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Friday, 10 March, 2000, 12:49 GMT
Brits: Pop or pap?
Is British music dead?
This year's Brit awards - rewarding the cream of the UK music industry - crowned old favourites Robbie Williams, the Spice Girls, Steps and Tom Jones.
But only four years ago the likes of Oasis, Blur, Pulp and Radiohead stormed into the charts and swept the board at the awards, heralding the renaissance of Britpop.
Are the judges now overlooking quality for popularity? Should there be more non-mainstream winners like Macy Gray, Beck and The Chemical Brothers (two of whom are not British)?
It's like eating the same old bland food without ever trying some of the more adventures tasty dishes of the world! The UK is and always will produce the most cutting edge music in all sorts of genres. The Brit awards are just a pat on the back to forty-year-old producers who actually make these cheesy tunes. Travis were the only band worthy of the awards they received.
Tony Doc, Scotland
The Brit awards are a true reflection of the weekly British sales charts, so where is the problem? The problem lies in the fact that the charts are populated by hype-over-substance "artists" who have been (largely) manufactured by record companies with the sole aim of milking our youth of their money.
I must agree with the sentiments of Mike from USA. Talent is not required in today's pop business. Gone are the days when you were required to play a musical instrument and/or sing.
The listeners of Radio 1 voted S Club 7 best British Newcomer in the Brits! These are people who only had a #1 single thanks to the children who watched their TV show when they're just as bad as acting! This just goes to show how the charts are going down the pan, and the only hopes of anything not manufactured or commercial hitting the top will fade if this carries on.
If it ain't dance, it don't stand a chance.
Macy Gray has sold millions in the UK coz she's dance, but nothing in the US. Santana has sold millions in the US, but only now he's won 8 Grammy's are the dance fascists at Radio 1 forced to play him. It's radio that's strangling British music. It's you, guys, the BBC, who are restricting choice.
It used to be long time established artists winning the "Lifetime Achievement" award.
Now this year it's the Spice Girls after four years...I was really pleased to see Posh Spice winning an award for her contribution to the Spice Girls and to british music...yeah right!!
I thought Pet Shop Boys would've been in line this year...going since 1985, one of the most successful male duos in British chart history...agree or disagree?
One of the best marketing tools that the record companies seem to have at the moment is the BBC who promote any old rubbish on both Radio 1 and shows like Live and Kicking. Do Five, A1 and Westlife have there own dressing rooms at the Beeb yet? The problem isn't the performers but the marketing machines behind them and the gullible youngsters who are offered nothing better by responsible broadcasters like the BBC.
Music is the food of love, so let it be.
There are talented bands around, and there is good music out there. Unfortunately, it's not recognised by the media, because it often won't sell enough to make it 'financially viable'. The best way to make a difference is to see local unsigned bands, explore new types of music and new artists, and you may just see a light at the end of the current commercial tunnel.
Let's face it - the Brit awards may as well have the subheading of 'Teen-mag favourites awards' or possibly 'May as well be an omnibus edition of Top of the Pops'.
I was in England recently for two months and I must confess that what I did see of your current music output really appalled me. It seems talent is no longer a pre-requisite for getting a recording deal. All I saw were clusters of very young girls and guys prancing on stage with those god awful head set thingys looking really ridiculous.
Look, everyone grows up sometime and at one point and we start to like different types of music. I am 17 and I'm a Spice Girls fan (as well as many other pop groups) and I've noticed my tastes in music have started to change. I'm not such a big Spice Girls fan anymore, although I still enjoy their new material. Now I prefer Travis, Stereophonics and the like.
How can the British Popular music scene be in "crisis" when it doesn't exist?
I mean to say, if Tom Jones is enjoying a great comeback then not only has Britain reached rock bottom, it's digging.
