Flyposterwatch: Years & Years, The 1975, James Bay

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There is no sight more magnificent, no pop glory higher than a nicely presented array of pop-related flyposters. “There’s something cultural happening!” it says. “Here’s a slightly illegal and therefore politely anarchic advertisement for it.”

And there’s a real treat happening right now at the interesting end of Kensington High Street. Non-industry wankers might not realise this but all three of the UK’s major record labels live on the same street: Sony and Warner Music are at one end, where the decent shops are, with Universal situated a not-quite-worth-a-bus-but-too-far-to-enjoyably-walk distance down the road, where the most exciting shop is a Screwfix. But Universal is also nearer than the other labels to Westfield, so it’s swings and roundabouts.

Let’s take a closer look at what’s on offer.

1. Years & Years

Olly’s nose ring almost forms a comma in the band name. While we applaud Years & Years’ consistent use of an ampersand — an punctuational arrangement with which some bands would play fast and loose between campaigns, creating a sense of disorientation in fans and anger among others — one can’t help wondering if Years, and years, while being the same band name, might actually be a better band name.

In this poster Years & Years are keen to impress upon us the urgency of their message: there’s no ‘the’ before ‘brand new single’. This is purely informational. New stuff out now, take it or leave it. Title, format, availability, bang, bang, bang.

This actually shows a great sense of confidence on the band’s part. They don’t need to make this release seem more monumental by adding a ‘the’. They don’t need to tell you where to get it or listen to it. All they need to do for the world to lose its shit is announce this new song’s existence.

2. The 1975

Let’s be honest here ladies and gents, The 1975’s Music For Cars campaign is already a total visual triumph. There are loads of these posters up around the UK’s major cities, and they all look absolutely brilliant.

The most exciting thing here is the 2018—2019 timeline top right: they’re already establishing the parameters of their own album era. Who does this? Nobody! They’ve got this whole thing planned out already. (Which is even more impressive when you consider that they announced the album’s title last April, before their last album campaign was even over, and actually stuck with that title. Again — who does this?)

Phwoar right? What a band.

3. James Bay

In some ways this is actually the reverse of the Years & Years poster. There’s a ‘the’, for a start: this is a big deal! It’s what you’ve been waiting for! This isn’t just any new album. It’s the new album. It’s the new album by James Bay and everyone’s talking about it. THE THE THE.

What you’ll also see here is that while Years & Years didn’t ask anything of the person seeing their poster — brand new single out now, do what you want with this info — with James Bay there’s an Apple Music button on the bottom. (Obviously we tapped it and nothing happened so we’re not sure what’s happening there.) The suggestion here is that James Bay’s people thought some people might see the poster and not realise that it was an advertisement, or that they were supposed to respond. “What if they see the poster for a new album, and don’t realise they’re invited to listen to it?” This is why the Apple Music logo is so important.

(Interesting-not-interesting sidenote: both the James Bay posters posted in this location include the Apple Music button, but a month or so ago we noticed another music flyposter, posted twice in the same location like these have been. The two posters were identical apart from the streaming service logo at the bottom: one was Apple Music, one was Spotify. Not worth upsetting anyone, right? Except perhaps Deezer. Obviously this point would have been better if we could remember the artist or even if we’d taken a photo, but there you go. It happened, we saw it, let’s not have an argument about it.)

Of course the main takeaway from this James Bay poster is that like all great advertisements it invites the viewer to consider some uncomfortable issues and ask her or himself some important questions. In this case, the internal dialogue surely runs something like this: “James Bay is actually quite hot now, and I suppose the truth is that James Bay was probably quite hot all along, and it was just the hat and the hair that stopped me seeing this. Am I going through life judging people on what look like before their X Factor live shows-style makeover, when really I should be seeing everybody’s full potential? But also, am I currently in my own hat-and-Jessie-J-wig era? Am I one frenzied major label styling session away from going The Full James Bay? Or have I already reached my own full potential? Is there hope for the future, or is this as good as it gets?”

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