The Brit Awards nominations show a music industry playing it safe
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It’s that time of year again. Time for the British music industry to put on its glad rags and pat itself on the back for another year of shifting units. Once upon a time the Brits had the potential to shock, the potential to shine a light on the most interesting aspects of British music culture – The KLF and Extreme Noise Terror, erm, ‘terrorising’ the audience, Jarvis taking Jacko down a peg or two, Gorillaz’ 3D performance – but as an industry struggling with the new dawn of digital DIY the nominees for 2016 largely show a major label industry that has resigned itself to playing it safe. In particular, the British lists read like a Radio 2 list for the only audience still, actually paying for music en masse – the middle aged. Offering very little in the way of innovation or what is really happening in music culture, it reflects nothing youthful or exciting about our culture. Sure, Aphex Twin and Jamie XX (two exceptional talents) are in the Best Solo Male category but Richard James is past his truly groundbreaking best and Jamie XX is unlikely to win in a category with industry-favourite James Bay, Millionaire button-pusher Calvin Harris and 80s funk magpie Mark Ronson. The two electronic producers are additions to make the list look even slightly relevant, and something above the tepid, mediocrity of the safe-bets. Of the Female list the most interesting star of the lot just happens to be dead, the rest takes in two huge stars who simply go through the motions producing nothing exciting or new in their music (or doing their talent justice) (Adele, Florence), the new pop hope (Jess Glyne) and the true artist, added for a bit of colour (Laura Marling). The ‘British Group’ list is as uninspiring. Blur are nowhere near at their best or most relevant, One Direction are only there for their selling power (it can never be argued that their success has anything to do with music) and Years & Years are the safe face of electro-music creating a polished pop-mesh from elements of truly great music.
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