Monday, 14 January 2008

Branded

On 4th January, the earnest but clueless Verity Sharp presented A Culture Show special on Icelandic progressive noodlers Sigur Ros. Ostensibly the show was a promotional junket for Sigur Ros’s new CD, which in turn is the soundtrack for their new concert film. So far, so good. However, it’s entirely possible to view this Culture Show outing as a way of hitching Sigur Ros’s music to the BBC branding juggernaut. After all, Hoppipolla was used as the trailer soundtrack for the BBC’s Planet Earth – so much so in fact, that the opening notes of the song have become familiar to the point of ubiquity (never a good sign for any band’s career).

Of course, it’s great that the BBC dedicates time to the lost art of music programming – however, if it wasn’t for the supposed marketing synergy that some bright spark at the BBC has detected, then it might be a different story. Why not just feature great music regardless of the fact that the band that makes it might NOT have a commercial/marketing relationship with the BBC? I guess that’s what Later with Jools Holland is for, or even (*shudder*), Top of the Pops (did it really make a re-appearance on Christmas Day with the also clueless Fearne Cotton, or was it those sprouts repeating on me?).

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank god I missed it. I can think of nothing worse than spending more than 5 minutes in the company of Sigor Ros.Direful.

Chip Smith said...

Ooh, the cheek of it!

That said, you missed the treat of seeing Jonsi, their cross eyed singer, something that I find strangely endearing.

Jon Peacey said...

What's really astounding about the programme was that Verity Sharp, who was properly trained in music at University, didn't seem to know very much about music and the programme was riddled with innacuracies. A good example would be her praising the band for their unique and new use of a made up language and sounds when the 20th Century greats Berio, Ligeti and Stockhausen were all using made-up language and sounds back in the 50's! I was astounded by these types of remarks.

And the Sigur Ros singer will lose his voice within a few years if he keeps straining his voice like that: Verity Sharp may have thought it was great seeing the veins sticking out but actually that's a sign of singing damagingly badly.

Chip Smith said...

I thought at best it was lazy journalism: Verity Sharp talked endlessly about the Icelandic landscape and 'Hopelandic', which seem to be givens when anyone talks about Sigur Ros. Her interview with Jonsi was toe curlingly embarrassing as well. She then went on to describe them as being 'pretentious' before changing her mind. If this is the state of arts programming in 2008, then god help us all. All it needs is someone with a passion for the subject and the ability to do at least a little research.

The only Stockhausen CD I have is Aus den Sieben Tagen, and it's completely bonkers. Not sure I could listen to it all the way through, unless there was someone in my house that I drastically wanted to leave as soon as possible!

Jon Peacey said...

Arts programming is really suffering: not helped by the existence of a dedicated channel in BBC4... it needs to be on C4 and BBC2. The only thing being done a greater disservice is serious science programming... as opposed to Man With The 15 Stone Kidney (or whatever) tabloid shock shows... History's starting to get a bit of a drubbing too. And now I hear that the staffing and budgets in the BBC Natural History Units being slashed! Fools.

If you want truly deranged Stockhausen try Mikrophonie: 20 minutes of things (bottles, etc.) being scraped across gongs and fed through electronics...

Chip Smith said...

There's an article in today's Guardian by an independent producer who claims that the likes of Strictly Come Dancing is actually arts programming - the basis of his argument seems to be that no-one wants to watch an old guy in a suit proclaiming straight to camera - that's Matthew Collins's career over with then (and not before time!). A man from the Verity Sharp school of cluelessness.

Jon Peacey said...

(Missed the reply for some reason.)

That man in the Guardian of whom you speak is a fool and a part of the problem. I remember sitting rapt when I watched repeats of Jacob Bronowski talking to camera in his The Ascent Of Man; the same with Kenneth Clark in Civilization... even if he was hideously biased by today's thinking!

The lack of respect for the 'old guy' really angers me: a bloke with 50 years of practical experience, learning and thought versus some oily twat with a fashionable haircut fresh from a Ba. in History of Art and a PgDip. in Media Studies... such a hard choice! ;-)

Did you mean Matthew Collings? If so, I seem to recall quite enjoying his series This Is Modern Art but that was about a decade ago so time and tide may have dimmed the memory! (He's also older than I thought: 46.)

Chip Smith said...

Er, yeah, sorry, I did mean Matthew Collings (I keep on dropping my g's - Estuary English!). I saw him presenting the Turner Prize a little while back on Channel 4 and the level of cluelessness was monumental. Alan Yentob has a lot to answer for as well - Imagine indeed!

Some of the best arts programming I've seen was when Jarvis Cocker went on a world tour of 'outsider' art - a programme presented by someone with a genuine interest and passion for the subject, rather than Verity Sharp, for whom walking and talking at the same time seems to be a bit of a challenge!