by carl wilson

Hidden Agenda

I didn't get a chance to mention on Friday that I was on that night's edition of TVO's The Agenda in a panel discussion called "What Happened to the Hits?" - asking whether there are no longer broad-demographic "songs that everybody dances to" in North American culture, and if so why, and whether it matters. (See Agenda producer Mike Miner's related blog post here, complete with ensuing weird discussion - though I was glad to see someone bring up Guitar Hero.)

There was a bit of fuddy-duddiness about the setup - they compared Top 10 Charts from 1978 and 2008 - the 1978 chart being Bee Gees-dominated - and read out the names of the artists on the first-half-of-the-year chart with a certain "how can this Lil Wayne guy, whoever he is, possibly compare to the Bee Gees?" condescension. But I think we managed to get out of that mode at least part of the time, though there was plenty we didn't cover (the role of the introduction of Soundscan numbers, for example, in revealing that the "big hits" weren't as big as assumed and that country and hip-hop and R&B; were selling more than anyone realized).

On the panel with me were Toronto Life/eye's Jason Anderson, Maple Music's Kim Cooke and Dan Hill - ! It was a tad surreal to be on the same panel with Hill (who was famous, at least in Canada, when I was a child). He was very cordial and knowledgeable, despite the show's attempt to set him up against me, since he's written songs for Celine Dion - I didn't say it, but in the early '80s, the book could almost have been about Dan Hill. Now there are plenty of people who don't know who he is, if my 31-year-old friend's reaction is any indication. (But she recognized Sometimes When We Touch, the ultimate 70s sensitive-guy anthem [and, regarded cynically, a gold mine of unintentional hilarity], when I, er, crooned it to her.)

Anyhow, I'm told that the video will be online today at the show's website, and soon on iTunes (at least in Canada).

General | Posted by zoilus on Sunday, April 27 at 9:42 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (2)



Really glad I came across that. Apologies to Mike Miner but it was a little surprising that the premise of the show was so closely linked to the iTunes/iPod side of things. The 1993 list off the top of the show demonstrated that the fragmentation thing was happening at least 15 years ago - I couldn't hum a bar of a single one of those songs (except the hockey arena song).

The other thing that didn't really come across much is how much the fragmentation of the industry was (as far as I can tell) an explicit strategy of the recording industry itself, who a) woke up and found that 2 college (huh? they must have thought at first) radio bands were THE top of the world (REM and the Cure, say 20 years ago) and b) wanted the freedom to market a genre instead of a single star who could either hold them hostage for more money OR come crashing down with some scandal or other.

Great to see that Dan Hill is still around and working! And not nearly as hirsute as I might have imagined him to have stayed...

Posted by Michael on April 28, 2008 8:06 PM



> in the early '80s, the book could
> almost have been about Dan Hill.

Ha! I think there are at least three chapters of the book that could all be about the couplet "And sometimes when we touch / The honesty's too much"

Posted by Misha on April 28, 2008 10:31 AM




Zoilus by Carl Wilson