The August Riots

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Wednesday, 17 February 2010

The Brit Awards 2010 – a sad indictment of current malaise afflicting our music scene?

The Brit Awards claim to represent and reward the pinnacle of musical achievement within these Isles, but for those who took the time to watch last night’s festival of mediocrity, the altogether poor state of British music was very much on display. I hate to sound elitist, but for those who yearn for the ‘good old days’ of Blur, Suede, Pulp, Manic Street Preachers and Oasis dominating said awards, the fact that a group as generic, crass and uninspiring as JLS can see their efforts rewarded by a supposedly serious awards ceremony is both laughable and a crying shame. Whilst most other commentators will focus on Cheryl’s miming, Lady Gaga’s ever-more ludicrous attire, and Liam Gallagher’s petulant and attention-seeking throwing of his award into the crowd, I find myself seriously concerned for the future of British music. Commercially it may have reached new heights in the past few months and years, but there is little different, original or creative in the mind-numbing dance fodder Dizzee Rascal has recently turned to, for example. The Brits appear to have become nothing more than a fashion contest; alas, it appears the clothes one wears have become more important to the British public than the music one produces as an artist in said field. The sheer amount of column inches dedicated to such inane and pointless discussion is testament to such an assertion. Given that Kasabian have gratefully accepted the unwisely-afforded title of the ‘people’s band’, ought we to accept that British music will never hit the heights it was once able to?

Few commentators appear to have picked up on this, possibly due to the fact that they would rather concentrate on her outrageous fashion sense and utterly ridiculous attire than her music in what is, after all, an awards show centred around music, but for Lady Gaga to be the ‘big winner’ of the Brits doesn’t exactly contradict my negative assessment of said awards. There is an underlying crisis in British music, as far as I am concerned, and not being a music expert I can offer no hints as to how it may be overcome. The problem appears to be simple; not enough original, fresh and exciting bands coming through, and too many talent competition winners occupying the airwaves with wholly inadequate and grossly clichéd songs. JLS are a case in point, but it would be unfair to single them out as the worst offenders. Perhaps British music has fundamentally changed in the last ten years, and the rise of Popstars and X-Factor signifies a new course; however, if that is the case, there will be many deeply disillusioned with this new status quo. The backlash against the X-Factor witnessed during the Christmas holidays last year, in what was, admittedly, a flawed and deeply contradictory ‘fight’, shows that manufactured bands and artists cannot always rely on a passive and easily influenced population to guarantee them instant success. However, if last night’s rewards are anything to go by, expect more of the same and buy a DVD of past Brit Award highlights, because in order to look to the future, we must look to the glorious past, a time in which British music reigned supreme, and the Brits didn’t have to scrape the bottom of the barrel for ‘stars’ unworthy of such supposedly esteemed recognition.

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