― Tom, Friday, 5 April 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link
― gareth, Friday, 5 April 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link
― di, Friday, 5 April 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link
I think I'd go along with what people are hinting at on the other
thread - being in the charts gives a song a chance of being a public
thing, a public event, in a way I still find exciting. So Solid Crew
and their activities, nasty and otherwise, are a big public issue
because their records get to number one, not vice versa. (Maybe a
definition of "novelty record" is a record which sets out
deliberately to do this?)
― alex in mainhattan, Friday, 5 April 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link
Part of the reason for the laisse faire "the charts don't matter"
attitude on the US side is the shadow of payola and absolutely venal
and cynical way the Billboard and Big 5 record companies operate
here. It hard to place a great deal of significance on the success
of something that is largely only successful because the EVP of Time-
Warner decided it should be and payed some 100s of 1000s of dollars
to ensure that every Jane, Dick and Spot would hear it. Which
doesn't mean that records that chart are bad, but the fact of a
record charting is no indication of quality of any sort. It's just
A chart that wasn't wedded to sales sounds good, but I have no idea
how it would be accomplished unless it was something like a weekly
Pazz & Jop thing. Given the corruptibility of many critics and the
ridiculous amounts money the Big 5 (or is it 4 now) are willing to
throw around, I doubt if even that would change much.
― Alex in SF, Friday, 5 April 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link
Sometimes you get this from support groups (i mean at
rockshows, not 12-step). And from use of music in soundtracks,
where you suddenly realise how brilliant a song is you always
had no feelings abt: viz 'Heart of the Sunrise' in the trailer to
― mark s, Friday, 5 April 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link
― Momus, Friday, 5 April 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link
i have also gone off chart-following for long times at a stretch,
given what i'm getting from it the corruption aspect is actually
irrelevant, to me
― brute, Friday, 5 April 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link
(haha momus has just moved to the ONLY COUNTRY WHERE
HIS RECORDS HAVE EVAH CHARTED!!)
Which means there must be something else about the charts I like
(aside from liking some of the music in it) - I think Mark gets near
it. Chart music is ubiquitous - you don't choose to listen to it,
often, other than choosing to turn on your radio. This means that
your response to the music is pretty much unfiltered - you're
responding to the sound of a record, not at all to your own presience
or coolness or good sense in finding it, not to the difficulty of
tracking it down. And I like that.
The thing that annoys me about the actual mechanics of the chart is
that it only goes halfway - if you're going to have a sales-based
chart then you should say how many copies each record has sold, too.
dad is also a big sports fan, he's out watching a footy game tonight
so i can't ask him why he likes music charts so much. but i have an
idea that there are competition aspects common to sport and charts
that keep him hooked. watching countdown (or the footy ladder?), you
barrack for your songs, anticipating what will come next, chuffed
when it's something you like. there are also reviled enemy songs...
indignantly you ask "who buys this shit?". it's fun.
― minna, Friday, 5 April 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link
Buying things other people are buying at the same time is CLASSIC
because it gives a (potential at least) social dimension to
consumption, duh. I mean there is the argument that buying things in
general is Dud and I sympathise but I don't see anyone here stopping.
― nathalie, Friday, 5 April 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link
What you're talking about is conformity.
I'm not attacking the charts, btw Tom, but I am definitely suspicious
about the way in which they work. I'm very curious about chart music
(one of the reason I starting reading FT 2-3 years was because I
enjoyed reading more about the songs I was listening to at the
time). Most of the time these days though, I'm just unwilling to
endure commercials and djs to enjoy listening to 3 minutes of music.
For the record, I am suspicious that anything is ever really
unfiltered. After all the charts and pop radio themselves are a in
themselves a context and there is a certain populist-"cool" inherent
But Mark S is right - I'm not talking about conformity. I'm talking
about the charts as a -basically arbitrary - set of readymade
discussion-objects, just like Ethan's 15 great songs are except with
the added bonus that the discussion can't become a discussion about
I think there are basically 2 kinds of conversation you can have
about music -
1. "That new Momus album is great!" "Really, I've not heard it, tell
me about it"
2. "That new Streets album is great!" "Yeah it is, what do you like
best about it?" (or "No it's risible mockney nonsense FITE!")
The existence of The Charts mean more type-2 conversations can
happen. But both conversations are great which is part of why I would
be horrified if I ever only listened to the charts and nothing else.
I've never heard of Streets, I can only assume the reason you think people are likely
to have an opinion of them is that they're being hammered down everybody's gullet
in Britain just now.
When you were in France last week, Tom, did you notice what was in the French
charts? Is it any more or less socially significant for you, as an Englishman in Paris, to
know that Murat's new album has just gone into the Top 10 there as to know
Streets are at 8 in the UK?
