London Falling - The Song
London Falling Brief: London Falling is a political ballad about Brexit, though it never directly mentions Britain's EU referendum. While the title borrows from The Clash's London Calling, the lyric draws on the rich tradition of English irony merchants such as Ray Davies, Difford & Tilbrook and Elvis Costello. The melody, meanwhile, was inspired by Paul McCartney's No More Lonely Nights. The song was released on June 23rd 2022, to mark the sixth(!) anniversary of Brexit.
Cover artwork by J. Taggart (2022)
London Falling is a Brexit ballad with a biting lyric and a melody inspired by Paul McCartney’s No More Lonely Nights. While the title is a play on the 1979 Clash anthem, the song aims for a tone closer to Robert Wyatt’s Shipbuilding than to a straight-up punk song.
Letting melody and syntony do the heavy lifting in lightly arranged verses, London Falling builds to rich, baroque-pop choruses of a very English variety, calling to mind The Kinks’ late sixties purple patch, Bowie’s adventures with Lou Reed or perhaps Imperial Bedroom-era Elvis Costello.
Recurring throughout the track, and closing it, are haunting, Salvation Army-style brass phrases which aim to evoke the North of England, where Brexit was most popular.
The song opens with a rhetorical question that references David Cameron and Boris Johnson, whose political rivalry was a key driver of the EU referendum:
“She could endure the Blitz/but not a pissing contest between two narcissists?”
London Falling’s main concern is the half-crazed animal known as the British Press. “I had a weird media job for many years where I read English newspapers every night,” Dog explains. “I got to know them well and came to believe – and still do - that the referendum could never have happened without their support.”
“The song is addressed to those individual journalists who have to produce stories that they know aren’t true. Rank and file reporters, subs and even printers. Everybody’s got to make a living, and I feel for them. But it’s also addressed to the old hands who had the power to choose but still backed a divisive and destructive policy. Proprietors, editors and well-paid British columnists - all those who paved the way for Brexit and are now locked in to pretending it’s fantastic.”
The song never mentions the word "Brexit" or "referendum", though the choruses come closest:
“No-one really thought the thing would pass!”
London Falling is available on Bandcamp and all major streaming services on June 23rd, the sixth (!) anniversary of the 2016 Brexit referendum.
London Falling - The Video
London Falling Video Brief: Brexit may well be beyond satire, but the video for London Falling has a go. With faux-grandiosity and jet-black humour, the video complements the melancholy of John Dog's song by underlining the absurdity and destructiveness of Brexit. The clip also gives Dog and creator Neuraxis Productions the opportunity to pay humble, no-budget tribute to special effects maestros such as Ray Harryhausen, Phil Tippett and Rob Bottin.
The London Falling video is a mock blockbuster - mockbuster? - that attempts to satirise a phenomenon that may well be beyond satire: British media’s role in Brexit. As well as complementing the song, the homemade creature feature gives creator John Dog a chance to express his deep, dorky love of Hollywood special effects maestros.
With faux-grandiosity and jet-black humour, the London Falling video complements the song's melancholy by underlining the absurdity and destructiveness of Brexit.
The satire here is about as subtle as your average Sun front page. Two Godzilla-type monsters appear to the north and south of Britain, march slowly to London and proceed to behave as kaiju often do. In a flip of standard monster movie logic, London Falling’s news media celebrates these Godzilla-like creatures because they are British in origin. Not unlike how many real-world news providers continue to celebrate Brexit.
Via a remarkable piece of online software called monstermash, Neuraxis Productions created Dog's monsters and then added them to free stock footage, creating the late-90s, early CGI aesthetic that powers the clip. "I've been an FX junkie all my life," Dog says. "I've gotten so much joy out of the work of people like Ray Harryhausen, Phil Tippett, Stan Winston and Rob Bottin, so it was a lot of fun paying tribute to them, in however humble a way as we could manage."
IMBD TRIVIA: The monsters, though unnamed in the video, are called “Buxton” and “Salisbury”. (This is for the regions of Britain in which they first appear. However, Buxton is also named in humble tribute to Adam Buxton and his marvellous podcast.)