"Why are you wearing a Michael Jackson t-shirt?" asked my boyfriend, recently, with as much disdain as if I'd been wearing a Cliff Richard one. "Huh?" I replied, proud of my thrifted find. I don't really wear t-shirts - I am yet to figure out why I find them more complicated to pull off than a pussy bow blouse - but this one makes me feel good. The vibe is definitely a homage to his 'Earth Song' phase. "I like Michael Jackson, I know his songs, it's about the only 'music' t-shirt I CAN wear" I replied. "But you don't LOVE him. You don't talk about him."
And there you have it: the politics of wearing a band tee and the arguable authenticity of the the wearer's relationship with the worn. I don't agree with my boyfriend that you can only wear a t-shirt featuring a band that you speak of on a regular basis. I find band bores unbelievably dull. There are obviously ideals when it comes to wearing a band tee. Inheriting it from a parent (good), knowing all the songs, all the word (good good), having the lyrics tattooed on your ass (triple good). That's the holy grail but of course most purchases are not made with this authentic trinity in mind. My Michael Jackson t-shirt only abides by the second of those ideals.
But I've thought about this and there are, of course, some rules that should ALWAYS be obeyed. For starters, a band tee cannot come from the high street. A Led Zeppelin tee from ASOS (currently selling) feels faker than a relationship on Made In Chelsea. If you love Led Zeppelin, you owe it to yourself to find a second-hand t-shirt, that isn't also being worn by every 13-year-old in Romford. Secondly, never wear the t-shirt of a band you hate. I can very comfortably wear a Spice Girls t-shirt because I loved them and still love them and wish, oh wish, that I still had my SPICE crop top that I wore to my 10th birthday. Equally, I'd be OK in a TLC one. But The Clash? I am not allowed to wear a Clash t-shirt. I do not know, nor love, their work. To wear a Clash tee would be the sign of a dick. And frankly I like to be a little more opaque about that than giving it away with a t-shirt.
I think the reason why I love this t-shirt is because it's pretty ugly. I saw someone complaining on Pinterest the other day about how there aren't many pretty band tees. Well, Pinterest not everything has to be purdy 'n pinnable! I think you're missing the point if you're looking for a super cute band t-shirt. My Spice Girls crop top was gopping. This MJ one is pretty foul: orange and black isn't the most winning of colour combos. But it makes me happy. And it least it isn't fucking Justin Bieber.