So, is 'Rock' making a comeback to mainstream pop? (at least in the UK?). We've had a whole plague of boy bands, girl bands, kids, reality TV winners, christmas one-hit-wonders, etc etc. However, there seems to be a small amount of Rock coming along.
Whilst the UK chart is still full of absolute tosh, there does seem to be a slight undercurrent of 'rock' that could be taking a hold. It's interesting how it does this too.
First up, you have all the naff boy/girl bands. They're aimed at the 12 year old girls (apparently). All those girls have brothers or male friends. They, of course, want nothing to do with such nancy rubbish, so try to listen to something a bit grittier. They get Busted, Good Charlotte, The Darkness etc, and for the "really hard core", Linkin Park, Eminem etc (although I suspect they're for the slightly older lads).
It seems then, that the 'popularity', or at least, prevelence of naff tat creates the need, market and stage for the exact opposite. All this is fuelled and fanned by singles sales. Those are way down on the past, so not fuelling or fanning nearly as well as they once did.
One theory about falling singles sales is because records are released to the media too long before the single is available in the shops. By then, everyone's heard it too much, probably taped it off the radio, over-listened to it, and then doesn't need to buy it. That's all the long-term buyers gone. All that's left is the short term "buy it on the day" people. Hence, the symptomatic plunge into obscurity felt by just about all number 1 singles shortly after their instant success.
So, it would seem that the music industry may not be as broken as it first appears. They do have the capability to produce a range of music, they do not need to rely on manufacturing bands because the haphazard nature of music buying habits means that any band properly promoted could become mainstream. They also can appeal to young kids with music that isn't necessarily from the kind of people the kids parents would love to have around for tea.
However, the music industry may need to consider that "less is more". That is, by restricting the supply of singles they actually create a greater market for them. It would be an interesting experiment to release a single for a band with a genuninely loyal following (ie. not a manufactured band) just a week before shop sales. Of course, this fact would have to be explained to radio stations, so that the necessary publicity could be generated. It's almost certain that the single in question would not debut at number one, but may climb there in a week or two. Remember, we'd only be in the third or fourth week of the single's public life, so it might remain there for a good few weeks after that too.
But, as with all things, nothing lasts for ever. The manufactuing of bands worked well back with Take That and the Spice Girls, because they were a pretty new idea, and pushed so heavily onto the public that they worked well. Now, the public wants something new, which may require the music industry to think up new ways to become successful. Clearly, the same old tat just doesn't cut it. Just as any "solution" to the problem won't last for ever either. Who knows, maybe we'll all be right up for some manufactured boy band in a few years?