Sweet Streams Are Made of This

A record deal, huge sound carrier earnings, and finally superstardom? These times are over. Nowadays hopeful musicians won’t rely on a music industry shaken by digital change. They prefer to find their own way through the internet, as ”unsigned artists“, caught between aggregators and e-shops, webradios and streaming services. It is a bumpy road. And a fascinating one. ’Cause just in this merciless Brave New Music World of all things a global community of artists is fostering a prominent eighties trend: synthpop & synthwave. In the thick of it: The German project Buzzing Sound Candy. Insights into 21st century music production – and an exciting virtual microcosm.

Unsigned artists“ are artists without a ”record deal“. Artists not tied to any sound carrier label, having no contract with anyone. It is a state, which applies for the majority of hobby and professional musicians. Whereas „unsigned artists“ in the 20th century had to lead a rather ’unheard’ existence, the digital age offers them limitless possibilities. Nowadays self-made songs and tracks can be released without a record label and completely single-handedly – via internet and its manifold platforms. That is, no question, a useful thing: ’cause music consumers of today tend to buy digital sound packages rather than conventional sound carriers like CDs. Or – and that is the main trend – they abstain from ”ownership“ of a song completely, which means, they are just streaming their favourite music for a small monthly fee.

Which leads us to the dark sides  of these limitless possibilities. In the year 2019, especially ”unsigned artists“ are caught within a global virtual competition of countless other artists. They invest loads of love, time and money into their own music and into their public relations work, but their chances of earning noteworthy sums of money with what they are doing are worse than ever. To present themselves with a band profile somewhere might be relatively easy. But in order to reach a higher degree of popularity, they have to overcome several obstacles – aggregators and streaming services, for example, or the struggle for entering important playlists and winning the favour of influential webradio DJs.

Creative ping-pong

”I’m fed up with nervous A&R guys and dubious distribution partners, they are constantly trying to interfere with your work and coming up with unacceptable conditions. I prefer to keep doing my own thing.“ Says Rossi, composer, lyricist and sound wizard of Buzzing Sound Candy. The German project’s strategy and way of working seem to be a blue print for the ”unsigned artists“ of today. Rossi lives in Frankfurt/Main, where he started as bass player in punk bands, until he discovered synthesizers and began to produce house and electro music. Over the last few years he also released some interesting tracks as DER AXIOMATOR. On virtual musicians’ platforms and through other contacts he finds vocalists. Sometoimes they meet and produce together in the real (i. e. analogue) world – sometimes their collaboration happens mainly via internet, where they send their audio files back and forth. It’s a creative ping-pong. Very often Rossi delivers preproduced tracks, sometimes with melody and lyrics, sometimes the guest singers write their own lyrics or add a self-composed melody. Following this method, a track gets reworked and extended over and over – until its final version.

Selecting artists by AI?

Quickly the project has established a website, which was probably the easiest task of the creative journey. There B.S.C. introduce themselves, put up audio files for sale, fix the prices and are in control of everything. The artwork is homemade as well, and for running the webpage Rossi has to pay a manageable monthly fee. Just running a webpage, however, won’t take you very far. Your aim is to be present in all virtual music stores and in all streaming services – iTunes, Amazon Music, Spotify & Co. And how do you achieve this aim? With the help of a so-called aggregator. Aggregators, which often are subsidiaries of huge enterprises, even from the music industry, are something like the interface between artists on the one side, and music stores and streaming services on the other side. They see make sure that artists and their music are available everywhere – a service they want to get paid for, of course. But that’s not all: They also check out the music, and sometimes they even impose censorship. ”The harmless B.S.C.-Christmas dance song EMPATHY!, which pleaded for a meatless, vegetarian X-mas, was rejected again and again by a German aggregator,“ Rossi recalls, ”a scandal actually!“ And: ”Who knows if not some algorithms were already responsible for that, looking for key words like ’slaughter’ or ’blood’ and selecting ’politically correct’ music. I really assume that in the near future Artificial Intelligence will influence even the music business, more than we ever could have imagined.“ Anyway: B.S.C. didn’t make compromises and went on to another service. Now they are using an American aggregator, which hasn’t caused any problems so far.

