Sunday, July 30, 2006

Top of the Pops is dead



Jim should have Fixed it for this so-called National Institution years ago. TOTP was one of the most obvious examples of what state run television channel produce best - mediocrity.

TOTP's only use in recent years was for its Christmas special to make the following Queen's speech look exciting. Its tried to trade on past glories, but anyone who remembers TOTP as being the cutting edge of music in past decades is looking at matters through rose-tinted NHS spectacles. OK, so it was popular in the 1970s, that's when it was against an entire 2 other TV channels, one of which was under the same state control. TOTP insistence on mimed music was just as prevalent then, between The Who in 1972 and Iron Maiden in 1980 not a single act performed live, meaning the entire period of punk, probably the UK's biggest contribution to world music other than The Beatles, got wasted. Some performances on TOTP were so contrived they would have made Emperor Nero, or even Lord Hutton, blush. TOTPs liking for formulaic acts meant that once music became more open it was doomed to die. Educated consumers would always choose the real thing.

In addition TOTP moral reputation was dubious, its association with DJs long known to have committed misdemeanours is well known, it lied to its customers by pretending acts were live, it followed charts long fixed by record producers, it banned God Save the Queen (anti-monarch) and Relax (gay anthem), it refused to play music its producers disliked regardless of record sales (eg heavy metal, early rap, punk), and TOTP was so cutting edge that it took until 1982 to have its first female presenter,

MTV showed that a music TV channel could be popular and cover wide tastes (MTV Raps, Metalhammer etc), US radio shows cover wide tastes encouraging greater talent and openness. Its no coincidence that US versions of TOTP flopped. Whilst TOTP wasted time showing Boney M, Bucks Fizz, Bros, Boyzone and Milli Vanilli artists such as REM, The Ramones, Metallica, The Pixies, Public Enemy, NWA/Dre/Cube, The Fall were making great album after great album with none or little coverage from the UK's so-called leading music programme. You have to wonder whether a privatised, and competitive, BBC would have stuck to a failed 1960s formula past the end of the 80s.

The youth and enjoyment of millions of UK music lovers were restricted due to successive UK government's reluctance to open both Radio and Television to market forces. The death of Top of the Pops was long overdue, its been rightly put out of our misery by empowered consumers choosing superior musical options.

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