Saturday, 28 November 2009

17. Plug In Baby, Muse (2001)

I first heard this in the brightly-coloured wonderland of Top Shop in Oxford Street in 2001, a place where I'd go to lose myself in town. Not that I could afford to buy anything. After my glamorous publishing life in Wealdstone and Watford had fizzled to a squib, I had read an advert in the back of the Media Guardian, promising me oodles of money if I wanted to work in advertising sales for a big magazine. My eyes were dazzled. I had a gob, I knew that, although I didn't really have the gall or the gumption to get big spenders parting with their cash, and I often got terrified when faced with a phone, something which wouldn't particularly help in this kind of employment. Nevertheless, I got the job, and was suddenly earning a whopping 12k plus commission. I didn't get much commission. Instead, I walked into town a lot because I couldn't afford the bus, and treated myself to lots of window-shopping trips.

At this time, I was still a pretty blinkered indie kid. If certain songs didn't fit into the glossy boundaries of cool then, well, that was that. And then I heard Plug In Baby. This jagged guitar line zig-zagging through the handbags, the scarves and the sweets on the lower ground floor, bold, big and beefy, and unapologetically cheesy. It sounded like early Radiohead with the subtleties rubbed clean; it was teenage rock with a daft swagger and a surly lip. I remember freezing on the spot, and a grin starting to move my mouth. Here I was, a 23-year-old standing still by the shoes, craning my neck to see the video, my toes starting to tap. After that, my prejudices fell like glitter from a tube. This terrible saleswoman was sold.

In the years to come, the song would return in different guises. A wintry night before Christmas in 2005, dancing to it with my friend Beck in a murky pub in Brixton, our arms round each other, screaming our hearts out to the disgust of our boyfriends (naturally, this only made us scream a little bit more). Buying the album it came from, Origin Of Symmetry, for James, my little brother, in 2006, us pogoing round his bedroom to it on his birthday. And the two of us exploding with happiness in the O2 three weeks ago, watching Matt, Dom and Chris, as we swayed our lagers and demolished our Smarties – sweets I can afford these days, thankfully – as they gave it their all.

James is 20 next month, a Muse fan forever, and the person keeping my love for them strong. As long as he keeps reminding me of the greatness of ridiculous music, and doesn't work for commission, I'll keep on being his happy big sister.

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