The Pet Shop Boys concert to which I was due to go at the end of May’s just been postponed … and I keep thinking that I must play some of their music anyway, because Left To My Own Devices, Being Boring, Suburbia, Always On My Mind, It’s Alright and, perhaps most of all, Se A Vida E all fit the present situation pretty well. It’ll be interesting to see (or indeed hear) the songs that come out of this sad, strange time, because there’ll be some. Going back to my era, there are plenty of songs which relate to particular times and events: Wind of Change is the one which immediately springs to mind, and Right Here, Right Now and Read My Lips are another two. Then there are all the “Madchester” songs, which belong to a “scene”, and maybe wouldn’t have worked so well as stand-alones . But good songs have universal appeal, and work at any time … but would they work so well if sung by someone different, and out of their original context?
Well, according to this film, yes, they would. A struggling aspiring musician (Tamwar from EastEnders) is involved in an accident during a global blackout. When he comes round, he’s the only person who remembers The Beatles: they’ve been wiped from history. So he becomes an international megastar by singing all their songs, and claiming that he composed them. If the music-stealing storyline sounds familiar, you’re probably thinking of Nicholas Lyndhurst’s character in Goodnight Sweetheart. There’s also a romance with Lily James. And quite a few shots of Liverpool. And celebs playing themselves, which is a bit weird.
Given how many young actors fade into obscurity after leaving soap operas, all credit to Himesh Patel for playing the lead role, Jack, in this, especially as he does the singing, guitar-playing and piano-playing himself, but it’s not a particularly great film. However, it’s quite good fun, and anything involving Beatles songs is always worth watching. And, at the end, Himesh Patel/Tamwar/Jack says “Isn’t normal wonderful?” and sings “Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da, life goes on”. Yes. That.
Ed Sheeran has quite a big role in it, as himself, and James Corden also plays himself. Cheryl was in Four Kids and It. Is this a thing now? Are celebs also going to start turning up in soap opera and TV drama series … when they can eventually start filming again? It’s a bit strange. Meanwhile, Lily James doesn’t want to live a celeb lifestyle, and has started going out with someone else. Then Sarah Lancashire and a bloke doing a bad Russian accent turn up at a press conference, waving a plastic yellow submarine, tell our man Jack that they remember The Beatles too, and give him John Lennon’s address.
So he goes to see John Lennon … played by Robert Carlyle. I’m not sure that a parallel universe in which someone who was murdered nearly four decades ago is alive and well is particularly tasteful, and Robert Carlyle could have at least tried to do a Scouse accent, but never mind. He persuades Jack to give up the music thing, release all the songs for free, abandon the life of stardom he’s living in Los Angeles, go back home to Lowestoft, and live happily ever after with Lily James. So Jack ‘fesses up in front of a packed Wembley crowd, marries Ellie (Lily), and they have two kids and live happily ever after. Sorted.
The idea that no-one else knows where the songs have come from and that someone claims them as their own isn’t original, but it is quite funny, and the main parts are all acted well. The romance between the person who’s become a star and the boy/girl back in their home town who doesn’t want to lead the celeb life isn’t original either, but it’s rather sweet. But the fact that The Beatles had been wiped out of history didn’t seem to have had any effect other than that no-one knew their songs, which is rather insulting to probably the most influential band of all time.
And would their songs have worked so well if sung by someone else, at a different time in history? I feel as if I should say no, but look at all the cover versions that have worked well for different generations. A great song’s a great song. Jack didn’t sing the more bonkers/trippy songs, admittedly – they probably wouldn’t have worked!
Anyway, as I said, this isn’t a particularly great film, but it’s watchable. And it might all seem like A Hard Day’s Night at the moment, but We Can Work It Out, With A Little Help From Our Friends. We need to Come Together (but no close than six feet) and Help!, send All Our Loving to the people we can’t be with and trust that, at some point, it’ll be Here Comes The Sun and we can Get Back! to being Day Tripper(s), driving along Long and Winding Road(s) and buying Ticket(s) to Ride … and having our families and friends beside us Here, There and Everywhere. Yes, I do know that that was completely naff, but it kept me amused for a few minutes. If you’ve read this, thank you, and stay safe x.