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There are three ways of assessing such a slump. One is the kneejerk anti-pop argument that the top 40 has always been terrible and always will be. Another is the declinist view that there was a halcyon era (which invariably coincides with the listener’s own youth) and we are doomed to live in its shadow. The third approach is that it is a point on a cycle: another fall before another rise before another fall, and so on.

Despite the depressing prevailing winds, change is definitely afoot. The largest bastions of tabloid values and tin-eared conservatism are vulnerable. The last two seasons of X Factor have haemorrhaged viewers and Chris Moyles has ceded the Radio 1 breakfast show to the younger, sharper Nick Grimshaw, a DJ whose favourite sound is not his own voice. Meanwhile, some of the year’s biggest hits have been refreshing anomalies. A couple of years ago, nobody was banking on global success for a thirtysomething South Korean (PSY), a Belgian-Australian drummer called Wally (Gotye), and a drowsy starlet whose music resembles a high-school musical based on the movies of David Lynch (Lana Del Rey).



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