Tuesday, January 20, 2009

CanCon on Inauguration Day

I've been holding my breath for the past few weeks, counting down the final hours of the Bush presidency. Now that it's almost over (a few hours more, by my count), I'm about ready for my first post of the year. And, in the spirit of cross-border relations, it's on the CBC's Canadian content playlist selected by listeners to introduce Barack Obama to Canadian music.

I don't feel competent to comment on the French-language tracks on the list. But for pete's sake, the English-language list is like a screaming ad saying "CBC's listeners are old". You'd be tempted to think that good Canadian music stopped being produced in the early 1980s. Granted, it does include a track by the Arcade Fire, and I'm pleased to see the Arrogant Worms' classic "Canada is Really Big". But "Rise Up" by the Parachute Club? The only place that song gets listened to is at gay pride picnics - and usually with a profound sense of camp or irony. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the contributions of Gordon Lightfoot, Neil Young, Rush, the Guess Who (and so on), and it would have been criminal to leave Joni Mitchell of the list. But that list clearly skews to an older demographic - especially when the more recent tracks include songs by Michael Buble and Diana Krall.

I am fully aware that there is a raging debate swirling around whether CBC should be trying to target a younger audience, or whether it is best to cater to the audience that they have. But it does seem to me that if the CBC is trying to re-brand itself as an all-ages network, this voter-driven "best of Canada" list might not have been the best way to change its image.

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