Olympic “Earthquake” Song – Striking the Right Notes?

In a recent post I talked about how a fan contacted me to say that a scene from my book Watchers (where a tree grows from the peak of Glastonbury Tor) was uncannily similar to alleged leaked scenes from the Opening Ceremony for the Olympic Games in London, which takes place in a week’s time.

In my world there is no such thing as coincidence, so this strange synchronicity brought the Olympics to my attention and prompted me to take a closer look at the whole thing. What I’ve discovered is quite unnerving.

Children read this blog, so I shall leave out the most disturbing parts, but I do wish to draw attention to some of the things that are going on surrounding the Olympics – and our society in general – especially when it comes to the words that are in a lot of the music that finds favour these days.

Looking for resonances between the Tor and the Olympics, I discovered that a rap-group called Labrinth were invited to be the main act at the first of 66 musical “events” that are accompanying the Olympic Torch on its tour around Great Britain. Every day since then, the sounds of this group have been blared out from the bus that accompanies the Torch and are being listened to by children up and down the land.

What is the connection? Well, Glastonbury Tor is well-known for featuring a centuries-old real labyrinth that is cut into the side of the hill and which forms a spiral pathway that used to be processed as part of a spiritual ceremony.

Glastonbury Tor with the Labyrinth clearly visible

Looking up Labrinth, I discovered that one of the songs they performed is called “Earthquake”. By the way, this song also featured at London’s New Years Eve Firework Display that ushered in 2012, where a part of it was played loudly to the celebrating crowds (and the millions watching on television).

So, what is the big deal about Labrinth singing a song called “Earthquake” at the first Olympic Torch event and music from the same band subsequently being played from the Olympic coach?

Well, let’s have a look at the lyrics – if that is what they can be called – to “Earthquake”. I haven’t included a link to the video that goes with them because I want you to focus on the words themselves. I apologise in advance if they cause offence, but please bear in mind that by quoting them in full, I’m hoping to bring to light something that is hidden. The asterisks, by the way, are mine.

Words to Earthquake by Labrinth

Labrinth! come in!

Ladies and gentlemen
This is something they call
A ground breaker
So let me first apologise
To shirts and the ties
For your make up
Cause I’ll make you ugly
As soon as it drops
We’re on a rampage
Bottles popping off
Before you know it
There’s rubble and dust
Cause we be f**king it up
Somebody say… (you better run)

Yeah

I predict an earthquake
Didn’t happen

Say yeah

I predict an earthquake
Up in here

Cause we throw bombs on it
Throw bombs on it
Just smash something
Yeah mosh for me

Yeah

We can make an earthquake up in here

So here we go we go

Ladies and gentlemen
What you’re about to witness
Is no illusion
And now we got the bass banging
From here to Buckingham palace
They’re all moving
Hey Simon
We’re f**king them up
Turning em psycho
Everybody rock
We bring the house down
To rubble dust
Cause we be f**king it up

Somebody say… (you better run)

Yeah

I predict an earthquake
Up in here
Say yeah

I predict an earthquake
Up in here

Throw bombs on it (yeah)
Throw bombs on it (yeah)
Just smash something
Just mosh for me (aha)

Yeah (let’s go)

We can make an earthquake up in here
So here we go we go

I predict an earthquake up in here

Cause we throw bombs on it
Throw bombs on it
Just smash something
Just smash for me

Yeah

We can make an earthquake up in here
So here we go we go

Hey yo Labrinth
This one’s feeling like a straight ten on the richter scale, ya know…

Yeah!

Fire fire! We about to set this place on fire!
With out a match or lighter
Don’t do girlfriends
One nighters make them c’minor

if I want Christian
Or Kurt Geiger I just phone up the designer
Doing all nighters no days off grey hairs and a little
Bit of weight loss
I predict (riots)
I predict (chaos)
I predict (people)
I predict (AAHHH)
Disturbing London got the whole city panicking
I’ll be Nostradamus this my ni ni neighbour(Labrinth)

Yeah

I predict an earthquake up in here

Say yeah

I predict an earthquake up in here

Cause we throw bombs on it (yeah)
Throw bombs on it (yeah)
Just smash something
Yeah mosh for me

Yeah

We can make an earthquake up in here
So here we go we go

Labrinth come in

Labrinth come in

Labrinth come in

Labrinth come in

***********

I was shocked when I read these words for the first time. I still am.

In a world where society has become so volatile that something as joyful/peaceful as a global games event has to be protected by a small army (during the Olympics armed troops will walk the streets of London for the first time since 1945), why, I ask, would ANYONE pump such violent and discordant words and music into the mix?

Every day we are seeing more and more focus on the security at the Games; with ground-to-air missiles, thousands of soldiers being drafted in and the Americans sending 1,000 of their own security forces, reportedly including 500 members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

So, who in their right mind would choose a song that includes the words “throw bombs on it” – repeated again and again – to be part of the Olympic celebrations?? And why would they even consider using a song that includes such foul language and abusive attitudes to women when the main intent of the Olympics is to engender global unification and positive feelings?

The words appear to be an incitement to violence. They also claim to make a series of predictions about “riots, chaos, people and the whole of London panicking” (the reference to Nostradamus is probably because one of his predictions was that a dire event would happen at “the Games around the time of the Great Millennial”).

I was so amazed at this that I asked my youngest daughter whether this song is popular with her friends. “Oh yes, Daddy,” she told me, “It’s on the radio all the time.” Apparently one of her teachers even played it during a class.

