Man, I come up with some questionable arguments don’t I? Ok, it’s not quite as reflex puke your face off and shit in your pants it’s so wrong an idea as “Hitler – the Jews would be nothing without him!” but it’s still a pretty bold statement to make in an article aimed squarely at the anti-reality brigade. Still, I’ve dropped the clutch now so strap yourself in, people, and hold onto your nappies as I accelerate you towards a storm of bullshit big enough to give the Moon a methane atmosphere.
It’s true. Simon Cowell is the best thing to happen to British music right now. Sort of. A little bit. Alright, it’s tenuous at most but his Saturday night yawn-athons (currently Britain’s Got Talent), have become almost monopolistic in the “nominal search for a star whilst laughing at society’s dregs and the mentally ill” market. Yes, Baron Andrew Lloyd-Greenback, when he’s not trying to destroy Dangermouse, has his own franchise for finding pretty young things to leer over but it’s based around musicals so it’s all a bit privileged and upper middle class. Cowell’s brand of personal fiefdom is wildly more classless and therefore more accessible to braying idiots from all walks of life.
SyCo’s sustained dominance of the reality TV music market has, I believe, changed the way many aspiring musicians attempt to achieve popularity. Because our screens are super-saturated with wall to wall shit every Saturday night, artists with even the slightest of critical faculties now realise that the Cowell’s of this world aren’t really looking for genuine talent, but somebody pliable with a handsome slash pretty face and a voice that at least sounds better than the effect of sandpapering a live bear’s testicles. Someone who will sit there quietly while SyCo pumps his profit margins through them, a pound coin shitting machine to be discarded the moment the nuggets turn brown.
Any musician possessing the most mild pretensions to controlling their artistic output must realise that the reality TV path is a closed alley. Blocked with razor wire, heavily mined and also Simon has done a big poo in the shape of Louis Walsh in there so it smells a bit. Definitely not a route anyone with common sense and good taste would choose to travel.
This disenfranchisement of music with critical intensity seems to extend beyond the mere reality TV world and across the wider music industry, where mainstream music is disproportionately over-represented by shiny disco pop, whatever passes for rap these days and women who seem to be trapped in a serious clothing and self esteem shortage. It’s hard to turn a critical ear against this audiobox of bling coated fluff because it is what it is. Honey coated shit to appease the uncritical palettes of people who don’t care about moving music, unless that movement is pelvic in it’s orientation.
With so much anti-music filling the vacuum, the situation feels almost within gobbing distance of that in the mid 1970’s. Frustrated by a music industry that favoured the pompous overblown nonsense of prog rock and the MOR AOR of bands like Fleetwood Mac, the kids thought to themselves “fuck it, I’m gonna do what I wanna do and I don’t give a shit if anyone likes it”. Brilliant. It was that kind of attitude, that spawned a whole new approach to music that still resonates today (True, it also spawned the risible Oi! scene but we’ll save that for the next time Gary Bushell needs a good kicking).
It’s against today’s backdrop of mass inanity that our musical youth are once again saying “fuck it, I’m gonna do what I wanna do and I don’t give a shit if anyone likes it”. Bands are recording their music the way they think it should sound, setting up their own labels to release it and, as the Lucky 27’s illuminate in an earlier Blue Whale piece, they’re even putting on their own shows when they disagree with the way some promoters run their gigs. (Check out what they say here – Some salient points, though naturally I disagree with their views on the “no scene” scene and Christ, don’t get me started on their playlist choices).
Anyway, the point I’m hoping you’ll see amongst all of this waffle is that, thanks in no small amount to Simon Cowell trying to rule the known universe with his brand of devil’s puppetry, and everything else that brings with it, rebellious musicians are sticking two fingers up to the existing structures, taking matters into their own hands and reviving that oft misquoted moniker, independent music. Whilst the rest of the world is flying 30,000 feet up through a volcanic gas cloud of unchallenging crap, down here on the surface creativity is being allowed to flourish unfettered by the direction and influence that a less pop orientated music industry might choose to exert. And hurrah to that, I say!