Around the turn of the century, the decline of music’s ‘singles’ market meant that singles tended to be used as loss-leading, promotional tools for still, profitable albums. Often appearing in multi editions, singles used remixes, live tracks and gimmicks (stickers, picture cds, etc.) to ‘win’ chart time and the favour of large out of town supermarket owners who would go on to stack albums floor to ceiling.
Once an important artistic statement, and a punchy message to a listener, the single ceased to mean much outside of marketing and advertising strategies – hammering the record buying public with low cost, overproduced, overly-commercial records.
If music is about challenge and innovation, the singles market had little to offer.
Around 8 years ago, as the music industry woke up and realised that listeners no longer wanted to buy albums, strategies changed. Out went heavy album promotions, and in came a shift in focus to the largest stream of revenue – the live show. Given a lifeline, the single became a way for promoters to sell shows; a strong, commercially-produced track capturing the attention of all music listeners, not just fans. Out went cheap multi edits, and in came cleverly written, well executed, highly pc, pop tracks. Singles became the ultimate advertisement jingle.
Not to be outdone by cheap (if well written) pop music, music’s outsiders also began to fight back for the forgotten single. Acknowledging pop’s realisation that strong singles led to well-attended shows, ‘serious’ artists championed a come-back of the old-fashioned single – those with short, sharp, interesting messages of rebellion and counterculture. They may not have been as well listened to as the pop smashes, but they stood for more.
‘Meet My Enemies’ by Teesside-based band, Bruto, is a single which stands for something and dares to comment on the world we live in. Describing how we feel, and we’ve all felt when we’re stabbed in the back by someone we’ve confided in, Bruto cleverly expresses the pain we feel in being let down.
Emotively sung, with clever confrontational lyrics and a great guitar break-down, ‘Meet My Enemies’ is equally aggressive and interrogating; using a little ‘oi’ and a little pop-punk to create a stinging attack…‘If I’ve got friends like these, you don’t want to meet my enemies’.
Regardless of chart positions, loss leadership, and airplay, singles changed the world. Based on the strength of tracks like these, they will do so again.
Bruto plays Westgarth Social Club, Middlesbrough on Saturday 30th September with support coming from Be Quiet. Shout Loud! and Catalyse. Tickets, priced at £5.25 (including booking fee) are available from seetickets.com.
You can also listen to the new track on Spotify.