Look at the quality out there in all areas. Even Britney et al have released the odd song which we'll remember in 20 years. Macy Gray is the true heroine of the hour, whose appeal stretches from the teenies to the grannies, via the trendies and the musos. Every era has nuggets of gold amongst the dross. You've just got to know where to look and appreciate things for what they are.
I despair at the music scene nowadays. It consists of talentless plebs in boy/girl/mixed(!) bands who can't play any instruments, don't write their own music, and have mediocre voices, that is if they ever sing. (Have you ever noticed that for example in S-Club 7, only one girl EVER sings!)
Just face it, all you people who express such views have simply been left behind, cast adrift from pop's glorious march into the future. Stick to buying Mojo and lovingly reissued, overpriced CD box sets and leave today's pop music to your kids.
Dennis Alcapone, UK
The talentless boy and girl bands will continue to be successful whilst the likes of the BBC and ITV continue to hype it all up with maximum publicity. You can still find gifted musicians if you look hard enough, but not amongst the relentless rubbish the said channels continue to brainwash the kids with. As usual, profits seem to come before everything else.
The principal culprit for the dearth of British musical talent is Radio 1. People complain about the dumbing down of the BBC. Radio 1 is at the forefront of the growing infantilisation of British culture. Those of us who take our music seriously - and no, we're not all Dire Straits fans - don't go anywhere near the network. Not since the departure of Andy Kershaw anyway.
I remember just a few years ago when REM won all the best awards. What happened? Did you all grow up? Few young bands given exposure carry the torch of song-craft; songs which tell stories or address situations. Those of us who like real songs (and know where to find them) ought to stop being disappointed when commercial noises such as the Brits honour groups we ignore. We should just let them get on with it: it's their loss.
British music has slid down the drain of unwanted trash. There was a point when British music dominated all. Now, all we have is a fat, balding drunken lout (Robbie Williams) to "entertain" the public with his pathetic and unamusing publicity stunts. Oh and not forgetting music done by computers and manufactured so poorly that a baby monitor sounds more appealing.
If the year 2000 is said to bring more "real" bands on the scene then I am greatly let down. I can honestly say, I have never seen British music in such a sorry state before...
"Pop music awards" is an oxymoron anyway. Pop music is about making people feel something. If art were judged in the same way as the 'Brits' the poster of the woman tennis player scratching her bum would be the greatest photograph of the 20th century.
Remember that British band "THE THE" with singer Matt Johnson, Cult status in the 80's? He just released a new album on the same week as Oasis. British music isn't dead. It just gets buried alive.
I am 32 and I love all sorts of music whether that be girl bands, boy bands, rock, reggae or dance. It is refreshing to finally have a chart with both sexes, different origins and ages represented.
The Music Industry is not about talent, but about creating a marketable package, branded and directed at 8 - 25 year olds - a small niche market with little or no idea of what constitutes "good music". Pop Music is supposed to accommodate all talents and tastes. Not set to a limited criteria of blond youthful looking mime acts not looking too out of place behind a McDonalds counter. I was once involved in music as a musician back in the 80s when anyone with talent, adequate music playing ability and a new idea was snapped up and given a try. With the smaller independent companies being swallowed up by the big corporates, there are very little avenues to champion new ideas and to provide obscure bands with an outlet. The public are not fickle and as easily led as the industry may choose to think.
Oh dear, all these people whining about how things were better in the old days, just remember Herman's Hermits? The Brits is awards for mainstream pop so it's going to appeal to the lowest common denominator.
I'd choose Brit music by far ahead of the US scene over the last 40 years. You've got everyone from Cliff Richard, the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Tom Jones, Van Morrison, Elton John, Sting, George Michael,... and the list goes on. And just look at the recent success of the likes of Tom Jones, with his Reload album, then Cliff getting the top spot last year with his single Millennium Prayer... love it or loathe it... those guys are still a force to be reckoned with.
A. Cutelli, UK
It is ridiculous that you cannot be nominated if you have not released an album during the year. Theoretically, you could release a single every month which reaches number 1, but if you have not released and album you do not get any recognition. Where is the sense in that?
