We live in a musical wasteland. No, not Medway, everywhere. For once this isn’t a bitter attack on the broken conurbation we reluctantly call our collective home, but instead a comment on the wider world of popular music as we know it. A not-so-subtle word on the money grabbing hacks, marketing thieves, fame hungry half people and the walking talking preening posing self-image obsessed prepubescent hair-gel adverts which currently occupy much of the modern ‘music’ industry.
Without wishing to criticize the individual talent and music of the following artists, all have recently come to prominence through regular (and in most cases, relentless) radio play and media coverage over the past few years. So, take a deep breath and tell me what do the following artists have in common: One Direction, Miley Cyrus, Example, George Ezra, First Aid Kit, Meghan Trainor, Foxes, Ben Haenow, Calvin Harris, Ke$ha, Little Mix, Rick Astley, Lunchmoney Lewis, Olly Murs, Sia, Tom Odell, Mark Ronson, Daft Punk and Pharrel Williams… Apart from the fact that the above sentence reads like a likely playlist for BBC Radios 1 & 2, all are part of the Sony Music group. Many are admittedly talented and many artists on the Sony roster more than deserve their success. But really, can we honestly say that the majority of the above are so prominent because of talent… Much of it is a vapid pointless rehash of old material, glorified sugary nothing songs to placate a distracted audience. Who could forget the Stock Aitken Waterman blueprint; the same song structure and music over and over again but with a different face each time. Could it be that the success of many of these artists might just rely on the might and monetary backing of a marketing behemoth intent on attention, exposure and awareness. Tell me, which dickhead decided to take the ‘art’ out of ‘artist’?
It gets shoved down our throats and most will smile, nod and say thank you. Thank you, wonderful overlords, for giving us this wondrous feast of saccharine bullshit presented reverentially to us on the altars of butchered culture and penny airwaves. When I mention Radio 2, I use this as my point of reference as I listen to it every damn day at work. Sony sells it’s music as a package; radio stations don’t get to pick an individual song based on it’s talent or artistic merit, they buy them in lots. For every Elvis Presley track you get a Miley track, for every Simon and Garfunkel song played you play a Ke$ha, for every good song that listeners want to hear they get a big steaming slab of forgettable pointless shite. What’s worst is that songs are presented as equal, “That was Patti Smith with ‘Horses’, great track what a classic… And now we have a fab new song from Miley Cyrus with ‘My clit is in your earlobe’, enjoy”… Fanfuckingtastic.
In addition to this; Syco Music, part of the entertainment subsidiary of Simon Cowells partnership with Sony, has been a prominent (if covert) part of the careers of many of the artists named above. Retail billionaire, Sir Philip Green, serves as an advisor to Syco and it’s not difficult to see where the chairman of Topshop factors in this arrangement. Go into any Topman in the country and you are bombarded by the same trends worn by Cowell’s puppets. Another advisor to Syco is The Right Honourable Baroness Karren Brady, who writes regularly for the Sun newspaper and a conservative life peer. You tell me, what’s wrong with this picture?
And don’t think that I’m picking on Sony either; it’s the same story with Universal who boast the employment of the judges from TV talent show The Voice. Change the label and all can be traced back to the financial juggernauts, and they are all vying with each other for your attention. My god, are they going to throw the entire weight of their marketing might at you. You’re fucked basically.
BUT… there is another option, not all hope is lost. There is nothing to stop you from switching off your radio, cancelling your TV licence and enjoying a little peace and quiet for a while. And maybe, when you’re sick of peace and quiet, go out, find the nearest local gig and meet the local bands that are playing there every weekend. Find a band you like and pay £4 for their EP, they need your support and attention a lot more than Sony or their army of fashion puppets. Be a part of a culture, be an individual, be a valued member of something that matters. Don’t be a Marketing demographic or a decimal on a page. Be you. Take back your own life and make your own damn choice. Life is too short to do as you’re told; life is too long to not make your own decisions. And for fuck sake have fun while you do it.