Revisiting an old bugbear

Stumbled across this today. I hate its “let’s point at the weirdos” tone, and especially the smug, patronising comments by Neil McCormick, the Daily Telegraph’s Rock critic. Daily Telegraph Rock Critic, there’s a phrase that sums up the anodyne conservatism of the rock press and sticks a ribbon on top.

I notice the Beatles mono box costs £200, the stereo one not much less. I guess if people are willing to pay it, good luck to them. But the whole marketing ploy stinks. EMI know that there are legions of rock critics out there who will give the whole affair a ludicrous amount of attention, competing to see who can be the most gushingly hyperbolic. And consumer sheep will obediently wave their credit cards around to buy the music for a third time. And they’ll do it all again in a few years time when the Blu-Ray edition comes out with “rare video footage and unseen photos” (doesn’t everybody know what they bloody look like by now?).

Unlike some people I know (they’re not as rare as the establishment would have you believe), I don’t gag on my own bile at the mere mention of the Beatles. It’s not unpleasant music, just unengaging and uninteresting for the most part. Sure, they are tunes you can whistle – but so is “Bob the Builder”.

I guess as I get older, I get more cynical about the whole pop / industry machine and the press that feeds it. It’s a maggot-ridden corpse, and the maggots have no integrity or scruples as long as there’s feeding to be had.

I’m happy in the margins, in the undergrowth, where folk make music for the thrill, or in a genuine attempt to make something new. To create art, in other words, if art hadn’t become such a debased term. If the whole bloated corpse of the music industry and its hangers on were to spectacularly implode tomorrow, I don’t think it would make one iota of difference to the quality of music made by people around the world.

By the way – my original rant can be found here. Was grumpy that day!


3 responses to “Revisiting an old bugbear

  1. beatles = meh as far as i’m concerned. it’s the blanket coverage on every tv station and newspaper that’s bugging the hell out of me, not just from the music press side of things. this shit’s forty years old now. can we not move on?

    they’re lifting the ban on product placement on tv i note this morning. which doesn’t include the bbc. but somehow the weeks of beatles lifestyle style stories on various shows and the beeb website don’t count. as long as you’re obviously hawking something then it’s okay apparently…

    • There’s actually a connection here. Derren Brown uses people’s suggestability as a large part of his act, essentially using the same techniques as EMI are using with their willing media stooges. It’s a strange concept, but seems to work. If you saturate the media with something, then it reaches a critical mass and becomes a cultural phenomenon that most people want to be a part of. Even the naysayers like us complaining about the media saturation are just adding to it, and helping to fuel the monster.

      It’s how X-Factor, Big Brother etc works. A couple of months ago it was Michael Jackson, now it’s the Beatles.

      They tried it with the Oasis split, but there is a limit to the public’s gullibility!

      As far as the Derren Brown / lottery thing, I think the point was not how he did it (which will probably have a very mundane explanation, if indeed his machine-fix hypothesis wasn’t true), but how he could whip up that frenzy. I thought the 24 automatic writing volunteers were a good example. He never showed them the final selection of numbers that he took with him in that tube, and yet they all seemed totally convinced that it was some kind of massed psychic ability on their part.

      The mathematical logic was obviously flawed if any of them took a second to think about it, but they believed because they wanted to believe.

      It’s how religion works.

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