Always online

Is a good aggregator enough to make Buzzing Sound Candy successful? Not at all. The ideal case would be to enter the huge Apple and Spotify playlists with their millions of followers. ”To be included there leads to thousands of additional listeners within a second, which means your music will be streamed much more often,“ Rossi says. ”And every stream brings you at least a little sum of money.“ However: ”Unsigned artists usually don’t have any chance to be included in those lists. In order to enter the popular playlists of so-called ’music influencers’ you have to pay a lot of money, which has led to the establishment of a huge untrustworthy market. Everyone knows that.“ Pay for a Play – this strategy is out of the question for B.S.C. Therefore they are tirelessly promoting their music via social media like Twitter and Instagram, hoping to get played regularly by the worldwide internet radio stations, especially in the shows of renowned DJs. Such internet radio stations are thick on the ground, and even here every musical genre has established its top stations and DJ stars. The Mixcloud.complatform offers a first impression, it is the self-claimed ”global community for audio culture“. Mixcloud invites you to discover more than 15 million radio shows, DJ mixes and podcasts.

The PR and marketing efforts to get web radio stations around the world to feature Buzzing Sound Candy in their programs are enormous. Elaborate promo packages have to be sent to the radio stations and DJs, and then the task is to dig deeper. ”You have to be virtually always online on Twitter and Instagram,“ Rossi explains. Being featured in such radio shows ”doesn’t bring you money in the first place, but nice advertising effects.“ And it can move listeners to support B.S.C. by purchasing songs. The same applies to the remixes produced by popular DJs for the project. These DJs – who also need to be convinced, of course – have a large fanbase, and so their remixes get a lot of attention.

Are friends electric?

So, by and by we’re getting the whole picture. Buzzing Sound Candy are running their own website www.buzzingsoundcandy.com. An American aggregator called DistroKid sees to it that their songs are available in the global internet music stores and streaming services. The music of Buzzing Sound Candy pays homage to a wonderful eighties genre which survived in the worldwide web and today forms a vital microcosm there. We’re talking about synthpop – or synthwave, it depends. With verve, musicians all over the world are celebrating an era when pop discovered the synthesizer and managed to breath soul into drum machines; when hair was backcombed and faces were painted, when clothes were styled in New Romantic fashion; when Kraftwerk shyly adored a model, Depeche Mode just couldn’t get enough and The Human League listened to the voice of Buddha, while Visage were fading to grey and Gary Numan wondered if friends were electric.

”In other European countries synthpop and synthwave have got a large fanbase,“ Rossi says, ”in Germany, however, the genre is somewhat underrepresented.“ B.S.C. are holding up the flag in their home country. The band name Buzzing Sound Candy is a kind of motto, in the best sense of the word. Their songs rely on catchy tunes and combine the classic electronic soundscapes of the eighties with modern house and dance beats. They come across with idiosyncratic lyrics and a touch of melancholia, if not morbidity: striking synth-dance-tracks featuring genre topics like dark passions (Tasted Heaven), retro-feeling (Back in Time), euphoria (You Take Me High) or machines (Rise of the Drum Machines).

Heart and soul, skills and a digital strategy

Rossi is very creative and prolific, and he stands to his principles. He disapproves of prefabricated company sounds and quick notebook production. He’s a virtuoso autodidact, considering music as an artistic challenge and a solid, inventive craft. No wonder that his studio is filled with a fine arsenal of analogue and digital synthesizers and drum machines. In order to be able to make the B.S.C. songs fit for broadcasting he taught himself the skills of an audio engineer. Every song has to go through a professional mastering studio before it is released, Buzzing Sound Candy place importance on industry standard. ”Our enthusiasm leads us to spend a lot of money“, Rossi explains with a touch of sarcasm. ”It is money we surely won’t see again.“ Everyone knows that even successful stars are struggling against poor earnings: Believe it or not, artists receive less than 1 cent per stream. In order to generate noteworthy sales you have to be a megastar.

