Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Kids these days don’t know how lucky they are. Even ten years ago my daily walk home after a hard day’s squabbling with a Welshman and a dipstick was fraught with tension, simply because it seemed like every bloody shop was blasting Walking in the Air, Last Christmas, or (worst of all) Merry Christmas Everyone out through doors in the apparent belief it would entice shoppers in or create a positive mood. Hmmm. Nowadays much has changed regarding Christmas music, of course. Having been preoccupied with other stuff for the past three or four festive seasons I had not in fact noticed that the single perpetrated  released by the X Factor winner has topped the charts every year since 2005.

Now, the British people will clearly only take so much! Forget all the various ongoing horrors and atrocities of the modern world, or the serious and ongoing problems resulting from our economic and social system’s inability to incorporate any kind of meaningful ethical or environmental agenda, or even the thorny issue of the Strictly Come Dancing voting system. If there’s one thing that will get the masses agitated and organised then it’s manufactured pop hogging the Xmas number one slot.

I’m not sure whether to feel more depressed about the immense popularity of X Factor – I can only assume 19.1 million people don’t actually mind being openly manipulated – or the crack-brainedness of the popular reaction against it. Members of this tendency state their problems pretty much thus: ‘We’re sick of being told what to buy and so we will demonstrate our non-conformism by doing something different. Yes, the same thing. Yes, all of us. Yes, it’s somebody else’s idea.‘ 

Are they aware that a lot of people might be buying the X-single because, hmm, they quite like it? You can say what you like about Simon Cowell but he knows how to put together a mainstream pop single. I suppose you can make the case that the 17-week saturation bombardment of Saturday night TV by Cowell and co. could be construed as giving Android McWinner the kind of publicity money simply can’t buy, but even so – what exactly are these people hoping to achieve? A return to the good old days when the Xmas no. 1 slot was usually taken by classic, credible artists like East 17 (Stay Another Day, 1994), the Spice Girls (three years in a row, though I quite like their ’96 release), and, of course, Cliff Richard (1988-90, 1999)? Wow, don’t set your sights too high, guys.

Cowell himself seems to be on the money (just for a change) when he interpreted the ‘let’s get Rage Against The Machine to no.1’ campaign as a personal attack, and a rather stupid one as he’s not going to make any less money off Android McWinner as a result – and Sony are going to make even more as they published both the singles in question.

Simon Cowell doesn’t decide, mould, or otherwise shape popular taste – more than any other senior person in the media, anyway – all he does is judge what the majority of the public will like better than most people. To complain about his success is to basically get upset that other people have different tastes to you (I think there’s a degree of jealousy involved too).

A lot of money has already been raised for a worthwhile charity, but the only thing that stopping Android McWinner from having the Xmas no. 1 will really prove is the internet’s power to let people organise and work together to achieve something (really pointless) in a manner impossible back when Noddy Holder ruled the December airwaves. And, to be honest, I think the current campaign is fuelled by the same motive responsible for vandalism and other kinds of pointless disruption of people’s lives. The fact the anti-Cowell mob have chosen as their favoured song not something appropriately seasonal, but a fashionably subversive piece of almost unlistenable rap metal where someone gargles ‘fuck’ 17 times while a concrete mixer turns over in the background, is to me significant. Here we are dealing with a juvenile instinct for mischief-making coupled to a nearly irrational dislike for one man and his trousers. Should they achieve their aim, no doubt some of those responsible will feel very good about themselves, but as the late Bill Hicks said about something entirely different – ‘If you really need to feel better about yourself – can I suggest  sit-ups?’

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