Exactly six months ago, we posted our first proper blog here on Pop Lifer, one celebrating the bravery of the then little-known Frank Ocean, who had just told the world in a beautiful and simple letter that his first true love had been a man. That blog was a celebration of the power of pop culture to change the world, and a love letter to someone we admired. It set the tone for what we’ve tried to do here since.
When we (Neil and Chris, the two writers here at Pop Lifer Towers) started writing this we didn’t have a clue what we were doing. We still don’t, really. We were aware that we were joining hundreds of thousands of other blogs with “pop culture” as their stupidly broad brief, but we didn’t want to limit what we were going to write about any more narrowly. The only thing we hoped might make us stand out was that we would take pop life seriously but we would only write about things we love. There are plenty of things we hate, but why waste time writing about them? (Tweeting, on the other hand…)
We didn’t have a clue whether anyone beyond a few of our friends would actually read Pop Lifer. To our genuine surprise and delight, it’s proven more popular than we’d anticipated. Not Lady GaGa huge, but probably a bit more popular than the second Ting Tings album. Thanks to a nicely timed post on the Olympics opening ceremony and the wild enthusiasm of the Pet Shop Boys fanbase, we got off to a good start.
We’ve since had thousands of readers from more than a 100 countries (shout out to Reunion, Qatar and Aruba, we love you crazy guys) and loads of incredibly supportive comments on the blog or through Twitter or Facebook. More please, you have no idea how needy we are. Although two things made us realise we had minorly “made it” in the world of the Internet: when we got a comment from a Proper Famous Person and we got our first spittle-flecked vitriol via a blog comment. Happy Days!
So what have we learnt? Sod all, really, except that the Internet has at least as many lovely fairies as it has trolls. One thing we have realised is that trying to keep up the blog-a-day pace we set in the first month is impossible when both of us have full time jobs, one of us has two selfishly demanding young children and the other has freelance work to fit in. We’ve also learnt that the blog posts we love most are the ones we take a bit of time over, which end up being a little bit closer to long form articles than short and snappy blogs. Contrary to popular Internet wisdom, these have also been the ones which have been most popular with you, the readers.
So that’s how we’re going to proceed. We’re going to be blogging a little less but better from this point on, a trend which started back in October with a brief blip when we went mad with our Christmas advent calendar. We’ll be blogging around once a week we hope, sometimes more and sometimes less, and always on things we love. We hope you’ll keep reading and commenting. We’re also going to try to Tweet less, but that very much depends on the rigour of the Twitter addiction treatment centre Neil’s about to check into.
Many people have been incredibly supportive in getting this blog off the ground, whether helping us at the start, giving us advice or supporting us since. We’d like to thank Rachel Clarke, @mikewarburton, Kristian Johns (@guy_interruptd), David Quantick (@quantick), Chris Addison (@mrchrisaddison), @judeinlondon, @colvinius, Blur Balls (@danomind), @colvinius, @simonaylin, @sodascone, @MarcAlmond, @editor_moscow, Ultimate Eurythmics (@eurythmicsultim), @thefrankmusik, @AttitudeMag and @michaelpeckerar. We’ll stop there before this turns into the thank yous from a Destiny’s Child CD liner notes, but if we missed you, we’re sorry.
Oh, and we thought we’d close off by naming our favourite blogs so far – Neil will name the ones what he wrote, Chris his. We hope to do more like this in the future
The Olympics – In hindsight a perfect fit for us. A ceremony that unapologetically celebrates pop culture and wants to let the whole world in on this joy is pretty much what Pop Lifer is all about. 62,000 watched in the stadium. Billions watched across the world. A few hundred read our blog. The last statistic was the most startling to us.
Grayson Perry – It is unlikely that Pop Lifer will delve into murals often on its blog. It will though happily return to the work of Grayson Perry and the subject of class (which is kind of unavoidable). This sublime sequence of murals, based on Hogarth’s Rake’s Progress, mapping the class system through taste was elegant, spiky, telling and troubling.
Omnigenius – This blog hitched a lift on the the final and brilliantly concluded final series of The Thick of It. In it we drew attention to the collective brilliance of the School of Iannucci. Chris Morris, Steve Coogan, Graham Linehan, David Quantick, Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong as well as Iannucci himself among others have emerged and produced a body of work to rival any that preceded it (and we mean ANY and yes that’s Palin, Chapman, Cleese, Gillian, Jones and Idle we’re looking at).
Ferris v Withnail – One is full of brash 80’s America Reagan fuelled optimism washed down with Coca-Cola; the other full of a post-empire jaded cynicism washed down by lighter fluid. And yet, these two brilliant films are united by more than you’d think. Complicated male friendships, an inability to understand or acknowledge women and lots of really, really funny bits.
Our trouble with footballers – If John Terry was was capable of emotion and rational thought – and he isn’t – somewhere in that ego he could almost be forgiven for feeling grateful for Jimmy Saville. Because until the unspeakably hideous scandal broke, Terry was pretty much the definition of moral bankruptcy in the eyes of most people. He had come to symbolize all that is wrong with the sport we love so much. We love football but we hate footballers. This blog attempted to explain why this might be a slightly unfair position to take.
The Sky Hasn’t Fallen – When Frank Ocean revealed back in July that his first love had been a man we were dizzied by what this might mean to young gay and bisexual kids across the world – a young black man of extraordinary talent taking such a risk at an early stage in his career. Then we realised that nobody else in the UK media seemed to be writing about what a revolutionary moment this was, one of those few moments when one person’s courage is big enough to shatter walls. So – we thought – we’d better write about it. And we did, and that’s why we invented Pop Lifer, and that’s why you’re reading this six months later.
Frankmusik’s New Year Resolve – Another day, another Frank. One of the other major reasons for starting Pop Lifer was that we both wanted to write about things we were passionate about, particularly nuggets of pop culture we didn’t think had received the recognition they deserved (like Eurythmics’ “Savage” or Soft Cell’s “The Art Of Falling Apart”). But we never thought we’d actually talk over several hours with the creator of one of them. Still, that’s exactly what happened when we met Vincent Turner, AKA Frankmusik, the architect of one of our favourite pop albums, “Complete Me”, who told us with remarkable candout about his terrible 2012 and his plans to triumph in 2013, giving us a glimpse into the creative process that knocked our socks off.
Shining A Light Through The Amazing Dark Vastness Of The Internet – Perhaps our favourite out of our long advent calendar blogathon of last month (this will probably NOT be an annual event). This was meant to be about Maria Popova, AKA Brainpicker, an amazing person who spends her life searching out amazing gems on the Internet. But it was really about the Internet itself, how it changed absolutely everything, and how we are privileged to be part of the last generation to remember how life was before and after.
Sorting Out Morrissey’s Sex Life – One of a series of blogs we did on The Smiths’ genius (the Pet Shop Boys and Blur also got the blogathon treatment, the ultimate Pop Lifer honour), and possibly our favourite. The title was ironic incidentally. Freud himself would have given up his practice rather than tackle that mess.
It Couldn’t Happen Here – A funny thing happened while writing about the most beautiful song by our favourite pop band, the Pet Shop Boys. We realised it was even better than we thought. If there’s a single reason we’re glad we started Pop Lifer, it’s because of moments like that, when the very act of writing about something made us understand and appreciate it more deeply. Yes, it’s all about us, when you get down to it.