Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Because I'm enough of a shit that the Rage thing isn't subversive enough for me ...

Right then, time to dig my teeth into the story of the month, Rage taking the #1 spot in the charts. We all now know that Epic and BMG are both subsidiaries of Sony, so, yes, the money all goes to the same people, so let's not get too excited about a revelation that anybody who actually bought CD's would already be aware of.

What's really bugging me is that this is apparently some kind of act of subversion - that somehow getting one act to the top of the charts over another is rebellious. Let's set out our stall first, shall we? Everyone realises that, in the short term, micro terms (i.e. the 2010 December period in regard to music singles sales) Rage and 'Joe from the X Factor' (apparently representative of Simon Cowell) are competitors. However, I think people are rather missing the point that getting the Rage song to the top of the charts is not an act of subversion: Cowell is not the 'establishment', he's a private individual, and there is no vested interested in the BBC to promote Cowell's interests. The charts are, if no-one's yet noticed, a sales index, and sadly, numbers don't lie.

Even moreso, I don't understand is just how shocked the public, Rage- or Joe-buyer are at the matter. I'm afraid to say that no-one stole the #1 spot from Joe, Simon Cowell or the X Factor, they were simply outsold. Why don't we hear millions of stories of grievance every day about musicians being outsold by other musicians? If it wasn't for thirty-four other acts, The Priests (I'm not sure, either) would be #1 in the album chart.   The chap from the X Factor is apparently disgusted by the whole Rage thing, but he seems unable to realise that it wasn't RatM (switching it up) who got themselves to the top of the chart, it was the people who chose to buy their song en masse, which is exactly what the Radio1 chart is designed to count. Likewise, does he not realise that, by entering and winning the X Factor, he's effectively 'stolen' somebody else's X Factor victory, according to his criteria. Regardless of which song it is, all you have to do is buy a song. Regardless of whether you convince others to also buy it, all you're doing is advertising a song. And, I shall add, a song which was advertised by a company, whose corporate power put the band onto the international media scene by agreeing to buy their product and advertise it. Monkey see ...

I'm also confused by the Morter's decision to do this. From what I've read, they were tired of hearing the same old pop toss on the radio every year, and plumped for a song that was "screechingly militant and full of swearing". However, I think this shows one of the awful sides of blind consumerism: we all too readily forget that one of the choices in consumer-choice is that you don't have to consume. I suppose the point I'm trying to make is the they could have just not turned the fucking radio on.

In summary, all that we've really got is a bunch of people who like one song, and a bunch who like another, who have tried to get their song of choice to the top of a chart based purely on sales figures by buying them. There was no guarantee that Cowell's X Factor winner would get to the top: it comes down to advertising, which in this case is mostly the show, and the publics' willingness to buy. What's actually interesting is that Rage were chosen as the competition: why not choose an unsigned band, or make a recording of a bus braking (for example) and sell it for a penny on iTunes. The reason is it's not an act of subversion against the chart system itself, which is apparently not a target for hatred, and an important enough activity to be actively involved in, but a conflict of consumer options within an established framework.