Law of Averages

Reviewing new album Showtime in the Guardian today, Dorian Lynskey comments that ‘ Too often [Dizzee Rascal] dwells on internecine squabbles of which the average listener knows, and cares, little’. Which raises some fascinating questions. Who is an average listener? Are you? And what would music made for the average listener sound like? Surely not much like Dizzee Rascal. In which case why should his lyrical concerns be pitched into some mediocre beyond? Ok, it may be too easy to equate average with bland, but isn’t this the same problem British politics has run into: everyone playing to some mythical centre, by which they understand those people who (they assume) believe what they read in the Daily Mail? And look what a good idea that has turned out to be. (Well, I suppose it has been a good idea for those who think politics should begin and end with populist bigotry). Are people listening to Dizzee Rascal because he speaks to them, or is the musical voyeurism of tuning into the most visible corner of an underground scene not matched by an equally detached curiosity regarding the subject matter of the songs? Or what if the songs are an occasion for wordplay and nothing more: does it matter if we don’t care? (Or is the implied assumption that we just ought to?) Claiming to speak on behalf of the ‘average’ is always journalism at its most slimey.