Friday, 12 December 2014

2014 is the number of the beast

December in the UK, and the main preoccupation in the music business here is to try and predict the annual No1 hit single. After an avalanche of pre Christmas releases by December all the front runners are in position. They're a miserable list of jingles too. Gone are the days when the hit Christmas single might be the rebel rocking scream of Slade bellowing "It's Christmas", although that still bellows out from department stores ad nauseam along with various other bygone yuletide anthems, but long gone are the days when a cheery xmas song for children was climbing high in the charts.
Now the top shot is in the hands of a motley crew of old and current X-Factor winners and losers, wannabe and ex wannabe celebrities, and for this year only a re-recording of a 20 year old song by Bob Geldof, who has climbed out of his Boomtown Rathole with ex Ultravox crooner Midge Ure for a charity single to raise funds for the Ebola crisis. Which would just be plain Scrooge like to moan about, although plenty have given the lyrics a thumbs down with them not having stood scrutiny after a 25 year gap.
"It's only an effin' pop record" said Sir Bob in defence of the old lyrics, but despite it "only" being a pop record that pair of numb skulls still couldn't manage to write a new one between them. Obviously their musical muse having departed years back.

So taking all these desperate attempts to produce the big Christmas 2013 record and looking at the potential Christmasiness of it all then it's a pretty safe bet the big money is on one of Simon Cowell's protégés from X-Factor to hit the top. That is if he gets his way.
But also in the UK whenever there's an imminent Cowell domination about to take place, especially at this time of the year, there is also one other sporting phenomena that's played out mainly through social media. That is how to stop the Cowell No.1 event from actually happening. So it's now become a truly festive tradition here to have the equivalent of the polar opposite to an X-Factor song at No.1 for no other reason than the jolly hope of pissing the Cowell off.
A few years back it was the band Rage Against The Machine who, although they'd had already had a hit with their single years earlier, were probably bought into the No.1 position for just their name alone. If they'd actually been named Rage Against Cowell the message could hardly have been clearer.
Anyway this years buzz is to get enough downloads sold for Iron Maiden's 32 year old song 'The Number Of The Beast' to block Cowell's domination of the Christmas chart. Notice here how it's the song title which is most relevant to get the message home.
Whether it all works out though will probably depend on motivating the vast army of Maiden fans to actually give a damn about the whole thing anyway. Either way there'll be a damn good shot at an attempt of Christmas Cowell baiting. It would be fare to say this also reflects the occasional pastime of a percentage of the population sticking two fingers up at the establishment.

Meanwhile while we mull over that Sing-a-longa Christmas fiasco we have the excitable news delivered to us via London News TV that Elvis is in town! Well not actually Elvis as he never was allowed to come to the UK except in a half baked account of an event which supposedly happened in the late 50's and was probably a demented dream in the first place, but here in the capital we have the arrival of a real live Elvis exhibition. Wow! The first event of it's type to ever leave his homeland, or rather Graceland.
There live in the London O2 arena we saw in all its glory, a dozen headless mannequins dressed in a variety of his tacky early 70's Las Vegas rhinestone creations standing as if ready to perform... except for their heads of course.(see pic above)
The TV interviewer excitably turning to the American woman who was guardian and curator of the spectacle and as if trying to bring the glittery mannequins to life for us all, our reporter asks urgently.. "and did Elvis have any say about the designs or ideas about how they should look?" which brought the prompt reply from the proud curator "No.... he left it up to his designer". "er Oh... right" said our TV host.
And moving swiftly on we now are shown in pristine condition one large white Cadillac or Pontiac convertible car that Elvis probably ate a burger in or had just forgotten that it was parked in the garage since the 60's. And then thrillingly we are shown a set of house keys! They were the keys to Graceland we are informed with great reverence. Although they looked like any keys to a shed except they were gold coloured. We then get a quick look at a couple of other clear cases containing undistinguishable objects and then we're done.
So no mementos of his early years, no sign of the early guitars or microphones and gear or images from the early 50's Sun sessions, and nothing personal that resembled the young firebrand who took America by storm in the early 50's and changed the shape of music. No sign of the King Of Rock and Roll here but an exhibition of the King of Bling and from a time when Elvis had lost his interest in rock and roll if not yet his voice and his world was ruled by the Machiavellian desires of one Colonel Tom Parker. It was thin Christmas gruel indeed.

And as if that was not enough to represent the state of the whole filthy music business in the 21st Century this morning the top 20 richest list in music is published and way out on top is Dr Dre's eye watering 395 million. Which is not down to his music but various gizmos that Apple bought up to shove at us.. mainly a line in very expensive crap headphones.
The second artist on the bling list is no surprise, being Beyonce, who comes in at a shabby 79 million. The rest just reduce proportionately from there. Somewhat puzzlingly The Eagles come in at No.3, but that's probably due to them having sold all of their boxsets and played sell out arena size gigs to people who wished they were still back in the 1970's.

Yes folks as we approach the end of 2014, real rock and roll has never looked to be more underground.