Grimes finds a whole new way to make climate change fun

It is written into celebrity lore that the reason the boyband Blue never made it in the US isn’t because it looked as if the smouldering line-up of Lee Ryan, Duncan James and Simon Webbe were being forced to hang out with Antony Costa because their mums were all friends with his mum. The real reason is quite different: in the wake of the 9/11 attacks – in a let’s-break-America-with-our-wholesome-brand-of-banter interview – Ryan went off-piste and said: “This New York thing is being blown out of proportion. What about whales? They are ignoring animals that are more important. Animals need saving and that’s more important.” And lo: record contract revoked, tail-between-their-legs flight back to Britain, now the fragmented shards of Blue are the face of the home improvement company Ideal Boilers.

Before we analyse whether Ryan was right all along and might be an underappreciated intellect-cum-soothsayer (whales are important! He’s right!) (But! With! Caveats!), I want to visit this quote from Grimes, the poptronica, Pitchfork-approved musician who granted a rare interview to the Wall Street Journal this week. “I want to make climate change fun,” she said, describing the theme of her upcoming concept album, Miss Anthropocene. “People don’t care about it, because we’re being guilted. I see the polar bear and want to kill myself. No one wants to look at it, you know? I want to make a reason to look at it. I want to make it beautiful.” Now read Ryan’s one about whales, then Grimes’s bit about the polar bears again. Oscillate between them. Here is my theory: this is the same quote, tumbled out of different mouths.

Yes, Grimes is back, and – as she insists to the WSJ – she wants to be known as c now (lower-case artist’s own, italics artist’s own). Grimes is a curious beast because she spent almost a decade in the indie pop backwaters – very much beloved by, how to say this, “men who wear glasses and make playlists for a hobby”, but not exactly known by anyone outside those one-craft-beer-then-home circles. Then, last year, she went to the Met Gala with Elon Musk – a billionaire whose legacy is either going to be “the guy who ended death” or “that guy who tried to eat the moon” – and now she and he have broken through into power couple mainstream.

This seems to sit uneasily on c – how do you enter a legitimate album cycle when your career to date has been eclipsed by Azealia Banks calling you a “brittleboned meth-head” who “smells like a roll of nickels”? How can anyone take you seriously as an artist when your fanbase has recently been flooded with the sort of lads who write “Pickle Rick” under their religious beliefs section on application forms? The strategy so far seems to be: “affect the demeanour of a 2003-era MSN Messenger status come to life”. This is how we end up, here, with c earnestly suggesting we recast climate change as banter, something I can only imagine ends in doom for us all.

Further highlights: c says the album’s central beautiful love song was inspired by watching the trailer for the movie Assassin’s Creed (36%, Rotten Tomatoes); that the interstitial persona of c is part of the world-building central to her career, like JRR Tolkien or George RR Martin (Game of Thrones, of course, very famously lenient on new-world kings who hoard excessive wealth – and they rarely get stabbed to death or get poisoned or go mad at all); the sheer m’ladyness of Musk’s emailed quote about his girlfriend, sent to the WSJ: “I love c’s wild fae artistic creativity and hyper intense work ethic.” At times it feels as if the Wall Street Journal gave up interviewing Grimes and instead talked to the nearest goth girl they could find smoking on a low wall behind some school tennis courts, wearing spidery fingerless gloves and lamenting the low grade they got at AS-level art.

Finally, c hints at her nascent plans to murder the alter ego of Grimes in some extravagant way in the not too distant future. “It will be a public execution,” she says coyly, “followed by – by something else. I shouldn’t say yet.” What? Blow back so hard she explodes? A Doritos-and-watching-Queen-of-the-Damned-on-DVD session that lasts so long everyone involved expires? Absinthe overdose? It’s hard to know what the most AOL chat room-goth way of executing someone is, but be assured c will find it. Until then, and until climate change inevitably becomes fun, remember this: Grimes is just what would happen if Lee Ryan had access to a billionaire. A shuddering thought.

Harry Redknapp skulks at the rear while John Barnes and Robbie Fowler hog the limelight in Harry’s Heroes: The Full English. Photograph: Spungold Productions/ITV

Cry God, for Harry (and England)

Something has gone wrong with the ancient glowing runes buried deep beneath the moors that tell of who gets to be a celebrity. They’ve stopped spitting out the explain-it-to-the-camera irony-free Towie B-team and one-cap England footballers who pivot into entertainment after doing in their knee at 29. Now they have decided that our latest celebrity is to be Harry Redknapp, who absolutely does not want this and it shows.

To recap: last year, former football manager Redknapp went on I’m a Celebrity, where he basically sat around looking deflated in a vest, talked endlessly about his wife, and refused to eat any food. Inexplicably, he won because of it. Harry’s time in the jungle was typified by 20-year-old Hollyoaks actors saying, without any provocation, “You’re a legend, mate” before then teaching him to rap as a joke. Now – and, again, this is unasked for by everyone, including the British public and, most especially, Redknapp himself – now, for some reason, this is being spun out into a fifth career: player, manager, pundit, dog accountant and reluctant celebrity.

As every nascent flavour-of-the-weekend celebrity knows, you need an ITV reality show to launch from. Enter Harry’s Heroes: The Full English, a show seemingly commissioned from the inside of a turbulent Farage wet dream, where a dozen or so retired England internationals compete with each other over 12 weeks to lose their middle-age spread before a gala testimonial game in which they will stick it to the Germans. You can marvel at David Seaman softly chuckling about everything; Neil Ruddock starring in an insane GoPro-shot montage of him partying on a cruise ship before a flash-cut of him, in a doctor’s office, being told solemnly: “Razor, you’re due for a heart attack”; Paul Merson sobbing in a taxi; Robbie Fowler’s Puerto Banús hangover. And … a dearth of Harry Redknapp.

Despite Redknapp as the hook, he basically spends the entire show trundling into or out of shot, trailed by carry-on luggage. At the meet-the-gang training session, he hands over weigh-in duty to a tank of a personal trainer, then goes outside and quietly banters with John Barnes about a knee injury. At the show’s centrepiece Spanish getaway, Redknapp turns up a full day late because he took his wife’s passport to the airport, in a move I cannot quite discount as being deliberate. Before the win-or-we-haven’t-got-a-show Germany game, he assembles everyone on the subs bench then gets someone else to read out how much weight they have lost (Matt Le Tissier dropped 10kg. Redknapp: “[extremely long, tired pause] … Well done”). His pep talk amounts to “Stick it to ’em, boys”, before turning away from the camera and rubbing his nose. The most effort he puts in is a scene where he meets ‘Razor’ Ruddock in a cafe to tell him he is going to die if he doesn’t lose weight, but did so in front of an irresistible poster shouting “ICE-CREAM MILKSHAKES”.

The voiceover: structurally extensive, delivered with the all the elan of a great-aunt in a Harvester restaurant reading out the menu through some bifocals. The adverts: inexplicably all starring Redknapp, including a GoDaddy bit where he bakes jam roly-poly. I do not want to imagine the wastelands of this country, post-Brexit, where the only celebrity we are allowed is Redknapp – reluctantly attending prosecco-and-nibbles makeup launches in a sequined suit, hammering into the water from 10 metres in an ill-fated reboot of Splash! Or Redknapp bewildered on the panel of Celebrity Juice. And I don’t think he does either. Give the man a break. Stop making him famous. He doesn’t want it.

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