Nov 10, 2014

Christmas chart battles and the chamber of echoes

We all remember where we were when a Facebook campaign shot Killing In The Name to the festive top spot. It was Britain's JFK moment.

A whole nation gasped as Joe McElderry was denied chart's biggest accolade. Ticker-tape news channels covered it for weeks. The single was named The Climb. The irony of that title failing to reach the summit led to hundreds of floral tributes to be elastic-banded onto Simon Cowell's legs.

McElderry went the way of Steve Brookstein. He was last seen doing panto. His career became as successful as JFK's is now.

Enter this year's most interesting seasonal Facebook campaign:  LFO for Christmas Number One. 

LFO are sadly no more, after the death of sole musician and long-time Bjork collaborator Mark Bell (pictured above). He'll be sorely missed. LFO's Northern bleeps gave a voice to dour techno-heads and their eponymous debut on Warp Records should be regarded as one of the most influential electronic tracks of all time.

A similar campaign for Altern-8's Activ 8 (Come With Me) faltered in 2013, charting the single 30 places lower than its original peak in 1991. The LFO campaign has a memorial element, and despite the Facebook page yet reaching the tens of thousands of followers it needs, there are plenty of shares and likes.

Ah yes, the Facebook page. The other day, it posted a photo of Countdown lettersmith Rachel Riley displaying the letters L, F and O. All very amusing, Photoshop or no Photoshop.

Among the quips about consonants and vowels, there were comments about Rachel, both in the group comments and in the shares of the original post by ex-LFO member Gez Varley. About her. About her appearance. Boobs and oscillations and the like. You've seen the internet. You know what comments are like.

It made me feel sad. It reminded me that techno is male-dominated. It reminded me of the way debates are controlled and manipulated by men. It reminded me of pay gaps, of glass ceilings, of willies ruling all.

That's a lot to read into a small selection of comments that were nothing to do with the campaign.
But I like techno being a community. I liked going to a listening party for the new Aphex Twin album, or raving about favourite Orbital gigs, or gently prodding Venetian Snares fans about Westlife.

But when technoheads are being misogynist, where are their friends? Why aren't they being challenged? Are we as blind to our willy-powered echo chamber as the blunt-fingered keyboard warriors of #GamerGate?

I hope Mark Bell makes it to number one this Chrimbo. Meanwhile, I suspect McElderry's been more successful than this blog post has given him credit for. It doesn't matter. I'm still gaffer taping daffodils to Simon Cowell's hairy man tubes.

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