Apparently, there are more singles sold now in Britain than at any time in history. I bet there are lots of fancy explanations for this from market analysts and academics, but for me there's another totally overwhelming reason: commerical pop music right now is just amazingly good. In fact:
There's never been a year in history where the most commercially successful pop music has been as good as this.
I'm trying to make good on an unfortunate promise from last year and pick the best music of 2009 for a feature on this blog, and as a dutiful anti-rockist reader of Freaky Trigger's Popular one obvious place to start looking is on top of the British charts. Looking at the list of all the UK number ones this year, I count three, I say three tracks that are more or less crap - a charity single, and two retro boy band tracks. But the rest are all good tracks, ranging from the more-than-decent to absolutely brilliant. That has never happened before. Not in the mid-sixties, not in the late seventies, certainly not for the past twenty-five years.
There are some amazing tracks on here, too, some of the finest ever to grace the charts. All the wonderful features of 00s music that makes the last decade the best there's ever been have born fruit at the commercial end. Love that rising, energy-injecting soar of the Ying Yang Twins' finest crunk hour? Or that beautifully chiming 3+3+2 riff in an otherwise dull indie track? Here they are, combined with a massively beautiful house diva vocal and an explosive dancefloor thump! Fantastic!
The finest artists in electro, hip-hop and grime are all up there, there are gay icons and indie darlings. Even the stuff that should be dreadful has generally been completely enjoyable: the talent show contestants have been sharp, intelligent and stylish. The retro artists have struck a perfect balance with modernity. And the once so annoying Black Eyed Peas have been BRILLIANT. There's no pathetic pop-rock, no has-beens (!), no novelty (except said charity single). Nothing cheesy. All the very finest grade of commercial pop, all with edges and production touches that marks out the classic from the merely well-crafted.
Fuck, just listen to this latest track that has made it up there. Those screw-autotune-distorted vocals, the noise, the ridiculously amazing chord sequence in the chorus and the perfectly attuned new wave references. The charts of 2009 are, quite simply, ART.