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May 24, 2010 / Nick

Put A Donk On It – Blackout Crew

It’s 2008. We’re coming up to the end of a decade that struggled to forge its own identity. We’re at a cultural crossroads. We don’t know where we’re going, but we know where we’ve been. Some may be looking for some kind of divine intervention to show us which road we should go down.
Then Blackout Crew come along, and show us that there’s another option. Why not go down every road? All at once.

English 'The Donk' = French 'Zedonk'

What is ‘put a donk on it’? What does that mean? To those outside the ‘Scouse House’ musical community, the phrase might have sounded like a nonsense expression. Or some kind of yoof-speak innuendo. But to those in the know, the electronic musicians of the North West of England, ‘donk’ is, at it’s smallest level, a noise. A sort of synthesized percussion sound. At it’s grandest level, donk is an entire subgenre of music, the heartland of which is in the metropolitan North West (The notable Wigan Pier Nightspot club is to Donk as The Hacienda was to the Madchester scene at the turn of the 1990s).

But the phrase is so much more now. To put a donk on something is not just to add that quirky sound effect onto a track, but can also be to add some kind of edge to something that’s lacking a spark. ‘Donk’ is the ‘je ne sais quoi’ for the Digital Age.

Put A Donk On ItThe stand out point of Put A Donk On It is that it is by no stretch of the imagination a ‘Good Vibrations’ or ‘Stairway To Heaven’ or ‘Imagine’. The 2000s had perhaps too many people chasing worthiness (or Cars in Snow Patrol’s case). While not being a musical masterpiece, it can still get a strong reaction from somebody. The first time I saw Put A Donk On It, my immediate reaction was amusement at how terrible it seemed. And while much of that first impression still remains, an even bigger part of me has a kind of respect and admiration that something that doesn’t conform to the mould of ‘commercial and good’ or ‘alternative and good’ has made it so far.

The reason why Put A Donk On It is so important to that crossroads we were stood at at the end of the decade is because it helped to make us see things as they really are. We’re told that things are like Marmite – you either love them or you hate them. But we all know that there are things that you can love to hate, and hate to love. There are things that its not even worth spending an emotion on. Sometimes you like the idea of something even if you don’t like it. We’re free to choose how we respond to things, and not let the decision that we will love it or hate it be made in a boardroom somewhere.

Without Put A Donk On It, maybe we would never have had Jedward, or Live From Studio Five, or Take Me Out, or Total Wipeout. These are all things that aren’t necessarily good, or even trying to be good, but none of them act in a defeatist way about it and regress to not trying at all. It’s almost inspirational that instead of rolling over and saying ‘We quit, let the winner stay on’ they instead say ‘they may not like us, but at least they’re talking about us’. If you can’t be better, you can at least be bigger and perhaps there’s a moral in that for all of us. Our cultural roads ahead are serious about not being serious and it looks like ‘The Marmite Effect’ could be behind us.

You can’t polish a turd. But you can, at least, put a donk on it.

Review: The most important song of the 21st Century so far.

VBS TV on Donk


One Comment

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  1. DomDecca / May 24 2010 3:06 pm

    It must be a Walker trait to put deep value or meaning on what is essentially insignificant. This is the worst song ever, but there’s merit in what you’re saying. I never liked their name to be honest, blatant Tories.

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