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by Margaret Magpie
Has modern technology really affected everyone's ability to remember anything from more than 10 minutes ago? I can't possibly be the only person to remember how it all used to be, can I? Flashback to 1990. Dee-lite appear on "The Word." First question: "How do you feel about losing the No. 1 position, even though you sold more than Steve Miller?"
My teenaged mind couldn't understand how this could have happened, so my sister kindly explained that the Levi-backed single by Mr Miller had more airplay, and so he ended up number one instead of the higher-selling "Groove Is In The Heart." Remember? No? Oh Lord...
How about when the charts finally became sales only. Jonathan would-you-like-to-see-my-puppies King did that weird thing with his mouth and pouted that the chart would be full of novelty records... kind of like the crap he used to churn out. Now, he turned out to be partly right.
The chart almost always has some trashy song that your 5 year old brother made your mum buy at Asda. However, the fact that a song which doesn't get played on radio at all can make it into the charts is all the proof I need that the singles chart is a wunnerful thing.
Radio is now just one option of promotion, instead of the ONLY option. Take a look at the US if you want to see what happens when radio becomes a monopoly. For a group without some major backing it's near impossible to gain a chart position there.
Now take a look at the different options available to a group or artist putting out a single here. Whether it's radio, SM:TV, club DJs or plain and simple word of mouth, the chances of getting a great song into the charts doesn't hinge on whether the promoter pitches it to some uninterested radio programmer.
Yeah, sure, you don't like some (or maybe most) of the songs in the charts. You mumble into your pint that such-and-such should be banned, so-and-so shouldn't be allowed. Well cast your mind back to the early 90's when so-called alternative music dominated Top of the Pops. What happened? We got exactly what we wanted, no "crap" according to our taste. Smash Hits had no choice but to have pin-ups of Kurt Cobain.
But then there was nothing to kick against and the entire scene self-imploded. I even remember Melody Maker (R.I.P.) discussing how disappointing an all-indie music scene was.
So the next time you feel like having a whine about some blonde tart at No. 1, go right ahead. It'll make you feel better I suppose, but DON'T start banging on about what should and shouldn't be "allowed" or asking why on Earth someone would buy such a record.
The charts are so much better than you know. Whatever genre of music you like, there will always ALWAYS be an audience for the exact opposite. Stop being a music fascist and give thanks to the Top 40!