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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Music at Queen Elizabeth's Jubilee Concert: Six Things All Americans Should Know

Posted By on Wed, Jun 6, 2012 at 8:16 AM


Dear Americans, as a British person, I feel I ought to explain a few things about the lunacy of the last four days. If you watch any sort of news whatsoever, you saw a series of increasingly bizarre things taking place in London over the weekend -- including a concert outside Buckingham Palace on Monday -- to celebrate the fact that Elizabeth II has been the United Kingdom's overlord Queen for sixty years now.

There were a lot of things that went on at that Jubilee concert that

must've seemed quite strange to you, America. So, in an attempt to

further our international cultural relationship, here are six things you

should know about it.

1. We Don't Listen To Grace Jones Anymore Than You Do

When Grace Jones emerged on the stage to perform "Slave To The Rhythm", I immediately received a text from my mother that read: "Where'd they dig her up from?" Not only have British people not seen Grace Jones perform at a big event for years, we kind of haven't missed her, either. I'd be really interested to find out how she got on the bill for this thing. The punchline to all of this is that, after hula-hooping (yes, actual hula-hooping) her way through the entire song -- we assume as a hideously literal interpretation of the line "Keep it up" -- Grace yelled "Happy Birthday, our Queen!" Um, Grace? Liz's birthday was last month... That's not what a Jubilee is.

2. Tom Jones Is a Healer of Bitter Historical Wounds

Quick geography lesson: Wales is that chunk of the U.K. that sticks out on the West side of the country, in between Ireland and England. Tom Jones is from Wales (not Las Vegas, as many Americans seem to believe), and universally loved in his home country. Like Scotland and Northern Ireland, Wales was colonized by the English, leaving the Welsh a little irritated (this is a massive understatement) to this day. What all that means is that putting Tom Jones on the bill on Monday was a smart way for the English to placate the Welsh for the day -- or, at least, for five minutes. Tom did the smart thing and gave "Delilah" a Spanish flare for the occasion, thereby ignoring the England/Wales thing entirely. God, he's amazing! (Full disclosure: I am Welsh and therefore hideously biased).

3. Kylie Didn't Just Have a Bad Outfit On

It was a bad outfit with meaning! And, in fact, clearly recognizable to Brits as a nod to Pearly Kings and Queens, who look like this...

  • The Sun

We'd explain the hows and whys and what the hells, but it'll take too long, so, if you really wanna know what Pearly Kings and Queens are, click this link. If you want the shorthand, it's basically a working class, traditional London thing.

4. The Royal Family Freakin' Loves Elton John

Even after his appearance at Diana's funeral, this shit was still kind of shocking. All day, the Royal Family were there, in their special box, trying to look interested and largely failing. And then it happened: Elton John cracked out "Crocodile Rock" (certainly not the man's finest musical moment), and the family lit up! They grinned from ear to ear, waved Union Jack flags and sang along en masse! Maybe this is what they all dance to at the Palace after weddings. Definitely strange.

5. You Probably Thought This Guy Was A Butler

  • The Sun

At the end of the concert, the Queen was led up to the stage by a handsome man in formal attire who then stood faithfully behind her as she addressed the crowd. He looked like a butler or something, right? No. Possible family member? Nope. Secret service agent? Guess again! He is in fact, Gary Barlow... a TV talent show judge and boy band legend (he's in Take That, who we told you all about a couple of months ago because they're better than One Direction). We're not sure if this was an attempt to make the Queen look cool, or Barlow more important, but we enjoyed the pairing nonetheless, because it was, at best, really shitting weird.

6. Members of the Royal Family Don't Have To Stand Up For Anyone...

...But they'll do it for Paul McCartney. No wonder he's a little bit smug.

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