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And this week’s big number 2’s…

February 14, 2011

In a week when Rihanna’s already pissed off with the BBC (for censoring her latest single S&M) you’d think that they’d be a bit more careful when talking about Chris Brown’s return to music. I’m disappointed to report that this certainly isn’t the case.

Let me state at the outset that I like the BBC. I think it’s a great institution that produces some really good original television and discovers and champions some really good new music. It saddens me that people find it necessary to poke at it every time something goes wrong, be it big or small. However, it also annoys me how often the BBC appears to metaphorically shoot itself in the foot. I fear that, thanks to Reggie Yates and Chipmunk, this could be one of those times.

Reggie is a presenter on BBC Radio 1 who, among other things, presents the Official Chart Show on Sunday nights. Chipmunk was Reggie’s guest on the Chart Show this week and they were talking about his new single ‘Champion’, which features Chris Brown. This is where it gets controversial, because Chris Brown, for those of you who didn’t know, was publicly disgraced a little while ago for beating up Rihanna. Yeah. They were together, and he beat her up. There are other details if you care to search for them, but that’s essentially it. He beat her up and he was legally prosecuted for it. And his music career bombed. Until now.

Chris Brown fans are clearly still supporting him, as evidenced by the fact that 2 songs that he’s in are in the charts at the moment, and fair do’s they’re probably half decent songs (though I’ve not heard them), but what irks me is how people, Reggie Yates and Chipmunk among them, are using Chris Brown’s recent success to dismiss the fact that he beat up his girlfriend. Yes it’s a difficult area, I’ll grant them that, but all you have to do to prepare for it is decide not to bring it up, or if you do to handle it in a sensitive and respectful way.

This is not what happened.

Instead, on Sunday’s Chart Show Reggie brought up Chris Brown’s absence from the music scene and asked Chipmunk about working with him when nobody else was prepared to. The way Reggie brought it up basically implied that it’s great that Chris Brown’s back, and that the ‘fuss’ around his beating up of Rihanna was merely a trivial inconvenience. This was already fairly insensitive (read: bloody stupid) of him, but it was made a whole lot worse when Chipmunk decided to try and sound clever and radical by saying things like “yeah I stuck to my guns“, “I did what I wanted to do” and “this is bigger than politics, it’s about making music“, or some such tripe.

The man’s a musician so he’s probably going to be more passionate about it than most, but claiming that making music is so important that we should blithely dismiss bad things musicians have done is very, very stupid. And dismissing domestic violence as “politics”? Seriously? He doesn’t even sound like he knows what he’s talking about there. No matter how great something is that someone makes or does, it doesn’t excuse them for something terrible that they’ve previously made or done. If the topic of Chris Brown’s domestic violence comes up then for goodness sake try and be delicate with it, and it’s likely that it will come up so there’s no excuse for Reggie not being prepared for it. At the same time by all means enthuse about a new pop record that’s doing well in the charts, after all that’s what the Chart Show’s for, but doing so in practically the same breath as mentioning the history behind the track only serves to trivialise the past scandal, or taint the new record with it, or both.

In the end it was a careless and highly insensitive handling of a tricky situation and I’d have expected much better from a high-calibre BBC presenter such as Reggie Yates. Chipmunk I had few opinions about before Sunday but now all he is to me is an idiot. Chris Brown? Frankly the less said about him now the better. Call me spiteful, but after hearing the lot of them happily carrying on live on air I’m glad they weren’t number 1 in the end. With that sort of attitude I don’t really think they deserved it.

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