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Thursday, 14 February 2013

Songs of praise

And straight in at number eight, it's Beck, with his stunning new version of the David Bowie classic, Sound And Vision.

Yes, it's Beck. Beck! The wonderful Beck. Are you excited yet?

God almighty. The present level of hero-worshipping in music is beyond belief. Twitter resounds with it. The radio is awash with it. And trite newspaper articles regularly assume we're all on the same page with their daily worship of the favoured few.

Anyway, with no further ado, I give you, ladies and gentlemen, my Top Ten Musical Artists Who It Is Currently Obligatory To Praise Irrespective Of The Quality Of Their Output:

1: Kraftwerk
 2: My Bloody Valentine
 3: Tracey Thorn
 4: The Beatles
 5: Nick Cave
 6: David Bowie
 7: Prince
 8: Beck
 9: The Rolling Stones
 10: Morrissey

It's a fluctuating list, though of course The Beatles have been regulars in the top ten for much of the past 40 years, with the message about their "unparallelled influence" being relentlessly dinned into us. (Din, din, din).

I suppose it's a comfort to some people to know that a "favourite" artist of theirs is being thus canonised, hoisted onto a marble plinth through the collective efforts of the praiseful. So, if as a 24-year-old you got into (say) The Stone Roses after seeing them on the TV in 1989, going on to buy their (ludicrously over-praised) debut album, and then going to a few of their big-venue gigs, you might very well feel bouyed up at the steady praise they've received in the past two decades. "Yes! They ARE one of the coolest bands of all time", you say to yourself, self-satisfaction (just about) beating back a lurking sense that it's all a bit of a fraud.

You get the same with Johnny Cash, with Nirvana, and with a few dozen other "chosen" ones. It's nauseating and mind-numbing, an endless drumbeat of praise that drowns out all dissenting views.

Actually, if you think you've heard me complaining along these lines before, you'd be right. Hating the overrating is a minor obsession of mine. If in the future you continue to read my peevish little blog you'll probably encounter the same complaint time and time again. It might even get somewhat repetitive, bordering on the tedious. Even so, it will still just be a single grain of grit in an entire Sahara desert of hype and unctuous praise.

So, please open your hymn books and turn to number eight on this week's list. It's Beck, a truly marvellous artist...

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