This weeks column has been cancelled.

All songs have been rendered null and void in honour of the highest selling single in the UK this week.


PJ & Duncan - 'Let's Get Ready To Rhumble' [Single of the Week]

Let me be clear, I used to watch Byker Grove. I'm just about old enough to remember these two from back then, and you know what, I laughed all the way through this. So sue me. A teenagers entire life later, the song is hilariously hoisted to number one in the charts after being performed by its stars on Saturday night television, and god help me I've just made it "Single of the Week".

I've been sat here trying to figure out what it all means for the "Single" and the "Music Industry" in general. I've been pointlessly trying to attribute meaning to all this. It must mean something, right? It has to, but why? Why does it have to mean anything at all? Surely it just shows that bored housewives have the retail power to outsell their childrens pocket money, and that's really not surprising or important is it?

I think I just need it to mean something so that it validates my sense of loss. My heartache that creative art can be be rendered null and void in an instant, by a gimmick.

When a gimmick or a joke does well commercially like this, it hammers another nail into the dreams of every bedroom musician who wants to get signed and be a rock star. Every innocent kid who is sold completely outdated breathless ideas about what the musical landscape looks like. Get signed, sell a million records, buy a sports car and a country house. Those days are long dead my friend. Lets talk about the figures. Lets talk about profit margins and suchlike, long term sustainability and what our market research says. Lets forget about artistic integrity and how as a species we have progressed and developed through artistic expression. Lets not talk about that at all. After all, why would anyone invest in anything meaningful, like a talent that needs to be nurtured and developed, when whimsy sells so easily? When you can package your product into a format fit for television and double your money. You can make yourself the judge, so that the product is really your omniscient authority, and not the music. The music is merely a by-product of your inherent genius. Then everything you touch will be worth something, because you know best.

We're living in a brave new world. The single has changed. As long as it costs over 40p to download and is under 15 minutes long, your song is now eligible for the charts. Remember the furore when Gnarls Barkley made it to number one without a physical product? These days physical releases are the exception to the rule. Major labels are now releasing songs as soon as they are played on the radio. The lack of pre-sales from this approach has leveled the playing field somewhat in terms of chart position, but nobody seems to have cottoned on to that yet. Release dates as we knew them are over. No more waiting to buy the 7" on a Monday morning, it's cold outside anyway right?

When Ant and Dec performed 'Let's get ready to Rhumble' on prime time television, only one in eighty six people watching, went and bought the song. When you think of it that way it's not shocking at all. For every person that bought it, eighty six didn't. Eighty six people said "My god, this is awful" as one person said "Have you got itunes open darling?"

Yet it still got to number one. That's the concern. Those odds, 1/86, were enough for it to top the charts. Record sales are plummeting. That's for sure. That's the worry. The industry is bottoming out because you and I are not paying for music. We're hardly buying records at all are we? Once we've streamed it enough to hold down a conversation about it in public we can move on to the next "record", the next artist. We can consume music without having to part from our hard earned cash, and that's good, right? We listen to more and pay for less. If we think it might eventually be worth something more than cool points we can buy it on vinyl as an investment. To sit on a shelf unopened. Like music is stocks and shares, or property, we build a portfolio of all of the things that we know and claim a level of coolness by proxy. Everyone is getting paid but the artist, the creator of all of these "things" that you consume to make you something you are not. We know all this though, right? I'm preaching at the choir, aren't I? We're all complicit in some way, because it's happening, it's happening now. All this sorry affair has really done, is show the power of television over radio and internet, in terms of actual sales. You always wondered why there were so many adverts on television. This is why. It works. They make money.

So... Singles aren't really singles anymore, and the industry isn't quite dead but it's changing, catching up with technology. A wiser man than me said that "The Art always follows the technology... an artist didn't invent oil paint, he just saw a good way to use it" and that is where we sit, in a period of transition. As a relatively new commercial industry struggles to adjust to new technology and the seachange of opinion towards how we access music. What does that mean for the future? Where are we heading to? Who am I to suggest that? In the grand scheme of things my opinion is worth less than the music you haven't bought. In our new digital democracy the think piece is over. Opinionated bloggers are done for, they just haven't stopped shouting long enough to realise it. Congratulations on having an opinion and that, but we've moved beyond your ironic shields. Through self-doubt. Into a world where everything is instant and nothing has any value. Where nothing is original. Where everything can be found on Google. Just be thankful you're alive. Hide your thoughts, protect your motives, move on. Everything has been said. Everything has been thought. Everything has been done. There are 7 billion people alive right now, many more dead. Did you really think you were special? You didn't think that you mattered did you? Everybody has an opinion and we are all drowning each other out. All we've created is the dull roar of indistinguishable voices, shouting. We're all amalgamations of each other after all. Anyone with a laptop can spout their opinion into the ether like it matters, and they do endlessly.

Oh.



If you'd like your single reviewed on a future edition of 'Singles of the Week', or have any tips for us, please email us. Please include a link to something embeddable (youtube video/Soundcloud/Bandcamp etc) and put the release date within the body of the email. Thank you x


Wil Cook is a fan of music. He is the Music Editor of The 405 and he cannot hide his severe dislike for writing in third person anymore. Leave your hate mail in the comments section.