We are heading, I am told, for another Cowell-flavoured Christmas number one in the UK singles charts this year. As that unexceptional Scottish woman* breaks album sales records and the backing tracks are being laid down for the single of whoever is going to win X-factor this year, it falls to me (yes, me, even though I haven’t paid attention to the UK pop charts since 1989) to explain why it matters not one whit who tops this charts this year.
And the reason is this:
What intelligent person would buy anything at full price in this day and age?
In this era of discounts and sales and Fopp, we all know that any CD we really want is certainly going to be available to buy for half the price in – well, these days in about three weeks.
When Bowie or the Beatles or the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band were releasing albums you had to rush out and buy them – it was the only way of hearing them, except for unpredictable radio play of some of the singles, and in any case, you wanted the full vinyl quality, not some hissing wireless version. Sadly – and I really do mean sadly – things have changed and we can all get what we want pretty much instantly in any manner of formats. And if we want to keep it, we only have to wait a little while before it plummets in price. I can’t remember the last time I rushed out to buy a recent release at full price. (Well, actually I can – it was the DVD of The History Boys, a decision I’ve regretted ever since not because I haven’t enjoyed watching the film many times but because I could have picked it up for next to nothing if I’d waited a couple of months.) And there’s no call for impatience, especially not where chart music is concerned – we can readily hear said tracks on Spotify, or YouTube, or indeed on Listen Again and Again and Again.
Yes, I know the UK charts now include iTunes downloads, and I know young people are impetuous and have a tendency to download first and think afterwards, but the clever ones have worked out how to illegally download the tracks they want without spending money and therefore without registering on the UK chart radar.
By which I deduce that the only people who do register on the UK charts are the stupid ones.
It explains why so much chart music is so rubbish. Take the Scottish woman*: the people who bought her album are idiots. Complete idiots. Not because she is of questionable talent or the album is undeniably of no lasting value whatsoever – people have odd tastes and I’m nobody to judge them for it. But purely because whatever records she has broken, it is inevitable that before 2010 is out, her album will be in every bargain bin in the country. My bet is I could pick up a copy for £2 by September.
It also suggests that we shouldn’t get so bothered about what nonsense is in the charts. Last year I got fed up of being told to pay money for Jeff Buckley’s ‘Hallelujah’ to stop a horrific cover version getting to number one**; I have Jeff Buckley’s very fine album, I’m not going to part with more money to have a copy of one of the tracks in a more digital, compressed format. Already this year I’ve been urged to buy the Muppets’ ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ to stop Cowell monopolising the Christmas charts: I won’t. I’ve seen the Muppets track on YouTube, it’s fun. Not the kind of thing I’d want on my playlist however, and if I ever get a hankering for it, it’ll still be on YouTube.
I couldn’t care less what gets to number one at Christmas; it has ceased to mean anything. Indeed, the worse the track is, the happier I’ll be, because it means that while I’m saving money, stupid people with no musical taste are helping the country recover from economic crisis.
Happy Christmas and bah humbug.
*Sorry, I simply can’t remember her name. Perhaps it’s because the press keep referring to her as MoJo, or SuMo, or BoKo or something… why this sudden need to reduce every celebrity to four letters? Imagine, if Molly Malone had been treated in such a fashion, she’d be MoMa.
**Can’t remember whose. Can anybody?