UK style, UK flow: a brief consideration of the career of Simon Webbe
The pop group Blue existed as a singles act from June 2001 to November 2004, which is a) a surprisingly short period of time for a band that most people would guess the career length to be double that and b) a surprisingly short period of time that saw massive changes in the UK pop landscape. When they launched their chart contemporaries were Public Domain and I Monster, when they split they were sharing the top 40 with Bloc Party and The Libertines.The first consideration point with Blue is that they were, in at least the UK and almost certainly worldwide, one of the few successful mixed race boybands (I had to Google Image Search “New Edition” before I could clarify that, though). What does this mean? Probably nothing, because when I first started this piece I was preparing to make all manner of “Hahahaha, they always made the black guy rap, record companies are RACIST”, but in fact the only Blue singles that Webbe spits freeze on are “All Rise”, “Bubblin'” and “Curtain Calls” (weirdly enough, their first and last two singles) . He does a weird “hype man” bit in “Fly By II”, around the same time as the (in possibly the most “wait what?” moment of 2000s British pop) Biggie sample kicks in, but I don’t think that counts.
If you need a recap of those verses, “All Rise” was the standard issue boyband verse of the time (qf Abs from 5ive), “Bubblin‘” was some quasi-Nelly “Hot In Herre” shouting ish, and “Curtain Falls” sees him rapping in doubletime over what I think is a sample of “Pastime Paradise” played just differently enough so they don’t need to pay sampling fees for it.
Blue were thankfully formed, like most boybands, by four easily identifiable stereotypes: the guy who looks like the captain of a Championship football team’s U18 squad, a guy who looks like a failed boxer, the black guy, and the twat. Lee Ryan is sadly missed by most of us nowadays, especially those journos who have a career in filling up celebrity sections with inane tat. My favourite Lee Ryan memory was an interview where he described his eating habits while living on the dole: he’d only eat one meal a day, but make sure it was smoked salmon or lobster, so he could live in that rich man’s mindstate for his eventual moment of fame. Lee Ryan is currently appearing in a movie with Vinnie Jones and Sadie Frost. Well done.
But no, Simon Webbe. I think he’s probably a good thing on the whole, there’s an argument to be made that Blue were probably the best British boyband of the genre’s final days (arguably more to lack of competition than anything else, but still), and he had a big part to do with that, the R&B edge, the fact he didn’t emote with his hands as much as the rest of the gang, blah blah blah. His solo career is probably best avoided (one of the tracks from it was described by one Stylus journalist as “Kanye Westlife”, which is a pun I wish I’d stolen earlier), but at least now he has a career as the number one black guy for creepy morbidly obese white women who fetishes the sexual prowess of members of another race. I was going to end this with some googled posts from the forums of such people, but instead I accidentally ended up on Simon Webbe’s interview with a website that’s “empowering gay Asia“. So much brilliance here, but if you need the Cliff Notes:
The former model’s bee stung lips and doe eyes, set against the rugged chisel of his jaw line and sexy shorn scalp, are an arresting sight.
Like many metrosexuals and gay men, Webbe’s best friend is female.
I don’t do the buggery with a woman, no man. I make love to a woman. Unless she wants a bugger, then…
Fantastic. Kind of a shame he has no career now, but it was fun while it lasted.