Adrian Cooper has been unwell

Old reviews that are no longer available online, or from sites that no longer exist. The pen is dead, long live the camera.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Top of the Pops

"It's what I always dreamed of as a kid. This is more important to us than breaking America. You know you've really made it when you play Top of the Pops."

You've all heard your favourite bands say it, and within certain circles Top of the Pops is still as revered as your average awe-inspiring deity… but have these people seen it recently? Have you seen it recently? Do you even want to any more? For years, Top of the Pops has held its own special place in our hearts because nothing else can offer that incomparable pop rush. Yeah right, in that case, what went wrong? Since when has a programme so dull deserved this level of adulation?

The first few Top of the Pops of last year showed promise - Blur slacking their way through 'Beetlebum'; Placebo's alien sex fiend chart attack of 'Nancy Boy' (twice); and Eels' toy instrument performance of 'Novocaine For The Soul'. But this was merely a teasing reminder of what could be.

Where are these great Top of the Pops moments that we're so desperate for, those glimpses of true pop genius to help us through the week? This has been a great year for singles, so where were the likes of Stereolab or Spiritualized, Cornershop or Belle and Sebastian. I know I can't expect every band on Top of the Pops to be great, but surely we can demand the right to see at least a handful of the bands that provide the soundtrack to our lives on what is supposedly the country's leading music programme, preferably without the token 'indie band' attitude that seems to exist at the moment.

Appearances on Top of the Pops are supposedly by invitation, if this is still true, why do the last few months give the impression that the programme has become yet another marketing tool used purely to plug last months knackered artists for another couple of weeks - special price singles for the first week of release; second CD flogging lame remixes and live tracks; fourth consecutive performance on Top of the Pops in an effort to reach that elusive top 20. If this must continue, and it seems that it must, then can we at least be given a new recording of the performance? For all their crimes, at least bloody Aqua managed this, although this was probably because no one else would have them.

So, what have we gained from the sacrifice of Top of the Pops few redeeming features? Better presenting? Improved chart coverage? An emphasis on newer artists? No, in the place of this loss came... bugger all really. Nauseating links (Jo Whiley reduced to presenting Sheryl Crow with whatever colour disc it is you get for selling more than eleven albums to pre-pubescents these days); the chart run-down cut to the top 20 with a voice over from Mark Goodier, just so we can't see how badly last week's Euro-toss dog-shite is selling; and a series of safe conservative little one hit blunders. Oh yeah, and Teenage Fanclub, a band so consistently good its taken them ten years to get an appearance.

If our favourite bands had sunk this low we'd be calling for blood, so surely it's only fair to issue an ultimatum: the time has come for the producers to either rapidly reinvent the programme (preferably without trying to emulate MTV yet again) or just fuck off forever.