Politicians – they think they reveal something about themselves by revealing the contents of their iPods. Problem is, it’s never what they think they’ve revealed. Hence Tony Blair and Foo Fighters. At first glance, it seems inconceivable that the original counterfeit Stone – the former Ugly Rumours singer turned Prime Ministerial advocate of boomer-rock – is really a fan of Foo Fighters. Could that be the same Foo Fighters formed by ex-Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl following the death of Kurt Cobain?
But linger on the notion a moment longer and it all makes sense. Like New Labour, Foo Fighters are a brand that appeals across a broad demograph. And yet they were formed from the ashes of a far more radical but unsustainable, and ultimately self-destructive organization. Sound familiar yet? Admittedly, not a single one of their utilitarian rallying cries has managed to inspire the fierce loyalty that Grohl’s old band commanded. But, in Grohl, they do have a frontman who appears to have borrowed his smile from a very charming shark. And as Tony Blair knows, you can go far with a smile like that.
Of course, without the handicap of having to simultaneously run a country and declare a war on terror, David Cameron has had far more time to tend to his iPod. It’s less than a decade since the disastrous post-Conference bash at which William Hague attempted to rouse the faithful into a pop singalong, only to watch it stalled after no-one could remember the words to Oasis’s Look Back In Anger. Cameron would have been in his 20s when Britpop briefly ushered in the absurd notion of Cool Britannia. That would have appealed to his patriotic sensibilities.
Last year, he briefly told us he liked Radiohead, but it’s fairly safe to assume Radiohead’s antiglobalist frontman Thom Yorke won’t reciprocate before hell freezes over. It’s perhaps not so surprising that he has the Ramones on his iPod. They may have spearheaded the US punk vanguard, but guitarist Johnny harboured right-wing views at which even Lord Tebbit would have baulked. As with Blair though, Cameron reveals more than he had intended by citing Las Vegas band The Killers as his current faves. Despite crossing over into the mainstream with a heap of rousing alt-rock anthems, their use of mascara and 80s synths places their roots in an era where conspicuous consumption was regarded as a basic human right. Or as the band themselves shamelessly put it, “Remember Rio and get down.”