It’s no secret that I love Brian Molko of Placebo, the goth-lite band that I adored beyond all reasonable measure from approximately the age of 14 onwards. It’s also even less of a secret that I am a total grammar geek.
Make of these what you will, but the two facts unexpectedly collided in the Venn diagram that is my heart recently. I was listening to Julien (a song I have heard so many times before), and as Brian miaowed: ‘Julien – find a friend, in whom you can confide’ and my heart did a little jump, it occurred to me that grammar may be one of the reasons why I have always loved Brian.
He’s a surprisingly literary pop star, and surely this had some effect upon my sensibilities at an impressionable age. It was thanks to a Placebo song (Our Lady of the Flowers) that I ordered a copy of Jean Genet’s novel from my local bookshop when I was 15. I also looked up several Placebo-favourite words in the dictionary so that I could use them myself: attrition, benediction. And so on – Molko loves to load on the rhyming couplets.
But as soon as I noticed it, I realised that appropriately using ‘whom’ inspired a whole new level of love. It’s like that time I went on a date with someone I didn’t really fancy because he used a semi-colon in a text message. HOT.
Similarly, my own personal god Leonard Cohen likes the occasional use of an Olde English affectation, of which I thoroughly approve. ‘Thee’ is always a nice moment.
So, bands, if you want teenage girls to be obsessed with you, the key is clearly in knowing ‘who’ from ‘whom’. Right?