27 Feb 2012

The Radio Still Sucks

So in an interview with the London Evening Standard Noel Gallagher said, '"Fact of the matter is that great music died quite a while ago."

"Remember when there were all cool bands in the chart? Oasis, Blur, Pulp and The Verve.  Now it's Jessie J and fucking Duffy.  Everybody's got records "featuring" somebody else: it's either a shit rap about somebody's struggle, or just fucking shit music set to some reggae backbeat sung in some transatlantic fucking accent. And then they'll throw some Cockney in just to keep it fucking "real".'

"Y'see, wharritis right, is... fuckn..."

Now, this article isn't about Noel Gallagher vs Jessie J in the songwriting stakes.  What I'm more interested in is the idea that "music's just not as good as it used to be."  People have been saying this for years - if it's true, music's been getting steadily worse since about 1642. 

Let's look at this week's Top 10:

  1. Gotye - Somebody That I Used To Know (feat. Kimbra)
  2. Emeli Sandé - Next To Me 
  3. DJ Fresh - Hot Right Now (feat. Rita Ora)
  4. Flo Rida - Wild Ones (feat. Sia)
  5. David Guetta - Titanium (feat. Sia)
  6. Jessie J - Domino
  7. Nicki Minaj - Starships
  8. David Guetta - Turn Me On (feat. Nicki Minaj)
  9. Gym Class Heroes - Ass Back Home (feat. Neon Hitch)
  10. Will.I.Am - T.H.E. (The Hardest Ever) (feat. Jennifer Lopez & Mick Jagger)
OK, so at first glance he's certainly right about records "featuring" somebody else.  Staggering!

But what about the quality of the music?

Gotye is a Belgian-Australian multi-instrumentalist who's been earning his stripes for quite a while now.  This track isn't quite as good as his superb 2006 hit Learnalilgivinanlovin but it's still an excellent song with an interesting production that means it doesn't just sound like the rest of the top 10.

Emeli Sandé is an ok singer and a hard worker - not just a stage school pop princess (though she does keep using that annoying turn on the "You will find him you'll find him next to me" line that's so horribly popular with everybody who graduates from the BRIT school), and the song's a well written anthem with a great production by Craze & Hoax.

The first David Guetta track isn't bad - he's got a knack for a good build up (better demonstrated in his Kelly Rowland collaboration When Love Takes Over), and Jessie J's Domino isn't a bad song at all, even though it's already starting to sound a bit dated.

The rest of the chart, though... The Flo Rida and Will.I.Am tracks are particularly horrendous, while Nicki Minaj's output continues to grate, and DJ Fresh  - a legend on the Drum & Bass scene - has nothing special to offer here.

So we'll say it's 20% good 'uns; 20% not bad; 60% garbage.

Chart composition, Late February 2012

Now let's look at the chart from Mid August 1995, when Oasis released Roll With It. (Chart courtesy of Everyhit.com)

  1. Take That - Never Forget
  2. Boyzone - So Good
  3. The Original - I Luv U Baby
  4. The Outhere Brothers - Boom Boom Boom
  5. Seal - Kiss From A Rose/I'm Alive
  6. TLC - Waterfalls
  7. Corona - Try Me Out
  8. Diana King - Shy Guy
  9. Blur - Country House
  10. Suggs - I'm Only Sleeping/Off On Holiday
So in this chart we've got the sublime Kiss From A Rose - great song, wonderfully sung, with legendary producer Trevor Horn pulling out all the stops.  Country House, which I hated at the time, is a tremendous record from every perspective (once you learn to block out Damon Albarn's mockney affectation) 

TLC's Waterfalls is canny - bit repetitive but catchy nonetheless.  Lovely, crisp production too.  Diana King's Shy Guy is pretty bland if inoffensive, as Noel would say "set to some reggae backbeat sung in some transatlantic fucking accent."  Jamaican patois was in at the time, though (Remembering Shaggy with a shudder, and that dickhead on Peter Andre's Mysterious Girl).

I'm Only Sleeping is a good song, but Suggs's cover is completely unnecessary.  The Original's track is probably ok if you'd just come back from Ibiza and didn't know any better, but I'm afraid I can't be so generous to Try Me Out - I think if Corona's entire output were buried somewhere in the Gobi desert the world would be a better place.  Boom Boom Boom is just moronic.  So Good is a dangerous title to give a song that's so mind-numbingly bad; lazy songwriting and production... while Never Forget is similarly ironic, given that it's so forgettable I'd completely forgotten the chorus almost before it had even finished.

The Roundup: Seal and Blur provide our 20% of good 'uns; TLC and Diana King provide the middle ground; and the other 60% should be destroyed.

Chart Composition - Mid August 1995

Are we seeing a pattern here?

Whether you're a musician or a music fan, it's annoying when you hear the latest number one, and it's utterly terrible, but I think we can take comfort in the fact that  the charts have always been rubbish.  Even going back to the sixties, The Beatles' Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever was kept off the top spot by Please Release Me by Englebert Humperdink!  We remember the best music, because its quality ensures it lasts that little bit longer, and we tend to forget the dross.

What lives in your memory as a great year for music?  Have a look at a few charts at Everyhit.com and see just how rose-tinted your glasses are - if you can find one that's 80% classic hits and 20% forgettable garbage, I'll eat my hat!

"Every now and then, I turn it on again, but it's plain to see that the radio still sucks."
- The Ataris

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