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The slow demise over many years of the BBC TV programme Top of the Pops, or in its disguised trendier form TOTP, followed by its sudden axing is matched by the subsequent rapid growth in all the programmes featuring unknowns singing and dancing to hit songs. The decline of one appears to be paralleled by the rise of the other. In its hey day TOTP could very often muster 15 million viewers, once a week. I’d guess if you put together the ratings of the current talent shows in terms of total viewers you’d find a similar figure. I can’t be the only one to have noticed this. These are not unconnected events. Sooner or later broadcasters and the record companies are going to listen to what the popularity of these recent shows says about the public’s taste for pop songs and singers. Meanwhile the list of shows gets bigger. Pop Idol, X Factor, American Idol, A Problem Like Maria, I’d Do Anything, Stars In Their Eyes, Just Up Your Street, Pop Stars, The Rivals, My Favourite People, Britain’s Got Talent, The One And Only, Ultimate Tribute, Fame Academy, Any Dream Will Do, Don’t Forget The Lyrics, Who Dares Sings, Last Choir Standing……Dancing, singing, it doesn’t seem to matter just so long as decent tunes are sung in front of your eyes by real people. None of this type of programme works if the wrong songs are chosen. I mean, let’s all vote shall we, for our favourite Nancy singing the hits of The Smiths? Not going to happen is it? No room for too much ‘indie’ music as they used to call it. No death metal, rap, or hip hop unless it’s a great tune, and in those genres that doesn’t often happen. For reasons I won’t go into here, this type of non pop music became the mainstay of TOTP and therefore the reason for its decline.

Not wishing to appear too clever, but I think it is fairly easy to predict what’s coming next. As I see it, there is a new show sitting up and begging to be made. I can see it now, just coming into view on the horizon. I’d tell you exactly what it is but, as I said, I don’t want to say too much.

(c) 2008 M Stock

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© 2008 Mike Stock