May 03, 2004

We noticed that a lot of bands suffer when they attempt comebacks because people generally don't believe they can ever be as good as they once were. We wanted to make sure we are judged purely on the strength of the music, and not by our old hairstyles. ... We decided we would do something where it was judged solely on its own musical value. ... We wanted the song to be judged on its merits and stir up the water a little bit.
- Mike Peters

We live in what is steadily and increasingly becoming a youth culture. Just over two months ago, the young band The Poppyfields, "the newest, snottiest and best kids on the block", reached #28 on the United Kingdom music charts with their new 1970s-style punk single and music video 45RPM. The presentation was clearly popular, with consumers and critics alike, and from the early reviews it seems the actual music itself was as well.

It so happens that the Poppyfields, as such, don't exist. Rather, the younger band the Wayriders had been hired to provide the photographs and to lip-synch for the actual composers and performers, the much older band the Alarm, which had not managed a top 40 hit for decades, and which had decided to act on its wondering whether age was the relevant factor. Several of the critics had commented on the period influences, one even mentioning the Alarm directly in their review (although it can never be known, now, whether Music-News had inside information at the time).

Immediately protests arose. Some objections were based upon the ethical considerations: could a valid result ever arise out of deception? Some argued that the songs chosen were all examples of the best the Alarm had ever offered, and would have been accepted on their own merits had the Alarm only given the music industry and fandom a chance.

It is one of those experiments which cannot prove or disprove its hypothesis, but which manages simultaneously to raise both questions and ire while providing "evidence" for both sides of the debates. Whether the Alarm would have cracked the top 40 with this selection on their own, we will never now know. Certain it is though, that the question has been raised in a way which should perhaps make it evident that a question even exists ... and thus, perhaps inevitably, the greater part of the objections continue to be such as to deny the validity of its being asked at all.

I have heard it said, elsewhere, that those advocating for the disenfranchised poor were hypocrites, because legitimate protests could only ever come from someone who was themself poor, and such a person would be too busy trying to survive to lodge a protest. Once the initial label had been assigned and thus the originators of the question dismissed, there remained no reason to further examine the question. (Valid or not, ad hominem arguments continue to remain effective.)

It seems that the only constant is that any challenge to the status quo will be considered by some to be inherently invalid … for no other reason than that it challenges the status quo.

Smile of the day:

After severe flooding in Jeddah in 1979, the Arab News gave the following bulletin: "We regret we are unable to give you the weather. We rely on weather reports from the airport which is closed because of the weather. Whether we are able to give you the weather tomorrow depends on the weather."
- apocryphal

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