Archive | January 2013

The Nail in the Coffin?

Tonight we learnt that HMV, a mainstay of the UK high street has gone into administration. I am not someone who usually takes an interest in business, and I try as much as possible to steer clear of economics, because I know very little on the subject. This one has actually filled me with sorrow and raised my blood pressure in the process.

I am sad partly because it means I cannot just browse the shelves and pick up a CD, DVD or video game on a whim anymore. Remember that feeling you used to get after buying something new and the anguish of having to wait half an hour before you could get home, rip off the cellophane, get a whiff of that ‘new thing’ smell and stick in in the appropriate device? The next generation will never have that if HMV goes under.

I’ll even miss these little bastards.

Whilst I recognise that HMV led to the downfall of the independent record store, the fact that it is now on the brink itself represents a far bigger tragedy. The internet has finally succeeded in ruining music. In recent years, the lack of interest in physical copies of records has helped destroy the concept of the ‘album’. This has been enforced by the internet’s constant reminder that music should come in 3 minute, instantly downloaded, 79p (or free if you know where to look), streaming, easily digestible chunks. People only release albums so that they can later re-release it with 3 extra tracks tacked on the back of it, each featuring Nicki Minaj, Kanye West or Skrillex remixes. We live in a world obsessed with fast food, and whoever calls the shots in the music business has decided that music needs to go the way of the hamburger. When was the last time somebody released a concept album, or an album that contained 4 tracks, each clocking in at ten minutes long? If you did that now iTunes would laugh at you all the way to the bank as they paid you about 90p.

It’ll never work…

The internet was the death knell for the record store, where people could discover something new or something old and obscure without having it forced down their throats. I understand that HMV didn’t exactly help, but the fall of HMV marks the end of the final stand of the high street record store, and that is a very sad thing indeed. The internet is the only option.

We are now hapless to the designs of Apple, Amazon and the other faceless online conglomerates. Before you accuse me of being anti-capitalist or anti-consumerist; I have no qualms with these companies making money. I have a problem with the way they devalue art. People forget that music is an art form. Commercialisation of music has got progressively worse since the 1950s, but we’ve always had the option of ignoring the promotions thrust before our eyes of who they want us to buy, and just picking up a record and saying ‘cool, only David Byrne would think of putting that on an album cover’.

If you do one thing today, listen to this.

Of course, people still have a choice. Independent artists actually have a lot more exposure due to things like Soundcloud and Youtube. There is potential there. The problem is, the executives know this too. That’s why they’ve bought out these sites.That’s why the biggest videos on there are childish showers of faecal matter like ‘Gangnam Style’ and ‘Baby’ by the iTunes poster-child, Justin Bieber. They’ve found ways to manipulate everything.

I love pop music. I’m not afraid to say that I am a sucker for a catchy hook as much as the next person. I don’t only own albums of one genre or one era, or only listen to music that failed to reach the top 40. There has always been commercial pop music. But now, it is not even written for the passion of music. It is written purely as a means to an end; the almighty dollar. It speaks volumes that the biggest paid ‘musician’ of 2012 was Dr Dre. How did he make his money? I don’t remember him finally dropping the follow-up to ‘2001’. He made his money by endorsing headphones. Where is the real music? It’s out there, but it’s becoming harder and harder to find.

Sure, we have social media for people to use to promote their bands but all the internet has really done is make it easy to steal people’s work. Why should artists bust a gut to make a great piece of music when it just gets put on a torrent site somewhere or buried under all the crap that Apple wants us to buy?

People may call me old-fashioned, but it is no coincidence that album and single sales have deteriorated rapidly since the advent of the online music retailer. The online music retailer that only cares to line its own pockets, rather than promote or pay the artist. Tonight, the music industry was dealt a massive blow. I don’t propose to know the solution, but somebody is going to have to rethink the way music is distributed digitally if we are ever going to restore some pride to the lost art of music.

I’m off to smell some vinyl.

