Before seeing the video below, you need to put this in context. Sandi Thom is a Scottish singer-songwriter who, at the age of 17, was the youngest student granted a place at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, subsequently signing to RCA in 2006. She then had her single I Wish I Was a Punk Rocker (With Flowers in My Hair) shoot to No 1 in the UK and her debut album Smile … It Confuses People also landed at to No 1, selling 363,018 copies to date.
Almost a decade on from such unprecedented success, Thom released this soliloquy on her Facebook page, but then deleted it upon realising such statements of anguish may burn the last vestiges of any remaining bridges.
So there it is: a performer who has gone from relevant to irrelevant within one decade, all the while sticking to a middling formula that has seen progressively depleting fortunes. Thom’s second album The Pink & the Lily sold 20,012 copies since its release in 2008, and then she issued a contract-filling The Best of Sandi Thom compilation that sold 4,583 to date. She got dropped from her label and her last 2013 independently issued Covers Collection managed sales of just 435 copies to date.
There’s something tearful and tangibly tragic about Thom’s confession to camera, a reminder of the ephemeral nature of pop music and how perilous it is to assume the world owes you a something for having once been germane.
To this blogger, Thom’s music was always crap. It was a pedestrian affair, symptomatic of a music industry hooked on peddling out rubbish to a culture that has seriously low expectations for what qualifies as quality. Thom made music for people who don’t really like music, but most pop stars operate on such a remit. Most consumers see music as disposable cultural bubble gum, completely innutritious stuff that you chew on while the fleeting flavour immediately satiates, but then spit out in favour of the next sweet taste.
But it speaks volumes of just how nasty British culture is when we consider that Thom has had a sudden re-emergence in the press because of her emotional online meltdown. It pretty much guarantees the end of her music career and transforms her into overnight tabloid fodder. Britain as a nation embodies a culture that takes absolute delight in uncomfortable schadenfreude. Yet there is a part of our national identity that is totally accepting of this malice, a sentiment shared by all of us which proclaims that what goes up must be cruelly brought down to earth in cringe-inducing humiliation. And then we move on, totally forgetting the victim.
Sandi Thom’s self-declared “really fucking good” new song is called Earthquake. It’s not my thing, but one shouldn’t kick a fallen pop star when she’s down, especially not while those that once loved her, as in tastemakers and industry types, are delivering the ultimate beating.