Monday, January 06, 2003

We've had lots of letters

Simon Tyers - in response to the John Robb bit in Pop Papers - sent us this thought, we which thought we'd better not try to pass off as our own in case he'd encrypted it in some way with strong technology:

Haven't seen the article, but I get the impression from a lot of the recent coverage of Popstars etc that everyone thinks TV-created acts have had their day, which is an odd thing to say when one has just sold 350,000 in its first week (yes, yes, low for the Christmas market, but no-one's really been bothered about buying singles at Christmas for years.)

But... do you think that the fall can be partly attributed to the broadsheet music critic party line of "well, the top ten's full of acts manufactured for TV nowadays"? Leaving aside that Will, Gareth, Darius and at a pinch Liberty X hardly constitutes a top ten, I've got a feeling that such being defeatist means that people automatically won't be as receptive towards the other stuff being playlisted by Radio 1 or whoever because it's almost "oh, what's the point?" - even the old standbys of Dave Pearce Dance Anthems hardly reach the top five nowadays.

And who's to blame anyway? The playlist of our most listened to national station, Radio 2, is far more accomodating of pop acts than the R1 list is, probably at Steve Wright's behest, with their exception of Eminem, who only sells in such quantities because kids think they can strike a blow for anti-authoritanism by claiming to like him. Possibly. And anyway, if you asked opera fans about Charlotte Church, Russell Watson and Declan Galbraith, all of whom took their first steps through TV, most would reckon they've done good things by advancing the image of the genre.

But it's a much better line than the other one being trotted out in the broadsheet reviews about how 2002 was the year when rock struck back. Because Nickelback and Avril Lavigne haven't had any major label sway behind them, have they?

We did actually think it kind of amusing that when The Friday Thing launched their last-minute bid to try and save the Christmas Number One from Reality TV, they threw their weight behind The Cheeky Girls, possibly the hugest Reality TV whores there are. (I don't mean they're literally whores. I'm sure they're very particular in their sexual habits.)

Picking up Simon's argument, I'd also say that the "what's the point? It'll be a Popstars band" attitude has probably done more to cheapen the whole chart than the stranglehold of reality TV itself. After all, it was possible for young boys to watch Joe Dolce and still dream of getting a number one; it did mean something. But now, even if you do make it to number one with a decent single, you'll just be buoying yourself up in column inches about how low sales are, and how even The Wombles could get a number one these days, you know. Maybe rather than being saved from the clutches of Walsh and Cowell, what the charts needs is to be made to feel special again.

Thoughts to ponder as Mercury prepare four - count 'em - fame academy tots for launch in the next couple of months.

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