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Fiona Apple says pop stars’ obsession with number ones is “the downfall of civilization”

By | Published on Thursday 23 January 2020

Fiona Apple

Being a less than prolific artist with long gaps between albums can mean having to learn a whole new set of rules each time you return. To that end, Fiona Apple – who is putting the finishing touches on her first album since 2012 – is somewhat perplexed about modern music marketing techniques. And how they are used to achieve old fashioned accolades. Particularly she’s confused about why some artists still care so much about the charts.

In a new interview with Vulture, she wonders why artists go to such great lengths to get their releases to number one. In particular, she singles out Justin Bieber, who recently went so far as to publish instructions for fans to game the system in order to ensure his latest single, ‘Yummy’, went to number one in the US (it didn’t).

“I’m not gonna go out there and try to do a crazy amount of promo”, she says. “The climate of art and the music industry is so ridiculous. I feel terrible that anybody would want to be number one as badly as Justin Bieber wants to be number one. He was upfront about gaming the system, and I think a lot of people do that, and I just want to be like, ‘Why? Why is it so important?’ And I’m not gonna be, like, getting influencers to promote my shit. That’s not gonna happen”.

“I feel like I’m stepping back into a business where, like – I’m not in this business”, she goes on. “I don’t have the tools to play this game, and I don’t want to buy the tools to play this game, either. That’s what it feels like it’s become: a game. A video game, basically. Checking their scores. It’s very sad. And with YouTube going to charts… I don’t read this stuff because I’m in this business, it’s just really interesting to me. It’s the downfall of civilization. And why, why do you want to be an influencer?”

So that’s them told. Although she’s probably not going to stop anyone and everyone in the pop community obsessing over their chart position, even though they really should.

Because for some reason, how well you rank in a chart no real person actually cares about anymore still seems to really matter. I mean, last year DJ Khaled threatened to sue Billboard after his last album went to number two. Meanwhile, Nicki Minaj was so angry about missing out on the top spot that she attempted to start a war of words with a baby.