I had the great misfortune to see Westlife performing their 13th UK number one single, "You Raise Me Up", on TV the other night. I know having a number one single is far from being the benchmark of a quality song, but only 3 other artists/bands have had more:
Elvis Presley (21)
The Beatles (17)
Cliff Richard (14)
I find this troubling. Not that Westlife should have had so many number one singles, particularly, but because they are so deeply and resolutely bland. Their new single is a case in point: it sounds vaguely like "Wind Beneath My Wings", but isn't. It isn't exciting. It isn't original. Neither is it especially offensive, except in its total bloodlessness. It has been purposely created to reach a particular audience. There is no love in this record, no passion. It is an exercise in understanding what the mass market will buy and producing it. In itself that's no mean trick, and I suppose you have to take your hat off to them and their producers for that, if for nothing else.
Westlife's first number one was in 1999, and even they must be finding it a bit boring by now. Isn't this was ultimately breaks up even the most successful manufactured bands? At the end of the day, this is just a job for them. It isn't a compulsion or a passion: it's just a job, a way of getting famous and making some money. Once you are famous and have all the money you need, what's left? Perhaps Westlife's most remarkable achievement is that they have only lost one member to ennui and delusions of artistic worth - the others are happy to go on giving the people what they apparently want.
There's lots of music out there that I don't like: from lumpen guitar bands to car-alarm techno, from preening divas to wooden MCs. I may not want to listent to it, but I embrace all of it as long as it is made with some passion. God save me from this cynical shite and the people who make it.
How depressing and how predictable that a number one as exciting as The Arctic Monkeys should be followed up by this.
In the office until 6pm, then on to an appointment at the Osteopath, home for dinner, then the final two episodes of Six Feet Under(sniff) and onwards to the first 3,109 words of my novel....and you expect me to have the time to say something interesting here?
Hell, why break the habit of a blogtime?
Whilst writing, I had the iPod on shuffle.... here are the 1st 10 tracks
"Peaches" - The Stanglers
"American Idiot" - Green Day
"The Way It Is" - The Strokes
"Free Money" - Patti Smith (what a *great* record)
"What Katie Did" - The Libertines
"It's Raining Today" - Scott Walker
"Push It Out" - The Beta Band
"I Don't Love Anyone" - Belle & Sebastian
"Green Onions" - Booker T & the MGs
"Every Day Is Like Sunday" - Morrissey
and the 11th?
"Elizabeth My Dear" - The Stone Roses.
Over to you.