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Friday from the vault – Sigur Ros

Everyone fell in love with ‘Hoppipolla’ when it was first released. However, the people who really fell in love with it were the incidental music people at the BBC, who didn’t feel it was appropriate to let thirty minutes pass without playing it as an accompaniment to a some programme about badgers they were trying to hype. It’s a shame that the power of the song has been eroded by this over-exposure, but hopefully hearing it in it’s most concentrated form will help.

6 Music Saved!

Ah, people. Usually a source of great annoyance, occasionally something they do restores your faith in them. The news that the massive and unprecedented campaign to save 6 Music from the BBC axe has actually worked is one of those moments.

The BBC Trust today announced the digital music station will stay open. The trust said it was opposed to a proposal put forward in March by the director general, Mark Thompson, as part of a wide-ranging strategy review. Continue reading

BBC axe 6Music

Despite provocation, I have never grudged the licence fee. No matter how much shit the BBC shoveled at me – EastEnders, Fearne Cotton, regional news – I maintained that the Beeb provided a service that no other corporation would. I may not have used all the services it provided, certainly not the most popular ones, but I was grateful that they provided a bit of something for everyone.

But with the news that they are to scrap 6Music whilst maintaining the smaller niché 1Extra, it’s impossible to do so.

Continue reading

Your Guide to Glastonbury on TV

Mark RYes, it’s here again. Glastonbury arrives and, for many of us, will be enjoyed through the medium of television. Even though you wouldn’t neccesarily know that if you had much exposure to mainstream media this week, who treat it as almost an act of sacrilege if you simply don’t fancy it. So for those who will try and see some great music on their flatscreens, here is the guide to what you can expect.

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From the sublime to the ridiculous

Contrast. Not only is it a feature on your telly, it’s also an important part of any music show. You can take a rampaging blues-rock monster, a skinny indie kid and a hard-bitten gangsta rap type fellow and there you have it; differences highlighted.

Later with Jools Holland this weekend tried another, very different tack; they booked one act which was great and one which was a turgid pile of trying-too-hard wank.

But unlike the Pope and Angus Young, we are not infallible, so we’ll let you make your mind up yourself! First up is Bat for Lashes with ‘Daniel’, followed by Hockey with ‘Song Away’.

TV ‘is failing new music stars’

It’s ‘In The City’ week again, the annual state of the nation which was created by the late Tony Wilson and addresses trends and issues in the musical world. There can be a lot of chaff at this event, but there was a bit of wheat in the speech given by Culture Secretary Andy Burnham, who is a politician, obviously, but we will gloss over that for the time being.

Broadcasters must “promote and champion new music in this country, rather than having just very safe options on prime-time TV”, he told executives.

And he’s right. What are the mainstream music shows? Later….and Transmission./ And both are very decent at what they do – though like most human beings I could do with rather less of Jools honky-tonk piano and obsequious interview technique – but both go out after the watershed to specialist audiences. In other words, they present new music to people who are the most likely to be aware of it already.

Burnham correctly asserts that we ‘need a programme like Top of the Pops’ because it introduced new acts to a primetime, mainstream audience. And you can’t quibble with that. He uses the example of The Smiths, a band millions fell in love with when they appeared on TOTP to play ‘This Charming Man’. You simply wouldn’t get that exposure today, and how a band like, say, The Cribs would benefit from it.

Ah, but there are so many other options, I hear you say. There are dozens of music channels on digital TV, and that is correct, there are, but they are mostly the equivalent of commercial radio – for f*cktards by f*cktards. Their playlists are so boring and conservative they could run for Governor of Illinois and probably win. The BBC have the space, remit and ability to make discerning programmes.

And here comes another stage of the problem. the Beeb have, in recent years, become bafflingly allergic to being innovative in music. There are good things in it’s digital output – 6Music and 1Extra are excellent stations – but they have all but given up on Radio 1. Song pluggers will tell you Radio 1 are now more likely to get behind a new release if it has a big budget behind it – i.e. a record company splashing the advertising cash to ensure a hit. So instead of creating stars, the BBC now simply promote existing stars. That means so many great bands don’t reach anywhere near the audience they could.

The BBC could easily create a mainstream, pre-watershed music show showcasing exciting new talent – they’d simply need to rebook 90% of the acts who do a session for 6Music – but they are too scared, too conservative and too dull to do so. Instead, we get an hour of Jools once a week for 6 weeks at a time three times a year.

It won’t do, and it is so obvious that a politician has noticed it. And that says it all.

You’ve Gotta Laugh….

Today on The Jeremy Vine Show (Radio 2) was a moment of such poignancy, such subtle beauty, that I knew the ELM readership had to share in it. On a feature discussing the capture of Bosnian Serb War Crimes Suspect Radovan Karadzic, we heard many appalling tales of the destruction caused in that terrible, almost forgotten war. It ended with a plaintive email from a listener who worked as an Aid Worker there, stating that he was haunted by the destruction to the area and how it ‘stole childhood from so many’.

Jeremy Vine then played Scouting for Girls. Without missing a beat.