As the BBC launch their dreadful new Friday night music show amid much fanfare, Shaun Ponsonby finds it emblematic of pop in the 21st century.
Last week, BBC One finally brought music back to prime time Friday night viewing for the first time since the demise of Top of the Pops.
Music has been on TV since then, of course. You have the big chart hitters who show up to play a song on The X Factor, and you have late night boogie-woogie piano from Later…With Jools Holland. But that central show has been missing.
And, now, with the launch of this new show, we can safely say that none of this has changed.
Sounds Like Friday Night? Sounds like shit, more like. Am I right? Eh? Eh? I think I am.
For some reason, they felt that the absolute best pop star they could muster to open the show was Jason Derulo, a man whose music is so nondescript that he feels the need to tell you his name at the beginning of exactly 87.647% of all his songs just so that you will have any fucking idea who he is. He is kind of like a poor man’s Usher tribute act. He is the kind of artist where you could give his songs to anyone else and nothing changes, apart from the person whose name is sung with autotune at the beginning.
But not only did they get him to perform on the show – no, they thought “You know what would be great? If our headline music act also co-hosted the show with some radio DJs”.
Radio One’s Greg James and 1xtra’s Dotty seemed like natural choices for presenters, and yet they possessed less chemistry than a wet mop and the bucket that its filthy residue is being wrung into. I felt bad for them more than anything. Dotty had a look on her face like she was constantly surprised that she was on TV. I imagine this will subsidise as the weeks go by.
James probably has more TV experience, but wasn’t much better. His little interview segments were almost as dry as Jools Holland’s.
For some reason, Greg James seems insistent that he be seen as a comedian. This is true of his terrible sketches on events such as the BBC Music Awards, and his Godawful failed 2015 sitcom pilot, the aptly titled Dead Air. In the latter he gave a performance so bad that I can’t even be bothered to think of a worthy insult, and would politely suggest that he stick to presenting, but then we get nauseating rubbish like Sounds Like Friday Night. You just can’t win with this one.
Throughout the programme, James starred in sketches with Derulo and Dave Grohl. The former had James interview Derulo whilst playing basketball, which might have been funny with two completely different human beings.
In the latter, Grohl had clearly been roped into quickly recording something in 20 minutes whilst he was visiting Radio One just so that they could advertise him as being on the programme. In it, James attempted to record special Dave Grohl BBC One continuity announcements. Yes, it was as funny as it sounds. It made no sense, and we had to bear witness to Greg James trying to hilariously describe what Eastenders is to a bored looking Dave Grohl. The lack of audience laughter was deafening.
Why do producers think we need comedy sketches like this? These people are not professional comedians, therefore it always seems so embarrassingly forced, no matter what Greg James tries to put on his CV.
The worst part was the complete lack of atmosphere. A lot of terrible things have come to light about Top of the Pops that has undoubtedly changed how we view the programme. However, it can’t be denied that in its heyday it was the right show for the right time.
TFI Friday could be irritatingly laddish, but it looked like it was fun to be a part of. This looked like a ball ache to be a part of. It was was far too polished and lifeless to be effective youth programming. It lacks absolutely every single iota of edge that The Tube had, for example.
This? THIS? If anybody seemed arsed, I certainly missed them. After much fanfare and hype, it came crashing down in a heap of mediocrity within a matter of minutes. It was a music show that featured just four songs. It was a youth show that was as affable and energetic as…well, as I am. And I am neither of those things.
In a promotional piece, The Guardian claimed that the BBC was “burying the ghost of Top of the Pops”. Yet their Top of the Pops re-runs on BBC Four are far more enjoyable and receive far better feedback on social media, despite everybody now knowing what was going on backstage.
Yet in a way, Sounds Like Friday Night is emblematic of pop in the 21st century; over calculated, dull and up its own arse.
It seems that all the Hollywood movies we grew up with will soon be as edited as old episodes of Top of the Pops. Why is everyone we love so awful?
I’m pretty sure that Sainsbury’s record label will be as delicious as No Frills chicken soup. Or Ian Levine‘s attempt to re-launch the careers of old Motown stars in the 80s.
Image from the Sounds Like Friday Night mini-site from the BBC.