Pop music TV is in a bit of a state right now. The Voice promised a different take on the standard sob story-soaked talent show, but swiftly went straight back into its X Factor-based comfort zone. Other than that all we’ve got left are uncomfortable interviews with musicians.
You know, the ones where the musician drivels on about what kind of lighting they’ve gone with on their tour and the interviewer sycophantically nods along like a well-trained Stormtrooper. It makes you yearn for the days of Popworld, the show that broke up this predictable monotony with host Simon Amstell’s biting wit, precision-engineered to slice through the doggerel nonsense spouted by surly musicians.
Popworld, first appearing on TV in 2001 and ending in 2007, took all the clichés, the PR-vetted questions and the rulebook of how to make it as a TV presenter, and mischievously threw it at the likes of the Sugababes. It knew that we didn’t want to watch any more unblemished, well-rehearsed Q&As. We wanted the whole spotty truth. Like a sharp-witted child who seizes his opportunity to ask in the middle of a supermarket where babies come from, Amstell asked the cringe-inducing questions no-one else would dare to.
Highlights? Making ‘The Kookie Kooks’ PR team tremble after playing ‘Si-chatrist’ to Luke Pritchard and his not to be mentioned break-up with Katie Melua. Causing Pete Doherty to look even more stunned, on the set of a Babyshambles video, after asking the former Libertine if he understood that they were on a “fast paced popshow” (with Pete later whispering to the band, “Shall I hit him?”). Repeatedly reminding Mutya’s replacement, Amelle, from The Sugababes that she wasn’t Mutya.
These were only a few instances of the kind of TV gold that we joyously awoke to on a Sunday morning. Unfortunately, the dream format has yet to be repeated; meaning that somewhere in the world an adolescent is yet to witness Amstell asking Britney Spears if she’d “gone a bit nuts”. A world where Skrillex hasn’t been exposed to intense hair-related grillings.
Let’s bring back the show that made a mockery of the conventional interview, and assumed that we had some intelligence. We’re living in the Jessie J era, where artists and presenters take themselves unbelievably seriously, and there’s no-one around to puncture the pomposity. For all these reasons and more, the pop world needs Popworld.