Why Is Music So Angry?

No, you're not wrong. Music really is worse these days than it was when you were younger.

That's not exactly the finding of some new research but it's close enough. A study looked at lyrics of popular songs and found that they're angrier and more repetitive since the 80s.

That shouldn't really come as a surprise. You didn't see that parental advisory sticker on old gramophone records. There was no explicit remix of George Formby's When I'm Cleaning Mother***king Windows, B**ch!" Although that song is about some perv watching a newly married couple have sex, but it's not angry or repetitive so that makes it OK.

They looked at lyrics in rock, rap, country, pop and R&B songs. At the risk of getting cancelled, it feels like rap must be doing a lot of the work here. In the 1980s rap songs seemed peaceful when compared to the drill music that Daily Mail readers get angry about. Although back in the 80s we had songs like The Sugarhill Gang's (see, there were gangs back then too) “Apache” with the lyrics...

Tonto, jump on it, jump on it, jump on it
Kemosabe, jump on it, jump on it, jump on it
Custer, jump on it, jump on it, jump on it
Apache, jump on it, jump on it, woo

Cultural appropriation aside, that's quite repetitive. If a song is quicker to write using control-C, control-V you're repetitive.

Rock songs of the 1980s included things like Van Halen's Jump with the lyrics.

Ah, might as well jump (jump)
Might as well jump
Go ahead and jump (jump)
Go ahead and jump

Still repetitive but for a song that's actually called Jump it tells you to jump less than The Sugarhill Gang did.

The research, published in the journal Scientific Reports, found that anger-related words may have become more common because music "reflects more general changes in society and culture". So, we're more miserable. That fits.

It's not all negative news. Eva Zangerle, an assistant professor at the University of Innsbruck's department of computer science in Austria, found that songs are simpler these days and easier to understand.

I'm grateful for that. The 80s had songs like Teddy Pendergrass "Love T.K.O." which I don't know if that's a good thing or not. The 90s had "Smells Like Teen Spirit" whatever that is.

It predates this study but in 1968 Song by Gary Puckett & The Union Gap released Young Girl, which is basically someone admitting they should be on a register.

Modern day songs are easier, like Megan Thee Stallion's, WAP, which seems to be about a cat in a bath. Ah, simpler times.

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Brexit Fallout: Passport Chaos

Ah, Brexit. In the old days this was the subject you’d talk about if you wanted to get angry people online telling you they’d never listen to your radio show ever again. These days that’s more of a “vaccines work” or “Princess Kate isn’t AI” thing to do.

The latest fallout is still falling out. Millions of Brits are discovering that their trusty passports are about as useful as a chocolate teapot for getting into the EU. Less so, actually. At least you could eat that.

As the Easter exodus approaches, an estimated 2.4 million travellers are learning the hard way that their documents are now just fancy paperweights. It used to be possible to travel within the EU on a passport that was over ten years old. It was also possible to travel with ID from your driving licence or a particularly good Blockbuster Video card.

Since Brexit, British passports must have an issue date less than 10 years old on the day of departure to the EU, and must have at least three months left before their expiry date on the intended day of return. But millions of passports issued prior to September 2018 have longer validity periods.

It is annoying that your passport looks like it’s valid for the trip but won’t be. Back then, when you’re passport was issued, it didn’t know what was going to happen. That’s because your passport is a left-wing socialist media elite who doesn’t think that anyone would vote to leave.

It is slightly rum to complain about this. You can’t vote to become a third country and then be upset that you’re treated like you’re a third country. It’s like dumping your partner and getting in a mood that they don’t let you use their Netflix log in any more. (You know who you are.)

Normally, the good advice would be to check the expiry date but that’s the problem here. Ignore the expiry date. {Insert joke about prawn in the local takeaway.}

You need to check the date of issue and if that’s over ten years old it won’t work for you. {Insert joke about Prince Andrew.}

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Separation of Church and the State of It

Newspapers have reported that Clapham chemical attacker Abdul Ezedi was given a Muslim funeral and burial despite claiming to have converted to Christianity.

It’s almost as if what we’re seeing could suggest his conversion to Christianity was… not fully successful?

