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Baker's Dozen

Mercurial Rev: Richard Coles' Favourite Music
Alex Burrows , April 14th, 2021 08:57

Vicar, musician, broadcaster and ex-Communard, The Reverend Richard Coles tells Alex Burrows how music is still important to belief and why parish choirs are the new punk. Portrait by Tim Anderson.


Weki Meki – ‘Cool’
I love K-pop. I came to it quite late – my friend David Quantick put me onto it a year or two ago. I just love it, it’s so dazzling and slick. It’s like a sponge that soaks up everything around it and chucks it out again. There is something about the way that Asian music appropriates western music that’s really interesting and fascinating. There are so many western musicians who went to the east and heard the music and brought it back and now you’ve got eastern musicians coming to the west, bringing it back, then re-exporting it back to the west.

I was watching BTS the K-pop boyband on The Graham Norton Show and I thought they were dazzling. So I tweeted, ‘Oh my God, they are absolutely fantastic’ and I was immediately followed on Twitter by about 35 million girls around the world who said I was wonderful. Then they unfollowed me about two days later when they realised I was an old vicar. It’s the soundtrack for so many young people around the world, I love it.

I don’t care about it being ‘manufactured’. One of my greatest albums is Saturday Night Fever and if you don’t like albums that are glossy and highly produced then you might not like it, but I have no problem with that. I love Abba – they’re a great band. I’ve never felt because a band is commercially hugely successful and slick that it’s not to be liked. Is K-pop exploitative? Probably. Pop music does tend to eat its victims, doesn’t it? Not just K-pop, but all sorts of pop music – which is deeply regrettable and not to be tolerated. But I do love the music. I think you can have the music without it necessarily harming the people who do it.