Pop music used to mean something. I don’t just mean ‘music’ – music still does mean something, and still has the power to change the world – but it used to be that proper Pop, chart pop, had a cultural significance.
The great indicator of this in the 60s/70s/80s was Top Of The Pops – like a weekly Queen’s speech, we’d all gather round the tele to find out who was number 1. Playing on TOTP was a sure way of selling a shedload more records, and presenting it was pretty much the pinacle for any radio DJ. Even Peel presented TOTP!
It was reading this article about Andi Peters quitting as Exec Producer that got me thinking about it again. Andi claims he just wants to get back in front of the camera, but the ever increasing irrelavence of the show must have had an influence. I can’t imagine for a second that a producer of TOTP in the 80s would have left to present some lame-assed reality TV show in a hospital. Nope, that would have been seen as a major step backwards.
So what’s happened? Well, partly it’s just that single sales are utterly meaningless these days, so having a ‘number one’ single is less and less important. It’s also partly that the singles charts are so full of novelty crap, because sales are so low anyway – that the kind of thing that gets shown is often dreadful. It’s not like there weren’t dreadful records in the past – Black Lace, Captain Sensible, Spitting Image, Joe Dolce – there were tonnes of piss-poor novelty hits back then too, they were just a better class of piss-poor novelty hit. They were actually funny, rather than infuriating. And they didn’t seem to be part of some huge corporate marketing plan to rip off kids who don’t understand the technology they are getting involved with, in the style of that sodding Frog thing.
Musical markets have diversified hugely – I rarely own anything that gets anywhere near the charts (of the current top 75 UK albums I own one – KT Tunstall‘s marvellous ‘Eye To The Telescope’) – and the internet has thankfully given us access to music that would previously have remained hidden. But I still can’t hlelp mourning the loss of families sitting round to watch Top Of The Pops, even if it was just so the parents could say ‘d’you call that music????’
Soundtrack – Charlie Peacock, ‘Love Press Ex-Curio’ (marvellous, simply marvellous)by