There are other signs he wasn’t a good Christian. Throwing alkaline chemicals at an ex and children but this is another sign.

This is an important issue. His conversion to Christianity was why he was still in the country even though he was a proven sex offender. It’s not the first time the church has been linked to harbouring sex offenders so we should have guessed.

The 35-year-old Afghan national had twice been refused asylum by the Home Office, and was considered so dangerous by the Baptist Church that it drew up a 'safeguarding contract' for the safety of parishioners over his sex assault and exposure convictions. Still, someone from the church gave him a character reference.

It shouldn’t matter if he fake converted or even really converted. If you have broken enough laws that you should be deported, religion shouldn’t come into it.

Of course someone who works for the church will vouch for you, they’re all about forgiveness, but our courts should be about facts.

MPs have said the Rwanda bill would have stopped this happening. No. The deal includes Rwanda’s right to send my any asylum seeker with a criminal record back to the UK. So he’s be exactly the kind of person the Rwanda bill would keep in the UK.

So the church might not be helping but the state isn’t doing much either.

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Why Nike Hasn’t Done Anything Wrong With The St George’s Flag

I haven’t see a flag cause this much upset since… well, actually all of them recently.

Nike released a new football kit with a slightly altered St George’s flag and it’s all kicked off like a fight at a football game. Even the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said that Nike shouldn’t mess with it. And if anyone knows about messing up England…

Sir Keir Starmer also said the brand should “change it back”. It’s a rare case of agreement across the political divide but why has it stirred up so much anger?

People feel attached to the flag that represents their part of the world. There’s nothing wrong with this but it elevates a small strip of fabric to a level of importance in people’s lives. Attacking that swatch can cause great offence. You will see people burning flags as a protest over many issues.

If burning a flag is offensive you can see why redesigning a flag might leave people at least a bit peeved.

Sunak said: “When it comes to our national flags, we shouldn’t mess with them because they’re a source of pride, identity, who we are and they’re perfect as they are.”

The St George Cross has a complicating factor that for a while it’s been linked to far-right movements in the UK but refusing to the use that flag after this rather gives into the racists. Don’t let them make the flag synonymous with racists. Besides, it’s also used by a lot of passionate football supporters, which might be two circles on a Venn diagram with some overlap but it’s not a circle.

While the media has been drawn into a debate on the symbolism of the flag and the impact of a national flag being alerted we all seem to forget one key thing; Nike hasn’t altered the flag.

They have added a strange little cross to the back of a football kit but that isn’t the St George’s flag any more. On X, formerly a properly named social media platform, Nike described it as “a playful update” to the flag “to unite and inspire”.

It’s not though. If you draw a six-coloured cross you haven’t done the St George one. It also won’t unite and inspire. Adding purple to a flag is only inclusive if you’re Tinky Winky from the Teletubbies.

If you’re outraged that the England kit no longer has a St George Cross on it, take a look at the winning team from the 1966 World Cup. They were in white and red but at no point do those colours form a cross on them.

All that’s happened here is Nike added a weird multicoloured cross to the new football kit but the St George’s flag remains the same colour it’s always been.

You can buy anything that has the St George's Cross on it and it will still be the correct one. The only thing you can't buy is the new Nike kit and at £124 for adult sizes and £119 for kids that feels like a win.

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Now Britain Has Wild Wolves to Worry About?

There’s a move to reintroduce wolves back into Britain. I know some people miss the good old days but how far back are we trying to go?

Speaking at the Oxford Literary Festival, rewilding campaigner Derek Gow claimed the portrayal of wild creatures as ‘terrifying’ is false. More people are killed by pet dogs than by wolves.

This checks out. There are more people with pet dogs and also there are no wolves in the UK, so it’s not surprising data. Plus, we tend to keep pets nearer to us, so if they kick off you’ll know about it.

The key issue here is that it’s not an “either/or” situation. A study found that “some” people would be killed by wolves if we had them but far fewer than by dangerous dogs. But those deaths would just add together. Dogs wouldn't let more people live when they find out there’s another animal doing some of their work.

