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Banning Pink Floyd

Tim Levell | 10:28 UK time, Tuesday, 6 February 2007

It was great to read your comments on a previous entry, in which I explained why Newsround had - for the foreseeable future - "banned" Pete Doherty.

Newsround logoNow, something else is getting it in the neck. I'm trying to stop the use of the Eric Prydz remix of Pink Floyd's Another Brick In The Wall whenever there's an education story on the TV.

You're probably familiar with the concept: take a dullish news story, liven it up using a bit of music, and if possible, make the words of the music relevant. But this song has taken it to a new high. In the past few weeks, it's been on Tonight (ITV1), Breakfast (BBC One) and numerous other TV news shows.

The cover of the infamous trackAdmittedly the song fits the bill perfectly. There's the very familiar guitar riff; the single breakthrough line "We don't need no education"; and then a long bit of techno instrumental, which is very easy to cut pictures to. First time you hear it, it seems inspired. By the fifth outing, you know it's the last resort of a time-poor, inspiration-poor producer.

In the 80s I was driven mad by news stories about driving, bicycles and shark attacks starting with (in order), Madness' Driving In My Car, Queen's Bicycle Race and the spooky opening bars of the Jaws theme tune.

I'm sure there are more pet musical hates that need to be outed. Go on - you know you want to!


I see your Pink Floyd on education stories, and raise you Pink Floyd's "Money" on financial stories.

  • 2.
  • At 11:29 AM on 06 Feb 2007,
  • Theo wrote:

I'm fed up of 'themed music' full-stop. It's a bit intrusive and why do we need it? I used to laugh at letters from oldies complaining about this. But background music on Newsround, documentaries etc is actually pointless!

  • 3.
  • At 11:56 AM on 06 Feb 2007,
  • Tony wrote:

"Time-poor producer, inspiration-poor producer".. maybe if the DG hadn't cut so many job, those producers would have a bit more time, and feel a bit more inspired.

Editors who have no idea how hard producers work on daily news programmes - that are on for more than five minutes - should keep opinions like this to themselbes.

Simon - I see your Pink Floyd 'Money' on financial stories, and raise you Abba's 'Money Money Money'.

  • 5.
  • At 12:17 PM on 06 Feb 2007,
  • eyedropper wrote:

Sigur Ros' Hoppípolla was used in the Planet Earth Trailer and then has been used by every BBC department since!

Methinks people in your edit suites have ambitions to become pop music directors (it's probably the first rung of the ladder where you get creative control and can potentially branch out to bigger projects if succesful).

Tim, does it really matter? Are there not more important things to be complaining about than what your pet distaste of the month is?

Is the purpose of this not to make a catchy news snippet? I'm sure 'Another brick in the wall' would catch the attention of most of the over 25's (and now that Eric Prydz has a version out, a substantial amount of people below that age).

People should sit up and take notice of important issues such as education - if audio assistance captivates their attention then so be it.

  • 8.
  • At 12:58 PM on 06 Feb 2007,
  • Lucy R wrote:

It's not just the BBC that uses Hoppipolla, Sigur Ros seem to be obligatory weepy music for any vaguely emotional, uplifting scenes (especially overcoming adversity) in everything from Planet Earth to the X-Factor.

I suggest any given appearance of the number 3 and "Three (Is A Perfect Number)" (and, yes, that includes BBC Three) *AND* "Female of the Species" for anything involving women. They drive me batty!

P.S. Your comment setup seems broken. A 502 error followed by a submission failure due to time constraints is taking the wossname somewhat!

  • 10.
  • At 01:26 PM on 06 Feb 2007,
  • brod wrote:

What about "Girls on Film" for modelling stories - inspired !

  • 11.
  • At 01:33 PM on 06 Feb 2007,
  • Matt wrote:

Pink Floyd, ABBA....come on, why has no one mentioned the over use of The Who? If it's not enough having to listen to three different versions of the CSI franchise on commercial TV then there's the continuous overkill of their music on BBC with usage for everything from football to Panorama.

