In the world of pop music, the ability to sing has never been overly important. Those of you who remember a band called The Alarm of 68 Guns fame, may also remember another famous episode in their career.
In 2004 almost 20 years after their most famous hit and finding it increasingly difficult to get the attention of record executives, The Alarm decided to play the industry at their own game. Lead Singer Mike Peters created a fictitious group called the Poppy Fields and had them lip sync a song written and played by The Alarm. A promotional package, including video launched Poppy Fields into the public eye and the single 45 RPM entered the charts at number 24.
Live on BBC Radio 1’s Chart Show, Mike Peters exposed the hoax and the reasons for doing it. In a later interview he was quoted as saying “”We wanted to make sure we are judged purely on the strength of the music, and not by our old hairstyles.” In 2013 those events were turned into a film called Vinyl.
Image in the pop industry is everything. Talent counts much less and that is a crying shame. There are so many people who are cast off because they don’t fit a stereotype, regardless of their ability. And there’s another side to consider. For every person that is ignored, sidelined, or discarded, there are 10 others who don’t even try, demoralised by what they see, read and hear.
In 1969 I was in a school choir, but having to leave as the family was moving house. I still remember the choirmaster making me promise that I would never give up singing. But of course I did and in the intervening years I came to believe that I couldn’t sing anyway. But today that changes. I’ve booked some singing lessons and I’m going to fulfil the promise I made over 40 years ago. I have no aspirations for public singing and that’s fine. What I do feel sad for are all those people who have a real talent but through stereotyping and discrimination crush someone who could light up the world.
Whether in the world of pop or on the shop floor, there are talented people wanting and waiting to prove it, but don’t get the chance. There are just as many who have proved it over time but are starting to tread water as their spark is being snuffed out. It’s not necessarily a deliberate act on anyone’s part, its an unintended consequence of a culture that’s evolved, almost unnoticed.
Last week on The Voice a guy called Myles Evans wowed the judges who all turned for him. They were surprised to learn that his audition was the first time he had sung in public. It was only his sister’s encouragement that got him to go. I wonder if we all took the time to recognise and encourage the talent that exists in our colleagues and team members, our world would be a better place?