Ukuleles heal – not in this mean street

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There’s something strange in the zeitgeist when a ukulele is the latest must-have accessory. All over the hipster globe ukulele circles are springing up and any self-respecting millennial is keen to tout their uke appeal.

The ukulele is as stylistically on point as kale chips, fixed gear bikes and $18 Green Ant Gin Juleps. These I get. Kale chips taste good (there’s nothing a bit of oil and salt won’t fix) and so do $18 drinks (once you’ve finished them). Fixed gear bikes look cute on Instagram propped up against a milk crate. I get it, really I do.

But ukulele is the sonic equivalent of Sarah Huckabee Sanders reading a restaurant menu. Only one note and virtually no harmony (okay, none). All ukulele songs sound sort of similar and that’s because the uke only has four chords and takes up to forty minutes to learn. So, after a couple of Quince Aspen Gimlets with locally foraged berries it’s the perfect time to master another life skill. Ukulele – sorted.

Once someone has ukulele proficiency that means they have got life conquered (or slayed as a ukulele player would say). It denotes a connection, work/life balance, authenticity. It’s the new deck of cards, the new book club and the new moral highground. It’s up there with starting an NGO. It’s fermented, foraged, artisan, activated and minimalist. It has its own lingo – uke, noodling, up the neck. How lit is that!

I’ve even seen stickers like Ukes Heal and I’m Pro Ukulele and I Vote, which make me choke on my single-estate foraged blue algae latte. The ukulele might have a cute name (it’s from Hawaii and roughly translates as Jumping Flea) and sound summery but make no mistake. This is not music, this is not healing and the zeitgeist is wrong. And I vote.

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Classic shock – bereft of B side

When Vega was launched, it promised us it wouldn’t be like the others. As well as the latest hits, as a brand new concept it would play the B-side of the record.  It would be, said the press release, a mix of intelligent talk, hits and interesting music. For anyone who can’t stand listening to Hotel California more than twenty-six times a day, this was music to our ears. 

Well that little experiment lasted about as long as it takes to say Ange, Tony, Bec and Mikey. 

With the death of Vega and the resurrection of Classic Rock FM, it’s back to the same old same old. We have yet another radio station promising the best of the 70s, 80s and 90s plus today’s best music. Ream upon ream of Heart of Glass, Eagle Rock (a great song ruined by overexposure) and anything by Terence Trent D’Arby.

Forget that the B-side of the record – only the done-to-death three minute riff is played.

For people allergic to Alan Jones or 2UE, and can only take a smidge of 702 before a pollie lowers the tone, there is nothing else on the dial. 

What we want is interesting music, B-sides, some hits but not a hit parade, no talking and no ads. Sounds like my ipod.