Saturday, 19 December 2009

The Xmas No 1

Oh if only I could get interested in the race for the Xmas No 1, but very sadly it marks one of the most regrettably indicators of the decline into old age that has characterised the last decade for me. I am so out of touch with pop music I don't know or care who's in the charts these days. Even though the whole Rage Aganist The Machine revolt is fascinating and fun, it's about the only number 1 race this year that I'll remember. (I'll remember the race but not the song, have you heard The Climb? That must be the most generic record ever. I feel like I've heard it masquerading as 20 other power ballads before. Turns out it was previously recorded by Miley Cyrus and was nominated for a Grammy as Best Song in a Movie or somesuch. That generic.)

It seems, from discussions on the telly, that I'm not alone in this lament for the vitality of popular music. And I'm not the only person opining the loss of Top Of The Pops, and I am regularly reminded how that weekly visual fix of pop information acted as a memory jogger for me. If I cast my mind back to my childhood and remember what record was around at a certain time, it's almost always the TOTP performance that immediately springs to mind. Or the pop video which, in my childhood, you only saw on TOTP, or for a few years on The Chart Show. Never mind that we've had MTV in our house for the last 15 years, and YouTube for the last three, it's simply not the same as the one weekly show which gave you a 30 minute update on what was hot and what wasn't.

And TOTP was at its best and most representative when it played only the records that had made that week's chart. It was democratic, and harder for record companies to manipulate, though I can't deny its last great age, the Britpop years, thrived under the pre-release arrangement where, essentially, the company with the best PR could get on TOTP and ensure a number one the next week. Either way, it was exciting and I miss it. (So, I know, do many musicians. Ronan Keating moaned earlier this year that he had to appear on a bloody cookery programme, probably Something For The Weekend, to promote his song).

So the race for the Xmas no1 was the grand finale to this weekly race which I remember being so captivating. Then I look back and realise, wait a minute, all the records that got to number 1 when I was a kid were shocking. Have a look at the chart toppers from the mid 70s and it seems to be dominated by comedy novelty records. Windsor Davies & Don Estelle? Laurel & Hardy? It would appear John Travolta & Olivia Newton Johnwere number 1 throughout all of punk & new wave.

And the Xmas number 1s were even worse. Mary's Boy Child by Boney M? Mull Of Kintyre? Ernie the Fastest Milkman In The bloody West? Why the hell am I nostalgic for that nonsense?

Knowing what was number 1 ever week? Caring whether it's be Blur or Oasis? I'm well out of it. Good luck Rage Against The Machine. You will, of course lose, because the forces of revolution are vastly outnumbered by the forces of moronity. God Bless Us Every One!

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