  • 12.
  • At 01:41 PM on 06 Feb 2007,
  • Simon wrote:

At least the songs listed so far are only used when there's some vague connection to the lyrics. Two instrumental pieces that are done to death on BBC shows and trails without any justification are "that bit with the Crazy 88 from Kill Bill Vol. I" (Battle Without Honour or Humanity by Tomoyasu Hotei), and "that spooky sounding bit that sounds a bit like an owl" (Theme from The Ipcress File by John Barry).

Now, both of those are great, but sometimes I've heard one or the other on three programmes in a row. It's not good.

  • 13.
  • At 01:43 PM on 06 Feb 2007,
  • Matt James wrote:

It always felt like one in the Establishments eye when all my favourite indie bands started to soundtrack the highlights on Match Of The Day and the like in the mid 90s. Nowadays, these same bands ARE the Establishment. Plus ca change...

  • 14.
  • At 02:11 PM on 06 Feb 2007,
  • Matt Balkwill wrote:

Let's not forget The Vapors "Turning Japanese" for ALL stories describing techno gadgets appearing in the far east.
Background music is not only subject-based, but location-based too, which I find even more annoying. Any story based in Paris has a random "Air" track in the background, for Ireland we have Enya, and most toe-curling of all for this proud welshman, Wales has the male-voice choir!!!!

  • 15.
  • At 02:19 PM on 06 Feb 2007,
  • Chris wrote:

Well, you could start by not relying on Michael Nyman every time you want to suggest 'arty' or 'historical'.

/ends grump

  • 16.
  • At 02:21 PM on 06 Feb 2007,
  • Martin wrote:

Use of Wagner, especially The Fuberalk Music from Gotterdamerung for any history documentary showing the defeat of Germans in either World War - see Timewatch last Friday as a prime example.

  • 17.
  • At 02:31 PM on 06 Feb 2007,
  • arsalan wrote:

Well, I think Pink Floyd's 'Bike' would make an admirable soundtrack to coverage of the Tour De France, or any other seemingly endless cycling endeavor.

  • 18.
  • At 02:33 PM on 06 Feb 2007,
  • James wrote:

How about a Pink Floyd inspired news theme? I'm bored of the pips music.

Inspiration-poor? No, no, it's ironic.

  • 20.
  • At 02:54 PM on 06 Feb 2007,
  • Tom P wrote:

It's not just news stories... you can pretty much rely on something from Massive Attack's Mezzanine being heard whenever a gritty new drama or documentary is being trailed.

  • 21.
  • At 03:13 PM on 06 Feb 2007,
  • Tom wrote:

Simon and Tim, I see your various Money(s) and raise you 'Shopping' by the Pet Shop Boys. Used far too regularly on anything remotely connected to consumer finance, retail figures or "the high street" for over a decade since the late-80s, now reincarnated to soundtrack the "montage" section on a million and one makeover shows where middle-aged frump is taken out to buy a new outfit.

Song No.2 (Blur) – great tune done to death on the telly...

Good hand, Tim, but... I raise you The Kaiser Chief's I Predict A Riot on any story that involves more than two people doing anything more energetic than a gentle jog.

  • 24.
  • At 04:51 PM on 06 Feb 2007,
  • Andrew Sneddon wrote:

I remember in the late seventies that any time there was a story about technology in Japan it was a que to play "Firecracker" by the Yellow Magic Orchestra.

  • 25.
  • At 08:59 PM on 06 Feb 2007,
  • Charlene wrote:

How about a moratorium on "I'm Too Sexy For My Car" by Right Said Fred and "Obsession" by Animotion during fashion commentaries?

  • 26.
  • At 09:47 PM on 06 Feb 2007,
  • Darren wrote:

It's all well and good using a good song to accompany your news, advert etc but using the same song over and over and over again is just sickening.

Maybe someone should tell this to BBC Radio 1 too?