The Brit awards do not represent the best of British music and they never have. I'm amazed that anyone thought any differently. There have always been naff pop acts since popular music began. By now people should know how to avoid it.
I only have one thing to day about the Brits..."LOST". With groups such as Steps and S Club 7, UK is digging it's own grave.
As an American I have no real right to criticise the Brit awards, but I'm shocked that the Best British Newcomer award went to S Club 7, a manufactured, talentless group with a collective IQ of (maybe) seven. The award should have gone to Charlotte Church whose outstanding talent international acclaim put everyone else on the list to shame.
The Brit awards do not represent quality, they are essentially an industry award. British music is not in crisis, the only real crisis is the effect of the media upon peoples listening habits and peoples listening habits. I think you have to look at the functions of music in our society and decide who and what we look to for guidance in our listening tastes.
JH Stuart, England
One thing that I found a real disappointment when coming to this country was the lack of variety of the music scene. Radio here seems to be dominated by very narrow, commercial tastes as dictated by Radio One and the likes. To me it seems if you're not in London there are very few alternatives, particularly in things like breakfast radio.
Who IS Beth Orton, anyway?
I was just so pleased to see Tom Jones
get the recognition he so richly deserves.
Kudos to the Judges!!!
Go forth and seek it...if we've become jaded and apathetic enough to accept the tired, feeble mewlings of Travis as an exciting, worthy, meaningful alternative to teeny-pop and histrionic soul divas, then we are all surely doomed.
It's all in our hands - we just have to rediscover our passion for music rather than using it as muzak.
When the Spice Girls get a lifetime achievement award at the age of twenty something for singing three songs which won't be remembered in three years time, it speaks volumes for the dreadful state of this "industry".
The Brits has become a truly sad reflection of the way corporate playlist controllers manipulate and dominate what the British public listen to and hence buy.
The Bay City Rollers, Slade, David Cassidy and other such giants of the seventies were all in the same boat as today's acts that are perceived as "pap", they provide popular music for a particular market that is "throwaway" - here today, gone tomorrow. The only true test of quality lies with what the record buying public buys and they clearly favour boy bands (and the like). The view of a 13-year-old on music is no less valid than mine.
Andy Labrow, UK
British pop music depresses me. There is no talent there. No musicianship. I bet half the people in the charts have never picked up an instrument in their lives. As someone else said, British Pop is comatose.
STOP THE TEENY BOPPERS. Whatever happened to the guitar, drums, bass and singer? Okay so you can dance and mime at the same time-well done. Now go home back to Mummy before it gets dark! Pathetic. What is Britpop anyway??
The reason the chart's are full of low quality manufactured bands is that their target audience is young children with more pocket-money than sense. Some groups tour primary schools drumming up support. S Club 7 had their own TV show on CBBC. The A playlist on radio 1 does not accurately reflect the current talent in UK music -
Radio 1's target audience is 16-24, it's more like 8-12.
I hate all this over-cute, over-hyped music that is around at the moment. No one seems to want to listen to decent music anymore!
But who cares? Five, Steps and S Club 7 are churning out the same old mediocre pop for all the li'l kiddies with pocket money to spend on the latest single (complete with remixes! Why don't they record some new material for b-sides?). It's true that the singles chart and the kids dominate the market, but music should be about more than just the business.
Pete Hayward, UK
"Steps" sums it all up for me, Brit Pop
is dead. The music scene in the UK seems
to be dominated by "bubble gum" groups
doing covers of bands that should have
been left in the seventies!
As long as you have such stars as George Michael you don't need worry about quality of your music. He is the best representative of your country in the world. But you (British people) should much more show him your acceptance. When I am looking at hit list sometimes I think that we (Polish people) love him much more than you. We love him and pay a respect to his music.
