What Will The Music Fans Say?


by Mikey
6th February, 2005

Girls Aloud With record companies banging on about single sales being on the decline and moaning about anything and everything that may be the reason for this, from downloading to not enough choice of formats, one reason seems to be missing: Pop music just isn't interesting. And when the kids aren't interested, the whole exercise fails in one big sparkly, manicured, massaged, preened and media-trained swoop.

When Girls Aloud, a reality TV pop group borne from Popstars: The Rivals and successors of the long-forgotten One True Voice (or OTV as they were known shortly before they quietly disbanded), are hailed as arguably the most interesting pop group in today's current climate, surely something's wrong. Or is it?

The second album, "What Will The Neighbours Say?" was recently released amongst a flurry of media interest. Fair enough, their album is fresh, sassy, laugh-out-loud funny and ultimately tongue-in-cheek with knowing nods to their fanbase. "Take it away boys," they breathe saucily at the beginning of "Here We Go" - a song recycled from the days of ex-Xenomania stalwarts Moonbaby.

But listening to their music from first album "Sound Of The Underground" to the second, they don't seem to be anymore prominent individually as the Spice Girls were. Everyone knew their Baby from their Ginger, their Scary from their Sporty, and of course Posh just stood at the back giving the other Spices evils. The vocals seem to blend a bit too easily; the songs, bar the by now familiar singles, do the same. Perhaps recruiting just one producer - in the form of Xenomania - is to blame for this.

Dido This is what is wrong with pop music at the moment. An album that is bad when compared to contemporary classics by the likes of the Spice Girls and even The Beatles, is deemed "the pop album of the year" by some. Sure, Girls Aloud have their fans - I'm one of them myself - but surely, in the 11 months leading up to the release of "What Will The Neighbours Say?" there was a better, more interesting pop album released?

Another case of study is Dido - pseudo-suicidal, nasal whinges became one of the biggest selling albums of the year in the form of "Life For Rent". Fine, good, whatever turns you on. But to make the poor woman the biggest selling artist last year as well is just downright irresponsible - the girl needs her Prozac, not another No. 1.

Natasha Bedingfield is another example - "These Words" and "Single" were both fantastic. The album was released. Guess what? On the face of it, it's fine. Compare it to any other contemporary top-selling album, and it's mediocre at best. The all-important interesting - that word again - clunky beats and subliminal whisperings and shout-outs of the singles are missing from many of the other album tracks, making it all seem a bit of a hollow, lifeless exercise.

Boy George Perhaps the bigwigs are just getting lazy. After all, with the likes of Norah Jones, Katie Melua and Jamie Cullum being the big sellers, the critics' darlings, why bother with fun, harmless bubblegum pop? I'll tell you why: we need it. We need our pop, and if that stops being dished up altogether then God have mercy on the poor, responsible souls. Hell hath no fury like a pop addict without a quick and easy fix.

Band Aid 20 has been seen as a huge let down by a vast majority but, being for charity and all that, it's gone straight to No. 1. Depressing or what? The 'talent' used on the record, excepting a select few, seems to be a big exercise in promotion and ego-building. The record is nowhere near the status of the classic first try - and that was never a good record by any means, but the people singing on it made it what it is. The artists on Band Aid 20 just don't seem to have their hearts in it - it's like they went along, sang a little bit, watched a video of the poor kids they're helping, sang a little bit more and then left. And that was it. Nothing more.

That's not to say that the artists aren't talented, far from it. It's just that they're a bit too safe for comfort. What happened to the good old days of Boy George going along at the last minute and swigging alcohol as he was recording? These days, our pop stars are too 'clean' to be seen doing anything as feckless as that but maybe that's what we, the audience and the fans, want.

Rachel Stevens Trashy publicity stunts are pretty much non-existent nowadays, except for the occasional short-lived wedding (step forward, please, Britney) or an over-used pair of cowboy chaps (Miss Aguilera, thank you) or even self-pitying ramblings about self-hate and your many, many addictions (that's you Robbie Williams, cheers). We need this. We need more Sporty Spice offering Oasis a fight, more chart battles, more trashy weddings for God's sake! None of this mediaphobic nonsense played out by the likes of Chris Martin (that dude from Coldplay - don't worry if you don't know him, he's shy), or the play-it-safe likes of squeaky clean Rachel Stevens. Now if she was part of the pot-smoking club from S Club 7, could we have had a marijuana-fuelled experimental album by now instead of the severely lacklustre dirge that wasted a perfectly decent piece of plastic in the shape of her "Funky Dory" CD?

So come on popworld - give us something to really get our teeth into; something to make our eyes water and our ears bleed. We need something a bit more savoury than the overdose of saccharine boredom you've been giving us lately.