From the fevered minds of a loose grouping of self-appointed cultural commentators comes a weekly side-swipe at the issues of the day, providing a pithy and often heated debate on pop culture as they see it. Welcome, friends, to The Hot Topic...
This week's burning issue: Would you buy music from Starbucks?
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From: Greg Smyth'))
To: The Hot Topic Team
Re: Coffee and CDs
I've been hanging out in my local Starbucks way too much lately and I was perusing some flyers for their latest exclusive CD offering (a hideous slight on Herbie Hancock's genius). That set me wondering about if, were they actually selling anything I might want to purchase, would I be willing to buy my music from a coffee company?
Starbucks' appeal is that it sells you back the very thing you can get for practically no dollars right in your own living room - a cuppa joe in a homely environment. Setting aside the deep and potentially disturbing personal problems that might make you feel the need to buy into this fake lifestyle in the first place, part and parcel of the patented Starbucks experience is the idea of fitting into this Americanized, homogenized idea of respectable alt-cool. The idea being that, if you're in Starbucks, you're Hip and you Belong.
So far, so much bullshit. Now, to me, Starbucks selling music isn't actually the most devilish thing Corporate America has foisted on the world (a CLOWN, selling HAMBURGERS!? WTF?) and it fits with the whole Middle Of The Road aspirational lifestyle that also brought us GAP. The thing is, while Starbucks keeps plugging a new Alanis Morrissette album, I really couldn't give a rat's ass. I wouldn't buy it if they paid me. Likewise, the whole Dylan pseudo-controversy left me nonplussed, simply because (as good as he is) Bob Dylan is part of that whole Pasteurized American Monoculture.
So, when would it start bothering me? Well, call it cultural snobbery if you like (*hands up in surrender*) but the very second they start trying to flog me something cutting edge or indie or FUCKING GOOD, then I'll be pissed. If, assuming it ever sees the light of day, I was to walk into one of Newcastle's multiple Starbucks and find the debut album by Babyshambles going for a tenner when you buy a Venti Decaf Mochalocofrangipanifuckaluckachino with Soya Milk. THEN, I won't be responsible for my actions.