  • 27.
  • At 09:58 PM on 06 Feb 2007,
  • Philip wrote:

Hmm...A couple that spring to mind from way back when are;

A Fiddler's Dram, Didn't we have a lovely Bangor

Worzels - I've got a...Combine Harvester

Steppenwolf's 'Born to be wild' was at one point on adverts so frequently I thought they had a secret deal with ITV

Also, 'Life in the fast lane' by the Eagles is a great song, but there is a limit....

  • 28.
  • At 10:46 PM on 06 Feb 2007,
  • anon wrote:

Musicians trying to tell us how to think (I'm looking at you U2, Green Day and System of a Down)

  • 29.
  • At 09:58 AM on 07 Feb 2007,
  • Art de Wet wrote:

What about "Food Glorious Food" over the top of any school dinners sequence?

Makes me want to stab out my eyes.

I nominate the trumpet break from Touch and Go's infernal "I find you very attractive" track. Will be used on every montage in every lifestyle show until the end of time, which in the circumstances cannot come soon enough.

I remember once seeing an item on a programme about Eton College, and predictably enough, Eton Rifles by The Jam was played in the background - a song about class war, with very little to do with the college itself at all.

  • 32.
  • At 01:46 PM on 07 Feb 2007,
  • Darren Stephens wrote:

There was a time in the late 70's and early 80's where every programme that dealt with anything futuristic or technological had, by law, to use Jean-Michel Jarre's Oxygene IV as either title or incidental music. Yes, I'm looking at you Miriam Stoppard and Rob Buckman on "Where There's Life". The rest of you know who you were...

A pity really, I really like JMJ.

  • 33.
  • At 01:52 PM on 07 Feb 2007,
  • Tom Purser wrote:

I've noticed that a curiously frequent occurance in this field whereby snippets of footage are accompanied by a song with appropriate lyrics for example, a catwalk soundtracked by Suede's 'She in Fashion') but you don't actually hear any of the lyrics.

Is this down to editing or is it just a lazy way to pick music to accompany footage?

  • 34.
  • At 02:08 PM on 07 Feb 2007,
  • Graham wrote:

Has no-one mentioned the over-use of 'London Calling' yet for any vaguely capital-related story? Most commonly used when the nations & regions send one of their intrepid reporters down to London for something quirky yet important.

  • 35.
  • At 04:07 PM on 07 Feb 2007,
  • Ian wrote:

Agree with many of the grumbles re lazy use of musical shorthand, but I should like to applaud all those who add a bit of Radiohead to a news story. My wife hates them, so it's the only time I can hear some decent music round our house!

  • 36.
  • At 04:43 PM on 07 Feb 2007,
  • George horse wrote:

i remember being very amused during a segment in Grandstand's coverage of the winter olympics in 2002. while describing the new snowboarding half pipe event, the background music was Weezer's hit 'Hash Pipe'.

either someone hadn't read the record sleeve or the editor was having a great laugh!

Tom - I see your Shopping (or should that be S-H-O-P-P-I-N-G) and raise you Dirty Cash by Stevie V. Hmm not sure I'll win this one.

Simon - OK, you've trumped me - Kaiserchiefs I Predict A Riot is absolutely the tune du jour, used for anything from a football hooligan sequence to kids having food fights. Wish I'd thought of that myself (kicks chair, slaps forehead).

And Ian - your comments on Radiohead reminds me of using Street Spirit once on a documentary about homelessness. What an beautiful song - so powerful and it stayed sounding so fresh for ages (IMHO).

Which makes me think - how about moving the discussion on - anyone want to suggest GOOD music that they've seen used in news or current affairs, or songs that are crying out to be used and are definitely under-utilised?

  • 38.
  • At 09:20 AM on 08 Feb 2007,
  • Wendy Phelps wrote:

What's the problem? We usually find trying to find the link between the music used and the programme more interesting than the content! The most annoying thing is recognising the track and then not being able to remember the title. And why is Carol Klein using ELP on her gardening programme? not complaining, brings back memories of the 70s!

