# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Miscellaneous - February 2007

  by Benjamin Howarth

published: 7 / 1 / 2007

Miscellaneous - February 2007


In the latest in his 'Condemned by Rock 'n' Roll' column, Ben Howarth looks at the British singles chart, which under new ruling now takes into account downlaods

We have entered a bold new era for pop music. The old rules have been broken. Tradition has been smashed. 'Conformity' is dead. The digital age is upon us. First, 'Top of the Pops' was no more. Now, any downloads are allowed to count in the ’official’ singles chart. It’s a revolution, so significant in fact that if you examine the chart in really close detail, you may even notice the difference. Old songs can come back into the chart! It is simply too exciting. Snow Patrol were the first, as ‘Chasing Cars’ re-entered the chart. Now, Billie Piper has ‘Honey to the B’ in at 17. Where will it end? Will old Elvis songs re-appear at the top of the chart… oh, they already have done. Despite these little fun diversions, what has actually happened is not so exciting. All it has proven is that the old chart really wasn’t lying. The public really hate music, and I think its fair to say they seem to hate each other as well. In this moment of unrivalled cultural significance, who was the first new-style number one? The flag bearer for this brave new era? Why, none other than Leona Lewis, of course. With - and I think it is possible to say this - the worst song ever recorded in the history of music. Not only does she murder what little melody there is by trying to fit every single note in the scale into it, not only is she insufferably smug, not only is Simon Cowell making money from it, but 'A Moment Like This' is a cover of a song which saw original release less than 5 years ago. The perfect con. Bad music is everywhere. But this is rehashed bad music. This is bad music that has no purpose other than for people to show off to fellow record company types that, with the right format, the public can be made to buy almost anything. Even a downloading revolution couldn’t stop Cowell cleaning up. I actually rather admire him for it, in an angry and grudging kind of way. Given all this, for what possible reason, did Alan McGee claim in the Guardian that the era of the record company is over? Yes, we did have the "amazing" story of an unsigned band making the top 40. Yes, bands have all got MySpace. Yes, Arctic Monkeys really are popular (2006 wasn’t a dream, it really happened.) Yes, Alan McGee’s current own record label Poptones hasn’t had a hit since the Hives. We know all this. But Leona Lewis still had a huge number one. We can all hope she doesn’t have another, but there are plenty more X-Factor winners where she came from. In all but the eyes of the naively idealistic, record companies haven’t changed one bit. They have always devoted themselves to selling records. Sometimes, they need the record to be good first, but this rule is easily flouted. To help them sell records, they hire managers and PR companies, (all of whom know what MySpace is, by the way). It may be that EMI (which is under the cosh) goes bust. But someone else will take over. It might be Apple themselves. But, and I can be fairly confident in saying this, it won’t be indie bands who win. Downloading has arguably made public taste more eclectic. It may even have made some record execs actually have to listen in board meetings. It may have killed the importance of radio airplay. It may have made lots of people visit one of the most poorly designed websites ever (and have Rupert Murdoch spend money on said site). But it has not stopped people getting rich. As long as people are spending their slim reserves of spare cash to get tunes they want to listen to, there will be people getting rich as a result. This isn’t the first time Alan McGee has proclaimed the revolution. It probably won’t be the last. One thing is for sure, it is still people like Cowell and McGee who will be laughing all the way to bank. And people like you and me who will be hiding from the bank, lest they hit us with an overdraft fine. And as for Billie? Well, I preferred her second album.

Also In Condemned to Rock 'n' Roll

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