LETTER:French 'pop', UK nostalgia

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The Independent Online
From Mr Marc Francis

Sir: Bryan Appleyard's article "Blame it all on the Beatles" (2 January) was a classic example of the insular misinterpretation that gives the UK a bad name in the European Union. Mr Appleyard criticises the French government for imposing a quota to ensure that 40 per cent of music radio output is French "pop". But the point he makes about the "draconian and sadistic measure" taken by the French government is misguided because the percentage of trashy popular music in France is nowhere near the 100 per cent mark. He has obviously never listened to Francis Cabrel, Rita Mitsouko, Mano Negra, Les Innocents and many others.

This article is a criticism of French cultural politics, and the use of pop music as a vehicle to make the point is opportunistic and inaccurate. The inference that can be made about the Beatles initiating the process of globalisation because of their massive appeal, while failing to secure a patent on the phenomenon, is that Mr Appleyard is mourning the demise of the Empire (a British disease that is widespread and counter-productive).

The Beatles were great because, unlike the Stones, they did not attempt the impossibility of making their band live for ever. Pop music is at its best a denunciation of society's unhealthy restrictions on youth. It is a provocative means of carving out the hypocrisy and showing the truth to the developing mind.

This is difficult to do if you are a 40-plus, extremely wealthy and established pop group (the league table published late last year in the Independent and headed by Phil Collins shows all the guilty artists). By the same token, it is difficult to criticise if you are a successful middle-aged writer.

Yours faithfully,

Marc Francis