The Top 40 represents everything that is wrong with our commercially driven music industry. Fact. It’s full of Simon Cowell-influenced clones that don’t have a modicum of integrity between them. Fact. There’s no creativity, just monotonous pop. Well, is this true? I thought it might be interesting to examine the Top 40 in more detail and come to a conclusion on whether we can gain some inspiration from the most popular tracks in the country.
Firstly, it seems key to note that some tracks, F*** You, Hello, Blind Faith currently reside in the top 40 (albeit amongst the dubiously named and increasingly offensive grammar mistakes of Ke$ha with We R Who We R). So if they’re Can You Hear This approved, that’s something.
Secondly there are some pop artists that are genuinely talented. Rihanna, assaulting the chart thrice, produces varied and at times, sophisticated pop songs. The Black Eyes Peas too, have their moments of greatness as shown with their manipulation of Dirty Dancing’s eternal muse to young romance (a song whose initial idea may have been stronger than the actual outcome.)
But what individual tracks can we highlight to someone who shouts the likes of ‘Matt Cardle’ and ‘JLS’ in an attempt to discredit our nation’s pop-music institution?
Believe it (and many of you will not) it might just lie in Daisy Duked-with bikinis on topped form of Katy Perry. Sure, she’s relentessly pop but she’s toned down the saccharine to below coma-inducing levels and producing more mature songs (Teenage Dream, for example was placed 4th on Rolling Stones’ singles of the year). Not only does her current single, Firework start with an ironic line of ‘Do you ever feel like a plastic bag?’ (one presumes her Popsicle-melting tongue was placed firmly in cheek) it’s a great tune. Up next from Perry is a single, E.T, a newly released track of which featured our very own Tinie Tempah:
Another glimmer of hopes lies in a homegrown favourite, Noah and the Whale with their ridiculously infectious but rather more difficult to type out: L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N. It’s a promising single with playful lyrics and a great hook from the eponymous album. Let’s hope this propels them to the same success that their summer hit, 5 Years Time brought them. It might be a nice change from Mumford & Sons anyway, although perhaps the two could collaborate now that Ms. Marling is through with both lead-singers. It also sounds incredibly similiar to Lola, no bad thing.
Although an up-and-coming British female is ruling the charts in the form of Jessie J, Adele continues to shine (and outshine the competition). Her Rolling In The Deep provides an anthemic track that is unlike that graced the promising but troubled 19. If it doesn’t quite match up to the success of Chasing Pavements it certainly provides a more soulful time. There’s plenty more to be excited from Rolling In The Deep, as Adele finally matches up to the view that the media has promised us for so long.
So, that’s my view of the Top 40. An advantage I would say that our chart has over America’s Hot 100 is that tracks of different genres find it much easier to flourish and find the recognition that the chart can bring. We’re a much smaller landmass and it takes a smaller spark to cause a bigger crash. Ultimately it’s not too dismal a hit rate with plenty to look forward to in 2011. I’m looking forward to Fiona Apple’s return to pop, bringing hopefully with her a nostalgic reminder of the 90s. It would be great to hear your opinions on the chart and what tracks you’re particularly looking forward to.