The Download

After the revolution comes tyranny. And so it is that the British Phonographic Industry envisages for itself a Bonapartist future, where legal downloading rules with an iron fist and record-company profits soar. The BPI's prophecy for the next few years is that downloads will constitute 25 per cent of record-company profits by 2009, compared with 1.5 per cent now. More legal downloads have been bought this year so far than during the whole of 2004.

With downloads now incorporated into the official singles chart, the main cultural outcome seems to be the continued success of quality pop. The super-produced likes of Gwen Stefani and Usher succeed on- and offline, whereas cheap pop (say, the Cheeky Girls) will find it harder to thrive. Shucks. Genre-wise, is it possible that the current 1980s revival will be followed by a Britpop revival? Actually, Kaiser Chiefs have already been there and bought the second-hand suit. OK, so how about a revival of the 2001 NY cool scene founded around The Strokes? Maybe that's a little too recent, even for our ever-decreasing genre cycles.

My feeling is that dance music will continue to grow old without grace or decent records, rock will trundle on with mixed fortunes (watch out for Million Dead and Pretty Girls Make Graves, though) and the real winner under the new government will be grime. East London's idiosyncratic spin on hip-hop will only get bigger as the pirate radio sessions and white-label 12-inch singles cross over. At the moment, we have two brilliant Dizzee Rascal albums and a middling album from his mentor Wiley, but little else.

Hype springs eternal, however, and if rappers such as Lady Sovereign, Crazy Titch and Durrty Goodz can stick around long enough, we might have a truly original British movement to be proud of. This year, the potentially fantastic debut album from Kane "Kano" Robinson will be released. Check out his "Ps and Qs" on iTunes and feel the sheer artistic wonder that is that bassline. We'll all be dancing along to it come the next election.