Cracker by Damian Christie

Talking Heads

And so just like that, we’ve got a new free-to-air music channel. It was a fairly painless transition all things considered, at least it was from my end. No screwdrivers, no rifling through manuals before expertly wiping all my other presets, no fiddling with the coathanger that passes for a UHF receiver in The Ham.

For the first couple of days, our flat was C4 mad. The opening extravaganza, ‘The Top 100 Music Videos of All Time as kinda arbitrarily decided by us’ was great. For seven hours we sat glued to the tube as classic after classic rolled on by. Who can forget Godley & Creme’s momentous ‘Cry’? Yes, quite. Personally, I was delighted that the ‘cool factor’ was for a moment forgotten, and the inimitable clip for Aha’s 'Take On Me' took its place at number three.

The next night, the Sunday, the line-up was inspired. We’ve played the top 100 videos of all time, now let’s REPEAT them. It was good though, having never seen the Chemical Bros amazing ‘Let Forever Be’ before, I was more than happy for a second look.

Now it’s been on for a couple of weeks, the dust has settled and I feel more able to comment. The all-white backdrop seems to be wearing okay, although surely it’s only a matter of time before some ne’er-do-well tags it, or leaves a cigarette burn. Even though it’s become something of a cliché for music TV in this country, I still would have been happier with a couch. Something a bit more homely, something that wouldn’t show up the living room at Sando. As it stands, every time we flick over I get the feeling I should pick up my shoes, give the bench a wipe, take my feet off the table. It’s a bit like having Phillipe Starck over for drinks (which so very rarely happens any more at No. 15)

But what about the hosts, you ask? What’s my opinion? It strikes me as odd that for a music channel, that’s all everyone is talking about. They’re only on once every ten minutes or so, and only for 30 seconds at a burst, does it really matter? Sure, I’ve got my favourites, those I don’t mind, and those who make me wish the music would hurry up and come on, but it’s hardly the be-all and end-all of the station. Is it? Still, on a week when Richard Long’s bung knee and dismissal from TVNZ have both been headline news (Is there any relation between the two, or just a coincidence? Anyone?) I shouldn’t be surprised.

I spoke to David Herkt of the now defunct NZ Tabloid dotcom on my show yesterday. Why did they close? He didn’t really answer, instead seeking refuge in the “well we set out to achieve what we wanted to achieve” line, whatever that was. Was it traffic charges, perhaps, from the squillions of people who visit the site every hour? The inability to keep the level of ‘news’ up to the high prurient standards set early on, even when they resorted to simply making up stories?

I suspect it was a combination of all of these, but also in the end, the human factor. No-one really likes being on the outer, and while the attention is fun and ego-stroking for a while, knowing there’s an ever growing number of people baying for you blood must make it hard to get to sleep at night. Secretly, I suspect, most of us want to be popular, and I don’t see why that would be any different for an insecure, confused teenage pariah.