Zavvi’s death is good news for Simon Cowell. Unfortunately. (Updated)

Popjustice rather neatly puts its finger on the problem with Zavvi going bust (as a result of Woolworth’s EUK, its distribution arm, demanding money sooner in order to cover its own problems):

You can complain about Zavvi as much as you like – and we have done – but its disappearance from high streets is terrible for music. With Woolworths also going, it means that supermarkets will overnight become even more powerful not just at dictating what music people buy but also – this is the important bit – which artists record labels sign and what music they produce.

Supermarkets running the British music industry is good news if you’re in Il Divo, or if you’re Duffy, or if it’s your job to keep repackaging the same 400 songs in an endless cycle of Valentine’s Day / Mothering Sunday / Love At The Movies compilations, or if your idea of alternative music is the new Razorlight album. But if you like anything else, or if you’re a current or future popstar making anything else, you are in for a difficult few years as major label A&R departments aim for the lowest, blandest, risk-freeiest common denominator options, and a generation of future music fans grows up listening to the results.

Tower, Fopp, Our Price, Woolworths, all the other independent places you used to buy music in a few years ago, now Zavvi: gone. What a load of old shit.

Which means we’re going to get more things like the dire version of Hallelujah that was our Xmas X-Factor No.1 – which, as Chris Edwards points out, indicates how folks like Simon C don’t really care for music, do ya?:

the X-Factor has not let us down by spraying both cheese and saccharine over a song that does a whole lot better with just a slice of lemon.

At first, Burke’s version seemed OK. Strip it of the baggage that goes with the X-Factor and you have a cover that isn’t all bad. Whoops, thought that thought too soon. Suddenly, the producer found the Dion-a-Tron and cranked it up to 11.

It’s crap. Utter Simon-inspired crap. Thinks that the title means it’s a song of celebration. Tell me, please, any music-biz readers of this blog, what edgy, inspired, unusual music has Simon Cowell ever nurtured into being?

Update: ah, here’s Simon Cowell’s Desert Island Discs. Well, that doesn’t tell you a lot; after all, a person’s DIDs are more about the things that they grew up with than the things they create (or nurture) now. Although I have to say that when I get invited on (you can laugh now) there’ll be some King Crimson, Queens of the Stone Age and Alanis Morrisette in there, as well as T.Rex and Slade. (Wow, that’s five already out of the permitted eight.) So yeah, perhaps it does tell you something.


  1. Woolworths may have given sanctuary for many years to the coconut mushroom, but when it came to music – even Pete Waterman hated them!

  2. Does it matter though? If you want to buy Il Divo, you’ll buy in from Tesco, Woolworths or wherevever. If you want to listen to MGMT, The Young Knives or Laura Marling, you can quite happily stream it from or buy on i-Tunes. Young people domainate the purchase of music and they are streaming, downloading and sharing and that’s got as much to do with the decline of the record shops as the rise of supermarkets.

  3. Zavvi’s death was a lot more to do with the way we consume music these days. Nobody buys music on the high street anymore, they just download it. Tescos may dictate what reaches number one or gets played on commercial radio but who pays attention to that anymore? The internet has meant that more and more artists get a look in on their own terms. In the near future record companies might not exist as we know them now. Besides don’t you just love a power ballad?

  4. Zavvi was never much good if you wanted anything remotely unusual. Even HMV was better. I buy either from emusic or specialist retailers I find on the net. I do buy from the specialist folk shop we have in Newcastle but that is an exception and partly that is to do with supporting their business rather than any real need to buy from them.

  5. Three things:

    1 Cowell is in the music biz;

    2 it is a business; and

    3 he knows that 99 per cent of what makes up the ch*rts is cr*p, including the stuff that he pushes.

    Cowell claims that his own appreciation of music means that he detests current creations I wish I had the link to hand but, ironically, this all came out on a Desert Island Discs a couple of years ago. It was self serving but revelatory.

    My own view: never forget (and always repeat) that music IS a business but give them your money for the good stuff.


    ps I write as one who downloaded from iTunes the Buckley Hallelujah just to make my own naive point on this.

  6. Was Zavvi perfect for music? No. Was Woolies? Certainly not. But suddenly the High Streets are left with those independents that struggle on, and HMV which is turning more floor space over to DVDs and Blu-rays since they earn more cash.

    The idea that we’re left with whatever Tesco has in its top 50 is desperately bad for music.

    And it’s no good saying that it’s all fine and that we can buy whatever we like at iTunes or Amazon. Those places are great for buying what you were looking for in the first place, but not so great for discovery. However hard they try, browsing the virtual aisles of iTunes or Amazon is not the same as idly wasting some time in a music shop. It’s the serendipity that you’re missing, and it’s something that we’re losing. While Amazon and it’s ilk is great at “if you like that, you’ll love this…” type recommendations based on other purchasers, that’s simply not the same as suddenly being drawn to some artwork, or even seeing what somebody else has just picked up. There’s not the person behind the counter to talk to.

    And as for Cowell. Nope – no idea what good he’s done, at all, ever.

  7. Adam B’s point about serendipity is spot on. But as an old codger I have to say that serendipty started going when we shifted to CDs : they are too small to flip through easily and the artwork is just not as good. Also there started to be way too much product to try and get a hold of.

    I’m not a fan of recommendation systems though as they rarely seem to come up with anything I like much.

    Spotify is quite fun though.

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