Advertisements

‘F**k Factor’ – A Guest Blog by Carl Parmenter

The English language is a wonderful thing. The way in which certain words have multiple meanings to add confusion to a piece of text is remarkable, and typically British. There are some words which we use as part of our day to day language which can also be used in an inflammatory way. For example, we can smoke a ‘fag’ or eat a ‘faggot’, but we can also use those words as terms for a homosexual male. These are the words I will be talking about today, the so called ‘naughty words’ (if you’re 5).

As this post is all about swearing I feel I should ease you in, after all some of you don’t know me and I don’t want to get off on the wrong fucking foot. So let’s start with the sort of words you’ve probably referred to kids as. No, I don’t mean words like ‘sexy’ (although I have heard people refer to their kids as sexy, which scares me beyond belief), I’m talking about those curse words you use when your kids are simply pissing you off. Words like ‘sod’ or ‘bugger’ are very nice words to use around your children except for the fact you’re calling your children ass fuckers. Don’t believe me, well do a bit of research into the act of buggery (I’m sure there will be some interesting videos online) or the exploits of those buggered souls at Sodom in the Old Testament. Yep, both of those words refer quite bluntly to the act of anal fornication, yet for some reason they’re suddenly accepted for this use as well.

Next stop, the Marmite factory.

Next stop, the Marmite factory.

Ass fucker is a pretty strong term which is why we use these supposedly nicer words, but surely there are better terms we can use for our brats. Well, sticking with this area of the body, would it be nicer to call your child a vagina? Well, yeah, after all ‘vagina’ is the official word for female genitalia, and scientific words are in no way swear words (see Uranus for proof – stop giggling at the back). The alternative words for vagina aren’t as acceptable though. For some reason it’s not right to call children ‘cunts’, or so I found out when I fired from my job as a children’s TV presenter (apparently they prefer it if we do those things out of working hours). So what does that leave us with? Pussy? That only really applies if they are somehow catlike, and I feel picking the right swearword is the least of your concerns if your child has a tail and whiskers.

Seeing as I just touched on vaginas I feel it’s only right that I touch on penises too (oo-er). So, why is it that we use terms like ‘prick’, ‘dick’ and ‘cock’ to describe male genitalia quite openly, yet words like ‘pussy’, ‘twat’ and ‘cunt’ are still taboo? When you think about there’s no real difference, they’re just slang terms for genitalia, the only difference is that one is for a male, the other for a female. This is one of those things that has always amazed me about the English language by the way. How do we actually dictate which words become socially acceptable and which will make you a social pariah if you utter them in public? I’m not 100% certain on this but I get the feeling Simon Cowell is to blame. There’s just something about the talentless wanker that makes me think he was bullied a lot in school, and as a result he took all the terms that were flung his way and made them inappropriate (side note – the shit he churns out on X Factor is retaliation for all the shit that was flung at him in school as well).

Sometimes pictures say everything.

Sometimes pictures say everything.

The list of curse words and their ridiculous meanings just keeps growing. We use the word ‘fuck’ or its derivatives as filler words, just because we have nothing better to say. We refer to daily tasks in as offensive a way as possible. We are a nation of people with undiagnosed tourettes and we try our hardest to find ways to justify our swearing. How long until Saturday nights are filled with F*** Factor, a show in which potty mouthed judges (along with Mr. Cowell) pick the words we can’t say in the following year? Well, based on the way we’re going it’d be a great idea and a money spinner for ITV (your welcome, cunts). So, to prevent ITV from doing this I suggest we all stop complaining about curse words and accept them into the English language, after all they are just words. If you don’t want to do that, fuck you.

*

Carl Parmenter is a cunning linguist and expert swearer who rates Rachel Riley and Susie Dent in his Top 10 women to spend a weekend with (for different reasons). Read his blog here.

Infinite Insanity

To kick off 2013, I have collaborated with Carl Parmenter of Insane Thoughts of a Sane Mind. Head over there now to see what I really think about health and fitness in my guest post