Which leads us to the question: Why for God’s sake are musicians taking the trouble? The answer is simple: They love their music. They are working with heart and soul, they just can’t help it. They are part of an exciting scene, meeting exciting fellow musicians and producers. And maybe, secretly, they are hoping to be successful with their music in the end, against all odds. B.S.C. seem to have found a reasonable approach: With farsightedness they send their digital promo kits to relevant multipliers in the worldwide web. Their songs are great and convincing, which is the reason why they get played by internet radio stations and in mix shows around the world, on Artefaktorradio (Mexico), Radiocoolio (Canada), Radio Dark Tunnel (Germany) or in the ”Electric Family Tree Radio Show“ (UK), to name just a few. ”Electric Family Tree“ showrunner is no less a figure than Rusty Egan, once mastermind of the synthpop heroes Visage (We Fade to Grey) and nowadays an influential DJ in the synthpop scene. His unique style of presenting the show and the amazing transitions between the tracks he plays are worth listening to. On Bombshellradio (Canada) B.S.C. once even hosted a radioshow themselves – which was another smart move to gain more attention. Needless to say that they managed to have their songs remixed by influential DJs as well, for example by Mark Kendrick aka Fused. He reworket Back In Time, which led lots of Fused followers to focus their attention on this interesting synthpop duo from Germany. In autumn B.S.C. plan to release an album, accompanied by a limited vinyl edition. Vinyl? „Of course,“ Rossi says. ”Vinyl has become hip again and goes perfectly with the retro feeling of our music.“ Moreover, vinyl releases and live shows plus merchandising offer further possibilities to make at least a little bit money.

Artists are being left out in the cold

”The fact that even celebrated musicians don’t get paid adequately is and remains the biggest problem of today’s unsigned artists,“ Rossi sums up. ”In exchange for a small monthly subscription fee users get offered the complete spectrum of recent music by streaming services. That turns complex songs produced with heart and soul into cheap mass-produced goods, into worthless acoustic accessories. It’s the internet giants that take most of the money, and they’re generating additional earnings by commercials they place between the tracks for users who only use the free version, not the subscription version. The artists, however, are being left out in the cold.“

That’s the reason why journalists like Kabir Sehgal demand: ”Spotify and Apple Music should become record labels so musicians can make a fair living.” Sehgal’s suggestion: Streaming services are making deals with artists and pay them money in advance, so that they are able to keep on working and to produce new music, which in turn generates new customers and additional streams. ”It’s a nice utopian dream, which won’t come true,“ Rossi doubtfully says. Nevertheless he looks forward to the stir that the recent B.S.C. song You Take Me High featuring guest vocalist Fériel might create. The German synthpop project has tasted success already – and maybe they will reach cloud nine with their music someday.

Band info and sound clips: www.buzzingsoundcandy.com

The Controversial Instant Sweeping Blow

It happened half a century ago … In 1970 The Guess Who released an unintentionally provocative song: American Woman.

In the late 1960s an unscheduled improvisation suddenly develops into a worldwide hit. During a concert of the rock band “The Guess Who” in their native Canada, guitar player Randy Bachman needs to deal with a broken string. A small mishap, but not unusual for a rock concert. The experienced musician, who five years later would join Bachman Turner Overdrive and celebrate another worldwide hit, You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet, puts on a new string and starts tuning his instrument. He absentmindedly improvises a guitar riff, and suddenly the fans are electrified. A few moments ago they were talking and busy with other things, now they’re staring at the stage and banging their heads. Bachman’s bandmates react. Drummer Garry Peterson is the first one to join in, followed by bass player Jim Kale and, finally, singer Burton Cummings. With a striking grating voice Cummings begins to improvise over the steamhammer riff, singing what comes to his mind: ”American woman, stay away from me / American woman, mama let me be / Don’t come hangin’ around my door / I don’t wanna see your face no more …“ Amazing what is going through a celebrated rock star’s head … Several minutes later the impromptu song comes to an end, followed by thundering applause. And the band knows: We have to remember this – come what may. But how?

Fortunately the musicians have discovered a fan who captured the piece on tape. Is he one of these goddamn bootleggers who make lots of money with their illegal recordings? Never mind! They approach the young man, gain possession of the tape and are thus able to reconstruct the framework of the song. After some compositional finetuning and reworking of the lyrics they can finish the piece. Released in 1970 unter the title American Woman, the song hits Nr. 1 on the US charts as well as the Top 20 and even the Top 10 in several other countries around the world.

At first glance the simple lyrics just seem to reject some nameless American woman. The speaker of the song seems to be fed up with her: ”I got more important things to do / Than spend my time growin’ old with you“. Is it a song about the end of a love affair, a breakup song? Only to a limited extent. In the further course of the song the lyrical images become more general, now they seem to address American women as such: ”Coloured lights can hypnotize / Sparkle someone else’s eyes.“ And then the lyrics introduce some new aspects. When Burton Cummings sings: ”I don’t need your war machines / I don’t need your ghetto scenes,“ he doesn’t address American women any longer – he’s addressing the US as a whole. And he provides the lyrics with the touch of a protest song. A statement against the Vietnam War and against social injustice in America.

