Monday, November 10, 2008

The joy of shopping

I hate shopping. Well, that's not strictly true.

Like many people I enjoy shopping for specifics or special items, looking in specialist shops in chic city centres etc. What I enjoy far less, though perhaps 'hate' is going too far, are those expeditions to supermarkets to 'stock up' on the basics.

Yes, it is a necessary evil and I know I shouldn't moan.

Even so, some things infuriate me. One of those is the bland 'muzak' played over the PA systems.

I'm sure some psychologist somewhere has proven at vast expense that this encourages shoppers to spend more via 'creating the mood' though I have never quite understood how playing 'Espana Por Favor' over the PA system in a northern European supermarket in late October is meant to achieve anything other than to make shoppers feel miserable. Maybe they had a special on Spanish wine that day.

This though is a big difference between the English-speaking world and continental Europe. In the UK for example, it is very rare to hear foreign-language songs played over the system. In Europe though, particularly in recent years, supermarkets have tried to ditch the traditional bland background 'piano lounge music' for something a little more modern and, I presume, inspirational. They're trying to appeal to those younger family shoppers.

That's where they've hit a snag because English language pop songs have, for better or worse, dominated the global music scene now for decades.

So, it's now fairly commonplace to hear large numbers of English language songs played over these systems abroad and they're no longer restricted either to things such as "Mull of Kintyre" as the supermarkets have finally grasped that the 1970s have passed.

All so far so good perhaps, but this 'modernisation' of background music coupled with the fact that many of the people selecting them perhaps speak rather less English than they thought, can lead to some bizarre events.

Recently in a local supermarket they started playing some rap-music tracks. As they started playing I remember thinking that the lyrics of one track seemed to be about gang warfare and slaughter. I presume the supermarket had some 2-for1 deals on Uzis going.

That though was as nothing compared to track 2. The lyrics as far as I could tell consisted only of two sentences endlessly repeated and both consisting of expletives broadly relating in some details to what the singer planned to do to his woman next time he met her. I suppose it was some sort of love song of its type.

Now the funny thing was that I passed a mature local woman pushing her trolly along the aisle and I am sure she was humming the song and presumably trying to master the words.

Ah well, it made the shopping trip more entertaining than usual. I only wish I could be present when the woman above demonstrates some of her new vocabulary to her English-speaking friends!

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