Friday, March 31, 2006


Gennaro Castaldo has been a bit of a busy chap this week - popping up in the Mirror to read last rites for the VHS:

HMV only sells videos in its 30 biggest music stores after a shake-up earlier this year.

Spokesman Gennaro Castaldo said distributors were just releasing childrens' films and fitness shows on VHS. He said: "The suppliers are phasing it out. Later this year videos will be 99.9 per cent dead." The video revolution began in the early 1980s in a battle between VHS and Betamax to become the established system.

That's Gennaro, who is quite happy with "mostly dead" as a concept. Schrodinger, you never thought of the 99.9% dead cat, did you?

But while he's marking the end of one format, he's quivering with excitement at newer ones:

"There`s every chance Crazy will top the singles charts this week purely on the amount of downloads sold.

"This would not only represent a watershed in how the charts are compiled, but would show that legal downloads have come of age."

"Downloads have given the singles market a massive boost and retailers such as HMV are now selling more and more through their digital music services."

Retailers such as, ooh, HMV, for example.

But Gennaro wasn't done yet, oh no. He also had something to say about the selection of Embrace as offical song. Now, by GG's standards, this sounds a little bit sceptical:

As far as I know they have not even written it yet. I suppose the there is always the danger they will come up with a turkey but the band are a good choice and are on a real high at the moment.

"They will have been given a brief to write the sort of song that captures the imagination of the whole country. If they do that it will shift hundreds of thousands of copies, become a huge number one and probably sell more singles this year than any other song.

"Embrace have a title so they will have a good idea of what they want it to sound like. I expect an anthem to that everyone will be chanting during the World Cup. The FA will want the whole British public chanting it come June."

Mr Castaldo said: "England songs of the past have a pretty good record for hits. Embrace will have a hard job matching the success of great songs of the past like World in Motion.

"Embrace are a cool, credible indie pop band and they are certainly an interesting choice. Even though single sales are dropping I think everyone will want a copy of this."

Hang about, Gennaro... single sales are dropping? But a couple of moments ago, singles sales were being given a tremendous boost by downloads. Which is it, man?

And, of course, Gennaro had something to say about the tiresome Mike Flowers version of the Radio 4 UK theme:

And retailers say it could be heading for the top 10 after HMV's online store received well over 1,000 pre-orders last week alone - more than any other new release.

"It may not be enough to get it to number one, but there's clearly enough interest from Radio 4 fans for it to make the top 20 chart and perhaps even push it into the top 10," said HMV's Gennaro Castaldo.

But is the record being bought by Radio 4 fans, or just dull, harping critics of the BBC who seem to think that the axing of a tune probably less than one in a thousand have ever heard is some sort of symptom of just how communist the BBC are?

It's a canny enough tune, and even although we're so sentimental we miss "This is London" and Tum-te-te-tum-da-da-da-da-da-daaa on the World Service, hearing the UK Theme was always a sign you were up too early.

We wonder, for example, if JMB of Political Muscle could convincingly explain how it is "a PC blunder" and "politically correct" to drop the theme? Or if it really is a "symbol of Britishness" in the way Blogging The Beeb would have you believe. We seriously doubt if one in ten of the people who are suggesting the dumping of the theme is tantamount to pissing on the Queen's duvet and burning Prince Harry's Union Jack underpants had even heard of the music before it was axed.

There is a lot that is interesting to be said about the theme. Gennaro Catsaldo managed to miss it all.


Anonymous said...

I'm sad that they're getting rid of the UK theme because it's one of the things I most remember about R4 from my childhood (along with The Archers and Kaleidoscope). I agree that some people are exaggerating its significance as a "symbol of the UK", but it does seem a pity to lose such a good interweaving of traditional British folk tunes. There are some people that find it intensely irritating (though not as irritating as Sarah Montague, I believe), so they'll be pleased, but I can't see the point of getting rid of it just for more news.

Actually, what this reminds me of is the hoohah over the changes to the R4 schedules and programming that took place back in 97/98...

Eleanor G

Anonymous said...

PS, as to the "sign that you were up too early" thing, being awake to hear it made me feel quite virtuous (I'm normally not an early riser) :-)

There was a letter in the Telegraph the other day from a woman who said that she suffered from insomnia occasionally, and that it was always a relief to hear the UK theme, as it meant the long night was almost over. I don't normally have trouble sleeping, but I can sympathise with this view...

OK, I'll stop blathering now :-)

Simon Hayes Budgen said...

It's a lovley piece of music, granted, but I can't help feeling if it had been dropped without Damazer announcing it nobody would even have noticed.

But, yes, the whole hoo-hah does have the smack of the great "Women's Hour moving to 10am" battles (which is actually a far better place for it) and, I'm old enough to remember, the outrage when BBC Radio 4 UK was introduced, with its theme, back three decades ago - people hated that, too.

Anonymous said...

Ah, three decades ago I wasn't quite born :-) (ducks and flees)

Seriously, though, I didn't realise that R4 was only thirty years old (and that there had been a hoo-hah about its establishment) - was it still the Home Service before that?

Anonymous said...

Just sighted twice on Channel 4 news droning on about that Gnarls Berkley song: "blah blah exciting devlopment, blah blah the future of the single" etc. etc. Is there no end to the man's sulf-publicising?

Simon Hayes Budgen said...


Radio 4 was created in the shake-up of 1967 (a little bit before even my time), but as is the way, they had another lot of footling about for about ten years until in 1978, when the last of the regional variations was dropped, what had been called BBC Radio 4 - The Home Service became BBC Radio 4 UK. Of course, the loss of regional programming led to a lot of wailing about how it's the end, BBC is being run by Moscow, and so on.

Neil... what does our man look like?

Post a Comment

As a general rule, posts will only be deleted if they reek of spam.