Monday, April 17, 2006

X rated

Three weeks since the last post? Sorry, I'm slacking. But I was on holiday for part of the time; and my file hosting service was down.... Normal service will now be resumed.

I had the chance to chat to my 15 year old niece while I was away, and as occasionally happens the talk turned to music. I think the last big conversation we had on the subject was a couple of years ago, when she told me about the new Liberty X single "Being Nobody", and how much she liked it. I asked whether she'd heard of the Human League, around whose "Being Boiled" Richard X had constructed this opus. "Who?" came the perplexed reply. "What about Chaka Khan?" I continued; Rufus' "Ain't Nobody" formed the other half of this poptastic gene-splice. "Yer what?" she replied in a broad Lancashire accent.

Was I expecting too much? Was I being a musical snob? Was it possible to appreciate the song without knowing all the backstory? Well, clearly it was, as my niece seemed to enjoy it without any knowledge of Martyn Ware et al. And yet...I guess it confirmed for me what all the doomsayers had been saying about the state of the music biz recently, Arctic Monkeys notwithstanding. That music isn't about history, culture or shared values any more. It's disposable, something to be played on a mobile phone while waiting. Not something to explore. Or value.

As if to reinforce this, our most recent conversation revolved around her playing me tinny clips of her current favourites on her mobile phone. Most of these consisted of speeded-up AOR tunes from the 1980s. She wasn't aware that these were old tunes. Nor did she care. They were just mobile-phone fodder, no more or less valuable than a screensaver. This, to her, was music. Not scrutinising sleeve notes or gawping at cover art while aitting in front of speakers, devoting attention. The artists were anonymous and interchangeable, and certainly no more interesting to my niece than, say, a new ringtone or a game. Maybe I'm the last one to realise this, and perhaps this just confirms that I'm turning into a sad thirtysomething, but the kids aren't alright. They're being shortchanged. If they're taught that "music" is covers of standards by faceless Pop Idol runners-up, and that Shayne Ward is "talent", then the record industry can hardly complain when they abandon music and go in search of more thrilling pursuits. Such as mobile phones.

Anyway, from a couple of years back, here's Being Nobody by Liberty X with Richard X (deleted Feb 2007). Part of the solution? Or part of the problem? Well, that's for you to decide.

Read more about Richard's current activities.