Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Pop and 2009, 2009 and pop

Matt DC, ILM:

"Looking at all these (2009's UK number 1s) on paper, it does feel 2009 was a bit of a paradigm shift in British pop. Barely any huge guitar bands or sensitive songwriters, and loads of rappers and Fisher Price electro-pop. That these records are mostly not very good is kinda beside the point, I'm interested as to whether it in retrospect looks like a blip or like the start of something.

If there's one thing that's characterised the 00s in mainstream British pop, it's been an endless and soul-destroying search for 'credibility'. Everything from Coldplay and the Sugababes onwards has felt like it's searching for some middle ground between Radio 1, Radio 2 and XFM. I don't actually like many of these, but I'm happy that British pop vulgarity is finally back.

The breaking of the glass ceiling by British rappers after about 20-something years is surely the biggest story here? I have faith that all three (Dizzee Rascal, Tinchy Stryder and Chipmunk) will make better records than these in the future, as they have in the past."

Correct on every point. But bear in mind that the "sensitive songwriters" especially have only vanished because they're gearing up for bigger, deeper power. This has been the best year for British chartpop since the early part of the decade, but mainly by default - those who have done so much to eat away at its fabric, its cultural power and meaning, have bigger fish to fry now, and that's the only reason chartpop has begun to improve. And do not rule out the possibility that British rappers, successful or not, will suffer on all kinds of levels - especially if Britain finally dies and they are left with an identity that still seems too exclusive, too white to take them in - in the years ahead.

It's a relief that Keane flopped last time round. But do not be misled: their real power, their real, horrific victory, is yet to come. By comparison to such things, pop should not matter at all.

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