I like fruit. Does my enjoyment of grapefruit change because they are currently
outsold by bananas? Does the success of bananas make it more likely that I will 'open
my mind to the unexpected' by trying a banana just to see what the fuss is about,
discuss bananas with people in the check-out queue, or -- alarming possibility -- does
the success of bananas mean that there's no shelf-space left (in your local 'Chart
Formatted' Our Price of fruit) for those 'minority interest', 'difficult', 'bitter' citrus
How can I be sure the 'success' of bananas isn't just due to a dumping deal between
Dole and grocers? And are there any grocers left, people who know fruit and stock a
wide variety of it, or do I have to go to a supermarket chain (recently merged with a
big pharmaceuticals concern)?
As the Napoleon of Bolton once put it: 'My mind it ain't so open that anything could
crawl right in'.
How the music gets into the charts isn't that important to me - hence
my "vaguely arbitrary" above. The shelf-space argument becomes
increasingly irrelevant the more music delivery systems move to
spaceless forms, though.
France? We were in a rented farmhouse in the middle of Normandy, not
in a city - I did go into a record shop in Rouen when I got the
opportunity but was swiftly hustled out by my horrified companions.
But we listened to the hip-hop chart on a local station, it was
mostly American stuff but not all. In general though yeah, if I was
in another country and talking with people there about pop music I'd
take the charts as an example.
For instance - when I was in Hamburg last month the guy showing me
around started talking about music, and the first question he asked
was, what's big in Britain at the moment? And I told him and asked
what was big in Germany. It's the quickest way of establishing yr
common and uncommon ground with a stranger, and then you can spin off
into more interesting places - we ended up talking about Fischer-Z of
(I'd be interested to see what you think of the Streets actually. I
think - well, I hope - you'd be impressed with his obvious verbal
gifts and I suspect you'd be apalled at the stuff he chooses to
celebrate using them: he's the new poet laureate of Brutishness.)
― Andrew L, Friday, 5 April 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link
(Note, however, that I do like some of the music that appears on the
charts; there's just no causal relationship. I couldn't tell you
what's on the charts right now if you paid me.)
― J, Friday, 5 April 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link
Actually no, thinking about it you;re right - like any other vector
of music delivery there's a danger the vector can replace as well as
encourage discussion. "It's in the charts it must be good" = "It's in
The Wire it must be good" = no substitute for experience.
― Tim, Friday, 5 April 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link
But it's not, Alex, and ILM is proof! The level of discourse on a
thread about Britney is pretty much the same as the level of
discourse on a thread about Cornelius, or Pavement! (Actually
slightly higher since there tends to be less simple listing-of-songs
on chartmusic threads (cos the charts are already a list) than on
established bands threads).
the idea that the DICUSSION of eg VU is free of pre-fabricated
ideas is manifest nonsense: cf julio's continual anger at the
uncritical tolerence (here, or in the wire) of eg the stooges => the
unquestioned assumption that stooges are culturally superior to
say oasis => that the process by which the "superior culture"
actually TAKES is in fact sidestepped, and all you get is black
turtleneckers congratulating each other on their superiority, with
no evidence that it obtains
― , Friday, 5 April 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link
― RickyT, Friday, 5 April 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link
HA HA geysers need
excitement HA HA HA!!
― Sarah, Friday, 5 April 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link
― Ronan, Friday, 5 April 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link
― fritz, Friday, 5 April 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link
When young, I listened to dear ol' Casey Kasem religiously and even
hand created some charts in 1983 or so. This ceased after a while. I
have no idea about what the singles charts have been in the last few
years, probably more. Album charts I see more often, just. It's
enough to know that Creed keep selling, so never mind.
― Ned Raggett, Friday, 5 April 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link
Tom's OTM about "The Wire" btw; I just think that the charts are more susceptible to false critical consciousness.
Yes, but sports can be also taken seriously and critically as opposed mindlessly. I can get behind mindlessness somewhat, but only if it's conscious mindlessness, y'know?
― jeffrey vincent poter, Friday, 5 April 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link
― Pete, Friday, 5 April 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link
― Ron, Friday, 5 April 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link
in canada, nobody cares about the charts. the only chart that ever
has any effect on people is the muchmusic (our mtv) music video
charts, and that's all horribly rigged and not a real representation
of _music_ anyway. in canada and the united states, the singles
market is practically dead. it's all album sales here, though that
doesn't stop anyone from shelling out the cash for the album when
they're only really interested in 'the hit' (one thing i find
despicable about north american consumers). although this may be the
case, we still have regular top 40 charts here (and they're dreadful,
anybody like creed?) but i think rigged just enough to give a
slightly broader spectrum of music a chance. i haven't looked at a
u.k. chart in months but it's pretty dire fluff. you poor souls.
what i lovelovelove! about the u.k. and its approach to charts and
radio play is that the english appear to be very fickle and
transitory in their taste. one day a particular song will be big,
hit #1 and be played to death. then it will be completely forgotten
and the next song(s) will take the stage. in a more singles-based
market this makes a lot of sense. this kind of forced turnover
happens everywhere as a result of record company machinations, but in
the u.k. there is such a complete, utter purge of everything not-
quite-current the level of the listener. the british as people (it
would seem) are far more interested in having a bit of fun and
dancing to a nice little pop song and then forgetting about it and
going on to the next thing. in canada people have a more 'go-down-
with-the-ship' mentality ... we never quite get rid of this awful
chart music -- it hangs over us like a grotesque 4/4 marionette with
a narcoleptic puppeteer.
