‘It’s an exciting time for radishes’, says Anthony Gardiner. ‘It could be the new avocado.’ Gardiner monitors food sales for Kantar Worldpanel. Radishes are up by 30% in the past three months. 900,000 UK households have added them to their shopping lists in the past 12 weeks.
There are various reasons why. It’s already been a long, hot summer in the UK, and people are in search of new ways to spice up their salads. Radishes are healthy and they fit in with a trend for spicier food. Another reason is because they look good. They are ‘Instagram-friendly’. People are taking photos of their salads and posting them to their friends.
This might sound ultra-modern and slightly absurd, but we have always consumed things because they look good. And there are blatant cases in music as well as in food. Most obviously we are drawn towards performers who we find attractive. I would argue that this remains true for adults as well as being a driver for kids’ musical tastes. It also applies to our favourite male and female artists, regardless of our own sexuality.
More interesting, though, are those synesthesiastic cases where the dynamics of sound and vision become blurred. We don’t know if we’re hearing images or seeing sounds. It is even more interesting when these processes have been worked out. In this respect, Stock, Aitken and Waterman were most canny. During the mid-1980s, when their music was being targeted at a gay, nightclubbing audience, they created records with lighting in mind. Most gay clubs had disco lights that were activated by the sounds emanating from the records being played. The production trio worked out which aspects of music made the lights go wild. According to Pete Waterman,
It was all done with handclaps and cowbells. We put in sharp sounds that cut through – bits of percussion, with a lot of top – and played them frequently and fast, triplets and things like that. If you got it right, you could make the lights go crazy. We cut the bass frequencies down and put what the bass guitar was playing into a higher frequency range. That gave our records more volume too. When one of our records came on, it was louder than the previous one, and the lights would go off like fireworks.
They were the radishes of their time.