Genre: Epistolary novel, farcical comedy, pop music
Similar to: Air Mail by Terry Ravenscroft
Could be enjoyed by: Fans of pop music from the 60’s – 90’s.
Publication date: 20th September 2018
I’m really excited to be taking part in my first ever blog tour 😀, so thank you very much to Derek and Dave Philpott for the opportunity and for giving me a copy of their new book, Dear Mr. Pop Star, in exchange for an honest review.
“For more than a decade, Derek Philpott and his son, Dave, have been writing to pop stars from the 1960’s to the 90’s to take issue with the lyrics of some of their best-known songs. But then, to their great surprise, the pop stars started writing back…”
Things you should know about me before reading this review: I’m a huge fan of music from the 1980’s and 90’s, especially anything indie/alternative/new wave/synth pop/new romantic. I’m also a big fan of a comedy letter, especially if there’s some kind of critique or complaint involved. So when I heard about this book (that makes me sound like I have my finger on the pulse – in reality Dave emailed me directly) I was really looking forwards to reading it.
I wasn’t disappointed.
I loved the mock outrage humour contained within the letters, the nitpicking nature of the authors and the cleverly constructed observations about somewhat forgotten song lyrics. I really enjoyed how the songs often weren’t explicitly named so it was left up to the reader to trawl through their memory banks (or perhaps Google) to ascertain exactly which lyrics were being referred to – often reference would be made to several songs in the same letter so you really needed to dig deep to fully appreciate all of the puns being made. The humour was frequently very subtle (and very English) which sometimes made me pause before I comprehended the joke:
“We must go now Toploader as for some inexplicable reason we have an overwhelming urge to put a wash on”
I liked how the authors had structured the book with shorter observations (one-liners, if you will), many of which were absolutely hilarious and worked well to break up the longer letters and responses.
“Dear Ms. Carlisle, are you sure you don’t mean Devon?”
The longer letters themselves were very funny and very clever – sometimes using puns based on the band name or titles of their biggest hits or sometimes referencing one song in a farcical manner e.g. Dear Devo Re: Whippet was a letter about dog racing. What surprised me was the number of responses gained and the willingness of the respondents to play along. There must have been thousands of letters sent in order for Derek and Dave to have received the hundred or so responses that are published in Dear Mr. Pop Star and the sheer amount of effort and dedication earns them a gold star from me.
I really enjoyed the sense of nostalgia that I got from reading this book. Many of the songs referenced were *ahem* of a certain vintage but some of the wider pop culture references were too. I was excited to see that the hit medical drama “Angels” got a mention – my cousin Darren used to be in that! He played the gormless ginger kid who frequently looked at the camera and got sacked after a few episodes. See Philpotts, you’re not the only ones who have links to the glittering world of celebrity!
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Dear Mr. Pop Star and would highly recommend reading it little and often – perhaps as a coffee table (or dare I say it – downstairs loo) book. It would also make a great present for that hard to buy for music lover.
Rating: Four “is that really what EMF stands for? Unbelievable!” out of five.
If you want to find out more about the Philpotts (I mean, why wouldn’t you) you can find Derek on Twitter @DerekPhilpott or via Facebook. More info about Dear Mr. Pop Star can be found on Goodreads and Unbound and the book can be purchased via Amazon.