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Baker's Dozen

Beauty From Trauma: Paul Mendez' Favourite Music
Paul Flynn , October 7th, 2020 08:40

Pop is all over Rainbow Milk, the Gordon Burn Prize-nominated debut novel by Paul Mendez. Here he tells Paul Flynn how a love of Marvin Gaye, Beyonce, Solange, Joy Division and Missy Elliott gave him a clearer understanding of his sexuality and racial identity


Sugababes – ‘Freak Like Me’ (We Don’t Give a Damn Mix)
I could write the longest essay about this song and I don’t want there to be any confusion as to which mix of the song is the one. After the Rainbow Milk chapter it appears in, I saw people put it in their Instagram stories as the radio edit and felt like saying, ‘have you read the book?’ Seriously. [laughing]

I had the same moment with Sugababes’ ‘Freak Like Me’ that Jesse has, but I was living in Tunbridge Wells at the time, studying for an engineering degree. All of a sudden, it was the pop song. I’d love Sugababes from the first time I’d heard them. But now they had this new member and they’d covered Adina Howard’s ‘Freak Like Me’, which I knew from the mid-90s, with ‘Are Friends Electric?’, a song I had a borrowed nostalgia for, released three years before I was born. It has this amazing, lo-fi, industrial sounding atmosphere to it, yet now it was sung by these three girls that I could’ve gone to school with. That was everything. That was the pop zeitgeist. And I don’t think there’s been a pop song zeitgeistier for me since.