Things are so bad with British popular music that even my dad has noticed. He watched The Brits and actually took the time on the phone to point it out to me. This article in The Times [sorry, you foreigners will need a subscription] points it out too, ironically by harking back to the days of “BritPop”, as though British bands were successful then. As I have pointed out several times*, objectively—that is to non-journos, not snorting coke in the lavs of a retro-styled cocktail bar in north London in 1995—they weren’t. Check the stats. For all the talk of “Cool Britannia” new British bands didn’t actually sell records in significant numbers anywhere else then either. Except for the Spice Girls. Now our big overseas unit-shifter is Dido. There’s progress.
“One moan was particularly prevalent. What were all those Americans doing there? What with performances by The Black-Eyed Peas, 50 Cent, Outkast, Beyonc,Ai(B, Missy Elliott, Alicia Keys and No Doubt’s Gwen Stefani, the ceremony’s title suddenly failed to make much sense. The days when Blur claimed multiple awards for their works of cockney art-pop, an altogether younger Tony Blair paid tribute to “British music back once again at the top of the world” and Geri Halliwell popped out of a Union Jack minidress seemed long gone.”
Why were so many Americans there? Because they are better than us. Because US record companies value talent, hard work, charisma, strong songwriting and have a clue about black music. They don’t care so much about what’s “cool” either—an obsession here which, sadly, somehow manages to smother originality, British music’s last redeeming feature. Right now, everyone keeps telling me Franz Ferdinand are our next great hope. I rest my case.
*PooterGeek has the number one hit on Google for the phrase “the death of pop music“. Perhaps they mean me?