To put the XFactor into a little perspective; Damien Rice was a man who struggled as a songwriter in various bands in Ireland, after being disillusioned by his first taste of the music industry with his band Juniper he quit and fucked off for a few years where he spent time traveling and living in Paris.
When he came back to Ireland he got himself a portable multi track and took time to record an album, doing it totally different than he’d done with his band. When that album was done he released it himself and gigged like a bitch. He managed to score himself a support slot with Counting Crows, and that’s where I saw him live in 2002.
I was so impressed I went out and bought (with the last of my weekly food allowance) his album in Virgin Megastore. No one else had it and even then they only had it on import, I paid a whopping £16.99!!! The CD says ©Damien Rice on it as it was before he managed to get UK distribution. I went home and listened to “O” and I was blown away.
The next day I found out he was added to the Kathryn Williams bill at the lemon tree, I missed out because I spent so much on the bastard’s Album!
I regretted that because he never came back to the UK. That was until over a year later when Cannonball became a surefire hit. His shows were a sellout across the country and I got to be a hipster bastard and claim I’d been “listening to Damien before he was cool”, “my version of his album is bound in linen unlike your paper version” etc etc
Since then he’s gone on to be more successful, however his follow up album that came out almost five years after “O” was originally released was a massive disappointment.
I’m not sure what Damien does now but I know a lot of people who have a great Damien Rice anecdote. Like the one my friend Joe Morgan told me about a gig in Dublin and of course fellow Irish songsmith Fiona Keenan probably has a few.
My point is, Mr Rice is one of those acts that has strived for years doing it himself because the industry is so fickle. Damien Rice is one of those artists that had a cult following long before his fame. One of those acts where you can be proud to be a hipster wank and claim you heard him first. The man did what all of us struggling musicians can only dream of.
And this week a group of young girls that entered a talent competition are going covering his song in a bid to be Xmas No1. They stand to make almost £8,000,000 between them and Damien Rice £500,000 in royalties.
Yup that’s right, Little Mix who weren’t even a a group this time last year are hitting the big time thanks to a talent competition.
However you have to ask yourself this; How many of you can claim to have been listening to Little Mix before they were signed? How many people have their first album before it got a major release? Yup thats right none of you.
But how many bands have you claimed to have known about since before they were big? Probably countless. So as much as I congratulate Damien Rice in his small victory against the pop industry, it still goes to show that real talent is never rewarded as it should be. Damien wrote the song and did it against many odds, and arguably is and will always be the definitive version. In an ideal world surely he’d be raking in the £8,000,000 and not left with a tiny percentage.