Poor old BBC Proms

Princess Nokia: Sir Henry Wood would be proud

The BBC has announced it hopes to book Princess Nokia for this year’s BBC Proms.

There’s no doubt Princess Nokia belongs in the Royal Albert Hall. She’s royal, it’s royal – a natural fit, right?

Well, on second thoughts, perhaps not. The Albert Hall is indeed royal, but Princess Nokia really isn’t.

She isn’t to be invited to perform at this year’s Proms because of her noble heritage. It’s strictly on artistic merit, ignoble though it may be in the eyes of some stick-in-the-mud reactionaries.

As a lifelong champion of progress, I can only sit back and admire. Founded 120 years ago, the Proms used to be strictly a series of classical concerts. Featuring on the programmes have been such utterly boring pieces as, for example, Schubert’s lieder.

It was all “Mein Vater, Mein Vater” or “Tränen in meinen Augen”. Even those overachievers who knew these meant “My father, my father” and “tears in my eyes” must have suppressed a yawn. So all champions of progress like me should welcome Princess Nokia with her immortal masterpieces containing lyrics of ineffable poetry. Such as:

“Talk shit, we can cast spells// Long weaves, long nails// Corn rows, pig tails// Baby fathers still in jail// Good witches, I f*** with// Bad bitches, we run s***// 4 bitches, 4 corners// North, East, West, South shit// Good witches, I f*** with// Hopped off my broomstick// Witchcraft, bitch craft// Light magic, it’s nothing.”

Erlkönig, eat your heart out – here’s an example of how to make mysticism fun. Granted, not everyone understands what these lyrics mean, but then – hand on heart – how many of us understand every German word of Erlkönig? I know I don’t.

And it’s not just my main woman Nokia who’s going to grace this year’s Proms. I’d say we’ll go the whole hog, but won’t, for fear of offending our Muslin friends.

As an upgrade on the likes of Fischer-Dieskau and Janet Baker, we’ll have Serpentwithfeet, another great singer, albeit in a different genre. Mr Serpentwithfeet is a leading practitioner of ‘pagan gospel’, whatever that means.

Not only will he introduce this vocal genre to Sir Henry Wood’s venerable platform, but he’ll also regale the public with visual delights. For every inch of Mr Serpentwithfeet’s body is densely covered with tattoos – and he even sports a huge golden nose ring. Match that, you superannuated baritones and overweight sopranos!

Multi-culti enough for you? No? Well, don’t fret. For the Proms will also feature – in a debut performance! – the Senegalese singer Youssou N’Dour and his band Le Super Etoile de Dakar. The superstar of Dakar is about to become the superstar of the BBC Proms, and aren’t you proud.

Still not enough? Knew you’d feel that way. So – are you ready for this? – the Proms have other delights in store for you. Such as the Cuban group Buena Vista Social Club.

This versatile ensemble doesn’t restrict itself to merely one form of reggae – it does them all. And there I was, not even realising there are different forms within this exciting genre.

And speaking of versatility, also working his magic at the Proms will be Jacob Collier, the multi-instrumentalist, multimedia prodigy who plays every instrument in His creation.

Mr Collier, 21, has slapped together an audio-video rendition of Stevie Wonder’s song Don’t You Worry ‘bout a Thing. The number went viral on YouTube and enabled young Mr Collier to follow in Sir Henry Wood’s footsteps.

Now, out of idle curiosity, why are they doing this? Why are they debauching, nay prostituting, a century-old institution? Is it just to sell more tickets?

Perish the thought. No one can accuse the BBC of crass commercialism. After all, they don’t have to be crassly commercial, being financed by our taxes, £150.50 a year per household.

As a public institution, the BBC has its Charter, thereby being committed to “sustaining citizenship and civil society, promoting education and learning, stimulating creativity and cultural excellence.”

You must agree that, in order to fulfil such lofty desiderata, the BBC must cast its cultural net wide, to include all ages and all sub-cultures. As part of this commitment the BBC is trying to attract a younger audience to the Proms, and just playing Bach and Beethoven won’t do that.

Now that’s a noble goal if I’ve ever seen one. In order to expose the young to the better things in life, the BBC is serving up the worst things. Works for me. I’m only sorry that this worthy effort is somewhat halfhearted.

In its pursuit of musical populism, the BBC has missed many tricks. Such as – and I’m happy to offer even unsolicited advice – live sex on stage. That’ll put young bums on seats and, not to be ageist about it, some old bums as well.

Specifically for the delight of younger audiences, the price of every ticket should include an Ecstasy tablet, an ounce of marijuana, a syringe and (for those attending the live sex concert) free mac rental.

Every concert should be billed as a rave or, to add a touch of spirituality, a Black Mass, ideally complete with sacrificing a virgin. I’m sure that pagan gospel singers will be happy to provide the accompaniment.

This is just a little taste, a teaser to whet your appetites. I have many other ideas in store, but I’ll keep those to myself in the hope of eventually being engaged as a programming consultant to the BBC.

It should be clear to anyone boasting an IQ in excess of room temperature (centigrade) that the same youngsters who’ll happily attend one of my imaginary concerts or one of the real ones mentioned above won’t then cue up to listen to a Mahler symphony.

So what is it that the BBC wants to attract a younger audience to? Princess Nokia? But there’s no need to prostitute a great institution for that purpose. Princess has plenty of other venues at her disposal.

Despite being a lifelong champion of both progress and multiculturalism, I can’t help thinking that the BBC seeks to destroy the Proms simply for the sake of destruction. It’s not about helping young people; it’s about destroying old institutions, every one of them.

That’s what we pay our £150.50 for, making every one of us an accomplice. We ought to be ashamed of ourselves.

2 thoughts on “Poor old BBC Proms”

  1. “Talk shit, we can cast spells// Long weaves, long nails// Corn rows, pig tails// Baby fathers still in jail// ”

    Mild compared to some of the lyrics.

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