- February 25th, 2015
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…and I’m not apologetic in the slightest.
I type this as the BRIT Awards non-event unfolds on the TV, and am pleased to say that I only found out this bland, characterless ceremony – filled with the type of chinless-wonder-with-nothing-to-say idiots spawned by the X-Factor – was even happening when someone popped up on Facebook to ask what happened to Rock n Roll.
And it’s a fair question. We’re now fourteen years on from Black Rebel Motorcycle Club asking the same question. There have been 12 remarkably-similar editions of FIFA since The Libertines’ suggested it might be Time for Heroes.
And yet we’re still waiting. There don’t appear to be any heroes anymore. Certainly not the type who’ll swagger onto your DAB iPodify and, for four minutes and 38 seconds, make you feel invincible.
Nobody who’ll fill your overpriced, underfurnished studio flat – that because of the Bedroom Tax is all you can afford – with the revelation that other people might only have the odd draw and a bottle of Glens* to look forward to (*far superior brands are definitely available).
The very people who could make you feel like that, 20 years ago at the height of the unfortunately-titled Britpop, have long since migrated to lands of privilege; the working class rising to sit alongside those they once gave you a means of escape from.
It’s the way of things, the natural order. And lets face it, at least the Gallaghers haven’t become Bono.
In the past though, as one band disappeared up its own rectum in a blitz of egos, drugs and – yes – pretty green, another would appear on the cusp of the mainstream to rail against the establishment, to give a voice to the people.
In the media-led, iTunes generation, though, it seems there is little hope of anyone with the ability to express an independent opinion that might actually be worth something, achieving anything like commercial success.
Instead, sanitised identikit droogs wash up on television, have a little cry about how their life’s so hard because their Bichon Frise once had to make do with chicken and liver Pedigree Chum rather than quinoia and caviar, and somehow end up at the top of the charts by selling 382 downloads of their cover of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.
Or, one of your nice, friendly, girl-next-door multinational record labels spoon-feeds some Spineless Tory at the BBC an album or two from their roster of the world’s next auto-tune ridden “stars” – accompanied by, one must imagine, the kind of wedge that would make Yewtree allegations miraculously vanish – to appear in the “Sound Of…” polls.
You know, the list of People Some Wet Blanket Has Been Paid To Decide Should Earn The Shareholders Millions By Being Offensively Inoffensive (Not Bland, Natch).
Spineless Tory – lets call him Jim Murphy to protect the guilty – gets a bunch of his similarly amoeba-like mates to pick from the fifteen artists he’s been bribed most for, to democratically decide which one has afforded the biggest fee and make damn sure they appear on Radio One with alarming regularity.
Familiarity used to breed contempt, these days it generates album sales, purely on the basis that the most played dross has to be better than the lesser played identical dross for some reason. And hey, this means the Shareholders’ investment in Jim has been well worthwhile.
Probably not for the poor ‘artist’ though, who’s signed away the earnings of the next thirteen generations of their family for five minutes in the spotlight. Losing their religion indeed.
The thing is, there ARE people out there with opinions, and who are making genuinely interesting music to back it up. It’s just that you’ve got to abandon any hope for the mainstream to find it.
And, in these days of every kid having a mobile phone that also serves as a receptacle for Hollywood remakes, a repository of every shit song recorded since 1983, allows them to be a one-human international terror cell AND replicates both Abbey Road and Sun Studios (so long as you’re no more than three feet from a socket), you also have to wade through a hell of a lot of one-chord bedroom wankers who think they’re Jimi Hendrix.
Controversial as it may be in this day and age, there is a way to identify bands with actual personalities. The type who’ll spend weeks together in a small van that stinks of piss, to rap about Scottish Independence or Britain’s warmongering.
It’s challenging though. It means fighting your fear of being in a room that doesn’t have Gregg Wallace on a screen, for long enough to venture outside and go to a thing called a “Gig”.
This is an old-fashioned thing that existed before the internet, where people – some of whom are capable of breathing and thinking at the same time – gather in a room to watch other people use things called instruments to make noise.
Who knows, maybe if more people did this instead of, or perhaps even as well as, being spoon-fed by the corporate masses, something called talent could once again break into the music industry.
Until then, I’m off to see if anybody’s stuck a video of some American pensioner falling on her arse on YouTube yet.