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VOX POP
Beginning Tuesday 8 June, 2030-2130

Celine Dion

Audio no longer available.

Four penetrating perspectives on pop from a quartet of highly opinionated pundits.


Sad Songs Say So Much
8 June
Fi Glover
Are power ballads the pop equivalent of a conversation with your girlfriend about her previous amours? A gnawing compulsion that ultimately proves to be repulsive.

Fi Glover, her journalistic mind honed to a razor's edge by prolonged exposure to the sharp reportage at Radio 5 Live, comes in from the cold of current affairs to tackle an important question that has always vexed her: Why are ballads - specifically power ballads, so unredeemably naff so yet so uniquely apppealing?

Fi enlists the help of some of the greatest balladeers including Lionel Richie, Chris De Burgh, Bryan Adams and Justin Hawkins of the Darkness as she tries to explain why ballads are often the most profitable item in an artist's back catalogue.

And as Elton John once sang so memorably: Why do "sad songs say so much?" Music biz whizz kids discuss the business of balladry, and how powerful sad songs such as Candle In The Wind can reflect or encapsulate a nation's mood, especially in a in a time of mourning like the one which swept the country after the death of Diana Princess of Wales.

Plus, just what is the problem with Canada - why can't Canadians like Bryan Adams and Celine Dion just cheer up?

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Harmony In My Head
15 June
Charles Hazlewood
Charles Hazlewood - classical conductor and presenter of BBC2's Genius Of Mozart - knows his Scarlatti from his Saint-Saens, but how's his Sting? Or his Super Furry Animals?

Radio 2 audiences will find out when Hazlewood puts down his baton to get hands-on with some of pop music's best writers and performers, from Amy Winehouse to The Orb. His mission: to discover the secret formula of great pop.

What is it that makes the best songs work? Why does Angels make us reach for the Kleenex? And who WAS the drummer in useless punk band The Technicolour Yawn?* All these questions answered and more...

*We'll give you this one: it was Charles.

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Age Spread
22 June
David Hepworth
Musicologist and broadcaster David Hepworth chairs a debate about the effect of the most potent new force in the pop market: the spread and spread of the middle aged music buyer.

For the first time fortysomethings are buying more albums than teenagers and it's all down to the fabled '50-quid man' - the middle-aged chap who is happy to splash out on a fistful of CDs. Soon, half of albums will be bought by people who have passed their 40th birthday.

Consumer habits of the middle-aged go hand in hand with the development of pop and rock itself. Rock and Roll is on turns fifty this year, its original fans are pensioners and it's some of it's best-selling artists are still churning out the tunes at an age when most of us are starting to dye the grey from our hair.

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Beating Art
29 June
Paul Morley
Paul Morley presents an essay about the influence of art on rock and pop.

Art has always been a consistent thread in music linking emergent '60's art school musicians, such as Lennon, Townsend, Ray Davies and the Velvet Underground, to the '70's wave of David Bowie and Roxy Music, to Throbbing Gristle and Joy Division, from Kraftwerk, Can and Faust to Magazine, Wire and Gang of Four.

Ultimately, Morley argues, the most striking, revolutionary and myth-making music was produced by musicians who were interested in art, who looked to the worlds of surrealism, dada, pop art, expressionism, to the more serious, innovative worlds of jazz, classical and film, as well as the art of literature.

More recently, along with Bjork, the popularisation of avant garde art music, through artists such as Tortoise, To Rococo Rot, Squarepusher, Matmos, Four Tet, and Lali Puna, has proved that it is music driven by artistic impulse that ultimately has the most contemporary resonance.

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