Brit pop isn't dead, it's just in a coma. It will not get better until people stop letting the record companies tell them what they want. Forget commercial radio, go to clubs and other live venues. Any band worth the price of a CD worked its way up the music industry food chain by winning fans the old fashioned way: by proving they have musical talent.
Reasons why UK music is alive and well:
Massive Attack, Portishead, Stereolab,
Stereophonics, Chemical Brothers, Radiohead,
Blur, Morcheeba, Cornershop, Fatboy Slim, Pulp,
Catatonia, Future Sound of London, Mono, Belle and
Sebastian, Looper, Texas.
This is a problem so similar to Russia's music/record business: old artists are celebrated over and over again; while of the new ones only someone's proteges are promoted, dominantly fake blondes with awfully similar pop dance songs.
Right now, pop music is at the stage where there are no new ideas. The last few years have seen repetitions of past musical themes, but nothing groundbreaking. However, I'm sure that British artists will break ground musically in this century.
The market in this country appears to be so small that record companies are afraid of signing new talent (by talent, I mean real musical talent, not just the ability to mime to a dance routine) just in case it doesn't work out.
In America, Japan and Germany, for instance, you can sell a million records to a minority group. Come on record companies, take some risks, why don't ya!
The standard of British Pop music has dropped a lot in quality. The Pop music of the early sixties and late sixties is much better to listen to and appreciate than the current trend.
Some where quality has vanished from the performers. Most could not carry a tune if one indeed could be heard. The test of any pop artist is staying power, as well as selling power, also the ability to adapt and change themselves.
I really don't understand why everyone thinks that it means that much if a performer write and produce his own music. I do think that Cliff Richard in a great singer and performer, and he have proved it for 40 glorious years. He deserves the award much more that Spice Girls and Robbie Williams. He has made hits for so many years...how many years will Spice Girls last?
Stop the Boy Bands.
The Brits certainly threw up a few surprises this year. I nearly fell of my chair when I heard that Beth Orton had won Best Female. At last, some recognition for one of our greatest female artist. And the award for Tom Jones was fair enough, seeing as really it was the first time in the time the Brits has been something worthwhile that he could be nominated.
The tunes of today have no soul, compared to music from the 1960s, when there was more genuine freedom and inventiveness.
Whether or not minor label acts in the States deserve airplay is another matter, but Britain continues to produce thoughtful, intelligent pop music on indie labels - yes, the climate could be better at the moment, but we should also acknowledge the continuing viability of "serious" pop in the UK.
British music is suffering the same thing America's music is - a sudden surge of tasteless entertainment. After a certain point, the miserable excuse for music we're being subjected to will vanish to wherever it came from...
British pop music was an exciting scene from about 1962 to 1982. Since then it has degenerated into a soulless industry run by big business and with very few really creative or original artists.
Anyone who thinks the Brit Awards ceremony is an indicator as to how good or how bad British music is needs their head examining. Get out to a decent club, or get out to your local gig venue and see what British music really is coming out with, don't rely on a TV show sponsored by a credit card company.
Good music will out eventually, never mind what the myopic UK music industry will get up to.
I just wish the Brits weren't such an excuse for tired old people to moan about how much better it was when the Beatles were around.
All that said, if the artist isn't genuinely talented or have something important to say then the
question has to be asked, why would people want to buy it at all? So is Britpop dead? Who cares.
British music dead? Personally, I don't think so. I am a African American/British 30 year old (and yes, I am a Spice Girls fan who isn't under the age of 14) who has basically grown up on British music, and to this day, will choose British artists over some American music anyday.
I have always admired the UK for being more open and original when it comes to music. I still listen to vintage Duran Duran, Howard Jones, Talk Talk, Adam Ant, but I also listen to the Spice Girls, I can't stop playing Melanie C's CD, and am eagerly waiting for Mel G's solo effort and am getting more into the new artists coming out of the UK. There is still plenty of life in British music as far as I am concerned.