  • 39.
  • At 11:21 AM on 08 Feb 2007,
  • Graham wrote:

Hi Tim, one piece of music that I feel has always been crying out for use on the right package is 'Two Rights Make One Wrong' by Mogwai. Nearly ten minutes of soaring instrumental to get your teeth round.

  • 40.
  • At 03:18 PM on 08 Feb 2007,
  • Anna wrote:

It's long been 'my next career move' to form a band writing songs that have lyrics only relating to specific countries, sports, anything that might hit the news, just for the royalties!
May I add Radio Gaga by Queen...

BBC Radio 5 Live used Simon & Garfunkel’s Sound of Silence brilliantly in a piece on Five Live Sport under a piece summarizing the England’s Ozzie ashes tour.

  • 42.
  • At 05:30 PM on 08 Feb 2007,
  • Helen wrote:

'Changes' and 'Heroes' both by David Bowie seem to crop up a lot - as I like Bowie that doesn't bother me but I can imagine if you don't like him it can get a bit tedious.

But as a Genesis fan I was amazed to hear an instrumental snippet from their 1973 album 'Selling England by the Pound' the other night on a BBC show (can't remember what it was though!) - wonder how many others recognised it?

A final thought - I've always wondered how much (if anything) is paid as royalties for the use of a song. Write a catchy tune or one with a generic title like 'changes' and you could be set for life...

  • 43.
  • At 07:59 PM on 08 Feb 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

When it comes to music to accompanying a story, BBC is particularly dense. In one story about New York City some years back, they kept playing excerpts from Gershwin's "An American In Paris" a piece of music specifically written to evoke that city. When I e-mailed them about it, they made up some flimsy excuse. There is plenty of music written specifically about New York City. In another about the British Royal Family, they played Copland's "Fanfare to the Common Man" dedicated to the very antithesis of the notion of royalty. (Why didn't they play Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance?) BBC's producers should not be allowed near musical recordings, they are far too dangerous. One broadcaster which strikes me as particularly skillful in this area by contrast is Voice of Russia. When it comes to selecting appropriate music, they seem to always know exactly what they are doing.

  • 44.
  • At 03:55 AM on 09 Feb 2007,
  • Dottie wrote:

How about a 'plastic surgery gone wrong' story played in with Daniel Powter's "Bad Day". It was funny at the time.

  • 45.
  • At 02:00 PM on 09 Feb 2007,
  • Rashid wrote:

I am not a great supporter of the BBC, however, I think their choice of music is normally spot on!.
Damm, I am praising the BBC.

  • 46.
  • At 02:02 PM on 09 Feb 2007,
  • Annie Mc Cartney wrote:

I hate the way they "illustrate" all the news items too, as if we could picture nothing. Maybe I should stick to radio

  • 47.
  • At 02:06 PM on 09 Feb 2007,
  • Keith wrote:

I'm amazed that nobody has mentioned Snow Patrol. Chasing Cars seems to be background on every show. OK, I love it, and tihnk Eyes Open album is one the best of last 10 years, but I'm worried I'll reach my saturation point too quickly.

  • 48.
  • At 02:10 PM on 09 Feb 2007,
  • Peter Dewar-Finch wrote:

Personally, I'm sick to death of this culture of Ban Everything!!! It betrays a distinct lack of imagination and it's just too easy for those with a dictatorial state of mind to do.

Why not simply ask for some NEW musical contributions and select the best? The BBC Wildlife unit recently held a contest for new composers to illustrate new documentaries, the BBC News unit might have the imagination to do something similar?

  • 49.
  • At 05:38 AM on 10 Feb 2007,
  • Dottie wrote:

sorry about the "bad day" comment earlier - it was very tabloid and would probably never happen at the BBC.

  • 50.
  • At 07:29 AM on 10 Feb 2007,
  • Robert wrote:

Madness on this week's 'This Week' in an item about transport and er cars.

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