The news that British artists have suffered their worst showing in the six-decade history of the UK singles chart will come as no surprise to students of post-war history. The Americans invented popular music, both as an industry and as a cultural phenomenon, but by the 1960s it had become an Anglo-American enterprise, with the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and The Who among the most popular bands on the planet.
Though scarcely acknowledged by governments at the time, rock and pop were striking examples of the reach of soft power, particularly in the Soviet bloc. This music's admirers abroad became its imitators and then increasingly our competitors, from Abba onwards. The chart this week features artists from Holland, Sweden, Italy, Romania, France, and Trinidad and Tobago. The iPod and download revolution has made a globalised market possible, and in a world where almost everything from everywhere is available at a mouse click, it was inevitable our native talent would lose its share of the home market. The suggested remedy of a quota of home-grown music on our radio stations (as the French have) would be as pointless as counterproductive. Pop is the most mongrel music on the planet – its diversity is the source of its unparalleled capacity for reinvention.