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The same old rap on music channels

PUBLISHED: 08:00 03 June 2006 | UPDATED: 10:57 22 October 2010

One of the things that thrilled me most about being given a Freeview box as a Christmas gift a few years ago was the prospect of some totally poptastic entertainment.

One of the things that thrilled me most about being given a Freeview box as a Christmas gift a few years ago was the prospect of some totally poptastic entertainment. Full of excitement, I gleaned from the packaging that the service included not one but TWO music channels.

My life, I decided, would thereafter be complete - stretched out on the sofa all day with a remote control in my hot little hand, scoffing chocolate, quaffing coffee and watching endless hours of pop videos in between snoozes. Bliss.

Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran, Soft Cell, Haircut 100, Madness and all my old favourites would be there. Plus, of course, there'd be plenty of lovely laydeez - everyone from cute Kylie Minogue and Olivia Newton-John (in her pert Let's Get Physical period) to more recent stars like pint-size pop princess Rachel Stevens.

The reality, sadly, was rather different. In fact, Gregory has over the years hijacked my digi-box and switched it almost permanently to assorted children's channels. Instead of classic tracks from foghorn Tony Hadley and the Kemp brothers, we've been treated to Tinky Winky and the Chuckle brothers. There's more chance of seeing Dennis the Menace than Dire Straits.

As for the two music channels, I have to admit to having been mightily disappointed. Without exaggeration, almost every time I've channel-hopped on to them it's been the same genre of tiresome music… and very nearly the same video!

Take the Bullock Towers test this instant and see what I mean. Put the EDP down, switch on now and I'll wager the track being played is some dreadful hip-hop, urban rap nonsense.

Tell me if this sounds familiar: men in tracksuits and baseball caps or fur coats and sunglasses, bumper quantities of glittering bling, flashy pimpmobiles and pouting girls gyrating in bikini tops. Bare midriffs with pierced belly-buttons are, of course, obligatory. I know what you're thinking - it sounds a bit like Prince of Wales Road on a Saturday night.

The 'singer', mean, moody, menacing and invariably black, is performing a load of meaningless rap (that's rap with a capital C) about drugs, guns, gangs or doing rude things with the opposite sex. Sometimes it's a dangerous combination of all of the above.

Does this sound a touch racist? I do hope not. I have nothing in principle against shaven-headed gentlemen in designer shades and tracksuits banging on about gansta antics. And I've no doubt it has a vitally important place in black culture.

It's just that I'd rather see some more of what I call real pop on TV pop channels. Perhaps I need to splash out on a package from Sky instead.

On the rare occasions that music channels decide to acknowledge my favourite period, the 1980s, they trot out the same tired old collection of Eurythmics, Michael Jackson, Five Star and Wham! videos.

Culture Club's Karma Chameleon, with its shivery-looking Show Boat theme, is another hardy perennial. And if I have to sit through that tedious Rick Astley Never Gonna Give You Up video again, I think I'll, well, give up.

Despite hours of sitting patiently in hope, I have never seen a single track by Deacon Blue, Hue And Cry, ABC, The Associates, Texas, Prefab Sprout, Simple Minds or Scritti Politti. Why have such shining stars from 20 years ago been overlooked?

During my sixth-form period, Prefab Sprout and Scritti Politti were bands we all professed to follow. None of us particularly knew what their music sounded like but, hey, the names alone sounded so cool and avant-garde that no one really cared. The The - yes that's The The - was another incredibly trendy-sounding outfit.

Scots alternative rockers Deacon Blue were certainly a superb band with a string of hits that still sound as fresh and exciting as they did in the golden days before my golden hair turned grey. Real Gone Kid, Wages Day, Dignity and Chocolate Girl are all surely classics.

Such well-crafted performances, however, can presumably never compete on TV music channels with the streetwise ramblings of P Diddy and 50 Cent and the bootylicious bottom-shaking of Beyonce Knowles, Jennifer Lopez and Mariah Carey.

Perhaps I'm just showing my age. Call me Granddad, folks, but 'hit parade' music ain't what it used to be.

ianb@ianbcommunications.com


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