Saturday, 19 December 2009

"The least important battle of our time..."

This year an epic battle is being fought for control of the UK popular music scene. The battleground is the UK Music Chart. The prize is the coveted Christmas Number One spot.

The first contender is the Apprentice of the Dark Lord – Joe McElderry. Lord Cowell has had dominion over UK popular music for years: he has grown arrogant, bitter, and has chosen a new minion. McElderry has proven himself worthy on the field of Saturday-night light entertainment – he has mercilessly slaughtered his opponents and won the apprenticeship he so coveted. But his weapon – a cover of ‘The Climb’ – is banal, tedious, and filled with clich├ęd platitudes. Though it is guaranteed to win over the proletariat ITV viewership, the victory will count as a loss for music.

The second contender is the Revolutionary. Down in the bowels of Cowell’s dystopia, seditionary rumblings have begun. The people of the underground have woken up and discovered their strength. Those addicted to the foul drug, Facebook, have elected a champion to reclaim their once mighty kingdom – Rage against the Machine’s ‘Killing in the Name’. Their first sortie may have been a failure but the revolution continues unabated. And this underground movement has a secret weapon: 29p downloads from Amazon.

The third contender is the Old Master. One year he almost had the prize but ultimately failed. Now, after years of bitter exile, he returns with a recycled effort from last year, ‘December Song’. It contains lyrics which compare snow to “white sugar from Jesus.” Oh dear.

Meanwhile watching from the sidelines is the Aloof Wanderer, Mr. Bob Dylan. Dylan surprised everyone this year by releasing not only a heavily-commercialised Christmas album but a heavily-commercialised Christmas album with an exclusive distribution deal with a bailed-out bank, Citibank. As Dylan’s raspy, nasal voice sodomised all our favourite Christmas songs, whatever remnant of ‘young Dylan’ was left in the musician’s ravaged body, died.

The final contender is the Young Bard. This humble warrior has arrived late to the battle waving his lute and entreating entrance at the gate. Musical comedian Tim Minchin, ‘White Wine in the Sun’, has been embraced by a number of underground Internet aficionados who feel that the Christmas Number One really ought to be a song about Christmas. Though he doesn’t have the tyrannical hold of Cowell or the bohemian support of Rage, Minchin’s is the song which best embodies musical talent, lyric-writing ability, and Christmas spirit.

There we have it. While the Dark Lord is challenged by demonic metal-fans rising from the underground and while an Old Master duels with a young, plucky Bard, most of us look on bemused. Best to block it all out by putting our earphones in.

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