why do i like the u.k. chart system if i don't like the music? i'm
not a big fan of chart pop at all, but i would rather hear up-to-the-
minute pointless fluff then slightly dated pointless fluff. i also
love listening to the current trends in mainstream production and
hearing how underground influences are seeping into the mainstream
(like when two-step beats started appearing in more standard pop).
the best thing for me, however, is that once a song has outlived its
usefulness in u.k. chart land i'll NEVER HAVE TO HEAR IT AGAIN.
turn on the radio in canada and you're still bombarded with early
90's bryan adams, 80's zz top, wall-era pink floyd (*shudder*), rush,
supertramp, foreigner and god knows whatever else. so many people
here have not changed their hairstyle since 1985. believe it. it's
gross, and for some reason, liking this awful, dated music and hair
is a source of pride for many canadians. must be the french
enjoy your charts. if it's transitory commercial music not made for
a lifetime of listening, we must assimilate whatever cultural or
technological relevance it may have and MOVE ON. in that respect the
u.k. has the most darwinist chart system on earth and for that i love
― fields of salmon, Friday, 5 April 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link
― Billy Dods, Friday, 5 April 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link
At this point, a Most Downloaded chart would be the most interesting,
― Ben Williams, Friday, 5 April 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link
I happily download music I like, but I doubt the RIAA would suddenly
say, "All those who don't buy the CDs raise your hands".....
Since today's US charts seem to be ruled by Limp Bizkit and such ilk,
I wonder whether it's really a matter of personal taste....or is it
more that a group of people decided to buy an album, just because the
charts call it popular?
Despair for fellow independent thinkers....
― Nichole Graham, Friday, 5 April 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link
the "charts" constitute the average person's main method of exposure
to music, by hearing the songs on radio and in clubs. in that
respect, people do buy the limp bizkit album because simply because
it's on the chart. can we really fault that? if there are no other
avenues for music to be presented, can we blame someone for making
what they think is an informed choice?
unfortunately, the charts are rigged. who buys the records? young
people, and a lot of them aren't actually buying that crap. there's
thousands and thousands of sweaty kids getting down right now to some
angular indie rock band in the american midwest. i've never heard of
this band, but maybe they'll show up on jade tree in a year or two.
how do all those sales on college campuses and record shops figure
into the charts? they don't. same with the amazing new house music
we've not heard of yet that's getting people really high at clubs.
people are out there loving new stuff. people love music and they're
curious about it. but there's no reflection of this in mainstream
charts because it's a three-ringed circus of record companies, radio
stations and media conglomerates.
it's sad to me, but i guess not everyone finds music as important as
we do. i guess most people don't think about the politics of music
enough to really concern themselves with whether or not the charts
are accurate. can we really fault people for being ordinary?
Pete talks utter nonsense here. And this the reason I wuv the charts.
― Graham, Friday, 5 April 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link
So I was thinking about that. Obviously reading the Guardian every day doesn't make Momus a conformist, anymore than
listening to the charts every week makes me one. So what exactly is it abt a newspaper that fills me with the same kind
of rage that he feels towards the charts?
The only thing I came up with was this: I'm a working writer, and just arbitrarily exposing myself to someone else's
agenda — random to ME but yes, perhaps not to them — can be very extremely derailing and distracting; I get annoyed at
things that just happen along (the current events that "everyone"s talking about") and then can't focus on what I'm
really trying to work on. So I deliberately DON'T read newspapers: and I rationalise this self-cocooning by telling
myself that I'm missing nothing, because it's ALL peabrained halfbaked cliche anyway — what the fuck could I possibly
learn from it? And I don't have to read it to know it.
Momus is a working musician: possibly quite a lot of anti-chart arguers here are. Maybe working musicians hate the
thing I like about the charts — the intrusion of the unexpected, finding you like something you would prefer to hate,
because it fucks with your head exactly where you have to be careful about what you let in. Creativity is about being
selectively closed-minded: not a bad thing so much as an unavoidable thing. I try to manage and play with my
prejudices — when I'm aware of them — so that they push me in unexpected ways. (So yeah, the fickle swiftness of the UK
charts IS a bonus there: it's kind of a handy map of "Things a lot of people think they like which they probably won't
for long" => I quiz myself: Do I? Could I?)
Right, I'm off to buy some anadin extra, some coffee and the paper. For the Guardian Guide you clowns: Television is
where it's really at!
― mark s, Saturday, 6 April 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link
The US charts are the exact opposite of this. They are everything you know already. You don't even have to look at them to know what's there.
― Ben Williams, Saturday, 6 April 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link
― mark s, Sunday, 7 April 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link
listening to this on iplayer nowhttp://www.bbc.co.uk/radio2/documentaries/riseandfallofthecharts.shtml
― Yentl vs Predator (blueski), Sunday, 7 December 2008 12:47 (ten years ago) link
― get your hand outta my pocket universe (morrisp), Thursday, 9 May 2019 04:04 (two months ago) link