However, these protest song elements are less marked. The lines about war machines and ghetto scenes don’t manage to outshine the whole song. The words, which were made up during an improvisation and then associatively completed, combine several levels of meaning. These levels do not necessarily fit together. And that leaves room for interpretation. The internet platform ”Songfacts.com“ quotes statements by members of The Guess Who, which give at least some clues. The band claimed to have been shocked by the social problems they became aware of while touring the US. They also explained ”that girls in the States seemed to get older quicker than our girls and that made them, well, dangerous“. They’d rather prefer ”their“ Canadian girls, Cummings & Co said. An outlandish attitude from a present-day perspective, eh? In the end they reported that, near the Canadian border, US American authorities had tried to conscript them and send them to Vietnam – maybe because The Guess Who had many male American fans who had moved to Canada in order to evade such a conscription. 

Controversies often arise from misunderstandings, ambivalences, and felt or real provocations. American Woman in particular offers several starting points. People who listened only superficially and focused on the striking beat of the song assumed that it paid homage to America or to American women. Other people accused the song of misogyny and chauvinism. Members of the protest movement celebrated the lines about ”war machines“ and ”ghetto scenes“, whereas upright patriots were thoroughly upset. Somehow the band managed to scare many layers of society, but in the end they escaped unscathed. I guess it was because of the music. Ironically, in July of 1970 The Guess Who were invited to play at the White House for then US president Richard Nixon. Nixon’s daughter Tricia was said to be a huge fan, which was totally understandable, since the band’s softer songs in particular were in a class of their own. First Lady Pat Nixon, however, understood the political implications of American Woman. And so the band deleted the song from the set list of their White House concert. Not exactly an act of courage …

In March 2019 my new book Provokation! Songs, die für Zündstoff sorg(t)en was published. It presents about 70 hit songs from the last 100 years which caused a stir in their time, and some of which are being discussed even today – from Rock Around the Clock to Relax, from Anarchy in the U.K. to Punk Prayer, from the ”British Invasion“ to ”shock rock“. The last chapter of the book explains some basic lyrical techniques and answers 26 FAQs around the topic of controversial songs. Due to issues of space, this piece about The Guess Who didn’t make it into the printed version of the book. 

Under the Surface

Shallow by Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper is indeed a well-crafted song. Although – or because – it is slightly reminiscent of other great songs.  

There are songs you hear for the first time – and yet you can’t help feeling that you’ve known them for years. It can be an unpleasant feeling, especially when you recognise that the artist you hear has blatantly ripped off some other song. But it can also be an exciting feeling. For instance when you recognise that what you are hearing is a pleasing reminder of several other great songs – even if you are not able to name them at the first go. Deliberately or just by intuition, the songwriter has managed to assimilate different influences and create a unique piece of music, which nonetheless pays tribute to its sources. And because those influencing sources have come together so gracefully and organically, you are haunted for days by the deliciously tortuous question: Dammit – what does this wonderful piece of music remind me of?

The last time I had this exciting feeling was when I listened to Shallow by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. Written by Lady Gaga, Andrew Wyatt, Anthony Rossomando and Mark Ronson and featured in the movie A Star Is Born, Shallow won several prizes, including the Oscar for ”Best Original Song“. The powerful ballad was played very frequently when it was released and there was much speculation about the question whether Cooper and Gaga were having an affair. But that was not the reason why I got the feeling I’d known this song for many years. First of all, there is the mostly successful concept of the ”VIP torch song duet“ – you can’t go wrong with it. And then there is the way the acoustic guitar is played. The song’s mood. Some distinctive chord progressions. Last but not least, there is the melody in the verse parts.

I may be wrong, and you may have a different opinion, but here are the four songs that come to my mind when I listen to Shallow. Once again: I’m NOT addressing the topic of plagiarism – it’s quite the reverse: To filter the most significant and best elements from different (hit) songs and put them together in a touching new musical entity is great song art to me. Extreme was the name of an American band which conquered the world with More Than Words in the early nineties. It is the mood of this reflective love song which may have inspired Shallow – and of course the way the acoustic guitar is being played.

Some of the chord progressions of the Cooper/Gaga song remind me of Only You by Yazoo, especially in the refrain with the following lines: ”All I needed was the love you gave / All I needed for another day / And all I ever knew / Only you“. Among the artists who covered Only You is Selena Gomez, and her calm electronic rendering of the song emphasises its beautiful harmonies perfectly.

