Music, but on television?

They say that music is getting sadder.

By they, I mean these people reporting research by these folks .  Apparently it’s about the proportion of hit records that are in minor keys.  I’m going to say that it’s true, and reflects TV scheduling decisions.

On Melancholy Hill. It’s good, but it’s sad

In the old days, programmes like Ready Steady Go, Jukebox Jury and Top of The Pops were scheduled in the early evening, as a burst of energy and newness by young performers for young people.  Any old person watching – meaning someone over 38 – would complain about the racket.. it was all part of their ageing process.

Warren Mitchell playing Alf Garnett. Aged around 40. Hated music on TV

But these days, broadcasters have given up trying to attract a quorum of music lovers to tune into a pop music programme in the early evening.  Too many of the popular tunes these days are for dancing with than watching.  On the other hand, many people older than Alf Garnett enjoy music these days, so you’d think the catchment zone has got wider.  But it’s also got thinner, with young people lured away to dedicated music channels and what have you.

So what are we left with on the big channels?  Might these be responsible for any musical saddening?  Why yes.  We’re left with two main programme types which showcase music:  Talent shows like The X Factor or Britain’s Got Talent and nostalgic TOTP2-type retrospectives.  The first lot seems to thrive on emotionally wrought slow songs – one thinks of Susan Boyle (go on, have another look), or young Ryan, and this one, (a personal favourite), because they tap into the audience’s emotions more quickly and earns votes that way.  And then there’s the TOTP2 effect, a nostalgic bursts of music from yesteryear.  It’s a reminder that nostalgia is a melancholy feeling of home-sickness, and not a warm glow of happy reminiscence.  (Have you seen Tarkovski’s ‘Nostalghia’?  Don’t, you’ll want to top yourself).  TOTP2 is largely for people who no longer want new music, and who use the programme as a way to tap into their deeper, sadder feelings and their youth.

But the main thing that makes it all a bit minor key is when TOTP2 is scheduled – it’s late.  That’s dark. By being scheduled late at night, the music on TOTP2 taps into the sadness…. the deep deep sadness, that affects people around midnight.  We’re a little tired, midnight tends to make us look back than forward (see this one as a good example), and before you know it, you’re in tears listening to Mary Hopkin or The Band of Holy Joy.

It does seem a little sad though, the fact that there are no dedicated music shows featuring new, mainstream music, in prime time on terrestrial TV, that parents and young people can watch together?.  How about a programme that mixes something energetic and lovely and youthful, with emotionally hefty, and not so new?

Grimes: Oblivion.  Sad words, but you can dance to it


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