It’s an analogy for modern life. It says a lot about where society has brought us; we all boiled every aspect of our lives down into zeros and ones and tapped it all furiously into flickering screens. Everything has got faster, everything has become accessible, readily available. Instead of going to the high street to do our shopping we went to the internet and then we demanded we do even less to get the things we wanted and started visiting online stores that offer everything all at the same time. It follows then that Amazon was born out of our inherent laziness as a species. We piled everything we could possibly want into one website so we had to move our fingers as little as possible. Then they made a one-click buy function! Now all Amazon has to do is eliminate the postal aspect of the service in favour of beaming your two pound book directly into your house and we will have achieved the slack bastard event horizon. It’s brilliant isn’t it? If it isn’t on Amazon it probably doesn’t exist and if it isn’t cheap enough for you they advertise affiliated stores where you can buy your items at truly disgusting prices. A Leonard Nimoy album for under a pound? Truly this is a golden age. By the way I didn’t actually look up a Nimoy album, heaven knows what that would do to my recommendations.
If you take a few steps back it’s easy to see the ridiculousness of Amazon but I think we can all agree it’s pretty great. Most times I remember to go have a look at it I find a book I didn’t know existed or a DVD I didn’t realise had come out yet. But then we get to the music section. If you search for a particular CD and you are a relatively normal, functioning human being, you’ll have no reason to lose your rag. The worst thing that could happen is that you might find a weird album with a name vaguely like what you searched for. Who knows, you may have found your new favourite band. Go through the music homepage equipped with a general disposition that can best be described as ‘joyless git’ however and you may just have an entirely different experience. I mean look at it! Go to the music section now but only if you consider like seven albums from the last five years worth listening to. Are you there? See! Trash! Maybe it’s just that it’s that time of the year again where I’m forced to say things like ‘that time of the year again’ (even early November is too early for me to think about it but retail considers the middle of June the start of the run up to Christmas) and the bottom rung ‘also rans’ of the musical eco-system slither out of their caves, licking their cracked lips and leaving their shite all over the place.
Obviously we have talent show perennial time-wasters filling in the spaces where actual albums could be. I’ll never understand the immense influence of novelty on the British but my heart goes out to all those crestfallen mothers feigning something like gratitude for the Susan Boyle paperweight her idea-less spawn have half-arsed their way to buying. The sad thing is that’s not the worst of it this year. 2009 has hardly been a great year for music what with Muse plopping out the biggest disappointment in the world and McCartney once again cashing in on that band he used to have, this time with a full frontal assault of ‘remastered’ editions of every album and a sodding video game, all the while cackling, rubbing money on himself and dying his hair with iodine.
As ever it’s the end of the year that houses the true musical horror of it all. Stereophonics are releasing another album in a desperate attempt to prove to themselves that they are still somehow relevant post 1999, Cheryl Cole sits nearly atop the bestsellers list in the middle of a supremely shallow vanity project only to be pipped to the post by Michael Bublé of all people. How many copies of his new CD does Michael Parkinson need? And speaking of boring people rehashing other people’s old shit, here comes that insufferable little prick Jamie Cullum back from relative obscurity where he should have bloody well stayed. What happened there? I thought he had faced execution for his crimes against music last time he curled out an album. He should have gone before the firing squad based solely on what he did to Radiohead’s High and Dry. And so we move on to the soulless cash-ins. At the sort of justifiable side we have the Foo Fighters Best of (if it was truly a collection of the best stuff of their entire careers I can only imagine it’s just a repackaging of The Colour and the Shape) but then we rocket off quickly into the dead-eyed money-grabbing deep end with a DVD and a CD of a Take That gig, sold separately of course. That sentence would have made us all piss ourselves laughing five years ago. This is what we get for not being vigilant! Right next to that I see what is perhaps the softest target for ridicule: a Snow Patrol best of. What? That’s just too easy to mock, it’s like shooting handicapped fish in a barrel. The audacity of these guys, they make one ridiculously famous song the BBC can use on every advert ever while every girl ever sets it as her ring tone, repeat the formula again and again for several nondescript so-boring-I-may-have-slipped-into-a-coma-listening-to-it albums and then you think… that… where was I going with this? Oh Jesus they’re so bland I can’t even keep up a good insult without getting bored. They do come across well in interviews though. Nice lads.
There is a reason why no album released around the festive season is ever considered an album of the year (incidentally those albums of the year would be Brand New – Dasiy; Jamie T – Kings and Queens and Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz unless Biffy Clyro pull something great out the hat next week) and I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that Christmas is the time for musical cash-ins as well as every over cash-in you care to think of but it always gets the blood boiling. I think it’s good that I keep getting disappointed though because at least it means I’m still optimistic. I’m quite willing to be proved wrong music industry but while you’re still pumping out collections of paint-by-numbers covers courtesy of Radio 1’s new favourite bunch of totally forgettable foetuses then I remain the same surly music snob I always have been. However I’m prepared to forgive you all the Jamie Cullums in the world in return for A Very Motorhead Christmas. Come on music industry, you owe us!