For decades, a compelling falsehood held sway in serious discussions about popular music: rock bands, with their “real” instruments and gritty vocals, were authentic artists, while pop stars, whose synthesiser arrangements and choreographed music videos belied their artificial nature, were not.
It’s an argument former magazine writer Matthew Denby never bought into. And as the success of his recent podcast shows, he’s far from alone. Titled ‘A Journey Through Stock Aitken Waterman’, Matt’s podcast offers an oral history of pop music's biggest hit factory, made up of the trio affectionately known as SAW.
For nearly 10 years, SAW dominated the charts, producing hits for Kylie Minogue, Rick Astley, Bananarama and virtually every other quintessentially ’80s outfit in between. Their music was among the first to bring elements of the gay club scene into the popular domain. But while SAW found millions of listeners across the globe, they were largely ignored (if not flat-out derided) by music's cultural gatekeepers.
In this episode of StoryCraft, Matthew explains why he and his co-host Gavin Scott wanted to rewrite this particular chapter of music history, and wrestle with the question of who gets to write the first draft of history in the first place.
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