Tuesday, 6 December 2011

BBC "tastemakers" decide what you'll hear next year

It’s not 2012 yet, but the BBC has decided what next year’s pop music radio will sound like. It has decided who 2012’s top artists will be, and produced a playlist picked by 120 "tastemakers", most of whose names left me asking: "who?"

click to go to Bruce MacGregor's presenter profileYou could say that the BBC’s controlling tendencies are holographically-coded. On one level it decides what those of us who care to listen to its radio will listen to next year. On another Bruce MacGregor (right), presenting BBC Radio Scotland’s flagship folk show Travelling Folk, found himself unable to say the title of one of his tracks, Mairerad Green and Anna Massie’s jig Malteser Madness, in case he might be accused of "product placement".

National DJs willing to unilaterally introduce new music have been systematically distanced from prime-time – for example, "whispering" Bob Harris has been moved to midnight on Sunday morning on BBC2 – and the legendary John Peel’s shoes remain unfilled.

Perhaps closest to Peel is Stuart Maconie on the digital station 6 Music with his twin shows The Freak Zone and The Freakier Zone. What grates about these shows, however, is the frequency with which Maconie reveals his BBC-friendly assumptions by describing an act as "left-field", as song as "coming out of the left wing" or applying his highest accolade to an outfit by cooing it’s "a collective".

Much of what BBC Radio does is world-class, but its decision to hand £1,000,000 of our money to U2 in free publicity summed up its strategy: to decide what people should want then set about "educating" them as to why they wanted it. Privatising the fascist media monolith’s radio services and selling advertising where the interminable trailers now lie would serve a double goal: it would save us money, and let hugely talented individuals get on with being world-class.

Tony Urquhart
300 words



Go to Sound of 2010 and decide for yourself!

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