(Side note- These should definitely have their own theme tune)
Even if you don’t guess the song that these lyrics are from (You notice I’ve stopped trying to be funny now?), you’ll probably know the song from somewhere, it’s hard to miss it. It’s been in TV shows, adverts, and it used to be all over the music channels.
It’s ‘A Design for Life’ by the Manic Street Preachers (One of my top five bands), and it’s from the album ‘Everything Must Go’, which was released in 1996.I have to say as well as having one of my favourite music videos, it’s probably my favourite song by theManic Street Preachers.
Before I get started, I feel like I should let you guys know that, for some reason unknown to me, Ben really doesn’t like The Manics. In fact I think he despises them… But that’s ok Ben, I respect your opinion. Despite how wrong it is. So, about the band…
The Manic Street Preachers are a Welsh punk/alternative rock band that formed in 1986. They’ve had numerous awards from Q and NME, as well as winning the BRIT awards four times. Along with these awards, they’ve had two number one singles and one number one album, with a lot of other singles entering the top ten. That’s not a bad set of achievements for a band that is said to only have a ‘cult following’, but to be honest, I think their success proves that they’re a lot more popular than having just a ‘cult following.
‘Everything Must Go’ was the first album that the band released after the disappearance of their lyricist and rhythm guitarist, Richey Edwards. This event had a massive impact on the band; they had all been close friends since their teenage years, and this was a tragic loss for all of them. However they didn’t let this stop them, and they proved their critics wrong when they came back stronger than ever with this album the following year. And despite the tragic loss of Edwards, it has been hailed as one of the best albums of the 90s and of all time.
A lot of people say that this album is the most approachable of their earlier work, and I definitely see their point. This is the moment in time when they start to move away from their harder, more frantic punk rock and into the realms of the alternative. ‘A Design for Life’ has to be one of their best song.It contains all the messages and protests of their punk era, but manages to achieve an epic, grandiose sound that immediately grabs your attention without being a shallow commercial hit. As with a lot of the Manics’ songs it deals with the issues of “Culture, alienation, boredom and despair”, but more specifically, the age old issues of the classes. It was an immediate hit, as were the other singles released from the album, including the aching and frustrated title track, ‘Everything Must Go’.
‘Kevin Carter’ is another classic song on the album (With some sweet trumpet in it), which talks about the tragic life of the photographer of the same name, I encourage you to read his story. Along with these hit singles, the album contains some absolute gems that weren’t released. One I’d definitely recommend is the strange, poetically beautiful song ‘Small Black Flowers That Grow in the Sky’.
I mentioned the quote “Culture, Alienation, Boredom and Despair” when talking about the issues that The Manics deal with in their songs. And my point is that I’ve never heard a song by them that hasn’t meant something, or deat with an issue close to people’s hearts such as mental illness, nostalgia, childhood and political issues. When I look at a band, it’s important to me that the songs actually mean something. I hate it when someone produces a throwaway song purely for the money or fame. Not that I’m a cynic or anything, I just need my music and novels and films to have substance and meaning. Luckily, The Manics give me that, and I find I can relate to a lot of the issues they reflect upon and discuss in their songs. They really are musical geniuses.
Well, there you have it, another one of my favourite albums, ‘Everything Must Go’. It really is a great listen, and while some of the songs might not be written in the most commercial manner, they have substance, which I’ll take over a catchy tune any day.
Thanks for reading.