Peter York on Ads: Add singalongs and floor-fillers to the weekly shop

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The "legacy" high street retailers are in trouble. WH Smith, Boots, M&S and Sainsbury's, the creations of brilliant 19th-century entrepreneurs, have all had massive reverses recently. One columnist even suggested they should stop thinking death is all that optional. Big corporations do feel that a new vision delivered through lovely PowerPoint means they can live for ever.

The music industry's in trouble, too. People steal its product. Its routes to market are less controllable. Music is less important in people's lives because there's so much else to do. It's become commoditised, the subject of magazine-cover banded offers, bought and sold in iPod-sized batches of hundreds and thousands of tracks. So Sony Music and BMG music are about to huddle together for comfort - California Germans and California Japanese make an interesting combination. Will it work? And what's to become of EMI?

Tesco and Asda are the nemesis of the legacy retailers and the music business. Not single-handed, but Tesco sells more over the counter medicines and toiletries than Boots, and the newsagents' counters in both supermarkets are taking trade from WH Smith. And the big two supermarkets (Asda's ahead of Sainsbury's on value now) are important players in what's left of the retail music market. Look who's advertising music - especially big compilations. It's Tesco and Asda. Sometimes you can't exactly tell who put the package together - it's very clearly supermarket Own Label. With Christmas ahead, they're both into sing-along and floor-fillers, nostalgia and kids' fun.

Tesco has a three-CD-set formula and a price of £14.97. There are four sets going, a Legends one - mainly black music popular classics from the 1960s and 1970s - The Supremes, Otis Redding etc. with a blast of "Baker Street" to fill in the gaps. Then there's Cream Classics - "50 floor fillers from the one and only superclub". Re-live a golden age of clubbing. (How one longs to read those sleeve notes!) Plus Perfect Love, for people in love or looking for it - that's "Brown-eyed girl" and "Sexual Healing" and a touch of the Al Greens.

And yet they come, another set called World's Greatest - the work of the most show-offy artists imaginable - Elvis, Bowie, Madonna and George Michael. The last's the most ambitiously filmed - they're not elaborate commercials - with the Big Players as animated masterpieces in a gallery.

But what more could you possibly want at Christmas - unless you're a 1970s lost-in-music old cultural studies type - than the Tesco family selection?