As an example of the hypocrisy that the desire to be a winner engenders in us all, I note that shares in Madonna have seen me roar up the Celebdaq ladder, right up to the dizzy heights of 15205th. Build 'em up, knock 'em down, innit.
I noted as I strolled the streets of Wimbledon - or at least the floor of the Centre Court mall - that Madonna's rework of Get into the groove is to be given away with some merchandise or other. That got me to wondering. If they give away a million, does it go to number one?
In WH Smith, I noticed you can choose one of three free paperbacks if you buy something or other. The thought struck me again: will Tom Clancy or whoever shoot up the bestseller list because he's being given away? Haven't WH Smith already bought the books? (I suppose they were given them, as part of a promotional strategy, so they will have been given away twice!)
Given the low unit cost of both books and CDs, compared with the cost at the till, entertainment producers can do this. We all know how cheap it is to burn a CD of Madonna's hits (don't try it at home, kids, Dr Zen does not endorse ripping off the entire back catalogue of any artist who takes your fancy, and certainly wouldn't have anything to do with suggesting you trade MP3s of corporate fatcat artists who already have enough cash to buy your hometown) or to print out a novel-length work on our own equipment.
Recently, EMI, I think it was, paid Mariah Carey $30 million, or some such figure, just to fuck off. The papers feigned astonishment that you could be paid so much just to be released from a contract. But reading between the lines, I realised that EMI must be committed to even more than that in promotion and marketing (not to mention the cost of indulging a prima donna's recording at the best studios with the best producers etc etc).
Hype works top to bottom, though. The Rapture release their album today. It's the hottest shot in, what do we call it, the XFM world, I suppose, the alt.music world - what would once have been the indie scene. The reviews would have you believe they're the best band since Oasis reminded us what rock is for, rather than the second-hand Cure that a reasonable description of the elements of their music would suggest. But I listened to the trailers on their site. And was it any good?
Well, taste is subjective, and if slightly shopworn Fascination Street is your bag, you're in luck.