There’s a little phoenomenon in music I like to call “Hitmaker Emeritus Syndrome.” This is what happens when a musician who formerly made hit after hit years ago reaches an odd state where even though every time they release a new album, it sells well, and they might have a lot of good songs. Whenever they announce a tour, rest assured that the whole tour will sell out as soon as possible. BUT: if they release a new single, rest assured that it won’t get any airplay at all. Take, for instance, Paul McCartney. All the albums he’s released since 1997’s Flaming Pie have been exceptionally solid affairs with quite a few good songs, and he’s still going strong as a live act, but, really, when’s the last time you’ve heard any of his new songs on the radio? I think the only post-Wings song I’ve heard on the radio more than once was “Dance Tonight,” and even then, I’ve heard Katy Perry’s latest single more times in the past week than “Dance Tonight” in the six years since it’s been released. And, rest assured that the Top 40 stations won’t let “New” play when they can saturate their airwaves with songs like “Roar” or “Applause.” Robbie Williams seems to be heading this way, and, boy, is he not happy about it.
Last month, Radio 1 bosses claimed they consider the 39-year-old Robbie Williams too old to play on Radio 1. It’s sort of like that scene from 8 1/2 where Guido fantasises about having a harem and sending any of his women who grow too old for him upstairs, where they will be treated equally well, but will have to bask in the memories of their heydays. Other musicians relegated Upstairs to Radio 2 are Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Green Day, and Muse, who are “approaching a crossroads – their last single was the first one not playlisted by Radio 1 in a decade. The door remains open to them but we’ll have to think carefully about their next album.”