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Old Gold and Nostalgia – It Ain’t What It Used To Be

Radio 2 on a Sunday is an odd thing. It seems that this is the day when it reverts to the days of the Light Programme, with frothy nothingness the default setting. It contains a schedule aimed almost entirely at middle-class retirees from the Cotswolds, from Alan ‘Fucking’ Titchmarsh in the morning through to Elaine ‘Fucking’ Paige in the afternoon It’s a cuddly plethora of cliché and a view back to a safer time when those nasty foreign types didn’t steal all the jobs and it were all fields round here. Comfort food for Daily Express readers. So if you get caught in the car listening to it, it’s really rather grim.

In the nostalgia fest is ‘Pick of the Pops’, where they simply run down the top 40 from the corresponding week in a year gone past. This week, it was 1982 and, indeed, it pressed some serious sepia-tinged buttons for me. But what it did highlight was that back in the days of four channels and hardly any radio stations, everybody knew what was in the charts. You couldn’t escape it. That Top 20 included “Golden Brown”, “Get Down On It “, “Dead Ringer For Love”, “Don’t You Want Me” and “It Must Be Love”. You know these songs. You have sung these songs. But hand on heart, if I was to print the Top 20 from January 2006, how many of those songs could you belt out in a karaoke?

Is it simply a matter of quality? Perhaps. But there is also the ‘purchasing’ factor. People don’t make any money from singles any more. Ergo, nobody buys them. This is why the Top 20 is full of generic, soulless RnB which is primarily aimed at children and made to be put on a compilation. The albums chart offer a more reflective view of the country’s musical tastes, as if the main record-buying public – some still do – hear a song they like, they purchase the album.

ELM is not, and never has been, about nostalgia. We live for new music round these parts. But it would be churlish to deny the quality of what makes up the Top 20 has diminished. There are some corking all time classics in there. I’m not sure you still get the essential 3 minute pop sensation which unites the nation any more, much as we all pretend to like Girls Aloud. It could just be the white dog shit of the musical world, but we here at ELM Towers miss the great pop single and the thrill of hearing the chart rundown.

Maybe we are just getting old. Pass me my incontinence pants and switch on the telly, Countdown’s on soon.

(For those wondering, number 1 that week was ‘The Land Of Make Believe’ by Bucks Fizz. Proves my point. That’s a fucking classic, that is.)


9 Responses

  1. How anyone can get excited about a mobile phone ringtone is beyond me. Cos thats all the singles fucking chart is.
    Remember the days of going to John Menzies and buying 7″ singles? Maybe its an age thing, but those were palpably great moments.
    R&B is utter tosh, designed, as you say for pre-pubescents to dance to at school discos. That electro is a fuckin headache and dont get me started on those generic indie-lite types either.
    Yes, I’m an old cunt.

  2. What surprised me was that I knew so many of the songs. When I was a small kid, I liked playing football. I didn’t listen to the radio or watch Top of the Pops. So how the feck do I know all the words to those songs?

    Because they permeated. Now music – bad music, mainly as you say HW – proliferates.

  3. Before today’s generic sound, it was manufactured boy or girl bands, before that it was S/A/W manufactured hits, and before that someone else again was cranking out the bland chart-stormers of their day.

    I think that everyone remembers the era when they were 8-13 as being the best ever, but it was probably as bad as the rest and with as many rare gems as the rest.

    Arguably, the biggest difference today is how fragmented the market has become in general and how easy it now is to be part of your own scene and even define what that scene is.

    On the other hand, that matters nowt until you have done the whole puberty thing and start thinking for yourself… Hence, the cloying custard that is chart music still remains!

  4. I am torn. Of course we all relate best to our own childhood memories, and yes the hits then really were hits and sold millions….but there did seem more quality even in the disposable pop then. Modern r’n’b and rap-lite is awful, as are most X factor empty suits foisted on us.

    But maybe the market is just so fragmented now that there is no ‘big song’ any more and we all have our headphones in and are listening to our own soundtrack. Which brings dangers of its own….maybe we need to see reggae, ska, soul, funk etc on TV and in our houses rather than relying on our own existing prejudices? TOTP opened far more minds than NME.

  5. I agree with you both to a degree. I think it is just impossible to hit all the demographics because they aren’t in one place any more.

    But I think if you listened to a chart from any decade up to this one, you’d know more of the songs. i think that no-one even attempts to write 3 minute classics any more.

    grumpy old Man that I am….!

  6. I live for – among other more important things in life – old music . Give me a run through the archives any day over ” new music ” ; there hasnt been any new music since………hmmm , kraftwerk maybe ?

    music is like a fine wine , laid down and matured over time I say . Talking of fine wine……….

  7. You mean you didn’t like Acid House Dusty? Had you down as a major raver!

  8. I only liked acid house for the glow-sticks.

    And the hot-pants , sadly I cant fit into those anymore .

  9. Not with that attitude!

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