Marcus Berkmann

Capricious buyers

Marcus Berkmann on the tough world of pop.

It’s tough out there in the crazy world of pop. Two years ago The Feeling were the most played act on British radio. Their debut album, Twelve Stops and Home — almost certainly the only album in history to be named after a late-night Tube journey from Leicester Square to Bounds Green — sold 1.5 million copies and inspired several other bands to start playing plinky-plink 1970s pop. In turn, as previously discussed here, this has provoked Radio One into announcing that Rock Is So Over and shifting its entire daytime programming policy in a plinky-plinky popward direction. So you might have thought that a second album by these pioneers would be greeted with foaming adoration by the pop-loving masses, and that Asda and Tesco, our new favourite record shops, would sell out in seconds. Not a bit of it. The current single was at 53 last week, the album at number 30. As Alexis Petridis pointed out in the Guardian, the supermarket record buyer is capricious. Just because they bought your last record doesn’t mean they’ll even remember your name in two years’ time. Last year the Scissor Sisters’ second album, Ta-Dah!, didn’t quite live up to expectations. As singer Jake Shears put it, ‘It stiffed. It tanked. It flopped.’ I must admit that I too played both The Feeling’s and The Scissor Sisters’ first albums a lot and liked them, and never play them now, and don’t feel the need to buy another one. Maybe millions of people just happen to feel the same way.

In The Feeling’s case, though, I fear hubris may be involved. One innovation on this record is their occasional use of saxophone, because ‘it was the least fashionable thing we could think of’. Maybe they’re joking — maybe they’re always joking, and none of it is supposed to be taken seriously at all.

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