Some of my British friends are reliving their teenage years, as they, slowly but surely, approach the Big Four O. They attend gigs of bands I never heard of before: The Stone Roses, Inspiral Carpets, The Smiths...
I, too, am highly tempted to shell out £82 to go to a live concert. Of George Michael. George Michael, I hear my friends say? George flipping Michael? If I could, I would make fun of myself. I mean the guy has done some disgraceful stuff in his private life, and some of his music is not all that good, to say the least.
This is what my 37-year old self thinks.
Still, my 14-year old self was literally in love with the guy. I had his posters all over my room, and was stalking every little piece of press mentioning him.
I am talking of a time where the only western modern music reaching a third-world teenager was that of the usual suspects: Madonna, Michael Jackson, Elton John, Sting, Whitney Houston etc.
I credit Kissing a Fool, Sacrifice and Like a Prayer for a lot of my 18/20 grade in English at my Baccalaureate. I spent many hours carefully writing the lyrics in my beloved lyrics books, and singing the songs at the top of my lungs, along videos on M6 and tunes on Radio Chaine 3.
Needless to say that on top of the mainstream "English" music, I listened to Polyphene, Raina Rai, Khaled, Ait Menguellet, Maatoub, Idir, Enrico Macias, Francis Cabrel, Jean-Jacques Goldman, Jacques Brel, les Negresses Vertes...
For someone who grew up in a third world country, I actually pride myself on my western musical "savvyness". I now listen to The Strokes, The Chemical Brothers and Crystal Fighters - mainly because this is what BabelDad listens to.
So, remember: next time you meet someone who likes George Michael, there is a good chance they have (at least) a second musical culture.
ps: I am thankful to my friends for helping me discover Northern-English culture. Let's hear it for Clint Boon and mushy peas!