an open letter to the Brit Awards
Dear Brit Awards,
We had great fun last night laughing at your never-ending glossy showbiz extravagnaza.
We watched the modern equivalent of the Royal Variety Show whilst clapping in our cheap seats and watching you rattle your jewellery feeling very remote from your version of pop culture- but that made us laugh even more and we thank you for that.
It’s not that we are right and you are wrong, pop music is a bit more complex than that. I’d hate to live in world dominated by my vast record collection but I do get a bit bored of your vision relentlessly impinging upon my life. If you want a vision of the future, imagine a mimed pop performance stamping on a human face – forever, as someone didn’t quite say!
During the evening many people were getting in touch with me panicking about the state of modern music but I think they were worrying pointlessly.
There was much teeth gnashing and panicking out from the music lovers out there matching the strange site of elderly media folk, the cultural picnickers, pretending to really like pop music made for 9 year olds which is fair enough, if a bit odd. We understand that everyone has to stay in work these days and work is hard to come by these days even if it means you have to pretend that Justin Timberlake’s rather tuneless song was like ‘great, man’ and that One Direction’s fairly aimless version of Blondie and the Undertones was ‘like, cool!”.
The cultural panickers on the internet were the people locked outside the media, the ones who only get to see the pinnacle of the pop culture iceberg as the Titanic of capitalism lurches blindly towards it. This is the part of the iceberg that sticks above the waterline and it is you the Brits and its attendant culture- you know the high streets of Britain where all the shops are the same, the endless chains of Muckdonalds, the superstar films full of special affects and wooden actors- showing their male and female tits and arses for the camera in the soft porn parade of contemporary culture- which is part of what its about.
Pop music is the same and that’s ok. It’s always been this way- we grew up with Opportunity Knocks and New Faces, Elvis had to sing to a dog on TV once and the Beatles were once a boy band but, dear Brits, please don’t think that this is what it’s all about. When you big up ‘new performers’ that have already had number one albums and pretend that you reflect the whole of popular culture we have to smile for you. We don’t hate pop, we love some pop and we know that all the great musics from Elvis to the Beatles to MIA to punk, from Kate Bush to Frank Ocean, from Girls Aloud to Rammstein to even the Fall are a pop music. Pop rules!
Neither the Brits nor their dissenters really get it. Music carries on in its wonderful creative way without the permission of the Brits and the award ceremony is a minor distraction. It’s a chance for the plump chickens to squeeze into their rented suits and dickie bows (the silliest item of clothe ever!) and clap the posh boys playing folk that pass for ‘cred’ bands and the performing fleas from the boy bands.
It’s not that each performer was rubbish on their own- just when all lumped together and surrounded by the chutzpah of exploding light shows and pompous world beating announcements it just seems super vacuous and meant to beat the viewer into a senseless state of serf like zombiefication. The spectacle of society!
It’s important to remember that the Brits is not all pop culture. In the seventies Top Of The Pops was everything, it was sat bang smack in the middle of pop culture with all the jagged edges of every style crammed into the show. It was not perfect but you could find punk rubbing shoulders with the balladeers. It’s demise meant that music on TV has become an occasional irritant, a background soundtrack for the soap operas or the grown ups hour of Jools Holland. The Brits is not a reflection of music culture, nothing is these days. Everything is far too fractured which should be celebrated!
The Brits is an ad mans dream, it’s music polished to death but it’s not the whole story, the panicking commentators who fear the death of pop because of its scrubbed up sheen have missed the point. Music is very much alive and kicking. There are more diverse styles of music than ever before and more musicians than ever out there in the real world. The Brits will never go near this, it-s Cowell-world, it’s not the pop world. It’s just one scene in an never expanding music universe crammed full of a myriad of scenes. It’s dark matter in the musical universe, a vast empty space of nothingness but also out there in that universe are loads of great things going on- whole crab nebulas of musical genius!
Brits, for most of us you are two hours to mess about on twitter taking the piss and arseing around. It’s not really a serious reflection of what’s going on and probably only a reflection of presenter James Corden’s minuscule music collection and that is the context that you should be enjoyed in.