A week on from the Queen's Jubilee weekend and I'm still singing that song by Gary Barlow and the Commonwealth Band. It's got lodged somewhere inside - I think I must have been exposed to too many Queen's speeches as a child. Despite rain and wind and soggy bunting, I'm still singing along.
Gary Barlow: On Her Majesty's Service (BBC 1, 3rd June) http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01jmp4w/The_Queens_Diamond_Jubilee_Gary_Barlow_On_Her_Majestys_Service/
showed how *GARY* put together this musical tribute to the Queen, gathering sounds from all over the Commonwealth, at the behest of Prince Charles, to flesh out his and Andrew Lloyd Webber's initial tune. My first impression of the song was not great: *GARY* sitting in a deserted Sydney Opera House playing the plodding opening bars, which sounded like, well, a Take That song, and not one of the better ones.
But things progressed, as his own personal, musical self discovery/Commonwealth Odyssey unfolded...
Obviously there were a lot of shots of *GARY*...
*GARY* on a speedboat; *GARY* on a canoe in the Solomon Islands; *GARY* feeling very tired, asleep in a van, but still managing to look handsome AND pensive in a succession of nice T shirts...you get the picture.
It's easy to feel a bit queasy when celebrities go off to the Third World with nothing but a Mac book Pro and a lot of stubble. But the end result was pretty pleasing...not to mention another massive publicity boost for *GARY* soon-to-be-knighted? Barlow.
So, main ingredients: gorgeous Kenyan child singing the song's opening lines: 'Some words, they can't be spoken, only sung...'; the Slum Drummers from Nairobi who literally play on gathered rubbish ; a man on a harp thingy who beautifully lifts the mood above the saccharine by offering minor chords above a major feel (the difference between Hollywood and being poor) and to top it all off - Gurrumul, the blind Aboriginal singer with his intense vocal and another incredible photo opportunity for *GARY* on a mountain above the Australian outback.
Plus, obviously, the Military Wives choir, and Prince Harry, let loose on a tambourine for a nano second......and there you have it. Great song. Shame about the lyrics ('make some noise, find your voice tonight...make this moment last forever...' etc... pretty standard).
But you have to hand it to *GARY*...those Commonwealth sounds were a bit disparate at first - properly indigenous and removed from the world of Take That and Lloyd Webber Musicals. But the man is a musician. In his clever, ever so good looking head he heard the way it would fit together - 200 performers on the Jubilee stage outside Buckingham Palace really lifted things for a moment, so that apparently even hard nosed BBC producers were reduced to blowing their noses backstage.
So I say well done *GARY*. Absolute top marks for Establishment cred., innate musicality; stubble; tight T shirts and looking amazing in hot, wet climates. Just need to work on your lyrics now.