John McDonald, United States
Pop music has never spanned all the generations, it has always been about youth. I'm not that old but pop means very little to me now, but there are other genres for me to be interested in. Pop exists as an accesible way of getting into music.
British music is no worse or better than the rest of the worlds, simply different.
We should all accept it for what it is. In the end if you don't like it then don't listen to it!
Why is it that record companies have deicded (for the most part) to award only those who have very little talent other than showmanship and virtually no musical talent? Answer: Unfortunately that's what sells to the single buying market.
It's interesting to note that the limitation of quality in the charts is mostly reserved to singles wheras album sales more genuinely reflect 'quality' music. You only have to look at the fact that Travis' highest single was no eight, whereas pap like the Venga Boys hit the number one. At leat that trend is reversed in album sales.
Tom Jones will show them the way, how to express his feeling and move people to tears by his voice. Incidentally, Robbie Williams, Sting, Van Morrison, they are all from "Boy Bands or Groups", aren't they?
The show was pretty spectacular, but behind the impressive stage shows were some very mediocre, forgettable songs, written by different people to who were performing them. In many cases the performers weren't even singing live. It's not really music, then is it? It's just a sort of show.
It's a shame, I want to think that a band or singer have some reason behind being there. Something they wanted to say. Steps and Geri don't really. One type of British music may be dead, but the industry still survives. It always will as long as there's money in it.
How can Beth Orton win best female? How many people actually voted for her. She is not mainstream enough to win such an award.
And how can Tom Jones win Best British Male when he hasn't realeased a solo record for ages in the last year all his songs have been duets?
But fear not, I believe that great new music is to come that will revive the Britpop scene. Radiohead is due out with another album. Pulp will hopefully release another album. The Stereophonics are wonderful. New Order will hopefully release another album. And bands like the Manics will hopefully continue to make fantastic music for a long time.
British music will come back with a vengence and throw the likes of Britney Spears and other teeny-boppers out of the water.
Listen , I've collected Tom Jones recordings for nearly 32 years now. I know what he can do. This award is long past due. A voice is a voice no matter the age. Tom can sing anything.
Shinya Fujiki, Japan
Britpop sets the trends by which all other acts follow. Dead? Not at all!
Sungsoo Kim, S Korea
Brit pop is just the media's name for British popular music. Which these days does reflect mainly the pre-teen market. Bands like Oasis, Blur, Radiohead have now outgrown today's teen culture, but remeber that when they were at the height of their popularity all their original fans that were around the 10-13 year old age. They have now grown up and look at bands lie Steps, Five, Spice girls etc as irritating and immature. Brit pop is not dead, everyone has just grown up.
America is where it is at now with Smashing Pumpkins and co. I hear though that U2 is coming out with a mega album this year.
I can't stand listening to any American pop anymore. It's all such a production line - you've got a machine, with some teeny-bopper singing the end result. It's not musical; it's about marketing and packaging. I've had it with the lot! Now I listen only to classical music and the TRUE oldies stations (music from the '40's and '50's!)!
I moved from England to N. America in 1990 and the first thing I noticed was a vast improvement in the availability of good music both live and in the media.
As long as Top of the Pops is around to play such abominable overpriced trash like the spice chicks then Brit pop should remain in its grave.
RIP John Lennon.
The show was pretty spectacular, but behind the impressive stage shows were some very mediocre, forgettable songs, written by different people to who were performing them, and in many cases the performers weren't even singing live. It's not really music, then is it? It's just a sort of show.
It's a shame, I want to think that a band or singer have some reason behind being there, something they wanted to say - Steps and Geri don't really.
One type of British music may be dead, but the industry still survives. It always will as long as there's money in it.
While the atrocious marketed homogenised Britpap is foisted on us by Radio 1 and MTV UK, real quality music from UK is suffering.
Thunder are packing it in after 10 years - these guys should be massive stars, up there with Bad Co. but the radio in this country will not give them or other quality bands a look in.
