99. ‘Four Minute Warning’ by Mark Owen (2003)

UPDATE, JULY 2010: The following was written before certain “love rat” revelations which I desperately try to ignore, lest I lose faith in mankind.

It’s very difficult to write about this song without slipping into condescension towards its author, along the lines of: ‘Oh, Mark Owen’s so cute! And such a lovely guy! Oh look, he’s written a little song about the apocalypse! Isn’t that SO CUTE?!’ Such is the plight of being The Little Cute One in a massive boyband, I guess. No-one will ever fully accept you as the true artist that you are. 

So, putting aside for a moment his cuteness, his littleness AND his inherent loveliness, Mark Owen – fresh from his triumph over such titanic figures as Melinda Messenger and Les Dennis in Celebrity Big Brother – crafted a damn catchy song here. And, while it is about the apocalypse, he doesn’t bother to dwell on it too much. There’s no fire and brimstone here, no attempt to reflect a sense of unfathomable horror or existential dread like, say, Leonard Cohen did in ‘The Future’.  No, Mark Owen simply presents ‘a few short stories’, glimpses of a few inconsequential moments in a few inconsequential lives (much in the manner of a Raymond Carver or Robert Altman, one could argue) before closing his eyes and fading away with the rest of mankind. It’s the end of the world as we know it, and Mark Owen feels fine.

Bonus points: ‘I once asked ‘are you a lonely man?’ / His reply was non-commital: ‘I AM WHAT I AM, MAAAN!!’


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