Tone deaf

Back when I had a proper job, I used to work in the sunny Scottish seaside town of Ayr. I’d usually go for a wander around the town during my lunch break and without fail, I’d see the same busker every day. He was a blind chap who played classic oldies and the odd chart hit on a ridiculously large keyboard.

As much as I’d like to be politically correct here, I have to be honest: he was rubbish. Really rubbish. As in “no musical talent” rubbish. Even his guide dog looked pained as he slammed his meaty fists onto the keyboard, a technique that achieved a success rate of approximately 50% and which resulted in something that sounded like Stevie Wonder being hit with spanners.

Over the years I’ve occasionally wondered what he’s up to, and whether he’s still assaulting the ears of Ayr’s lunchtime shoppers. But it seems that he’s moved on to greater things: as I flicked through the various music channels on TV last night and saw advert after advert for mobile phone services, it’s become crystal clear that he’s moved into the polyphonic ringtone industry.

Have you *heard* those ads? You too can have a version of Destiny’s Child’s “Lose My Breath” played by a torso! Or you could have U2’s “Vertigo”, recorded by a small girl repeatedly smashing a Bontempi organ into her face! Or perhaps you prefer Eminem? Then why not get “Lose It”, as performed by a giraffe playing a Kazoo?

Perhaps it’s my age – I turn 32 on Friday – but as long as I live, I will never, ever understand the appeal of ringtones. Given that at 80p per track I reckon legal music downloads are overpriced, the fact that teenagers are willing to pay £3 for thirty seconds of music, played by someone who’s never heard the record and whose relationship to music is as close as my relationship to Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst and Kylie Minogue, can only mean one thing: young people are stupid.