They just want fresh faced groups of boys in designer gear - depressing!
I don't believe that Brit music, or American music (for that matter) is dead. It is simply in slump. As the public becomes bored with the tired music that is currently being played on pop radio, alternative stations will become more popular. The greats are out there, they just need to be recognized!
I think Britpop is dead, but I get along listening to great British groups and artists the mainstream ignore.
Perhaps one of British music's strengths over the years (especially compared to that of mainstream American pop) is that the Brits have produced some real lasting multi-talents.
The likes of Bono, Sting, George Michael, Elton John and many others, have served as clear reminders to all young upstarts that there is NO substitute for talent.
In these days of packaged and processed, cosmetic pin-ups, Mr Sumner and Mr Michael continue to proove that a deeper emotional connection is needed between the artist and the audience.
That they write, produce and arrange much of their own own (or all in Mr. Michael's case) goes to show that the Brits have what it takes.
These big companies sell an image rather than music written with any quality. You just have to look at the so called "Boy Bands" to see there is no real talent there, as they are simply picked to "Look Good."
The major record companies look to what appeals to the 12-year-old market. The talented artist represents a risk and it is far too tempting for them to try and modify their style so that they are guaranteed to sell.
Britain does produce innovative music in many genres and is certainly a world leader. Also the talented British artists are far
more likely to sell well in the album charts which has never had the glamour of the singles chart.
I heard one of All Saints refer to the new single as "the product", sums it up really. I prefer artists who make records for love of music and success is a by product". This is a worldwide problem not just British, American music is just as dire.
Take a good look at the club, underground and alternative scenes and you'll find awesome music that will probably never make it to a commercial station.
Music is now far too diverse for any single channel to appeal to everyone. You have to go out and search rather than have it delivered. Thank God for the internet.
Britpop has been dead for years anyone with their head screwed on right would tell you that. Its all about money. For the first time in history music has an age range, 6-10 year olds only!
Yes Yes Yes! The British pop industry is really depressing at the moment, lots of backing for big commercial names with very little originality!
I can only blame the record companies for not investing in new talent and playing it safe with crowd pleasers. New talent must be out there somewhere.
The bands which write and play their own music to their own styles are in a minority, and do not appeal as much to 10-12 year olds.
But then who said that Brit awards had anything to do with quality? They more often reflect the marketing skills of the teams that designed the bands and created a popular image.
It sure ain't what it used to be is it? Cliff Richard, give me a break. I find myself listening to the oldies now. Pink Floyd, Zepplin, The Beatles, Capercaille, Original Fleetwood Mac, Savoy Brown,
We buy what we are fed and mainstream radio have been feeding us with such utter rubbish that the majority no longer care. The only people who can save the music business are the people working in it.
The public don't have a voice. The charts as we know them are marketing tools and I am sick to the back teeth of hearing prats on national radio announcing records as "so and so's new one". Radio has a duty to bring music not brands to the masses.
Is British pop dead? I don't think so. In fact, true artists like Sting and Peter Gabriel are putting out work that is stronger than ever. Elton John just played a concert here in Reno that blew the socks off of the town.
Long live the Beatles!
Did Sid Vicious and Kurt Cobain really die so that a third-rate tap dancer from Stoke on Trent could win awards for singing terrible cover versions?
Robbie Williams is a particular favourite - bringing a fresh face to pop along with natural talent. Tom Jones is an icon now. He has developed his own extremely talented and unique style that he has continually updated over the years to keep up with current trends and styles.
Long live Brit Pop. The world would be a sorry place without it! By the way, I am a 44 year old mum and music lover of all styles.
The lack of quality and overbearance of popularity is certainly not new. The entire music industry has been swamped with it, and over here it's much much worse.
However, there are increasingly more non mainstream artists that should become more accepted, British or American, because they carry a more important message than all these headliners: talent and originality.And who better to be a judge of that than the British public.
I want see Tom Jones
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