Pop charts dominated by 'junk', study says

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The Independent Culture

At last it's official: junk pop has taken over the charts.

At last it's official: junk pop has taken over the charts.

A new survey proves – once and for all – the dominance of manufactured boy and girl bands and solo stars. A university study of chart hits over the past 20 years shows 2002 is the worst on record – with only three of this year's No 1 singles by living, "real" artists.

To compile the latest, and – for many – depressing survey, researchers at Napier University, Edinburgh, trawled through a list of No 1 singles stretching back two decades.

They found that, with the exception of the early 1990s, the heyday of guitar bands like The Happy Mondays, the proportion of manufactured No 1s has risen year on year – to over two-thirds of this year's 22 No 1 singles.

At least seven were released by stars created on TV talent shows. Only six have been by real acts, among them Oasis, rock singer Pink and US rapper Eminem. The others, Elvis Presley, George Harrison and Aaliyah, are all dead.

Last week, Woolworth, WH Smith and Asda even refused to stock the current No 9, "Bunsen Burner", a pastiche of Seventies classic "Disco Inferno", because its singer, 50-year-old John Otway, does not appeal to teenage girls.

Dr Linda Dryden, a senior lecturer in cultural studies at Napier, said: "The elitism that saw manufactured groups sneered at by the likes of NME in the past has largely gone." She said two reasons were the gearing of the market towards "pre-pubescent teenage girls" and the proliferation of "involving" TV talent shows.