Friday, 4 January 2008

Pop has eaten itself

The Pet Shop Boys on their Dress Down Friday.

Trust the BBC. I don't know whether to cheer or jeer. As a broadcaster, it is adept at making stupid, unilateral decisions like shunting pop off the mainstream and onto its fragmented platforms and channels. But then, the programmes they produce on the likes of BBC Three and Four are inspired. The latest is a season of programmes on Radio 2 and BBC Four; an examination of British pop over the past six decades. The mini website (here) for Pop! What is it Good For? is a treasure trove of facts and tidbits.

Go here for exclusive video interviews with Lulu, Holly Johnston and Ronan Keating talking about their involvment in British pop AND Phil Oakey on how the key creatives in the band were sacrificed on the altar of the £100,000 video for MTV. Fascinating.

It is a shame though, that pop programmes on TV tend to be 'historical' rather than current. For all the diversity in pop itself, no one in broadcasting seems willing or able to package it for TV anymore. Of course there are videos, but as a concept, they're old hat and one dimensional. If pop can work on the web in the form of popjustice, why can't that format translate into mainstream fodder?

Mind you, I can't wait for the three docs called Pop Britannia starting tonight on BBC Four, especially episode 3 from the 80s to now, look at the featured artists here.

In a weird coincidence, I'm currently devouring Simon Napier Bell's history of British pop Black Vinyl, White Powder. It's a juicy, rollicking account filtered through drug and gay culture. Clicky here for the Amazon review.

**Footnote** **UPDATE**
In the first in the series of Pop Britannia Damon Albarn describes pop as being music which never stays still, how it reinvents itself as the NOW and should then be discarded.

This is partly true.

Of course the mutation of the genre is important, but looking at the WHOLE, it's a relay race. It's an urgent race against time; to always be first. But the race never stops. The baton is handed over from generation to generation. Your own personal foray into pop comes via your parents, then another viewpoint via your older siblings and then you suddenly see pop through your OWN eyes; what a revelation that is. Reading Adem with An E talk as fanatically about sixties' Motown via his Aunt as he does the current planet pop is the perfect example. To segue from The Supremes to Girls Aloud with no sense of time in between is pop. It's always current, full stop.

*staggers off soap box*

**UPDATE part 2**
Look who's on BBC Four's homepage, bottom right. Clicky here. And yes, I have been told I look SPOOKILY like Keisha Sugababe.



Adem With An E said...

Going to hunt for downloads of this Pop Britannia, sounds like something I'm going to enjoy watching.

Just ordered Black Vinyl, White Powder through my library, the reviews sound bonza.

As always Phil, brilliantly written. And shucks, thanks for the mention :)

D'luv said...

Simon Napier Bell...weren't he Wham!'s manager or something? I think he wrote a book about that awhile ago...

Phil said...

Pop Britannia was surprisingly good, Adem. Very BBC, which means, a good mixture of entertainment and facts with GREAT interviewss. And the book is such a clever pottage of British pop.

Mr D'Luv, he was indeed the snaggle-toothed, poppy-eyed, cock-sucking-lipped manager of Wham!. And his other books were about the concert in China and Britpop in the 60s. Both HIGHLY enjoyable and readable.

Yuяi said...

Congrats, Phil, on the blog-publicity (bloglicity?)! I had a chuckle at your comment of resembling said Sugababe.

And WTF is Neil wearing, a pregnant muslim (le fez) cow outfit?! Not his finest fashionista moment, fer shure.

Anonymous said...

@ adem with an e,

let us know when and where u find ANY downloads of Pop Britannia,especially edition two,which will be aired tonight,I can't make use of the BBC iPlayer as I am living outside of the UK:( DRAT!
But would like to see and hear what they got to tell about Marc B.