Monday, May 14, 2007

The Classical Brits, or, Big Mac and Fries.

Do you think I enjoy this? Two and a quarter bloody hours of this? Of course not. But I must do this, because even if it is ultimately futile to make the gesture, a stand must be made. Because this will not do.

Here we begin, with Katheryn Jenkins looking pretty and blonde as she squeezes Holst into a 4/4 meter, with added bongos, male voice choir and a key change so unsubtle it could be in Eurovision. Here's Joshua Bell, who ought to know better, posing his way through Vivaldi in that "exciting", highly charged" fashion previously associated with Vanessa Mae. Why doesn't he stick a wet T-shirt on and be done with it?

Oh look, here comes Sting with his lute. Is there a bigger, smugger twat than Sting? (Well, yes there is, but we'll let that pass for now.) I should be glad he's bringing Dowland to a wider audience, I ought to applaud the fact that he does these songs straight, without the sort of knobby "crossover" bollocks you'd normally get with this sort of enterprise, but when I see his smug face all reason leaves me, and I want to punch him repeatedly in the mouth while shouting "You didn't invent Dowland, you fucking smug twat!" Oh look, he's bunged some close harmony singers in halfway through. Twat.

Ooh, here's Katie Derham presenting the Record of the Year award to Simon Rattle for the Planets, she must be annoyed at losing the presenting gig to Fearne Brittain. Some bunch of actresses calling themselves "All Angels" croon their way through "Nimrod", robbing it of all dignity and subtlety in the process. Still, they're fit, eh? So that's all right, then.
Mrs. Sting pops up to award George Fenton the award for soundtrack for Planet Earth (or was it Blue Planet? No, that was last time). I suppose I should be grateful that John Adams won the contemporary composer award rather than Karl Jenkyns and his dreary new age toss.

And on and on it goes, culminating in the award of Classical Album of the year to Paul McCartney's new "Classical" work, another bit of trite rubbish that soils the genuine legacy of his work with the Beatles. I have a horrible feeling he really believes that this insipid nonsense is better and more worthwhile than "Helter Skelter" or "Penny Lane".

It's not that it's bad as such, it's that it's relentlessly average. I can't report that it was badly presented or that there were any terrible howlers (although it was edited terribly, shoddily), but the whole thing reeks of mediocrity. Music can be exciting, dangerous, provocative, heady, all-embracing. But the Classical Brits, and the industry they celebrate reduce it to muzak. It's not bad because it pushes crossover and TV soundtracks over more serious work. It's bad because it neuters the music, it removes all ambition and reduces it to a cheap bauble. The Classical Brits have the same relation to music as pornography to sex, or MacDonald's to a restaurant. They tell their audience that they should limit their horizons, that they're too stupid to cope with anything more than the scraps they're thrown, that they shouldn't above all make any effort to try and understand. That they don't deserve anything better, and neither should they aspire to anything better.

They diminish us all. This is what will kill music: the insistence that mediocrity is not just acceptable, but desirable.

Now go and listen to someone who understands what music can be.

5 comments:

Erin said...

Oh I know, all a bit predictable isn't it? However, all being said and you may not be able to speak to me in public ever again but I really like Sting's Dowland album. I know I know I know.

petemaskreplica said...

Oh dear oh dear oh dear...

Still, to be fair it's just Sting i object to rather than his Dowland record per se. If you try and defend Ecce Cor Meum though, I'll have to take drastic action ;)

Anonymous said...

Ozzy: I'm not proud of everything I've done. I'm not proud of having a poor education. I'm not proud of being dyslexic. I'm not proud of being an alcoholic drug addict. I'm not proud of biting the head off a bat. I'm not proud of having attention deficit disorder. But I'm a real guy. To be Ozzy Osbourne, it could be worse. I could be Sting.
Ozzy Osbourne
(a Brum)

Erin said...

Hehe. Nah, never listened to Ecce Cor Meum and don't really have any urge to, so I'm safe there.

petemaskreplica said...

Well done! You have (partially) redeemed yourself! ;)