Friday, July 08, 2005

The Star-Making Machinery Behind the Popular Song

If there's one thing that gets An Spailpín Fánach's goat, it's this nonsense heard from persons of a certain demographic, claiming that while popular music in the charts is all samey and ersatz, people like Coldplay and Travis are "real artists." These are the sort of people that hang on Tom Dunne's every word on his radio show, even though poor Tom could bore for Shell Petroleum (although not on the Mayo coast, thanks).

A pound of sausages, yesterdayEverybody involved in the music business is sold like a pound of sausages, and should be viewed as having as much artistic credibility as a pound of sausages until they've proven different. Frank Sinatra's manager hired the bobby-soxers that used to scream for Frank in the 'forties, paid them cash at the end of the show, and that basic principle hasn't changed any in the sixty years since. You can sell any damn thing you like as long as it's in the correct wrapper. The people who think that they are buying artistic credibility are buying the notion of artistic credibility, rather than artistic credibility itself. It operates on the same principle as the three card trick.

Anyone who's in any doubt about this should read Alexis Petridis, the excellent music critic of the Guardian, in today's paper. Petridis went off to see if he could be packaged and sold just like he was another Damien Rice (Damien Spice, if you like) and the answer was - yes, of course he can. Easy-peasy.

Alexis shows his fangs elsewhere in the paper when he savages poor little Charlotte Church's new album elsewhere in the paper. Ah well - that's showbusiness, toots.