As for mood and melody: Something in Shallow also seems to echo the song classic Dust in the Wind by Kansas. It may be far-fetched, but if it’s true it is a much better achievement than the Dust in the Wind cover version someone did for a German tea advertisement in the 1990s.

And here’s the most intense déjà vu I experience when listening to Shallow. I can’t help but think of And Then You Kissed Me, an exceptional song released by the Swedish Band The Cardigans in 2003. And Then You Kissed Me combines the feeling of love with the distasteful topic of domestic violence. Although it reveals some nasty details, it is extremely touching. I don’t know how readers of this post feel, but to me the guitar and the vocals which set in after a strange organ intro are something like a blueprint for the first song part of Shallow.

Of course all the songs I mentioned are completely different from the Cooper/Gaga hit. They start out differently and take different directions. Nevertheless, they might have left some traces – that’s the reason why Shallow sounds so familiar and compelling to me. One could say: Under the surface you can discover a lot of things. Why else should the Gaga/Cooper lyrics contain lines like: ”We’re far from the shallow now …“? What makes Shallow unique is the fact that the song neglects the classic verse-chorus pattern. Rather, it increases step by step, with the finale setting the climax.

Lady Gaga belongs, quite legitimately, to the pantheon of pop music superstars. Smart songwriting, powerful vocals, extravagance, a provocative ambivalence in her songs and the ability of reinventing herself again and again, make her a fascinating entertainment diva. From dancefloor queen to country lady, from rude rock singer to sensitive singer-songwriter – whatever she does comes across authentically, and yet it is always part of a flamboyant Gesamtkunstwerk, including overpowering performances and powerful music. With these skills, Lady Gaga has become an attractive stage guest for fellow superstars, even for old stagers like Sting.

Anthem controversy

50 years ago, at the legendary Woodstock festival, Jimi Hendrix demolished the American national anthem: The Star-Spangled Banner.

Woodstock, August 1969: During his gig at the most famous festival in rock history, Jimi Hendrix suddenly starts playing the American national anthem on his electric guitar. Oops! Is he trying to show his patriotism? The irritation that sweeps the hippie audience only lasts for a few seconds. Then they realize that Hendrix has exactly the opposite in mind. Let’s remember: The American national anthem was born in 1814 during the British-American War. According to the myth, lyricist Francis Scott Key was inspired to write the words when, after a battle near Baltimore, he saw the American flag, the ‘star-spangled banner’, still waving above the US fort. But when Hendrix plays the anthem, nothing remains intact and there’s no feeling of pride at all. The exceptional black musician is acoustically tearing the US flag apart. And that’s not all: With sound effects like tremolo, feedback and extreme pitching, he is simulating machine gun fire, alarm sirens and bloodcurdling screams. In doing so, he is reminding his listeners of the brutal war during which the original anthem was written – and using it to voice a resounding critique of the Vietnam war. In this version, America is not the “land of the free and home of the brave” but a nation of warmongers who interfere in distant conflicts, throwing napalm bombs and „producing“ countless victims. The heroic lyrics are being masked – you could also say: They are being drowned out by the instrumental battle noise.

Of course staunch patriots and the American establishment interpreted this kind of destructive act as an insult. Especially in the American South, people threatened to become violent if he were to play his version of the national anthem onstage. Hendrix also polarized as a black artist and as a symbol of integration: In his bands, for example in several Experience line-ups, it was taken for granted that black and white musicians would play side by side. And there were many white women in his entourage who didn’t give a hoot about racial segregation. This led to drastic reactions on the one hand, and to changing attitudes on the other. In her essay ”Vodoo Child: Jimi Hendrix and the Politics of Race in the Sixties“ historian Lauren Onkey narrates how, especially in the South, the band was denied hotel rooms and access to restaurants. Their status as a well-known ”integrated band“ simultaneously laid bare the opportunities and limits of racial integration. As the author explains, Hendrix ultimately achieved some success when it came to emancipation: ”His extensive touring claimed the right of an African American to play with white musicians and consort with white women whenever and wherever he chose.“

In March 2019 my new book Provokation! Songs, die für Zündstoff sorg(t)en was published. It presents about 70 hit songs from the last 100 years which caused a stir in their time, and some of which are being discussed even today – from Rock Around the Clock to Relax, from Anarchy in the U.K. to Punk Prayer, from the ”British Invasion“ to ”shock rock“. The last chapter of the book explains some basic lyrical techniques and answers 26 FAQs around the topic of controversial songs. Due to issues of space, this little Jimi Hendrix piece didn’t make it into the printed version of the book.