Derek claims we need to control deer numbers and wolves would do it. They’d also control some livestock numbers, which is bad news for the farmers and not great for the sheep.

Derek said, “People say, ‘Oh, we have to kill more, we have to eat more venison,’ but it hasn’t happened so far. We’re not very good deer hunters.”

He’s right. We Brits aren’t good deer hunters. We need to get some Americans in. Although they would probably kill more Brits than dogs.

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Scotland To Ban Comedy?

Free speech north of the border has become a hot topic. Humza Yousaf's “hate crime” bill will apparently target actors and comedians. So, no, I guess I’m not doing Edinburgh this year.

This is according to leaked training information from Police Scotland. They’re being taught how to apply this new law, which comes in on April 1st, which seems fitting.

The leak says the police will be allowed to arrest and charge performers if they are reported to police for communicating 'threatening or abusive material.'

Because we live in a time when people will definitely complain to the police if there’s something they don’t like, this law will get used. The problem always starts when you have to define what is threatening. If you leave it to the person who feels threatened to define it there will be no limit to what will be criminalised. Some people are terrified of clowns, so they’d be in jail for sure.

As someone who chose to make comedy their career, I have picked a side. It’s comedy. The clue is in the title. You should be allowed to say things you wouldn’t normally say. Push a boundary. Satirise. Lampoon. If you say something that is offensive, the market forces should mean you don’t sell tickets. But arresting comedians feels like it’s crossing a line.

The new offence is called "stirring up hatred". It sounds like it’s up there with the offence of putting the cat among the pigeons, and the lesser crime of letting it out of the bag.

I’m not the only performer who is worried about the restrictions this could bring in. Someone else who has voiced concern is the well-known right-wing fire-brand hate peddler… Mr Bean actor Rowan Atkinson.

Is he really a hate stirrer in Scotland? Then again, he also plays Johnny English which might be done to wind them up.

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Is Cold Therapy A Hot Idea?

Let’s spin this as good news for you if you can’t afford your heating bills. Scientists have found that cold therapy actually is good for you.

It’s proof that 'The Iceman' Wim Hof's hellish method really does wonders for your health. Plunging yourself into an ice bath 'reduces inflammation'.

The idea of sitting in a bath full of freezing cold water makes me like the sound of this inflammation thing. Put me down for that one.

Wim Hof is an extreme athlete who does lots of things in the cold. It seems doing such activities could unlock a multitude of benefits including reduced stress levels, a stronger immune system, increased energy, better sleep, heightened focus and smaller willy.

A lot of this doesn’t make sense to me. Whatever your life is like you will have a certain level of stress. But if you live that same life but also have to sit in a freezing cold bath on top of it, how is that less stressful? There’s something else going on here. My guess would be trauma response.

The actual scientists found cold therapy and ice baths caused an increase in adrenaline levels, which can indirectly reduce inflammation.

OK, but there are many things that cause adrenaline levels to increase that don’t involve freezing your nips off. Extreme sports. Being a passenger in a car with a bad driver. A row with your spouse. They all cause increased adrenaline and the last two might be connected.

While the results suggest that the method may have physiological benefits, researchers stressed the need for more robust, confirmatory research before the method can be recommended.

How do you do proper trials? How do you check for the placebo effect? If you tell someone they’re having a cold bath but they’re not, they’ll notice the lack of water when they get in.

It all works for Wim Hof who holds 21 Guinness World Records for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro while wearing shorts, swimming 66 metres below ice, standing for two hours in a container filled with ice cubes, and running a half marathon over the Arctic Circle.

Has anyone checked if he’s depressed?

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[Podcast] Manners, Tea & Fry-Ups

A new episode of Steve N Allen (almost) Daily is out.

🔊 In today’s episode:

• No, phones should be looked at at the dinner table
• You can cook in your dishwasher
• Fry ups or Fly ups?
• And a thing about tea
• Plus other nuggets from the news in podcast form

All of that might not make much sense, but it might when you’ve listened.

💻 Follow on X/Insta/TikTok/Threads/BlueSky it’s @mrstevenallen for all.

