thu 19/09/2019

Cage's 4'33" charts: the BBC refuse to play it | reviews, news & interviews

Cage's 4'33" charts: the BBC refuse to play it

Cage's 4'33" charts: the BBC refuse to play it

Minimalism silenced

John Cage contemplates Christmas hit

Matt Cardle, the X Factor winner, is Number One for Christmas, while John Cage's 4'33" managed to get in the charts at 21, outselling Usher, Tinie Tempah and others for the Christmas charts. Captain SKA didn't get anywhere, however. So will the BBC be playing the Cage? Not if they can help it.

Challenged by Bob Dickinson, one of the shadowy people behind Cage Against the Machine, who came up with the enjoyably radical notion of trying to get John Cage in the Christmas charts, a BBC executive composed the following excuse, which is, as Norman Lebrecht put it in his blog, "exquisite in its public-service prevarications":

"Please let me assure you that we did carefully consider the option to play the track in full at a production meeting last week. The final decision was that if the track entered the Top 20 we would play it unedited, however it entered at No 21 and as... a result a short extract was played instead... In reality only 15,716 people actually paid for the track compared to the audience for the Official Chart Show which is at least 1.4 million. We decided that while most of them would like to know where the single charted they would be significantly less interested in hearing 4 minutes and 33 seconds of near silence. I completely understand your frustration, but in this case the decision was about pleasing the majority of BBC Radio 1's listeners rather than a minority."

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