Monday, February 25, 2013

A Brit of alright?

It’s easy to mock the Brits and judging by the column inches, status updates, blogs & tweets it seems to have been an itch that few could resist scratching. Even my mum told me that James Corden was rubbish and she didn’t watch it.

Undoubtedly I have also been guilty of this in the past but of late I’ve come to terms with the intent of the awards, the function of the show and its reason for existence. If you look at it in these terms – some of which are outlined below - you’d have to acknowledge it is very successful indeed.

The awards themselves in the main recognise the success of British music – music being something we are still capable of manufacturing and exporting. One might viably argue that the likes of Adele & One Direction are not in need of further reward, their multi-million sales being sufficient gratification. This misses the point that success begets success and the status of the ceremony as two hours of prime-time television for mostly-British music is incredibly valuable indeed.

We’ll get to the sales figures shortly but in the absence of regular music programming on TV and in these fragmented times of YouTube, Facebook and whatever it remains the case that The Brits TV show represents a very valuable opportunity for musicians to flog their wares to the mass-market, to middle-England and those people who do actually like music but are not exposed to enough of it.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The single life

As noted in the last post  Auntie Beeb has been celebrating the Golden Age of The Album with a series of programmes, some of which have been better than others.
Today Britain’s biggest radio station gets in on the act, combining it with a Beatles anniversary and getting a random bunch of ‘famous’ artists to re-record The Beatles Please Please Me in the same 12 hour period that the fab four were allocated.

Are we not all bored of Beatles 50th Anniversaries yet? There are inevitably many more to come. Obviously PPM is far from their best and doesn’t really represent their groundbreaking work in the album format, the recording being merely a representation of their live act at the time. It’s a good programme idea of course and if you’ve got the budget and the cross-promotional abilities of the Beeb (it’ll be an hour-long documentary on BBC4 on Friday) then why not?
As well as being the anniversary of the day The Beatles went to Abbey Road it was also revealed today that Psy’s Gangnam Style had become the latest single to hit a million sales in the UK. The Official Charts Company revealed the 123 million selling singles back in November, since which four others have joined the list  - ‘Gangnam’ of course, 'Call Me Maybe' by Carly Rae Jepsen, 'Impossible' by James Arthur and 'We Are Young' by Fun.

As if to represent the strength of the single at present there have been fifteen ‘million sellers’ in the last three years which means that the current decade is in a good position to usurp the 1990s which had (up to now) produced the highest number of million-selling singles with 32.
The Beatles are on the list a few times of course, if there is something else to celebrate it should be that they were an act who were as capable on single as album format and they were very prolific. There’s a lesson here, perhaps some of our favourite rock acts might learn about it one day.

Friday, February 8, 2013

'bum deal

Just as I was ready to read the last rites on the passing of ‘the album’ Auntie Beeb decides to launch a resurrection job and bow down in its honour. Over the last three nights they’ve been hosting a discussion of sorts into the greatest albums in three wide-reaching genres, rock, pop and r ‘n’ b.

Despite being hosted by the great Danny Baker the debate on offer was a little sterile, no real arguments or disagreements to be had. It’s as if they’ve all agreed to be respectful of each other’s choices, where’s the fun in that? In a way it’s exactly the kind of thing you’d be expecting if they were in mourning for the format.

It’s fair enough to be reverential about a bygone age; perhaps that’s how they feel about it. Indeed now that pretty much all album tracks can be downloaded individually the concept of what constitutes an album (or a single) is debatable.  This may be why the ‘album’ is undergoing something of an identity crisis – what is it but a collection of single tracks, individual songs that can and may well be measured on their own merits?
In the past and in general it could be said of most albums that there were songs contained therein that would (by impartial observers) be widely regarded as ‘filler’, certainly not strong enough to stand alone in the commercial market and not good enough to appeal to anyone but fans. Even on the best-selling and most critically-acclaimed albums there are songs that won’t make it onto people’s playlists, they’re there to make up the numbers or to fill the time/disc. They’re also there because they’re not singles; they may be the act’s way of demonstrating their versatility beyond the commercial remit.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Tune for today

The Lash – Rent

Sometimes a name is all it takes and The Lash is a great band name. I haven’t researched if anyone else is currently using it but there are plenty of naff and unmemorable act names out there and this is not one of those.

The vid for Rent was apparently recorded for pennies entirely using mobile phones which is a good story even if it isn’t true. It looks far too professional to me but who has time to argue?

There’s more to hear here to prove they know their way around a tune and though that’s rarely enough they seem to be kicking up a storm in South Wales right now.

It’s a familiar formula: soulful foxy female with decent voice fronts an otherwise ordinary looking band but they certainly play with a bit of swagger and there’s few better ways to waste four minutes today.