MUSICTEACHERS.CO.UK VOLUME 2 ISSUE 8, FEBRUARY 2001  
Online Journal

IF YOU’VE GOT IT, FLAUNT IT. IF YOU’VE NOT… FAKE IT.

MusicTeachers.co.uk’s editor John Woodford looks at the latest soap opera to hit our television screens, ITV’s ‘Upstarts’.


It is a sad but inevitable fact of life that the many are manipulated by the few. We’ve seen it with Charlotte Church, manufactured and marketed like a cheap bottle of Bulgarian wine, and Salford-born-and-raised Russell “Ah larke singin’ Vurdi opras” Watson, whose distasteful display of vulgar snobbery concerning his lack of formal training is an affront to the many thousands of good singers who grace our concert halls and theatres. And now Saturday night viewers are subject to a particular display of tastelessness that comes in the form of a programme which follows the fortunes of a group of young singers who have been carefully selected from thousands of applicants to form the new super-band of the noughties. The final selection paa-parred their way through The Mamas and the Papas’ Monday, Monday numerous times before being selected from thousands of hopefuls. There was some talent along the way, but it didn’t get very far: no-one wants a circumferentially-challenged fatso when there is one with the right cleavage, good teeth and slim hips to get the boys buying the CDs. Like a scene from A Chorus Line, the elimination rounds showed what it takes to become a pop star. Forget singing… all we want to know if you can trust your friends enough to throw yourself off a couple of steps into their arms (it’s a shame they didn’t try the odd tower block en route), or if, after having got drunk the night before, you can perform up to the standards the three so-called music experts require, which, by the way, seem to have more to do with not having smudged lipstick than anything. Even more nauseating was to see that, of the hundrends of applicants, none appeared that keen on being a musician, of exploiting their natural talents. Instead, they seemed more interested in being a star, of being a part of the great conspiracy which ensures that good looks and the right personality are more merit-worthy than raw ability.

It is distressing that Popstars is nothing more than a blatant display of the misuse of power, of how, with marketing and just the right amount of plastic surgery, the Great British Public (dare I use that term?) can be manipulated into buying something that celebrates mediocrity. And whenThe Morons, or whatever they are going to be called, finally cut their first out-of-tune CD, we’ll buy that as well.

John Woodford



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