Sunday, January 07, 2007

Gennaro Castaldo watch: Guardian of the bold new world

Captain Jack pointed out that the 21st Century is when everything changes, and that you've got to be ready. He was right: today, the link between physical product and singles was cut, and who was ready to welcome the first chart that allowed download-only downloads?

Gennaro Castaldo, of course:

"Under the new rules, anything and everything is eligible," said HMV spokesman Gennaro Castaldo.

"The charts will now offer a much broader representation of the nation's music tastes," he added.

Aha. And, so, what does this new, broader nation's music tastes look like?

This was last week's, physical presence required, chart:

1. A Moment Like This - Leona Lewis
2. Patience - Take That
3. Different World - Iron Maiden
4. Smack That - Akon ft Eminem
5. Truly Madly Deeply - Cascada

This week, everything's different:

1. A Moment Like This - Leona Lewis
2. Proper Education - Eric Prydz vs Floyd
3. Patience - Take That
4. Window in the Skies - U2
5. Smack That - Akon ft. Eminem

It's like we've suddenly adopted French as our official language and started driving on the underside of the tarmac, isn't it?

Indeed, rather than delivering a shake-up, what seems to have happened is a little more like a gently wobble - Crazy has re-entered the chart at number 30, Nelly Furtado's Maneater has slunk back up to 38 and Chasing Cars has plodded back into the Top 10 - probably assisted by the shots of David Platt brooding to it during Corrie's Christmas episodes.

The move will change the chart, but not for a while - and when it does, it won't be noticeable as it'll follow the gradual shift of purchase from shops to mouses.

Castaldo, though, sticks his neck out:

It is rumoured that EMI are considering to release the Beatle's back catalogue as downloads for the first time.

Castaldo thinks if that does happen then a "top 10 made up entirely of their music would be almost guaranteed".

Really? Why would Beatles fans - who, presumably, own the CDs and could rip them onto their PC should they wish - rush out in large numbers to download tracks they don't need to buy? Of course, it's possible someone might want to rig the charts that week as a PR stunt, but it's unlikely to happen organically.

Gennaro also popped up, by the way, in Starpulse, comparing The Arctic Monkeys to... well:

A spokesman for musical retailer HMV commented: “In terms of sheer impact we haven’t seen anything quite like this since the Beatles.”

Really? What about Oasis? Or when Suede commanded front-page stories in the broadsheet press? Or Madonna when she broke through? Or Lily Allen, come to that. The Arctic Monkeys were talked about in 2006, it's true... but there was more said about their story than about them in particular. Like bird flu, they filled more column inches than they knocked people off their feet.

To suggest that Britain spent the last twelve months in the grips of a Beatlemania style frenzy with a straight face could only mean that Castaldo lives in Portugal and is relying on MySpace press releases to keep in touch.


Anonymous said...

Okay... let's take this Beatles/Arctic Monkeys comment and examine it carefully...

Castaldo is claiming that “In terms of sheer impact we haven’t seen anything quite like this since the Beatles.”

Now I presume that he is taking in the reaction following a complete year of release. Now i've just looked on Wikipedia at "Whatever People Say I Am That's What I'm Not" (also known as the single greatest album of all time ever ever ever and the saviour of rock'n'roll... or to the rest of us the most overrated album of 2006) came out on January 23rd last year... by my quick in-my-head calculation that's 348 days ago... okay... now let's look at The Beatles... their debut album came out on March 22nd 1963... 321 days after that they appeared on Ed Sullivan and the British Invasion started

Now I'm just presenting the facts here Gennaro (of which you are so fond) but there's something that doesn't quite add up in terms of success ... Actually could anyone please tell me what exactly the Arctic Monkeys have done that was remotely special??? Really help... I'm totally stuck..

Anonymous said...

They had the fastest selling debut album of all time, I expect that's what he means. Thought that was a bit obvious myself.

Nice try at being clever from you though.

Simon Hayes Budgen said...

But The Beatles didn't have "the fastest selling debut album" of all time, and that's sales, whereas The Beatles impact was... well, more than selling a few records.

Actually, I'm not entirely sure the claim that the Arctic Monkeys had the fastest selling debut is entirely true - wasn't it merely they sold more in the first week than any other debut album at the time?

Anonymous said...

Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not became the fastest selling debut album in UK chart history, selling 363,735 copies in the first week.

Its not an exact comparision between the bands, its simply saying they havent seen something like it since The Beatles. So much much excitement about an up and coming record. A band that had only released one single and got number one without any major publicity were about to release an album that everyone knew was going to be number one and would probably sell more than any band had sold in their first week..they probably got more pre-orders for the album than many bands sell albums in their first week.

It was impact, it created a buzz that hadnt been seen for a while amongst people...being in an indie night club when "I bet you look good on the dancefloor" came on was manic. Obviously they aren't nor will they ever be as big as The Beatles, but you can see what the man was obviously saying.

Simon Hayes Budgen said...

Nobody's denying there's been a lot of fuss about the Arctic Monkeys, but there's a world of difference between "fuss" and "impact" - the fact that people rushed onto dancefloors at indie discos is hardly a yardstick; people used to rush onto the dancefloor at the Krazy House when EMF were played, but nobody would suggest they were as big as the Beatles.

And, yes, impressive sales figures for the first week, in the UK. Since then, they've almost been caught up by The Kooks. They were outsold by Ta-Dah, an album so forgettable we had to check the spelling. And worldwide? Barely a murmur.

There have been any number of bands to have this sort of impact since The Beatles - the Sex Pistols, Oasis, The Stone Roses. I suspect that Gennaro would have been better placed reaching for one of these smaller cultural pops, rather than taking the lazy "as big as The Beatles" sonic boom. It doesn't hold up.

Anonymous said...

Simon, I'm surprised you didn't refer to Gennaro being on the TV news t'other day talking about this very subject. I can't for the life of me remember what he was saying but I recall thinking you would probably be interested.

Anonymous said...

but had he said "as big as the sex pistols" there would have been a flaw to pick out just as easily.

He's not even talking about being as big as, he's talking about an impact. Which they most definitly had. Whether you choose to ignore the fact doesnt mean it didnt happen.

The guy doesnt seem to be talking about success, or size. Just the fact that The Beatles in their day caused a massive amount of publicity, and so did the Arctic Monkeys. It's not even about being good I don't think simply that they came from nowhere to be massive at that certain point in time.

Simon Hayes Budgen said...

you say:

Which they most definitly had. Whether you choose to ignore the fact doesnt mean it didnt happen.

but I did say:

Nobody's denying there's been a lot of fuss about the Arctic Monkeys, but there's a world of difference between "fuss" and "impact"

I'm not saying - and haven't been saying - that there hasn't been a little bit of buzz about the Arctic Monkeys. But the key word here is "little" - yes, they might have cropped up in the odd piece about Gordon Brown's iPod; I daresay that had there been an Only Fools And Horses on Christmas Day at some point Delboy would have said "What is it, Rodders... you've not been bitten by one of them Arctic Monkeys, have you?".

But it's not comparable with the impact of The Beatles. Tonight, BBC2 is devoting its Timewatch slot to the Beatles and they way they impacted on popular culture. Do you really think in 2040, anyone would tune in for a documentary on "what the Arctic Monkeys meant" - even articles which mention them usually put Lily Allen in the same breath.

Yes, they had a small impact. But they're not on a par with the Beatles.

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