sick joke devilish plot
Too many tensions from government intentions
Pensions turning into spends for inventions of warfare
Tell me that I’m wrong to be militant
It’s on cos we’re cashing in promises they’ve given us
To believe that these devils will deliver us
Taxpayers footing the bill for politicians living frivolous
Everybody’s fucked in the budget
Cuts everywhere like we don’t know what the result is
More debt to keep us all enslaved
And more threats to keep the fear engraved
I ain’t hearing the brainwash
I don’t give a fuck how much your chain cost
You’re just another part of the oppressor like J was”

Finally – this blog looks like an interesting source for underground music

You’re the most annoying dude I ever seen brah

Could you please move, you’re right in front of the quinoa.

If we pretend it’s not a total mick-take, and that this is a genuine song about the lived experience of middle class angst, then it certainly ticks the ‘authentic’ box, so is this hip-hpp? I mean is it ‘true’ to the roots of the movement? (As represented by the likes of NWA.)  This is a serious question that I’ll be asking at some point during the crime and deviance course.

This, incidentally, is yet another great reason to join Twitter – I stumbled upon this by browsing the tweets of David Harvey’s followers….Now that simply wouldn’t have been possible a few years ago!

Is Nicola Roberts the ultimate Female Eunuch?

Nicola Roberts - naturally skinny?
Nicola Roberts - naturally skinny?

Even though she’s a lesbian? Well look, actually I don’t know if she’s a lesbian or bisexual or what and frankly I don’t care – whatever – and I mean ‘whatever’ – her sexuality is – she is obviously obsessed with her looks and judging by the photos below it appears that she actually wants wants to be a seen as a mannequin, and so her sexuality, whatever way she swings, is obviously very tightly woven into her body image – hence why I think we can call her a female eunuch… It’s all about the display and apparently not much else.

If you listen to the lyrics of her latest song ‘beat of my drum’ – which seems to be about how she’s going to tempt girls away from men – there is no content whatsoever, and I mean none at al,l other than ‘I’m sexy, I’ll have you eventually’ -the chorus…

girl imma make you march to the beat of my drum
want to put it on ya baby you’ll be in love
if you got a man i’ll make you forget him
playin hard to get , i aint even gon sweat it
girl make you march to the beat of my drum
i will have your heart the second we touch .
if you got a man ill make you forget him
right here on the floor, imma tell you how to march to the beat of my drum’

Nicola Roberts - no just kidding I found this mannequin in a local skip
Nicola Roberts - no just kidding I found this mannequin in a local skip

Nicola Roberts – if you want to be seen as a mannequin, congratulations, you’ve won me over – you are truly, madly, deeply vacuous beyond compare.

I don’t know what happened just then..

Westwood – Akala & MC Marechal freestyle 1Xtra

Me neither – but I’d  agree with the general consensus that the Brazilian guy is a legend.

This is also a pretty good example of grass roots counter-hegemonic praxis and also a good example of  and cultural gloablisation and cultural hybridity -as well as some  intelligent lyrics in part 1 and just general all round awesomeness in part 2, whatever he’s saying!

The Andrew Lansley Rap

A wonderful piece highlighting just what a crook and a liar our current health minister Andrew Lansley is

I managed to get hold of the first verse of lyrics too –

The lyrics –


Andrew Lansley, greedy, Andrew Lansley, tosser

The NHS is not for sale you grey haired manky codger

[Verse 1]

So the budget of the PCTs

He wants to hand to the GP’s

Oh please. Dumb geeks are gonna buy from any willing provider

Get care from private companies

They saw the pie and they want a piece

Got their eyes on the P’s like mice for the cheese

I talk truth when I ride the beat

You talk shite when you speak

See money when you close your eyes to sleep. So fall back

Your face looks like a shrivelled up ball sack

The stuff that you chat is bull crap

I’m sure Andy Pandy snorts crack. Health minister, I mean sinister

You know your public will finish ya, is your brain really that miniature?

Give yourself an enema. Made filthy rich

By those who represent Walkers Crisps

Mars and Pizza Hut, proved your a health slut and your always talking shit

A hundred and thirty four pound an hour every week

That’s quite a lot of quids

And you came to the conclusion that

The food industry should be a little less strict

Scandal disclosed that you flipped your second home

You said your claims were within the rules

Filled your pockets, took us for jokes

So how would you cope when broke folk get ill

Injured and broke, but don’t have the dough

To get their life back on the road, so poor die slow, and the rich …

I know it’s old – but given that the debate hasn’t moved on – in that the Tories are claiming they are listening to the public over their concerns about the NHS reforms, but then just pressing ahead with those reforms anyway…

Do they know it’s Christmas…?

No doubt you will have to suffer through this classic song by band aid again this Christmas. 


While in sufferance, you may as well do the following –  

1. Try to find at least four misreprentations of ‘Africa’ in the song.

 2. Think about whether you agree with Chumbawamba’s reasons behind releasing  ‘Pictures of Starving Children Sell Records’ 1986 – (see picture right)

31897Chumbawamba argued that the orginal band aid record was primarily a cosmetic spectacle designed to draw attention away from the real political causes of world hunger – causes such as the developing world charging excessively high interest on loans made to African countries as well as subsidising their own agriculture within the European Union, thus making exports into the Union relatively more expensive.

3. Read this New Internationalist article which considers the extent to which Bob Geldoff has gained financially from the whole Band Aid – Live 8 business.

Finally, and most crudely, you might like to consider whether you agree with Morrissey,  talking about the first Do They Know It’s Christmas?: ‘I’m not afraid to say that I think Band Aid was diabolical. Or to say that I think Bob Geldof is a nauseating character. Many people find that very unsettling, but I’ll say it as loud as anyone wants me to. In the first instance the record itself was absolutely tuneless. One can have great concern for the people of Ethiopia, but it’s another thing to inflict daily torture on the people of England. It was an awful record considering the mass of talent involved. And it wasn’t done shyly it was the most self-righteous platform ever in the history of popular music.’

Finally, a song worth listening to by Chumbawamba – How to get your band on Television – lyrics here

Sociopops – The Arctic Monkeys – guest starring Gordon Brown

Gordon Brown - likes the Arctic Monkeys - or was it Cold Play?
Gordon Brown - likes the Arctic Monkeys - or was it Cold Play?

Back in 2006, I thought it laughable that Gordon Brown expressed a liking for the Arctic Monkeys. Having just got around to listening to 2/3rds of an album – which seams to consist mainly of songs about socialising with precious little insight of any depth – I’m left wondering… 

The Arctic Monkeys have obviously got, or at least had, signficiant subcultural capital, which is often associated with being politcally edgy, but AM  appear to just sing about their lives without even bothering to pretend to have anything of any real value to say – which makes them pure children of Postmodernity.

So getting back to Gordon, now that I know that the AM are nothing but self-obsessed,  shallow posterboys for postmodern vacuity, a question mark arises over Gordon Brown’s motive for coming out as a fan – clearly a man of his intelligence must have known that his declaring a liking for such a band would turn young people off them – so perhaps that whole affair was actually an attempt to turn people away from being shallow and apolitcal?

Or maybe I’m reading too much into this?

Of course, I’ve only listened to half an album, so I might be totally misjuding them, but like for like, I’ve scratched the surface, and see nothing underneath, so I won’t be digging any further anytime soon.

Having said all of that, I actually thought this was an interesting song about fake tans and night clubs – although not insightful in a challenging way.