Has Pop Gone Posh?

Posted on February 7, 2011

I was reading a debate the other that claims that pop has gone posh and future working class heroes in the mould of The Jam, The Smiths, The Stone Roses and Oasis will be crushed and not allowed access to the narrow corridors of the music industry which are dominated by executives from privileged privately educated backgrounds. I really hope this is not the case, but the rise in recent years of artists such as Coldplay, James Blunt, Florence and The Machine and Mumford and Sons suggests that a music industry run by the elite is as much as a threat to independent talent off the streets as programmes like the X Factor, in fact probably more of a threat.

 Coldplay: Pompous Self Righteous Dross (in my opinion)

The real point here is not whether or the bands above are good or not, we all have our own tastes, but whether they are getting preferential treatment over and above working class bands that since The Beatles, have been the heartbeat of Britain being along side America as one of the best producers of popular music in the world. I feel sorry for the youth of today if all they are going to be exposed to is middle of the road niceties from rich kids singing songs about falling in love in a West Kensington wine bar. Perhaps we need a modern day Sex Pistols to smash that apart and I must say the excellent Defamation of Strickland Banks by Plan B offers hope to working class heroes of the future.

My theory is this: During the latter years of the early 90’s Tory government and throughout the Blair years Britain lived in what we now know was an over egged period of prosperity, jobs were aplenty, new schools and hospitals were being built, money was freely available and people were generally happy to a point where it was difficult to find anything to rebel about. In fact the only rebellion was coming, unusually, from the right, with demonstrations from the Countryside Alliance and pro Fox hunting groups which bizarrely saw the upper classes getting truncheons wrapped around their heads for a change, rather than miners or poll tax demonstrators, it was an odd era when you look back on it. Why there wasn’t any anti New Labour songs at this time by bands called Bertie and the Bullingdon Club or The Oxbridge Olivers I just don’t know, but it would appear that being wealthy, or at least very comfortable, stunts creativity.

We are now heading in to a period of austerity and it would appear that as is often the case, the working class and vulnerable are likely to be the worst affected and challenges to authority and the coalition government have already surfaced with the student marches in London. With hundreds of thousands of public sector job losses arriving throughout the country this year, maybe we are about to see, once again, another musical revolution from the suburbs. I really hope so, it will make everything so much more exciting for my children as they embark on going to see bands for the first time, as it would be travesty if they grew up listening to Florence and the bloody Machine.

I can remember in the 1977 Jubilee year at the tender age of ten, seeing television footage of the Sex Pistols singing God Save The Queen from a boat on Thames and I couldn’t really grasp what it was all about. My Dad didn’t like it, but my Brother (who was 17) did and he went to see them play. What I didn’t know then was that a dramatic stand against so called democracy by a bunch of limited anarchists lit the torch paper for a generation of kids to believe that if The Sex Pistols could do it, so could they and a nation of lame stadium rock suddenly became a surge of new music from streets, some of it awful, but loads of it fantastic and brilliantly composed from bedrooms, garages and garden sheds, it was a youth explosion that was never to be forgotten by kids like me.

 The Sex Pistols: The Catalyst for a Generation of Youth Music

Maybe in this Royal wedding year it is time for someone to step forward and blow away the elite once more, because no matter what your preferred genre of music, it is unhealthy to have an industry controlled by the tiny percentage of the country born with silver spoons in their mouths, that would be a national tragedy. Long live The Sex Pistols, they did more for the music industry in two short years than wankers like Coldplay could achieve in a million. So whether you were a fan of punk, rock, rap, or soul music, I for one hope that the youth of today can unite for another era of youth expression against the elite.

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