Tag Archives: Opinion

Opinion – Musicians and Politicians

The worlds of musicians and politicians are ones that should be kept entirely separate, and yet it would seem that both parties have a fascination for each other. Politicians, the people who hold true power and yet are usually cursed or hated by the people they control and musicians, the people who more often than not use their position as a popular figure in society to shout off about how they would improve the world if they were in charge. It would seem the two different spectrum’s are obsessed about swapping sides.

This editorial comes just after Roger Waters‘ (ex-Pink Floyd, current money grabbing bastard) headline slot at the Coachella music festival, where during his performance thousands of leaflets supporting American presidential candidate Barack Obama were dropped upon the crowd in an effort to rally support for the politician.

I’ve never quite understood this – why would a musician want to actively support and campaign on behalf of a politician who, for the most part, stands against the morals that said artist has imbued into all of his or her work? In Animals‘, Pink Floyd‘s 1977 follow up to Wish You Were Here‘, Waters‘ lyrics likened the ruthless leaders of the world to pigs – greedy, selfish and with no mercy. However, now Waters‘ uses the iconic floating pig as a mere tool in the propaganda war for a man who, for all his charisma and charm, is likely to inherit a country that is to blame for many of the greatest tragedies we’ve seen.

The iconic pig flying over crowds at Coachella

The underside of the pig was adorned with pro-Obama imagery – using a classic British icon as another tool in the monotonous campaign trail of US presidential candidates.

As a musical artist, you have a certain amount of influence and power that no politician could ever hope to achieve. People listen to your words, people shape their lives around your music and your morals, and people, just like the sheep in Animals, need someone to look up to and follow. So why you would abuse this position of influence to promote a political race that already burns up money and resources that would be better spent on other, more important, things?

The only justification I can put forward for such unashamed free advertising is the senseless belief that offering your support to such a cause is either a pitiful attempt at encouraging others to improve the world via another man, or more likely the inevitable shock tactics of a musician who has for years struggled to gain anyone’s popularity or respect for his past actions.

There are other examples, such as the bandwagon jumping of the last presidential race that saw the likes of R.E.M and Pearl Jam leap at the chance to support John Kerry in his bid to beat Bush, but this recent example just seems a step too far, with Waters‘ selling out what little integrity he had left after the disastrous split of Pink Floyd to get in another American man’s good books. Just like the dogs in ‘Animals’, the cutthroat businessmen, Waters‘ has sold his soul to America.


Opinion: Freedom? Yeah Right.

Up until last night I had never used iTunes to purchase a song. Having a Creative mp3 player I knew the songs purchased there would be useless to me, and at any rate nothing beats owning the proper, physical CD. Furthermore, I wouldn’t even consider using iTunes to organise/play my music. Put simply it’s terrible.

However, last night I was forced to break my iTunes store virginity in order to lend my support for Reuben’s Christmas cause (see this post for more info). Now I know why I abstained.

Things did not start out very well, and so began a torturous proceedure. Upon opening the program I was informed I had to update it. Fair enough I thought, until I realised that this meant visiting the Apple website, re-downloading iTunes, uninstalling the old iTunes and finally installing the new iTunes, which in turn led to last.fm popping up in my way to tell me to re-download the plugin for iTunes, which I wasn’t interested in.

Nevermind, I thought. Not every program can have a simple auto-update feature. I’ll let it pass I thought. So then I venture onwards, opening iTunes up in order to buy a single two minute song. Naturally, it doesn’t open. Despite repeated clickings, nothing happens except for the immediate and complete slowdown of every other program open (Firefox, Live! Messenger and Windows Media Player). Rendering the computer absolutely useless, and with Task Manager deciding it didn’t want to play ball and show up on command, I give in and restart the computer.

So, once Windows had sorted itself out, and I’m all ready to go again, I load up iTunes. This time it appears, but all it seems to want to give me is a white box with a blue frame around it. I know Apple likes their white decor, but I was under the impression that this wasn’t a feature.

After repeated openings something must have clicked, and iTunes finally revealed itself to me. Things went fairly straightforward from there and I managed to find Reuben without anything blowing up, or being insulted for my taste in music, which I suppose is a nice change from the mindless dirge of HMV hippies eyeing up every purchase you make.

Having brought the single, I was fairly impressed with the ease it downloaded (yet less impressed with how it took my money, but I don’t think I can really complain about that one). But then I hit the most frustrating snag of all. I was well aware my Creative Zen wouldn’t handle the iTunes torture, but I was not expecting the song to be rendered useless in Windows Media Player. I mean, yes yes, I know Microsoft hates Apple and so on, but what a kick in the tits for the consumer.

I’ve never really jumped on the whole DRM anger bandwagon. I don’t agree with it, but being a CD collecter I don’t consider it a major problem. I can understand that all those tracks sold on iTunes need to be protected in some way, and at the moment DRM is just a solution to that problem, albeit a controversial and problematic one. But I am angry at not being able to play it on a choice of media players. Copyright protection is one thing, but media player usage protection is another kettle of fish.

I wouldn’t mind if iTunes was a decent piece of media organisation kit. But having used quite a lot of players out there (including MediaMonkey and Songbird) I found it slow, unorganised, unreliable and quite frankly bloody terrible. It’s a shame that there is not much else anyone can do about such a problem except for (rightfully so) break the format lockdown and then rant about it, just like yours truly has done. In the meantime, if you share a similar opinion to me, or want to find an alternative to online downloads which will play in any media player, then have a look at eMusic or allTunes, both of which provide music which is playable anywhere, anytime.

Much better.

Opinion: Money.

What to begin with? Well, there’s always the popular topic of Radiohead, who after releasing In Rainbows to the world have been in the public eye more than the government, which I guess for them must be some small victory, but I think at this point the majority of people have grown fed up with the bombardement, so I’m going to avoid that metaphorical elephant.

Instead, I’m going to take a look at another musical giant, Pink Floyd, a band that have been in my ears for a very long time. Having a father who’s Pink Floyd collection consists of every studio album and every bootleg, every live show and released single, often multiple times over, there’s a certain inevitability that I have a great deal of respect for these now aging rockers (that and no decent christmas presents for years because the old man spends all his money on rare Japanese versions of the ‘Dark Side of the Moon’). However, having been disbanded so long, I can’t help but laugh when I found out yet another box is about to be released by publisher EMI. As if the overelaborate opulence of ‘Shine On’ wasn’t quite extravagant enough (or perhaps didn’t rake in enough money) or the re-release of the first album ‘Piper at the Gates of Dawn‘ to coincide with the much publicised death of original vocalist Syd Barret didn’t sell quite well enough, the cash cow is being raped once again for evey last penny out of its worn, tired udders. So, for around a mere £149.99 you too can be the owner of every Pink Floyd album. Probably again.

Oh, you also get an awesome couple of posters. That’s totally worth the money. They’re collectable!

It baffles me. It really does. Here we are, just about near the end of 2007, where the music industry is fighting a war against music piracy and rapidly declining record sales and here, the big wigs at EMI, such as Guy Hands (who was absolutely lambasted by Thom Yorke in this months interview with the Observer Music Monthly) have decided the best way to combat these problems is to re-release the same old shit, with a different packet for a quick buck.

Time will tell when the recording industries wake up and smell the ashes of a failing market tactic. Downloads are (unfortunately) getting more and more popular among casual music listeners and piracy will never be stopped. It’s been no secret that Radiohead’s recent experiment has proven that there is another way of thinking within the industry. Next year is sure to be the year we see massive changes in how the business works. I look forward to seeing it crumble.