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Gagging order

10 Feb 12 | Re: The thing with Chris Moyles

Have you heard the shuffle game on the Chris Moyles Show? The premise is simple: they play five random songs from a member of the Chris Moyles Show team’s generic MP3 player, and then try to guess which team member’s tunes they were.

Now, the problem with this isn’t that it fills up hours of radio with a clique of friends playing tissue-thin games with each other and bantering. If that concept offends you, you won’t be listening in the first place. No, the problem, the big, beige elephant in the radio room, is three of the team members’ taste.

The other day, when I “caught” the end of the “feature”, the five songs picked by the Shuffle God were by Robbie Williams, Maroon 5, Snow Patrol feat. Martha Wainwright, U-flippin’-2, and some other gosh-awful jacket-wearing nonsense I can’t remember. First of all, this makes the game impossibly hard because those songs exactly fit the interchangeable musical taste of three members of the team, so the game element is dead in the water. Second and more importantly, featuring that selection on what is meant to be a music radio station for young people —and praising them as “quality” and “such a top tune”— is getting towards a travesty. There’s nothing by any act that came out in the last ten years. There’s nothing that wouldn’t be, that hasn’t been played on Radio 2 – or even Heart. These are the no-thought pop picks of people who are more interested in the MP3 player they play the music on than they are in the music. And of course, strongly featured are U2, the figurehead of everything that is baffling and wrong about Radio 1’s music policy. How do they and the Foos and RHCP and Take That still get on? You’re not telling me young people are into them. Young people can only be dimly aware of who they are.

This is the thing with Chris Moyles. At a time when Radio 1 is a bit worried about the age of some of its presenters, Moyles might be seen as vulnerable. In his favour, though, he has a style that still connects with young people, a great radio presence and manner, a format that people know and like, a preternatural ability to establish a rapport with young, relevant performers including Dappy, Tinie Tempah and Adele, and audience figures that attest to all of the above. Everything, in fact, is still very much on Moyles’s side, so long as he doesn’t talk about music. Music-wise, it seems like the only people he likes are U2, the Foo Fighters and his mate Gary’s band Take That. It’s OK for him to like them, but it’s not appropriate to be pushing them on Radio 1. They are clearly Radio 2 acts, and even I, now at the top end of Radio 1’s target age range, cringe like a fourteen-year-old when I hear them and start mentally composing angry letters to the playlist committee and the BBC Trust. So it seems obvious that the Moyles policy should be to keep him on the breakfast show for the foreseeable, but please, ditch the music talk, grandad.

(Incidentally, Ben Cooper does seem to be in an odd situation in the above-linked article. The BBC are concerned about Radio 1’s average audience age, so he’s kind of having to subtly repel older listeners. That’s ridiculous - if the BBC wants people to switch to Radio 2, it’s up to Radio 2 to get better and attract them, not Radio 1 to blast the poor souls with a dubstep-cannon every hour. Should be judged on the absolute number of target-age listeners, with older ones counting neither for nor against.)

Back to the shuffle game: what made it worse was that after revealing the owner of the five identi-tracks (newsreader and U2 brainwashee Dominic Byrne in this instance), they spent ten minutes barracking the sportsreader Tina for having a load of 90s RnB on hers. Honestly, whatever you think of R Kelly and Another Level, at least she’s got some individuality. At least she’s made the effort to actually be passionate about a particular type of music that means something to her, that isn’t right now acting as the background to every poor Q-reading dupe’s middle age. But sorry, on Planet Moyles R Kelly doesn’t count as “quality tunes” like Embrace and Shed Seven do, so it’s banter ahoy.

I don’t mind Moyles, but he should not be allowed to talk about music on Radio 1.


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