And Finally Artist News Beef Of The Week

CMU Beef Of The Week #316: Uber v Lorde

By | Published on Friday 29 July 2016


Regular listeners to the CMU Podcast will already know this story, but I think it bears repeating. Recently CMU’s Chris Cooke was getting into a taxi at Kings Cross station when the driver started talking to another prospective customer. It turned out they were both heading to the same place, and the driver seemed keen to have this other person’s business. Always wanting to be amenable (or possibly looking forward to splitting the fare), Chris agreed to share the cab with the other passenger.

The driver then asked about the office complex to which they were now all heading. The other man had a meeting with a digital agency about a sports project, but – Chris added – most of the companies at said complex worked in the music business. And he had a meeting to discuss all things digital music, he added. What did Chris think about streaming, wondered the other man aloud. Chris thinks a lot about streaming, and so chatted on about that rapidly evolving sector at length (something else podcast listeners will be familiar with).

This monologue took much of the rest of the journey. But it was only when the taxi reached its destination and the taxi driver asked to take a selfie with the other man that it dawned on Chris that this other man might not just be some random other man. And it was bit odd, was it not, that the taxi driver had started talking to another prospective customer after Chris had already got into the car and announced his destination? So who was the not random man with whom the taxi driver now wanted a photo, Chris enquired. It was footballing star Rio Ferdinand. Who knew? Not Chris.

So the moral of this story is that you can’t know the faces of ever celebrity in the world. That taxi driver was excited about picking up Rio Ferdinand, for sure. But he missed a trick by not knowing that he also had CMU’s Chris Cooke in his cab, who I’m sure would also pose for photos, if only asked. Though on the up side, at least that taxi man got to learn all about Spotify’s business model rather than having to talk football with a famous (ex)footballer.

I was reminded of all this earlier in the week when Lorde began tweeting from the back of a taxi. “Uber driver currently busting a nut about the fact that there was a ‘celebrity passenger’ just before me”, she wrote, adding: “I can tell our ride, by comparison, sparkles significantly less for him”.

“I can feel it from the back seat, his dazed glow”, she went on. “He’s probably now pretending that I am not here, that they are still together, and alone”. So that’s fun. And possibly funny. Though, those tweets do also feel a little like a passive aggressive 21st Century version of shouting, “Don’t you know who I am?!”

Now, OK, Lorde probably seems like the sort of person who would tweet about this event because she was amused rather than annoyed. She’s probably happy not being recognised. And used to it. At least, if the reaction of an alarming number of people sitting around me at this year’s BRITs (mostly politicians and non-music journalists, I should probably add as a caveat) when she performed a David Bowie tribute is anything to go by, she should be used to it.

But still, can it be right that a pop star – and someone who’s been on the TV – should go unnoticed when out in public? Should pop stars have to tolerate conversations about people other than themselves? Surely now that taxi drivers don’t need an inside out knowledge of the streets of their home city, thanks to sat-nav, The Knowledge (or similar) should be revamped. Every taxi driver – Uber drivers included – should go through rigorous training in a bid to recognise every famous face in the land, from A through to Z.

And celebrities, you can help here. Help ensure that the taxi drivers of the world have The Knowledge they really need. Don’t sit in the back quietly tweeting. Lean forward, stare into the rear view mirror, and calmly ask, “Would you like a photo?” Do it for yourselves. Do it for us. Do it for humanity. And especially do it for Chris Cooke if he happens to be sitting next to you, because he almost certainly won’t know who you are either.