More than one hundred and twenty-five thousand fans swamped Knebworth to watch the prince of pop, His Royal Highness Robbie Williams, perform a plethora of poptastic tracks, but what does his popularity say about us?
The popularity of the ex-Take That star from Stoke to some extent guages the state of the British music industry compared to what it once was.
In April this year, there was not one UK name in the top 100 American singles chart for the first time in for four decades.
The US has influenced and led the world politically and economically for over a century. And while Hollywood continues to crush home grown cinema and stateside products saturate British trade, the UK always seemed to be at the forefront of one sector: musical innovation.
While the US Billboard charts are packed with stylish hip-hop beats and bling-bling divas, our charts are infested with reality-tv wannabes and novelty acts.
The Fast Food Rockers’
recent number two was voted the worst single in the history of civilisation. And it was made in England!
But it wasn’t always this way.
At its zenith, Great Britain led the way when it came to popular music.
From the crowd-pleasing euphoria of The Beatles
and The Rolling Stones
right through to the energy and eccentricity of Elton John
, these acts promoted an image of “swinging Britain” leading to London becoming a worldwide capital of culture.
In May 1965 and again in May 1985, there were eight UK records in the top 10 American singles chart.
And just for those stat-loving pop junkies, here’s another piece of trivia: In April ‘64 Liverpudlian quarto The Beatles
held all of the top five US positions and exactly 20 years later there were a whopping 40 UK singles in the Top 100.
Influenced by American recordings, British bands of the period invigorated the music mainstream and established the global stature of the pop song.
Soon, several UK groups had developed individual distinctive styles.
And let’s take a look at Knebworth itself, which is infamous for its open-air rock concerts.
Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin
and Chas and Dave
are just some of the bands who drew crowds to the picturesque grounds of the stately house.
These British performers were renowned across the globe but today even Blighty’s most treasured performers such as Coldplay only enjoy minimal success on the other side of the Atlantic. And that includes Robbie.
The government should be investing more into the development of British music.
Ploughing money into youth centres where youngsters can DJ or listen to the latest sounds should be mandatory for Tony Blair and company.
And who knows, 10 years from now Britain could be back doing what it does best: churching out revolutionary, toe-tapping pop music.
After all, the Americans can’t be best at everything!