Dr. William over at Loose TN Canon has a post today and a Zappa clip about why popular music “sucks” today. Wage is also talking about music over at this place.
It’s really compelling and he offers a very detailed opinion on why music is different today than it was 30 years ago.
Now, I thought I’d opine because he has me thinking. I grew up with a musician/vocalist/pianist who made us listen to all kinds of music. Our house was filled different kinds of music. She would make us listen to classical music (and there was a quiz, campers) as well as popular music at the time. Most popular music amused her although she was more concerned with the production values of music. Believe it or not, the Beastie Boys made her crazy in a good way because she wanted to know how they got away with the impressive sampling of their work and she would listen not to the music per se but to the production. (Just an example.)
I worked for one brief year at a recording studio that was called back in the day, Stargem Records.” I heard countless songwriters say things like “Does it have a hook”, “Will it get play” or “Do you think we can get it on Billboard.”
You know, that sort of stuff.
It was about creating a sellable product instead of creating a piece of music.
Now, I can hum along to the radio in the care, but I’m not a musician. My mom would play Beethoven and Mozart on the piano that still sits in my home, but then she would put in the Stones. I’m happy as a clam listening to both. I also like to shake my rump to good dance music, I don’t mind throwing on a bit of Pontiac by Lyle Lovett when I want to sing in a melancholy fog and I even have shaked my rump to “Toxic” by Britney Spears (which is the only song she’s ever sung I can tolerate.
And just give me some John Coltrane and I will slowly and fastidiously kiss you on the mouth.
With that said, sometimes there is a lack of imagination in new popular music. I imagine that there are hipster songwriters sitting around going “Make it sound like Rhianna. We need another S.O.S!”
And you know it happens that way.
But, then on the other hand, I have been delighted by little gems, flukes if you will that shouldn’t have a chance in hell to make it to radio and then do. An example is Amy Winehouse, who makes me long for the torch music of yesteryear. Sexy and amazing. What she does in her personal life has overshadowed that husky, smoky alto. I could care less, she’s just damned good.
Music is an amazing outlet, there is no doubt. But, as in many businesses, the guys with the cigars or the younger yuppies in their black Armani, are putting out what they know will make them money and sometimes that’s not necessarily a good thing.
Maybe, in the world of I-Tunes, people will be able to pick and choose what they like. The music industry is changing rapidly and has been for several years.
Just an open ramble, but let it be said, I will cheerfully marry a cello player anyday.
Yeah, I love me some cello. Going to find my Yo-Yo Ma CD right now. Here is a clip highlighting his career that starts when he plays for John F. Kennedy in 1962 to the present.
It cheers me to no end.