Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Any form of competitive music is complete and utter bullshit

I'm not just talking X-Factor/Idol and Eurovision, I'm talking Battle of the Bands as well. Little things like this have absolutely no meaning with regards to quantifying the quality of music, as is well demonstrated by the almost universal hatred of all the "winners" of competitions such as these, despite how many thousands of people there seem to be who cause them to "win" this pretty much useless competition.

If you've actually read my blog before, you'll know that I subscribe to the "all music is good music as long as somebody enjoys listening to it" theory, and you'll also know that (sometimes several times in one post) I'm prone to contradicting myself and being hypocritical and blaming it on 'being the nature of music'. This post will be no different.

The problem I have with competitive music on any level is that its another attempt to quantify how 'good' music is. Its the same as adding a % rating and giving it a star rating out of ten, just in these cases they're ranking them from 'best to worst'.

Except for the fact that they're really not. Despite the fact that you can't ever determine exactly how 'good' music is by any intrinsic value, you also cannot (as these shows claim) put it down to a majority of public opinion. Its simply not a fair test in any sense of the word.

Take the X Factor/Idol. It seems like a democratic show when you look at it; despite the 'judges' deciding who gets to the final rounds, the winners are always chosen through a series of phone votes put out to the viewing audience. Therefore, the winner is still not the one 'chosen by the majority of the public to be the best' as you think it would be.

The 'winner' is simply the one who the majority of people who happened to be watching liked the most. Considering the fact that the majority of people who watch these shows on TV don't know anything about music which extends beyond what is sold at Tesco, you can see how this is a really unfair system.

Which then makes it a sad case that these shows are said to 'give ordinary people the chance to become pop stars'. Because they don't really have a chance when nobody who is voting can actually give any proper constructive criticism, plus the show is always a scam where the winner is already chosen and the entire series is simply months and months of free publicity and promotion for when the 'winner' releases their first (and usually only) album at christmas time.

Then there was the case of the UK Christmas number one last year, when a Facebook Group launched Rage Against The Machine to number one to knock off the X Factor winner. This was in no way, shape of form a matter of good music vs bad, and if you think it was then you probably hate my blog anyway. This was a matter of stopping the X Factor from winning, it was merely a statement of public disapproval, from people who probably don't even care about "Christmas number one" at all, but just want to mess up the order of things. I didn't participate because I couldn't care less (and I didn't think it'd work, but I got proven wrong which was a nice surprise!), but also because I knew that deep down music had nothing to do with it. When music begins to compete against music for superiority it all just seems so stupid and pointless.

Then there's Eurovision, which I still watch. Why? Because I get to hear a lot of European music which is always incredibly cheesy, written to standard cliche's and ALWAYS has plenty of people miming on unplugged guitars, usually really badly. I bring Eurovision into this because its exactly the same as the rest. You get to phone in and vote, but that's apparently combined 50/50 with the judges from each country. And we know that Eurovision voting is all political.

Plus the fact that this years winner from Germany is already HUGE across Europe. Can anyone smell the free promotion and marketing? Especially as Eurovision is more of a big deal in Europe.

So what about those Battle of the Bands competitions? Despite their various voting systems, it still boils down to the same fundamentals as X Factor - the winner is the one whom the majority of people who bothered to show up liked. And usually, to like them they would already be fans.

Lots of BOTB contests put it down to a crowd vote, which seems fair at first - democratic and to the point. Except that nobody goes down to BOTB contests just to see what new talent there is and to play their part in helping them get famous. The people that show up to BOTB contests are pretty much all fans of one of the bands, whom the band drag along with them. So who wins on the night? The band who brought the most fans with them, of course. Its a popularity contest, not a contest of who makes better music or not. The trend-hopping scenester band that sounds the same as everyone else and has been doing so for 3 years is going to beat the band that you thought was actually good but has only been going for a little while, because they have more fans. Is this fair to you? No, but thats how the music business works.

So anyway, this has been purely a rant, but hopefully you get the point that I'm trying to make. Remember that my point is still my opinion, and if you disagree you're more than welcome to discuss it. I'd love to hear it from the other side (though I'm sure the people who watch X Factor are far too busy on Youtube and Facebook to find blogs like these).

Keep loving music, the winners and the losers

Vinnie ;)

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