Monday, September 15, 2003

I need to somehow express my frustration with the current musical situation. It was Saturday morning television and I watch aghast as a young and ordinary teenager has her moment of fame. This was television karaoke: yet another achievement in the field of piteous turd for the modern broadcasting industry. And this girl was truly truly shocking. I say with genuine truth that I struggled to find a single point during her performance when her voice was synced in tune with the song. And then my eyes widened as my tortured ears communicated to me the news that she was the defending champion returned back to defend her crown! Gadzooks!

But all this wasn’t the reason I was struck with sorrow and pain due to the state of the musical status quo (although at least we’re pretty much shot of that shower of pony-tailed tossers). The real reason for my despair is due to the style of singing adopted by our young wannabe vocalist. Whiney, undulating, over-expressive, pretentious cuntery. Otherwise known as the tremolo or falsetto effect.

It is not just this one unfortunate girl I refer to. Last week my own father forced me to sit through many damnable minutes of BBC’s copycat show Fame Academy. We appear to have been subjected to a wave of vocalists who all sound like they are all attempting to find the exact vibrating frequencies of various bits of equipment around the studio. Although Britain’s own Mr Craaaaaiiig Daaaayvid, who’s voice vibrates like a lady’s favourite toy, is at least trying something interesting by striving for the exact frequency of the female clitoris.

Good music, for me, has originality as one of its very core values. So when all the “talent” is all trying to sound like everybody else I must come to the judgement that this is not good at all. If the youth of today (I cannot believe I’ve just written that – at 26) want to sound like a good soul singers, perhaps they should listen to the superb talent that was Stevie Wonder at his height in the seventies rather than Mystiq from now; or better still go for something more leftfield and genius like Mike Patton. Not much hope of that last one sadly.

It is little wonder then that the British music industry can now be seen choking on its own faeces. And one does not need a good grounding in logic to realise that poor imitations of pseudo-American culture are not going to be enough to take the world’s music scene by storm. I speak from at least a tiny bit of knowledge here: I spent some time, albeit four years ago, as an A&R scout for a record company and music publishers. Today’s major record companies look only for artists that will virtually guarantee them top 20 singles. Which means superficial, commercialist jism. There are several problems with this. Had bands like Radiohead, Blur, Black Sabbath and even The Beatles been starting out today, they would genuinely struggle to get signed. Not every band reaches their potential with their first album. Those quality young bands that do get signed invariably get stuck with a smaller record company and long-term success is far from guaranteed. Secondly, sensationalist bollocks will not still be selling records in even a few months time, let alone years. Bang goes the profitable back catalogue sales. Thirdly, nobody outside of British primary school playgrounds gives a fuck about S Club. How do they expect to break foreign markets with this twaddle?

I shouldn’t complain too much as a music fan. Only the mainstream has been afflicted with this clearly finance-induced disease. If you look hard enough (that is of course the whole problem – you have to look. And look hard.) some really fantastic stuff is there to be found. And there are labels, such as Warp, who do a sterling job. But while interesting music gets pigeon-holed into ever decreasing niches of the public consciousness, shitty commercialist toss is all our young charges will ever aspire to.

Cuntery is the word I believe I have been searching for...

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