THE BEGINNING

The Guardian’s recent `Music Power 100′ is a list too far, says Reef Younis.

Illustration by Carl Partridge

Illustration by Carl Partridge

THE GUARDIAN’S RECENT ‘MUSIC POWER 100’ IS A LIST TOO FAR, SAYS REEF YOUNIS

Lists: they’re shit. We love the thought of them, are comforted by them, buy into the fact that making a list is somehow productive. It’s a sign of organisation, with stuff at the top typically more important than the stuff at the bottom – e.g. for shopping, crisps are far more essential than, you know, vegetables.

You might have seen The Guardian’s Music Power 100 list – an odd mish-mash of artists, print media, radio personalities, executives, label heads, lawyers and, perhaps most nauseating, ‘teams’. If you did happen to skim the list, you’d have seen that ‘Team Adele’ sits proudly, perplexingly at the top.

It read: Adele’s huge success can be seen in two ways. One version has Adele as The Last Pop Star… The other version takes the 23-year-old Londoner and uses her as an example of how a brilliant talent – supported by a brilliant team – can still bring millions of people together at the same time, in the simple celebration of great songs.”

The remit was simple: which people have the greatest influence over what rock and pop music people in the UK listen to right now? On the face of it, Adele wasn’t as ridiculous a choice as it first seemed. With her ‘21’ and ‘19’ albums sitting snugly at number 2 and 3 in the UK album charts it makes obvious commercial sense. But when we’re given the stats and the logic and the breakdowns behind the list, just how do Liam Howlett and Team Dizzee Rascal make the 100 based on current relevance; why is Mark Zuckerberg a major music player at number 13; how does the Lady Gaga commercial phenomenon limp in at a lowly 18? Howlett laughably earns his place for inspiring the current industrial dirge of Pendulum; Lady Gaga is “more influential than ever” but her record-breaking sales oddly aren’t enough to put her in Adele’s league, while Zuckerberg earns his lofty presence by virtue of the fact people share music on Facebook despite it never being designed for that purpose.

Seven out of 100 are artists outright. 16 broadcasters. 15 label executives. 1. Fucking. Lawyer. It’s a breakdown of the executive matrix where the artists’ presence here are token gestures; a half-baked attempt to make the list look vaguely creatively credible. It’s a contrived roll call of the fat controllers, boardrooms and marketing that greases the industry wheels, and should anyone be celebrating the reduction of music to listening trends and target demographics? More importantly, it raises a very simple question: does an artist make a team or does the team make an artist? That we’re even asking that question makes a mockery of the “simple celebration of great songs” epitaph used as justification for this worthless exercise.

By Reef Younis

THE GUARDIAN MUSIC POWER 100 TOP TEN

1. Team Adele
2. Lucian Grainge & David Joseph
3. Simon Cowell
4. Nigel Hardin
5. iTunes UK
6. Chad Hurley, Steve Chen & Jawed Karim
7. George Ergatoudis
8. Google
9. Simon Moran
10. Jeff Bezos

View the whole list here.

Originally published in issue 29 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. June 2011

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