last.fm, again

I’ve joined last.fm, again, under a different name. The intention, again, is to post a ‘recently listened music’ widget somewhere on the site, but I’m still thinking about how best to rearrange various things. In the meantime, I was slightly startled by this. The ten most listened to artists for this week are:

  1. Red Hot Chili Peppers
  2. The Beatles
  3. Radiohead
  4. Coldplay
  5. Muse
  6. The Killers
  7. Nirvana
  8. Metallica
  9. Bloc Party
  10. Death Cab For Cutie

I’m not going to type out any more, but the trend continues.

I’m not generally comfortable using the term ‘white’ as a term of mild derision, because I’m not given to self-loathing (about my race, at least), and I’m well aware that, on so many levels beyond mere skin tone, I tick all the boxes. This isn’t a misguided bid for some kind of urban cred, but: that is just the whitest list I’ve ever seen in my life.

Really, of course, ‘white’ has nothing to do with it; I just don’t get guitar rock. It always seems like the basic principle is that ‘if we make enough messy noise, people won’t notice that we’ve got rubbish voices and no rhythm’.

Having exposed my own musical prejudices, it’s only fair to point out that you can see what I’ve been listening to recently on my last.fm profile page. Feel free to mock accordingly.

The Tribes of Britain by David Miles

This is the blurb:

“Who are the English, the Irish, the Scots and the Welsh? – a ragbag of migrants, reflecting thousands of years of continuity and change. Now scientific techniques can explore this complex genetic jigsaw: ancient Britons and Saxons, Celts and Romans, Vikings and Normans, and the more recent migrations which have created these multicultural islands.

Drawing on the most recent discoveries, this book both challenges traditional views of history and provides new insight into who we are today.”

The book lacks pretty much everything that blurb might lead me to hope for: extensive analysis of the genetic make-up of the British, a surprising new perspective on British history, new insight into how it makes modern Britain what it is.

It’s a readable and up-to-date history of Britain focussing on population movements and demographics, with lots of quotable and surprising snippets. Who knew, for example, that the ‘fitz’ in names like ‘Fitzroy’ was from the French ‘fils de’? Or that among the black population of the UK, Africans now outnumber people from the West Indies? But if you have a broad understanding of the history of these islands, it’s not going to force you to re-evaluate it. And while I enjoyed many bits of it, this kind of large-scale history doesn’t lend itself to a clear narrative thread, and it was definitely putdownable.

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