Party like it's 1999. Or even 1967, as the case may be

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The Independent Online
IN THE closing moments of the 20th century the 10,000-strong audience in the Millennium Dome will be invited either to party like it's 1999 or to imagine there's no heaven.

Organisers at the Dome have produced a shortlist of eight "classic rock" songs to be played shortly before the clock strikes midnight when the Queen will declare the Dome officially open.

But the list is, of course, controversial. First there is John Lennon's Imagine, which could be problematic given that several people have already complained that the celebrations are too secular. Nor, one imagines, would the Archbishop of Canterbury, who has been invited to the party, be best pleased.

Or the assembled crowd could listen to the Beatle's All You Need Is Love, which opens to the strains of the French Marseillaise. Given the current state of Franco-Anglo relations that too could be seen as undiplomatic.

Also on the shortlist is The Rolling Stones' It's Only Rock and Roll (But I Like It) which might raise a regal eyebrow when it gets to the part about teenage lust and suicide.

Then there are the obvious contenders - there purely because of their titles. These are the ubiquitous Millennium by Robbie Williams, 1999 by Prince and Disco 2000 from Pulp, which is less about the end of the century and more about Jarvis Cocker's ex-girlfriend.

And finally, just in case anyone thought they had been overlooked, is Queen's We Are The Champions and Don't Look Back in Anger, by Oasis.

Paul Trynka, editor of Mojo magazine, said the eight songs shortlisted for the final moments of the century were unremittingly bland.

"Is this really the story of rock music this century? It's a real shame because popular music is one of the foremost cultural influences on people and it can really shape people's lives."

The song, which will be selected in the next couple of weeks, will be played shortly before 11.45 when the Queen is to declare the Millennium Dome officially open.

Among those chosen to decide what becomes the definitive Millennium melody is Jools Holland, who will later lead the orchestra in a really "cookin''' version of the National Anthem.

Paul Daniel, the director of the English National Opera, as well as Mark Fisher, the creative director of the Dome, and Michael Lockett, the man responsible for overseeing the party are also part of the selection panel.

A spokesman for the New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC) said the songs were the front-runners but that the panel was open to suggestions.

"Their brief was to find a knockout combination of popular and classical British music which will be a powerful mix of the old and the new," he said.

"We want people to remember not just the second when we step into the new Millennium but the whole sensational night."

He added that although the diminutive, and American, pop star Prince had made it on to the short list he was not the leading contender.

CLASSIC ROCK SHORTLIST FOR THE MILLENNIUM

`Imagine' by John Lennon

It's a nice song and it's quite subversive but it seems rather trite to play it on this occasion. It's intimate and personal and I'm sure that John Lennon would not have wanted it to be played at some corporate beanfest which will reduce it to a bland anthem.

`All You Need is Love' by The Beatles

The lyrics may have seemed subversive at the time but they have been devalued and this is not the best Beatles song. They should have chosen "A Day In The Life" which is about materialism and would be much more radical and appropriate to now.

`It's Only Rock and Roll (But I Like It)' by The Rolling Stones

This is not a bad sentiment for a party and there are worse things to sing but they are getting on now and there is a feeling that choosing this is a bit like letting your Dad take over the music and dance to it.

`Millennium' by Robbie Williams

Robbie represents triumph. He came out of a tedious band and was the least likely to succeed but he has beaten drugs and alcohol and is now doing really well. From that point of view this is a good song, but the lyrics don't really mean anything.

`We Are The Champions' by Queen

A predictable, bombastic and simplistic choice. On the one hand this is quite a heroic song because Freddie was so enigmatic and insecure and this is about trying to bolster yourself but it's also rather triumphalist, like a modern "Land of Hope and Glory".

`1999' by Prince

This is my favourite because Prince is saying let's not just make one night special, he's saying we should always party like it's 1999 which is a really good sentiment for this kind of party.

`Disco 2000' by Pulp

It's a great party song and also rather naff which fits in well with the whole Dome thing. It's a disposable pop song and because it's so kitsch it's spookily appropriate to the Dome.

`Don't Look Back In Anger' by Oasis

Oasis have done some poignant songs but I think they should have chosen "Cigarettes And Alcohol" which has Liam singing instead of Noel. Most of their songs have a simple message but this one is just bland.

Reviews by Paul Trynka, the editor of `Mojo' magazine

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