📧 And email to me@mrstevenallen.co.uk with any comments, questions or listeners’ emails.

☕ Care to tip your host? Wouldn’t that be nice? ko-fi.com/mrstevenallen

You can get even more episodes on iTunes

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UK Isn’t The Most Miserable Place

Uzbekistan is the ONLY nation more miserable than Britain. Don’t worry, if we try hard, we can get to number one. I have faith in the British people. But not too much faith or that might make me less miserable.

They do a world well-being chart to map happiness for some reason and the UK only ranked 70th out of 71 countries in terms of mood, outlook on life and self-esteem in 2023, scoring only 49 on the mental well-being.

What they have discovered there is that we Brits love to moan and all that practice means we’re really good at it. Give us the sixth biggest economy in the world and we can still moan like former members of the Soviet Union.

The global average well-being score was 65 but remember there’ll be those really positive American types skewing that upwards.

It’s not good to see Uzbekistan and the UK with similar scores. It’s a depressing place with a weak economy and corrupt leaders, but it’s the UK and it’s where we live.

At the top of the chart impoverished African and Latin American countries scored the highest, with the Dominican Republic ranking first and Tanzania third.

The other key trend the researchers noticed is that mental well-being is worse in younger age groups in every country where people are able to access the Internet.

I’m not sure the web is to blame. If Internet access made you sad Talk Talk customers would be the happiest people in the UK.

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Rishi Sunak & Akshata Murty In Grazia Fail

Rishi Sunak and his wife gave an interview the Grazia magazine and video clips from it went viral from all the wrong reasons.

It’s a standard thing on the run up to a general election, the Prime Minister will give an interview in the hope of coming across as a normal human. It’s telling that our leaders need help from a media team to look like a normal human but we are were we are.

Teresa May did the same on The One Show before the 2017 election where she said the worst thing she ever did was run through a field of wheat. No, it was probably something you did when you were Home Secretary.

It was a fascinating glimpse into the marriage of the current PM as he seems to complain a lot. He mentioned the fact that he doesn’t get time to exercise but she does, that his wife gives the kids unhealthy food, she doesn’t stack the dishwasher correctly and she doesn’t make the bed right.

If I were married to a billionaire I’d probably shut up about that stuff. If my other-half had that much money I’d let her stack the dishwasher all knives up without mentioning it.

There’s a level of passive aggression to it. Previously I presumed he was the kind of man who tried to avoid conflict. His trousers always look like he walks into a room pre-wedgied. I thought that was his way to avoid being bullied at school, to look like he’d already been done.

Rishi went on to explain that after his wife has loaded the dishwasher he’d re-stack it to get it right. After she’d made the bed he’d pop in and make it again properly. It’s a good thing he isn’t busy with anything important. When journalists ask, “How’s it going stopping the small boats?” he should be honest and reply, “Well, not great, but this dishwasher is doing an excellent job.”

After his delight in such domestic tasks was revealed he was asked which he preferred, loading the dishwasher or making the bed. He said, “They both have nice, satisfying endings,” before he picked making the bed. Oi! Oi! You randy old dog, Rishi.

It’s the most human thing he said in that interview and it was by accident.

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Gen Z Invent Books

I read the shocking headline, “UK in the midst of a boom in book clubs as gen Z’s hobbies change”, which made my reading of headlines look weak.

It’s a big change. Once nightclubs or sports clubs brought people together. Now there’s a boom in people getting together online and in person to discuss their favourite books. And we wonder why the birth rate has dropped.

It’s Gen Z leading this because they are the most boring generation in history. Gen Z don’t drink, they don’t have sex and now they join book clubs. Gen Z also have that phrase, “OK Boomer!” You’re living on a Boomer! You’re living like you are a retiree.

The trend coincides with the launch of book clubs by young celebrities, including singer Dua Lipa. She’s good with words. I have been learning Italian on her app.

One book club owner said: “Book clubs have opened up a safe space in communities, particularly for women. Conversations about the chosen book can also segue into real life issues and discussions about being lonely in London”.

That sounds like a fun night. And then you all conference call The Samaritans?

So, that story again, young people discover books!



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