Wednesday, December 23, 2009

who killed bambi?

Poor X Factor winner Joe McElderry, robbed of his moment in the Christmas spotlight by a bunch of grungers from more than a decade past.

Gentle pretty thing
Who only had one spring
You bravely faced the world
Ready for anything

One cannot argue with the numbers:
X Factor with around 4 months of prime time telly pulling in 19million for the final show and uncalculable mainstream media coverage via daytime tv, newspapers etc rustled up 450,000 sales of Bambi’s ditty.


The Rage Against The Machine's 'fan' driven ‘campaign’ built up initially on Facebook with around 750,000 sign-ups where around 500,000 followed through with their 79p. In any marketing-speak; as a conversion rate it looks good.

What’s also interesting is that the X Factor itself had a sizeable social media backchannel through the duration, particularly real-time commentary on Twitter.

The idea to subvert the Christmas chart spread like wildfire because it adhered to some of the basic principles of ‘viral-ness’.

1 - It was easy to understand – buy the track within a certain time frame, if enough people do it, it will achieve it’s goal.

2 - It polarised opinion – You are eitheir ‘for’ or ‘against’ the idea.

3 - It was easy to participate – there was only a couple of things to do, pass on the idea and buy the song.

4 - It’s all about me – The participants have to WANT it to spread, participation makes a social statement about ME (I’m about proper music vs manufactured pop).

Meanwhile every Tom, Dick, Harry and Social Media Expert jumps on the Rage ‘victory’ as being vindication and proof of the corresponding ‘victory’ of social media over broadcast media ‘marketing’.

While it’s another case study in the continuing shift in control from broadcaster/brand to the users - and both wee Joe and RATM playing the role of social objects in a groundswell - from a music perspective it’s a bit depressing.

I made my peace with the X Factor some months ago once I realised it had nothing whatsoever to do with music.

As in life, in that for there to be good there must be corresponding evil, so also for there to be music there must be anti-music.

When I was a nipper we had a saying about Top of the Pops – ‘every Thursday until you die’. Tip of the Poops died out first, but the likes of X Factor are it’s natural replacement.

The Top 40 was the last bastion of the TOTP era, this latest subversion is surely one of the final nails in it’s coffin.

But If I were a Rage fan I’d be a bit miffed at ‘my band’ being reduced to mere spectacle, The biggest selling song of the year, yet any meaning reduced to it’s ‘symbolic’ interplay as a social device in a cod-situationist spoof.

The irony, of course, being that a 5th consecutive Christmas number one from the Cowell stable is not much of a story. This weeks events made sure that X Factor was still newsworthy.

So what happens next?

Bambi will surely be number one next week as – in another irony – the social media ‘campaign’ fireworks burst and go dark.

And we look forward to another 51 weeks of corporate hip hop, sanitised r’n'b, careerist pop and wishy-washy do-gooder rock at the top of the charts.

Which no proper music fan pays attention to anyway.

In 1977 when the Sex Pistols released their single ‘God Save the Queen’ it entered the UK chart at number one . That week the top 40 was the the Top 39 as the chart publishers refused to even list the song that had polarised a nation in the Queen’s Silver Jubilee week.

But then, you knew I was going to dig that one out...

blog comments powered by Disqus