Sunday, July 25, 2004

Ewing on Morley. A classic column about how great the charts were in the summer of 1982. A founding text for Pop-ism for sure. I remember this piece vividly and totally felt the same euphoria about New Pop's apparent victory--the fact that it had driven all the crap from the charts (or almost all of it). Thing is, the moments when this kind of elation could be sustained by the actual contents of the charts are few and far between. (And within six months of Morley's column, the picture looked totally different, and PM spent much of 1983 railing against the likes of the Thompson Twins while simultaneouly plotting the counter-attack--ZZT (hence Into Battle, War on Pop). Since 1982, how many times, really, has a situation prevailed where the good stuff in the charts outnumbered the bad stuff?

Beyond that, though, I'm not sure of the extent to which you can make the charts the foundation of a pop theology. After all, they're simply a structure for tabulating what's selling, a statistical format. There's no aesthetic essence to "chartpop" (certainly nothing resembling the kind of distillate WonderPop as imagined by Saint Etienne). Iron Maiden and Dire Straits are two of the UK's most successful chart pop acts!  If the entire population of the UK suddenly got into thrash metal, or alt-country, would being a Chartist be such a rewarding stance?

The cooler-than-thou type is a bit of an Aunt Sally, a crude caricature. As an unhealthily attentive NME reader at the time,  I instantly recognised it as a jibe at Richard Cook, the paper's jazz critic, but also a champion of the likes of Rip Rig and Panic. Later he became the editor  [and founder?] of The Wire. Which is sorta interesting in terms of a genealogy of attitudes if you consider The Wire's anti-pop slant (the Sinker years being the exception obviously). But then Cook, as I recall, used to write enthusedly about all kinds of stuff in NME--Cocteau Twins, New Order, The Police, Lloyd fucking Cole. He even had nice things to say about Foreigner, circa "Waiting For A Girl Like You" and "I Wanna Know What Love Is".  So in his own way he too could probably have said "I like everything" and meant it.

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