The end of Top of the Pops revisited


I’ve just realised that it is 6 years since I wrote this piece about the end of the music tv show Top of the Pops. The piece used the end of this long running mainstream music show as being indicative of broader changes in music cultures. The piece already looks really dated, with it’s talk of MySpace etc, but some of the arguments still seem to apply to how these music cultures work. I use this piece as a kind of historical document with my students, we look at how rapidly things have changed since the piece was written. Here is the abstract (the piece is open access):

The BBC has recently announced that Top of the Pops, the long-running weekly popular music programme, will broadcast its final episode in the summer of 2006. This brief ‘rapid response’ article considers how the conclusion of Top of the Pops’ 42 year history may be understood as representative or indicative of broader transformations in musical appropriation. As such it considers the fall of Top of the Pops in relation to the rise of what Mark Poster has described as a ‘second media age’ (Poster, 1996). This second media age is defined by the emergence of decentralised and multidimensional media structures that usurp the broadcast models of the first media age. This article argues that the decommissioning of Top of the Pops, and the ongoing expansion of ‘social networking’ sites such as MySpace and Bebo, illustrates the movement from a first to a second media age. In light of these transformations I suggest here that there is a pressing need to develop new research initiatives and strategies that critically examine these new digitalised forms of musical appropriation.

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