Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Irk the purists

There's a fascinating parallel about the singles chart these days. It doesn't matter, taken out of the hands of REEL MUSIK FANZ and now controlled by young people alone with a disconnect to the wider audience, but a great number of people want to shape it for their own ends.

By which we mean Rage Against The Machine, obviously, because as we all know The X Factor has been cancelled and Simon Cowell has toned down his public availability as a result. We mean stadium Christian rockers, and oh how the heart bleeds at that one, Delirious? getting a number four single this week in order to demonstrate that Easter is a religious event, or something.

And of course, to prove that it's all a laugh until it happens to something you love, it's this week's big campaign, the pro-6 Music Half Man Half Biscuit Joy Division Oven Gloves chart rig.

Here's the problem. We're great fans of HMHB, but with the caveat that they're far more than the image now set by others for them of wacky Birkenhead funsters who sang (past tense) about kids' telly and minor sports stars. Nigel Blackwell's lyrics are world-weary flights of grounded fantasy, as capable of reuoting from old poets and sonnets as they are referencing people who used to be on the telly. And how do their fans choose to portray this to what will be a whole new audience? With that funny jangly song about the idea of Joy Division branded oven gloves. You'd never, ever be able to move on from that. They're now a novelty one hit wonder, and what's more a novelty one hit wonder chosen to represent a station that its defenders seek to highlight the new music and classic cuts content of. And what's in it for anyone? Having remained silent so far, Blackwell isn't going to give exclusive quotes to Gordon Smart. They're not going to play bigger venues than they already are, if through choice, and anyone who does come afresh on the back of this wouldn't have a hope of understanding the full range of it from that standing start. It's taking this quintessentially cult English concern and projecting entirely the wrong bit onto the wider pop world because a 69p download is easier in transaction than writing to Mark Thompson and/or the BBC Trust, or something else that might make a difference. And if it fails (it's not in the midweek top 40) then that suggests there's not the interest in keeping the station after all, so they're hoist by their own Dukla Prague-shaded petard.

Or are we being joyless arses?

1 comment:

23 Daves said...

No, you're bang on the nail, which is why I want no part of this at all. As I've said before, these iTunes-driven chart rigs prove nothing apart from the fact that if enough fans of a particular band or genre stand up and stamp their feet at once, they can create a wave. But what does that prove exactly? If it meant anything at all, John Otway would be playing arenas by now.