Lost In Translation: Just Who IS John Mayer Anyway?

Musician/Rocker John Mayer

Musician/Rocker John Mayer

The internet is full of people who like to parade their ignorance as if it is somehow a blessing in disguise. They’ll shout about how they don’t watch certain TV shows or listen to certain music or go and see certain movies, all with the express intent of then adding that somehow, mystically, they just KNOW these things are of no worth.

It’s a rubbish way to behave, but we seem to be stuck with it. And I don’t wish to add to this rancourous idiot carnival one bit, except I do have a question, and I would like to put it to the American people on behalf of a largely befuddled British public. We’re not proud of our ignorance, we’re just a bit confused and trying hard to keep up. The question is this:

Who, or what, is a John Mayer?

I mean, who is he? He’s a musician, yes? Some kind of singer and songwriter man who has a habit of going out with famous and beautiful women? Like a Lenny Kravitz without the dreads and feathers and flared pants and whatnot. Is that him?

Is he this guy?

Won a Grammy in 2005 for best song of the year, sounds a bit like Jack Johnson only less vertically asleep? Has nice, inoffensive songs that grab you by the lapels, then apologise for crumpling your suit and back away, meekly? That’s the John Mayer we keep reading about?

It’s just he keeps appearing in gossip columns and celebrity magazines – even British ones – for dating Katy Perry and Jennifer Aniston and Taylor Swift and Jessica Simpson. I know this because his name keeps appearing next to those of all of these famous women and it’s always next to the word “musician” or “rocker,” because it needs to be re-explained every time he does anything.

Whatever chemical quality it is that makes a person stick in the mind, John Mayer clearly has a lot of it in America, and barely any as far as the Brits are concerned. It’s as if there’s something important missing, some vital lump of sweet goo in the John Mayer rocky road that only tickles American taste-buds and then hides when it sees British teeth looming overhead.

I mention this purely so that you know that if you ever wanted to live in a world where the vaguely renowned musician/rocker John Mayer isn’t, y’know JOHN MAYER, that world is just a transatlantic crossing away.

Fraser McAlpine is British, this explains a lot.

Fraser McAlpine

Fraser has been writing and broadcasting about music and popular culture for over 15 years, first at the Top of the Pops website, and most recently for the NME, Guardian and MSN. He also wrote BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog and reviews albums for BBC Radio 2.

He is Anglophenia's current resident Brit, blogging about British slang and running around the Mall taking snaps of the crowd at the Royal Wedding, as well as reigniting a childhood passion for classic Doctor Who and cramming as much music in as he can manage.

Fraser invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic

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