Monday, January 30, 2006

My cred iz pastede on yey

Is anyone else as alarmed as we are by the apparent rise of Daniel Radcliffe: Music Pundit?

As is our habit, we were lying in bed last night listening to Radio 4 while we were dozing off to sleep, and there was a news report about the Arctic Monkeys, and how they've shattered first week album sales records by being the first band in the history of forever to have a website, or something. The report included a soundbite from Jarvis Cocker, the point of which we can understand due to the Sheffield connection. Less logical, and indeed somewhat baffling, was the second soundbite from the aforementioned Mr Radcliffe, who seemed saddened by this news. Apparently the mainstream success of the Arctic Monkeys is inconvenient for him, because he felt a sense of ownership having heard the band "when no one else liked them" at the Reading festival, and how he liked that because he could say that he liked the Arctic Monkeys and people would apparently respond "oh, you must be cool, because I haven't heard of them."

Where to begin with this one? Well, for starters we'd imagine that seeing a band at a festival with tens of thousands of other music fans right beside you sharing the experience doesn't quite have the same grassroots-level cachet as picking up a white label from the back of a dusty pile in a shop in the most obscure backstreets of Camden. Indeed, this is rather like claiming that you're responsible for people finding out about Will Young because you voted in the first week of the Pop Idol finals, and that everyone else is jumping on the bandwagon that you started. (Sadly, we are all too willing to believe that some people would really say that.)

On another matter, the quality of a record does not decrease gradually as more and more copies are sold. To claim that other people starting to like a band that you've liked for a while somehow makes your enjoyment less pure is ridiculous; indeed it paints you as the worst kind of music snob, someone who cares far more about how your music collection will make you look than about the music itself. Obviously everyone who bought the Arctic Monkeys album last week should feel very guilty for allowing their unrefined, hype-following, credibility-contaminating tastes to be connected in any way to Daniel's. He got his tastes from a musky record shop in Islington in 1997 for 63p, you know.

Further to this, we've liked and followed our fair share of totally obscure acts in our time, and we cannot think of a single occasion where anyone has assumed that we must be cool because we like an act that they've never heard of. It's usually more a case of "oh, that's nice" and then they return to discussing vinyl flooring, the price of Stilton, the latest John Grisham potboiler or whatever it was they were talking about beforehand. If the people Daniel talks to genuinely believe that anyone who can reel of a list of obscure bands is cool, it is quite possibly because they, like he, are sixteen, and hence not overly difficult to impress.

While Daniel may find it distressing that his taste in music is no longer distinctive enough, we're sure that if he looks hard enough, he can find lots of things about himself that are unusual for someone of his age, and would make for excellent conversational gambits. The size of his bank account, for example.

The sad thing is, we really cannot lay all the blame for this at Mr Radcliffe's door. After all, someone somewhere asked for his opinion in order to get it into the broadcast. Why? Famous he might be, but chronicler of the changing state of the commercial music industry he is not. He is, indeed, no more qualified to comment on this matter than our next-door neighbour, and we didn't see anyone knocking on her door to conduct a vox pop.

Perhaps we've got the purpose of this blog a bit wrong; we shouldn't be ragging on the annoying and pointless things that people say when someone shoves a microphone at them. We should be asking questions about the people who are doing the shoving. But where would the fun be in that?

STOP PRESS: Now with tosserific digitalspy link! Or why not click here to see what the folks over at Oh No They Didn't made of this, since they're funnier and bitchier than we could ever hope to be?


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