Ever since he tripped over his dick and fell into the prime ministership (either through sheer hilarious chance or some almost Illuminati-level conspiracy), Scott Morrison and his team have been working hard to reinvent his image. Despite everything about his background making indications to the contrary, the Liberal Party is trying to push the idea of Morrison as just a regular old Aussie bloke – definitely not a career politician currently earning over $500,000 a year.
From his obsessive and unnatural use of ‘fair dinkum’ in his painfully forced ‘casual’ videos to his ostentatiously dad-ish hats to his rapidly changing signature to his to saying his mates are horny for Pamela Anderson to the big bus that he doesn’t even plan to ride in, everything about the man is a flimsy affectation. His mannerisms, speech patterns, and clothes are picked out by a team trying to make this rich insider seem like an ordinary outsider and none of them are authentic.
There’s something he can’t fake, though: the timestamps on his 80s-ish public Spotify playlist. Morrison released the playlist in response to a question from News Corp, making public a list of 146 songs that he’s been working on since late 2012.
It started furtively. Three tracks on November 24: Let’s Go Crazy by Prince, Long Train Runnin’ by The Doobie Brothers, Head Over Heels by Tears for Fears. The day after he adds David Bowie‘s Ashes to Ashes and a bit more Tears for Fears with Mad World. At this stage, 40% of the playlist has featured in some capacity on the Donnie Darko soundtrack.
After a fortnight-long hiatus, Morrison is back into it adding around 10 songs on December 6 and 7. And so it goes on for years. With the except of throughout 2018 which has been pretty constant, he mostly adds to it towards the end of the year, the playlist largely going unchanged for 8 months at a time.
It is largely unexceptional, the sort of stuff that you wouldn’t be pissed off about if it came on at a wedding. Some people have pointed out that playlist only has one Aussie act on it, but he made this before he turned into a bad parody of Russell Coight. If he made this now it would just be Great Southern Land repeated 87 times.
No, what troubles me is the most recent addition to the playlist, added this Sunday just gone, about three months after the previous addition: Tubthumping by Chumbawamba.
A first-impressions objection to the song might be that it was released in 1997, which makes it hardly appropriate for the playlist. I will concede, though, that it is called ‘Eighties Plus’, which leaves some wiggle room, and, according to the St George Shire Standard, it was intended to be a playlist of songs he would DJ from the “70s, 80s or 90s“. Sure. Fine.
But why now? What prompts a man, when almost six years into curating a playlist, to add Tubthumping? Tubthumping is not a song I personally listen to on purpose, and I think that would hold true for a lot of people. Is it a song I get weirdly into when I’m shitfaced at 1 am? Sure, I am only human. But it’s not one I’d casually chuck on while I’m having a beer at home.
If that’s the vibe you’re going for, Tubthumping would theoretically make it onto the playlist way earlier. What took him six years? Are we to believe that, for the period between November 2012 and November 2018, he completely forgot Tubthumping? Or, even more difficult to believe, is November 2018 the first time he ever heard the song? It boggles the mind.
I also get a very strong impression, not that he’d know this I’m sure, that the members of Chumbawamba probably wouldn’t be a big fan of his. Morrison long campaigned against same-sex marriage, abstaining in the final vote, despite the majority of his electorate coming out in favour of it in the postal survey. Chumbawamba, on the other hand, were very explicit in their pro-queer politics: take the 1994 song Homophobia, in which they call homophobia “the worst disease“.
I’m also not entirely sure how Scott Morrison would feel about vocalist Alice Nutter telling magazine Melody Maker in 1997 that “nothing can change the fact that we like it when cops get killed.” Or how he’d feel about when, in 1998, Nutter said that anyone who couldn’t afford their new album should just steal it (as long as it was from a large chain like HMV).
All that’s beside the point though, if you were going to go through the list to find artists who disagreed with the politics of a socially and economically conservative evangelical Christian right-wing politician who is the leader of a country that keeps refugees and asylum seekers indefinitely detained in offshore camps, we’d be here all day.
The point is: what compelled this strange man to finally happen upon Tubthumping? Was it a last-minute ‘man of the people’ addition to temper an otherwise somewhat tasteful collection? A rekindled love for the song after a long time apart? A series of freak occurrence that meant he had somehow never heard it before? Some very specific political messaging about not letting the polls keeps him down? We’ll never know.
You can check out the full playlist here.