There is something very comforting about seeing a band or performer from the past, singing songs that you grew up with and can still sing along with. None of this “I’d like to play something from my new album” because they haven’t made an album in donkey’s years. All the hits and nothing but the hits.
Simon Cowell has made millions from our obsession with the musical past with his TV shows. The X Factor is the most popular karaoke TV show ever invented. Some call it ‘anti-music’ – I do – but millions love watching amateur singers striving to win a competition that enables them to perform at the Royal (lack of) Variety Show and then return to singing in front of the mirror in the bathroom. If you like nothing better than listening to music with which you already familiar, there is nothing wrong with that.
One of the most popular musical events in Bristol is the annual Let’s Rock Bristol show, in which a Thompson twin will rock up with three quarters of Bucks Fizz and be part of a 1980s music jukebox. And the renowned Fleece venue has more ‘tribute’ acts than it has original bands. Nostalgia is big money.
Until BBC 6 Music came along, I suppose I was like the people who happily wallow in a pit of musical nostalgia. The music I liked 30, 40, even 50 years ago was all I’d listen to. I still do love that music, but happily I have found new music and it’s good.
In fact, there is an argument which goes that we are living in the best time ever for music. This is because not only do we have all the music that came before, we now have the widest imaginable range of new music. 6 Music gives me a heady mix of all the music I want.
Look at the opening half hour of Stuart Maconie’s brilliant show today (2 November). So far, we have had:
She Sells Sanctuary by the Cult
Freebird 2 by Parquet Courts
Little Fluffy Clouds by the Orb
Like Sugar by Chaka Khan
Family of Aliens by Teleman
The Selfishness of Love by Salad
Till The End of the Day by the Kinks
I would like to think you have heard of at least a couple of these tunes – I knew five of them – but there were some I didn’t know. I had the security, if you will, of the familiar and the excitement of the new or unknown. This of course flies against the norm these days, where radio stations rigidly stick to a genre and you only hear what you know. There is so much great music out there.
This year, I have bought more new music than ever, much of it by artists I was largely unfamiliar, like the Rolling Fever Coastal Blackouts, Courtney Barnett, Louis Cole, Christine and the Queens and MGMT. I know them now and I am very grateful to the DJs who brought them to me.
I wouldn’t dream of patronising you by suggesting you should try new music, but believe me it’s worth it. And when you hear a tune as good as Ottolenghi (ft Jordan Rakei) by the brilliant Loyle Carner, you’ll know I’m right. Perhaps?