The UK Top 40 over the past few years has driven me to despair.
The UK Top 40 over the past few years has driven me to despair. I think the beginning of the downwards slope can be pinpointed to 2008/9: ever since it’s been virtually impossible to get to the top spot without copious references to drinking and getting girls ‘in the club’, coupled with generic dance beats.
That said, I could not be happier with the results from this year’s Brit Awards. For once all the winners (bar One Direction but I’ll get to them later) have actual talent. I’m glad performers who play their own instruments, write their own songs and generally defy the predictable ‘in the club’ mould all musicians must supposedly conform to in order to be successful.
The top winners this year were of course Emeli Sande and Ben Howard, each winning two awards. Sande, who won Best British Album and Best Female, can really sing. And play. And write. She’s one of those rare artists who unite Radio One and Two listeners with her catchy riffs and thoughtful lyrics.
On the topic of Mr. Howard, I am afraid I am rather biased—he is the love of my life and future husband. Nonetheless, you’d be hard pushed to find someone that can deny Ben, who won British Breakthrough and British Male, has some serious talent. His music could not be further away from the corporate gulsh that dominates the charts with poetic, cryptic lyrics and some of the most impressive guitar playing you will ever hear.
Ben Howard-style folk/indie was surprisingly dominant at the Brits. Winners of Best British Group were banjo-towing Mumford and Sons, then there was the Critic’s Choice, Tom Odell, not to forget the lovely Lana Del Rey for International Female Artist and the Black Keys winning International Group. While One Direction may have a smidge more depth to their music than the ‘in the club’ posse, their music is still too generic and commercial for my liking. Even so, they deserve credit where credit is due regarding their phenomenal international album sales, hence the fact they were awarded British Global Success.
So is this the start of a music revolution? I doubt it, to be honest. While this year’s winners may be a bit more diverse than the usual bunch, I don’t see Tinie Tempah, Rita Ora, Calvin Harris and the like going anywhere soon. Even “the night’s surprise winner” Ben Howard, as the ‘I’ newspaper puts it, is pretty well known with a platinum album to boot.
The state of the charts IS improving, though, with Gabrielle Aplin, Foals, The Lumineers and Imagine Dragons all getting recognition. When the charts are dominated by real musicians like these again, then I’ll restore my faith in the UK Top 40.
Until then, I guess I better get learning The Harlem Shake.