The Rubber Bandits work is polemical art

I think I will review the two options that face us in our choice for Christmas number 1. We can either buy the X-factor CD, which is Matt in the Hat, singing a song that was written by a mildly successful Scottish band about something banal that hasn’t interested me enough to actually listen to it more than once. Or we can purchase a piece of anti-materialistic, anti-musical, original artwork.

You see, Matt’s song means nothing. Nothing whatsoever. He didn’t write it, he doesn’t feel the sentiments, he is faking it and according to a lot of people with telephones, he fakes it pretty well. He is a puppet that is doing somebody else’s bidding in an effort to make some money.

Unthinking, unimaginative and meaningless.

It is to music what the poem in a hallmark card is to literature.

The other option is the Rubber Bandits singing “Horse Outside“.

First of all, if I am to believe Joe Duffy, this is a group that is clearly deluded and unworthy of serious analysis, right? I mean, Joe had to ask Blind Boy Boatclub if he could talk properly. It cannot be possible that it is a group with a mission? with a brain? I mean, they are clearly the working-class, uneducated, Hoi-Poloi.

And most worryingly, they are from Limerick. I mean, who ever heard of anything intelligent coming from Limerick. Well, apart from Richard Harris, Awesome rugby, Pulitzer Prize winning author Frank McCourt and me.

Oh hang on……On second thoughts, it is a very complete act that has written, recorded and promoted several songs. All are original, all are funded by somebody that believes in the idea and none are attached to a cynical TV programme like X-factor.

This isn’t enough of a reason to buy a Rubber Bandit single.

How about we take a look at the song.

The central character in the song is a member of the Limerick underclass. He is clearly involved in the drug scene and leaves you with no illusions about whether he would stab you (it is Limerick after all) in a heartbeat and appears to have a superaggressive repulsion to normal people that simply own cars.

You can’t possibly believe that last sentence.

Of course it is not. The rubber bandits really understand what they are about. They understand satire, analogy and how to scare the living shit out of middle Ireland.

They are more frightening than the sex pistols, the IRA, and property taxes combined.

Joe Duffy made a complete fool of himself in not understanding this. However, sadly, saying that Joe Duffy is a fool is somewhat tautological.

In the course of the song, we are introduced to the fact that the central character is at a wedding competing with three eligible bachelors for the affections of the very attractive bridesmaid. On the surface, it looks like he has little hope. In the celtic tiger era, nothing said more about you than your flashy car. We bought them in the millions. It was all you needed to say that you were in the club, you were hot, you had it all going on. Now, a more humble Ireland is getting back to where it came from. Perhaps material possessions are less solid than we once believed? Perhaps there is something less flashy but more attractive than an Asian import?

And at the end of the video, our anti-hero rides off into the sunset with the beautiful girl. Its not quite hollywood style, but nonetheless it is a powerful statement.

Your material possessions didn’t quite cut it. You didn’t get the girl.

In terms of style, if we compare the Rubber Bandits to Matt Cardle, it is something like comparing a Picasso with a Caravaggio. Why should Picasso paint in a Baroque, Rococo, classical or indeed painterly style? Who said he should? He didn’t. His version of art didn’t try for a perfect reproduction on canvas (or in an etching) of the 3D world. That wasn’t the point. So why should the Rubber Bandits stick to a musical style that is attractive to grannies? They don’t. My granny would have hated it. This is the point. The entire song, the entire act is awesome because it goes somewhere that is new and fresh. They are making great art because they are not faking it.

I cannot say the same thing about Matt Cardle.