2011: a grim musical dawn

The year isn’t even two weeks old yet, and apparently HMV is going down the tubes, rock is dead and, perhaps most depressingly of all, James Corden is hosting the Brits. Happy new year.

The fact that rock didn’t sell particularly well last year means nothing. Absolutely nothing. For a start, there weren’t any big rock anthems released, and while Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing wasn’t a new release, it was received unprecedented exposure thanks to bloody Glee, a show with an audience which isn’t then likely to go and seek out the best of Rush, or even listen to any other Journey songs and bump up their sales – that was the song on the tv, and that’s the one they bought.

2010 was a pop year, and some years just are. There was some excellent pop around too: Katy Perry, Diana Vickers, Ellie Goulding and Rihanna all turned out fantastic singles, while great white hopes The Drums made waves in the right circles but didn’t really have a hit. But let’s not forget the mid 2000s, the age of landfill indie. A couple of years ago, we were choked by a seemingly never-ending stream of average indie bands who were inexplicably everywhere. The Wombats, The View, The Fratellis, The Pigeon Detectives, Milburn: drivel one and all, but someone more credible since they could hold guitars the right way up and thus ‘rock’ was selling well.

On HMV having to close down some of its stores, well, it’s not exactly surprising. New release albums are deemed to be on offer if they cost £9.99, while standard price hovers around £12-£14. Why would you pay that when the same CD costs around £7 on Amazon, or similar in Fopp, or even in Tesco? Once Virgin/Zavvi stumbled and died, HMV had the monopoly, and so went right ahead and priced themselves out of the market. The argument that music should be cheaper is not a new one, but it’s the fact that HMV continues to be so determinedly expensive that puts customers off, and that’s without even getting into the convenience of downloading.

And as for Corden, this year’s Brits will celebrate the unremarkable end of a fairly unremarkable year in music (a few great singles aside), and for a role-call of mediocrity, Corden seems a pretty good fit. And you don’t have to watch it, do you? That’s time you could be spending buying rock in Tesco.


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