Digital Music & Reality Shows: Is A Revolt Necessary?

The narrowing of Australian society (and indeed the Western World) is one thing that has made me feel angry with pop culture.  When Big Brother first exploded on our screens in around 2001, I thought it was going to be a passing phase.  Just a bunch of yahoos and yahettes enjoying a bit of debaucherous fun that you could easily get at any weekend party or on Schoolies Week.  But the scary thing about the reality shows is that they have virtually taken over and monopolised 90% of the entertainment world.

It’s given rise to some pretty ugly people and egos whom in real life you would want to punch out so badly that they would never ever get a career in TV such as Simon Cowell and Gordon Ramsay.  Bullying, adultery, betrayal, talentless gits and sexual and social debauchery.  On one hand society hypocritically cries about cyber-bullying, kids safety and social decadence whilst on the other hand gleefully relishes these TV shows that show humanity at its lowest.  How many people in your day-to-day life do you see cry or get a hissy-fit if you don’t like their food?  If I was on a show like Master Chef, I’d tip my food over Gordon Ramsay’s head and calmly tell him to go fuck his mum up the jacksy if he was to lose his temper with me.  I refuse to listen to or co-operate with people who yell at me for anything be it a boss or business associate or politician etc.  I have no time for people who think they can manipulate me by yelling and screaming.

What’s worse about these shows is that they are on at a time when our young and impressionable are tuned into the TV the most.  Bring back the likes of Delia Smith, Peter Russell-Clarke and Bernard King to prime time TV if you want to learn how to prepare a special dish than laugh at other poor fools hamming them up.  TV is a wonderful device for education purposes, but the problem is that the government has abused it to allow all this reality show garbage on it to keep the masses ignorant as to what is REALLY going on in the world!

As for music reality shows, how many of us remember most of the people who got their break on them?  Remember Lee Harding, Cosima, Wes Carr, Paulini, Casey Donovan?  No? Thought not.  Unless you are someone like Guy Sebastian, Shannon Noll, or Ricki-Lee – forget about sustaining a successful and fulfilling career via a reality show.  At least Noll and Sebastian were accomplished musicians and had years of technical credibility behind them before their chart careers took off.  And now with Simon Cowell finally caught with his pants down, it looks like the era of reality music shows is coming to its much needed dismal end.

Being a fan of rock and pop music, as well as the musical styles that influenced them like blues, gospel, jazz, soul, reggae, folk, R&B, and even world music (yes, rock’n’roll originated in Africa way before Jesus Christ came to Earth!), I think it’s time that the ABC and the commercial channels brought live music shows back again like Countdown and Top of the Pops.  These shows featured bands and artists who had been slogging it out for years to build up a following and get signed to major record labels rather than overnight wannabes with no previous music experience or street cred behind them.  Audiences can spot fakes easily, and communicating with audiences is something you need to work on.  It’s not something you can buy over the counter like a bottle of orange juice.

When I lived in the UK, virtually everybody used to know who was in the charts thanks to Top of the Pops and the major radio stations all playing what was in the Top 40 regardless of whether people liked the music or not.  It’s time that the Australian TV industry stopped trying to compete with other countries and took things back to how they ran successfully for decades.  Leave the wannabes and hams for the show “Red Faces”, and let the true professionals perform their music on prime time TV shows.

The advent of digital music is something that I believe has been both a boon and a curse to the music industry at large.  When I first installed iTunes on my computer in around 2006, I was very excited and thought it was going to be an avenue for cheap music and being able to buy songs that I previously could only get on import through Rocking Horse or Skinny’s Music back in the 80’s and 90’s.  This year, when I tried to purchase the single “Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead” which made it to No.2 in the UK charts following the death of Margaret Thatcher, I got a message saying this song was only available to the British public!  Say what?!  If you are going to set up a digitised music service then you’ve got to work to make your music available to EVERYONE.  Unless I am mistaken, one of the reasons why many people decided to stop buying physical singles was because they wanted to buy stuff that was easily available to them on the Internet they couldn’t get anywhere else.

Digital music should really serve as a taster for physical singles.  As my friend d-Wizz had done with his music on mp3.com.au many moons ago, he only featured edited versions of his songs on MP3 so that people would buy the full versions on CD at gigs or at his studio.  Being somebody who likes tangible music in which I can hold the single or album cover in my hand musing over the photos and lyrics whilst the record is playing, the digital age has sapped that sense of spirituality with digital-only downloads.  I do not want record companies telling me what to buy or what’s hip – I want to buy my music the way I like it!  It’s like Hungry Jack’s – you can have a whopper your way or if you’re a vegetarian/vegan you can also buy veggie burgers if out on the road and there are no other places to buy a snack (which I will leave for a future discussion).  This is why I believe the public are slowly starting to lose their faith and trust in the major labels.

Today’s kids are wising up to physical music again with the gradual resurgence of interest in vinyl records and CD albums, and if the remaining three major labels want to continue to prosper and create healthy competition in the market again they’d better start pulling their fingers out and aim to please every corner of the market and stop being so greedy and arrogant.  It’s not the fat-cat CEOs that make the hits and call the shots: it’s the public you sell to.  And once the kids get fed up of squeaky-clean boy and girl next door reality music stars and clinical digital music formats, they will revolt!

Remember what happened in the late 70’s once the big record companies got too complacent and mainstream radio kept plugging away leftover 60’s superstars who were fast turning into yuppies?  Well, mark my words: I think it’s going to happen all over again.  The music and entertainment world moves in cycles and eventually the sheer greed, hypocrisy and political correctness of the mainstream entertainment world will be shat all over by the underground movements clearing the way for real talent and DIY music business ethics that made rock’n’roll, R&B, punk and rap so exciting in the first place.

Don’t join the revolution: BE the revolution!

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