Tom Ravenscroft's music blog

I appear to have been made DJ to the Royal Wedding. What shall I play?

It's just occurred to me that I'll be doing a radio show on Friday 29 April from 21:00 to 00:00. That kind of makes me the official Royal Wedding DJ.

I'm surprised people aren't making more of a deal of this, to be honest, but being a fairly humble servant today I have just quietly gone about picking some records for the special day that I think might be appropriate.

The first song I've chosen is "Underwear" by FM Belfast. It's about running around in your underwear and there is a live version out now that sounds very much like it is taking place at a street party. Very appropriate.

 

Next is Wax Idols and "William Says", a very messy, noisy record made by a group of very messy-looking American girls. Apart from the convenient title, I think Kate and Wills might just really like it.

02 Gooey Gooey (WILLIAM SAYS) by waxidols  

Finally, there's Weekend and "End Times". It will be the weekend and thanks to the lovely couple a rather long one; this is my way of thanking them. "End Times" is one of those records that when the sun is out gets you terribly excited that something wonderful will happen if you just step out of the house, lets all step out together. Party!

 

Tom Ravenscroft's radio show is on BBC 6 Music at 9pm every Friday.

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Harry Styles: What can three blank Instagram posts tell us about music promotion?

Do the One Direction star’s latest posts tell us about the future of music promotion in the social media age - or take us back to a bygone era?

Yesterday, Harry Styles posted three identical, captionless blank images to Instagram. He offered no explanation on any other social network, and left no clue via location serves or tagged accounts as to what the pictures might mean. There was nothing about any of the individual images that suggested they might have significance beyond their surface existence.

And, predictably, they brought in over a million likes – and thousands of Styles fans decoding them with the forensic dedication of the cast of Silent Witness.

Of course, the Instagrams are deliberately provocative in their vagueness. They reminded me of Robert Rauschenberg’s three-panelled White Painting (1951), or Robert Ryman’s Untitled, three square blank canvases that hang in the Pompidou Centre. The composer John Cage claimed that the significance of Rauschenberg’s White Paintings lay in their status as receptive surfaces that respond to the world around them. The significance of Styles’s Instagrams arguably, too, only gain cultural relevance as his audience engages with them.

So what did fans make of the cryptic posts? Some posited a modelling career announcement would follow, others theorised that it was a nod to a Taylor Swift song “Blank Space”, and that the former couple would soon confirm they were back together. Still more thought this suggested an oncoming solo album launch.

You can understand why a solo album launch would be on the tip of most fans’ tongues. Instagram has become a popular platform for the cryptic musical announcement — In April, Beyoncé teased Lemonade’s world premiere with a short Instagram video – keeping her face, and the significance behind the title Lemonade, hidden.

Creating a void is often seen as the ultimate way to tease fans and whet appetites. In June last year, The 1975 temporarily deleted their Instagram, a key platform in building the band’s grungy, black and white brand, in the lead up to the announcement of their second album, which involved a shift in aesthetic to pastel pinks and bright neons.

The Weekend wiped his, too, just last week – ahead of the release of his new single “Starboy”. Blank Instagrams are popular across the network. Jaden Smith has posted hundreds of them, seemingly with no wider philosophical point behind them, though he did tweet in April last year, “Instagram Is A BlackHole Of Time And Energy.”

The motive behind Harry’s blank posts perhaps seems somewhat anticlimactic – an interview with magazine Another Man, and three covers, with three different hairstyles, to go along with it. But presumably the interview coincides with the promotion of something new – hopefully, something other than his new film Dunkirk and the latest update on his beloved tresses. In fact, those blank Instagrams could lead to a surprisingly traditional form of celebrity announcement – one that surfaces to the world via the print press.

Anna Leszkiewicz is a pop culture writer at the New Statesman.