Friday, October 04, 2002

Aaliyah doesn't count, being dead

Interesting piece in the now rabidly useless Scotsman, focusing on research at Napier University into the music industry. We're assuming that Dr Dryden is doing some sort of Faking It jobswap thing, as she doesn't really know what she's talking about. She says she

" would say it has never been harder for so-called ‘real’ bands to get to the top of the charts. The audience attitude has shifted and the elitism that saw manufactured groups sneered at by the likes of NME in the past, has largely gone.

Righto, so you're saying that in the 1980's, the charts were largely determined by the NME, do you? I must have missed the long string of number ones from the Bunnymen, The Smiths, and that lot. But now, apparently, nobody sneers at manufactured groups? Hear'Say are treated like they've paid their dues? Do you read the newspapers?
"It doesn’t matter so much to the MTV generation if a band’s members started as a group of friends and practised in a garage or answered an advert from a record company."

- the 'MTV generation', don't care about where the new bands come from because they're too busy arranging babysitters and worrying about their pensions. If you mean young people now, and you really want to lumber them with an ill-fitting sobriquet, you might try the MP3 generation. But anyway - what's the reason for this alleged shift in emphasis?
"With the Pop Idol series, there was audience participation from the very beginning," she added. "It wasn’t someone working away in a back room creating this image, it was all up front, and I think the audience feels less manipulated because of that.

"The Pop Idol stars are somehow more real than the previous glossy, airbrushed boy bands."

"It is important to consider who is now buying the music in the charts," she said. "It is mainly pre-pubescent girls, and they have been more or less deciding who tops the charts since the days of Take That."

Hang about a minute, if nowadays the audience don't care if the band has been put together "in a garage or through a record company advert", why would it make any difference at all that Pop Idol stars are "more real"; if the audience has, as you claim, outgrown the need to sneer at manufactured pop, then what would be wrong with "glossy, airbrushed boy bands"?

The Scotsman underlines how serious things have got:
"This year, only half a dozen "real" artists have reached No1, and three of them - George Harrison, Elvis Presley and Aaliyah - are dead.

If anyone can convincingly explain to me - besides the pulse and the fact there are three of them - the processing difference between Atomic Kitten and Aaliyah, I'll present them with a large clock; and can you hear Colonel Tom chuckling away at the suggestion that Elvis - who sang songs he was sold over the sound of backing musicians - is in some way more 'real' than Gareth Gates?

But if you're not convinced the situation is dire, here is a warning from history. Or the paper, anyway:
"The Welsh guitar band Stereophonics said members of the Popstars group Hear’Say should be ashamed of themselves.
"If this sort of thing goes on, creativity will just fly out of the window," the group’s lead singer, Kelly Jones, said.


Right, Kelly. Come over here. Here is 'Pure and Simple'; here is 'Mr. Songwriter'. Both were done by failry dull groups of people who find themselves given the spotlight. One song is a cracking poptune, written by Alison Clarkson, who, as Betty Boo, probably gave you warm, damp thoughts late at night. Can you explain to me in what way her writing that song involves no creativity? Elvis Presley didn't write Heartbreak Hotel, you know - does that make it shit? Does it make it uncreative? Does the fact you wrote the dirge you sing make it any more a piece of art? And, are you seriously telling me that if we have two or three more seasons of Popstars, people like you will stop writing music altogether?

Because that's the first positive thing I've heard about them.


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