Ding-dong, just a song

About three decades ago, the conservative British politician Maggie Thatcher provoked an unprecedented flood of protest songs.

Great Britain under Margaret Thatcher “inspired” many bands and songwriters to compose protest songs which ranged from extremely critical to downright cynical. And in the last 70 years, few politicians have so often and so explicitly become a target of song lyrics as the British Prime Minister. Politics during her term of office (1979-1990) was characterised by privatisation, deregulation, and the destruction of trade unions, which – despite all economic success – led to an increase in unemployment, social hardship, and a widening of the gap between rich and poor. Her political reputation was further tarnished by the foolish war in the Falklands and by regulations which led to discrimination against homosexuals. A situation full of conflict for songwriters: On the one hand they were experiencing an increasingly tough struggle for existence, on the other they were getting lots of inspiration for moving songs. However, Bruce Robert Howard alias Dr. Robert, once a singer of the Blow Monkeys, doesn’t believe in the idea of Maggie Thatcher “as the ‘midwife’ of a thriving British counter-culture during the 80s and early 90s,” as the German newspaper “taz” puts it in a 2013 interview. “No,” Howard protests. “She was a polarising figure who encouraged greed and selfishness and destroyed people’s lives. Art may be able to flourish under these kinds of circumstances, but that’s nothing to be thankful for. In my opinion, Thatcher had a cynical view of human nature.”

In the 1980s, the Blow Monkeys not only belonged to “Red Wedge”, an initiative led by the musicians Billy Bragg, Paul Weller, and Jimmy Somerville to support the Labour Party, but also “dedicated” their 1987 album She Was Only A Grocer’s Daughter to the daughter of a grocer. It included the hit (Celebrate) The Day After You, which the BBC banned from its radio programme at the time. But where others only celebrated the “day after”, i.e. the end of the Prime Minister’s term of office, Morrissey went even further. The former front man of the Smiths, who had already declared The Queen Is Dead in 1986, even used his 1988 solo album Viva Hate to imagine the despised leader’s execution, not without conjuring up an anti-aristocratic popular uprising scenario like that of the French Revolution. ”The kind people have a wonderful dream / Margaret on the guillotine / Cause people like you make me feel so tired / When will you die?” Of course only a first name is mentioned in the lyrics, but the allusion is more than clear. So clear that – as the singer revealed in his 2013 autobiography – Morrissey was questioned by Scotland Yard. According to the star, the goal at that time was to find out whether he posed a real threat to the famous politician.

Numerous other songs from that era used clear or veiled references to provoke: I’m in Love With Margret Thatcher by The Not Sensibles, Kick Out the Tories by the Newton Neurotics, Maggie, Maggie, Maggie (Out, Out, Out) by the Larks, Thatcherites by Billy Bragg or Shipbuilding by Elvis Costello – a song that cynically revolves around the construction of warships for the Falkland War, juxtaposing possible new jobs with future casualties of war. In 1986 even a French singer, Renaud Sechan, joined in the Thatcher bashing. His song Miss Maggie formulated nasty declarations of love to womanhood itself, each topped by a gibe aimed at the hated British politician. Always the same boorish line of reasoning: women, no matter how underprivileged they are, can never be as stupid, as brutal, as warmongering as men – with one exception: Madame Thatcher …

When “Madame Thatcher” actually died in 2013, it helped a punk song of the band Hefner, which had already been released in 2000, to get heavy rotation on the internet. The Day That Thatcher Dies lets a song protagonist look back on the 1980s and his political socialisation by the Labour Party. The lyrics are defiant: „We will laugh the day that Thatcher dies / Even though we know it’s not right / We will dance and sing all night.“ Towards the end, the piece also quotes a cheerful children’s song from The Wizard of Oz, the famous 1939 film musical, namely Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead. Ding-dong, the witch is dead? For many of Thatcher’s critics, that seemed to fit all too well. Ding-Dong! itself promptly experienced a revival, even advancing into the top echelons of the British charts thanks to social media promotion – and was also boycotted by the BBC. But nobody really cared.