Now, this has got me quite hot under the collar, the reason being that the power of words cannot be underestimated, especially when they are combined with SOUNDS and IMAGES. Even if we cannot hear words (because of the music accompanying them), they still enter our subconscious minds where they are soaked up, never to be forgotten.

It’s also a fact that the more something is repeated the more it acts as an instruction. Take a look at the most-repeated phrases in the song above and ask yourself what instructions are being given?

What gets my hackles up more than anything is that children – and in this case, the adults who attend such public events (or watch them on TV) – cannot choose what they listen to. They/we rely on those who are in positions of authority to be caring, considerate guides who have our best interests at heart.

In this case those people have not lived up to their responsibilities. At best, the airing of this song is crassly inconsiderate. At worst, it suggests an endorsement of violence, casual sex and abusive language.

Someone somewhere has chosen to promote a song that focuses on a nightmare-scenario (London in panic/flames), rather than giving us a vision of unity, beauty and light – which would have been just as easy – alongside both the Olympic Games.

I say this is an outrage. But what do you think?

Am I just being an old fuddy-duddy who is way out of touch with the modern world (I admit this is quite possible, especially when it comes to the lyrics in many modern songs) or do you think I have a point here?

Do you think it is acceptable for such words to be broadcast to thousands of people lining the streets, or to the millions who tuned in to enjoy the New Years Celebrations?

If you think it’s just fine, please write to me. I’d like to know your side of the story.

If you think it’s not acceptable, I’d like to hear from you too.

Kids – what do you think?

Parents – what do you think?

At very least I think it’s time to start a public debate about this…so perhaps you might pass this article around on your blogs, twitter and facebook pages and we’ll see what other people make of it?

Until next time, I leave you with my best wishes – and with this beautiful photograph of the Tor.

Resources and Credits.

Earthquake Songwriters: OKOGWU, PATRICK / MCKENZIE, TIMOTHY / WILLIAMS, MARC [ Lyrics from: http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/l/labrinth/earthquake.html ]

Related Stories.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/other-sports/athletics/london-2012-olympics-opening-ceremony-1144728

http://www.thisisplymouth.co.uk/Labrinth-perform-Olympic-torch-concert/story-16012924-detail/story.html

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/culture/harrymount/100064839/olympic-thugs-are-ruining-londons-parks/

A Trip to The Chalice Well Garden

White Tulip at The Chalice Well Garden

The Tilly Greenway books are unusual in that whilst they weave in and out of fantasy, the action takes place in the “real world”. Tilly and Zack, the main protagonists of our tale, visit lots of interesting sites in Wales and England in Book One, including Skenfrith Castle, King Arthur’s Stone, Avebury, Silbury Hill and Glastonbury.

One of these sites is the Chalice Well Garden. Tucked into the lee of the famous Tor at Glastonbury, the garden is a place of tranquility, even in today’s busy world. With the Red Well springing up inside the garden and the White Well just outside its walls, pilgrims have journeyed to this spot for many hundreds – probably thousands – of years. (Red and White having long been colours of sacredness).

Here is a picture of the Red Spring. You can see how the water has stained the stones red.

The Red Spring at the Chalice Well Garden

Here it is in close-up. It looks uncannily like dragon-skin to me, which is appropriate when you know that Tilly and Zack arrive at the gardens riding on a pair of dragons!

Water in the Red Spring at the Chalice Well Garden

Recently I was contacted by a twelve year old girl called Zoe who emailed me from Australia to let me know that she had just finished reading Watchers and it is now her “favourite book”. You can imagine how wonderful it was to hear that! Zoe also told me that she and her parents were about to visit England for a week and asked if we could meet. I picked Glastonbury as the perfect spot.

The George and Pilgrim, Glastonbury

After lunch in the George and Pilgrim (the oldest inn in the country, which also features in Watchers) we sauntered around some of the crystal shops before walking to the Chalice Well Garden, a scene of great importance in Tilly and Zack’s first adventure.

From the Chalice Well Garden you can look up at the Tor. Here is Zoe in the garden, with the Tor in the background.

Zoe in the Chalice Well Garden with the Tor behind her

Some of you will not have read the book yet so I shan’t spoil the story for you by telling you what happens there, but it was a lot of fun to visit the place with Zoe and to share some of the real locations that she had, until then, only read about in the story.

Here we are, standing under one of the garden’s ancient yew trees.

One significant change had taken place since I had last visited the Garden: the Holy Thorn (said to be grown from a sprig of hawthorn brought to Glastonbury by Joseph of Arimathea) which magically blossomed at Christmas as well as during the summer, had blown down during the storms.

There are other Holy Thorns in the area, but it was still a shock to see the empty ground where the old tree had once grown. Tilly’s tale will be one of the many things that pays tribute to the now-lost tree.

At this time of year there was just a smattering of colour in the garden, but it still holds a peculiar magic. We’ll revisit it again sometime, but for now I’ll leave you with some of the images from that day, which was a special one for me.

Crab Apple at the Chalice Well Garden

More Crab Apple Blossom

With Zoe and her Mum, Nicky

Chalice Well Angel

Chalice Cowslips

Close-up of the Red Spring

My thanks and gratitude go to my friend Helen, who made the meeting with Zoe and her Mum possible and was such a star, driving into London and then all the way down to Glastonbury to bring them to the West Country. Thanks Helen! It was lovely to see both you and Ella again. 🙂