Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Follow the leader

We were asked the other day - alright, nobody actually directly asked us, that would imply we had friends who like music and are keen to know our opinions on musical issues, just run with us here - whether Simon Cowell was, and we quote, 'the enemy'. To which our response is: only if you want him to be. Unless Cowell is actually physically stopping people from recording and enjoying certain types of music, it shouldn't have any effect on your own musical view. It's not as if, with available pop promotional space heavily contracting anyway, no other A&R would try and take the lead were Sony's own pantomime villain not around, and with the reductiveness of the modern singles chart it's paste pearls. So what if The Rock, as previously discussed, isn't getting big chart positions? a) It wouldn't be The Rock you like if it were, and b) when did you start caring so much about that, given it isn't 1996?

Besides which, unified tribalism for coolness versus Biology. Show your hand.

(The X Factor as the common enemy of non-crass populist television... well, that's another argument altogether, but one that needs taking up with ITV)

Sky One's Must Be The Music pitched itself as the anti-Cowell, a chance for PEOPLE WHAT WRITE THEIR OWN SONGS to get on telly, win a major label deal etc. and ended on Sunday with someone called Emma's Imagination - a singer-songwriter, wouldn't you know - winning. The quotes on Emma's Myspace, by the way, are triumphs of the unsigned art: "I enjoy real song writing and this falls right in that path" (as oppposed to computer generated songs, presumably - fuck you, Eno!) and "Thanks for introducing me to this great artist", which isn't praise as such but a social nicety.

We've seen this before, in Channel 4's MobileAct Unsigned/Orange Act Unsigned, a televised battle of the bands with unnecessary knobs on which ran for two series, the first producing Envy & Other Sins, who'd been around for a while on the periphery anyway so had credibility to lose and were clearly not the production choice of winner as they hardly got a sip of priority act status (it didn't work out too well for them - that Leicester gig they mention was the first time we saw their tacked-on support for the night, Johnny Foreigner), the second Tommy Reilly, who sells loads in Scotland and nothing anywhere else. Course, as the bands in that series were competing for a major label deal, they were essentially up for winning an advance they'd never be able to repay because of the disparity between what they won and what people now thought of them, so nobody won.

But do we? If you can't beat 'em join 'em, true, but why compete? Unsigned band competitions are stupid, pleb-pleasing, worst common denominator things, as is, as we've ranted before, the cult of the Unsigned Band. Put them together, stick them on TV with Fearne Cotton and say-nothing judges who are famous and that's it... you're preaching to Sky One's converted, which is why the ABC1 acoustic girl singer-songwriter won. Ultimately, giving those starting up false ideas that this is somehow completely opposite from The X Factor - and yes, of course the phrase 'real music' turned up in their adverts - and that record sales is all that matters can't be any more legitimate as a tool for originality and whatever lifeblood UK music chooses to run on at that time than the Cherylised showbiz charade.

Whatever did happen to Hamfatter?

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