Sunday 30 October 2011

The Music Fascist

I hate X Factor and all it stands for. I think it is destroying music.

And people have called me a music fascist because of this opinion.

I don’t think that I am a music fascist at all. I know what I like and I listen to it and buy it. The problem is that the music I like is rarely played on the radio or television so I find myself exploring the internet in order to get satisfaction.

Radio and television programmes claim to champion music but they don’t. They only play the music that they want you to hear, which means that you either get to listen to the same old songs or are spoon fed the latest trends that the music moguls want you to hear.

Chief amongst the diseases that afflict the music industry are shows like the X Factor, which wind me up for many reasons: here are a few of them:

(1) The winner of the X Factor is “guaranteed” to be the Christmas Number One. I wouldn’t mind because I know that songs that get to number one these days are put there by mass marketing that has nothing to do with the “talent” of the artist. I was delighted a year or two ago when there was an enormous backlash and Killing In The Name Of  by Rage Against The Machine derailed the X Factor juggernaut and slapped Simon Cowell in the face. What’s more, “the coveted number one spot” these days is a joke. Years ago, songs didn’t automatically go “straight in at number one” like they do now thanks to the power of the marketing machine.

(2) Many people watch the X Factor in the early stages to laugh at and ridicule the deluded idiots who think they can sing but can’t. I have caught the odd audition and I know for a fact that I can sing better than they can – and I can’t bloody sing.

(3) Once the final gets underway we get sixteen weeks of it with just one act being voted off each week. And the voting lasts for 24 hours making the producers even richer at the expense of the people who vote.

(4) Phrases like “You OWNED that song” make me want to vomit, as do phrases like “The stage was YOURS” and “You’re going to be a STAR”. The eventual winners usually get forgotten about after two years.

(5) Contestants who say “I want this more than ANYTHING – it’s my DREAM” are ritually raised up and then shot down. It is a truly humiliating experience for some of them and we witness them falling to pieces in the name of entertainment.

I could go on about X Factor but the point is that we as a music loving nation are spoon fed utter dross. Radio One is a major culprit, refusing to play anything that they deem unfit for their audience. Other radio stations are the same.

If the only music I had to listen to was the crap that was served up by Radio One I would only ever listen to Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Jay Z, BeyoncĂ©, Take That and bloody Westlife. We live in times when manufactured pretty boys and girls who can’t sing are suddenly breaking records by having “the most number ones”.

It’s ridiculous.

It’s also bland, repetitive, tedious and awful.

I favour rock music but when you ask for a rock song at any party, pub or wedding you end with Sweet Child O' Mine - Guns n Roses, Living On a Prayer - Bon Jovi Sex On Fire - Kings of Leon or, the crowning turd in the DJ’s collection, Don’t Stop Believing - Journey. I’ve grown to hate those songs because they are overplayed and people always look to me with a face that says “Stop moaning – this is rock music!”. They claim to like these songs. But when I cite other examples by the same bands - BETTER songs that people have no clue about. 

These songs are far superior and you will never hear them played anywhere. If you like the token rock songs I mentioned above, follow the links below - much better songs.

(1) You Could Be Mine - Guns 'n' Roses

(2) Keep The Faith - Bon Jovi

(3) Four Kicks - Kings of Leon

(4) Separate Ways - Journey

It may be rock music – but these songs are just the tip of a planet sized iceberg.

And when people hear me ranting about why I hate Jesse J and Eminem they accuse me of being a music fascist, a one genre imbecile who is living in the past.

They may be partially right – I am living in the past a little because back then a wider range of music used to be available on the radio and television.

We had The Old Grey Whistle Test and Radio One had DJs like John Peel, a man who bought the music he played, and was responsible for launching the careers of some sparkling diamonds in the music world.

Those days are gone. I mourned the loss of John Peel, a man who would play what he liked in a bid to expose new genres.

It really annoys me that there are great bands out there busting a gut to be heard and to gain exposure and being ignored in favour of a bunch of dreadful karaoke singers who are forced to sing songs written by old millionaires or dirges have been dug up from the pit of songs that should have been consigned to Hell within seconds of their conception.

Thank goodness for the internet.

Thankfully, I am beginning to see changes. There is a lot of music out there – it’s just a question of finding it.

And thanks to the internet it is possible to find out when my favourite bands are releasing new albums, something I have struggled with in the past because they have not been favoured by Radio One and that ilk.

Anyway – enough ranting.

I am going to do a bit of a John Peel thing now and provide links to some tunes from my collection, some old, some new, some from artists you may have heard of, others not. The thing they have in common is that they have never been played on Radio One or sung on X Factor.

Have a listen and let me know what you think.

(1) North – Paul Mounsey

(2) Air – Kelly Watch The Stars

(3) Porcupine Tree – Trains

(4) Ink Dot Boy – Circle 

(5) Ten – Endless Symphony 

If you like them – fine. If not then that’s also fine. But at least you had a chance to listen because you would never have heard them if Simon Cowell had his way.

I would ideally like to set myself up as the anti-Simon Cowell and force radio stations to play as wide a variety of music as possible. I would like the X Factor to become a show where new bands are allowed to shine on the television. It wouldn’t matter what the genre was and I wouldn’t stop a young rapper having five minutes to appeal to those who like that style of music (even though I personally hate rap).

I would employ a wide range of judges – not the shower that we see on X Factor – judges who are fair and open and recognise true talent when they see it. There would be judges with amazing eclectic taste not Louis Walsh, the man who infected us with Westlife.

Can you imagine that? Can you imagine an open music talent show with real musicians, real singers, real songwriters and people?

A music fascist is surely somebody who wants to spoon feed everybody with music that they either like or will make them rich rather than allowing free expression for all genres.

I am therefore not a music fascist; those behind the X Factor and Radio One etc. are guilty as charged.

I rest my case.


Kath Lockett said...

Now that we have access to British TV here in Geneva, all three of us have vowed to avoid every single X Factor, Britain's got Talent and whatever show we can.

...which seems to only leave soap operas and endless repeats of Grand Designs!

I feel your pain - don't watch the telly and be thankful that you have your own playlists via ipod.. :)

Plastic Mancunian said...

Bonjour Kath,

Sadly my pain is aggravated by the fact that Mrs PM watches it - hence my tirade - I accidentally catch it and my soapbox comes out.