I have written here before about the sorry state of today's modern music, or at least my perceived notion that the state of modern music is in definite decline. I feel justified in making such an observation, as the talent pool atop the charts these days leaves a lot to be desired.
I have to think that my assumption is one that is shared by many, unless you are one of the millions across the world who likes to have others decide what is best for them. And there are plenty of that demographic to go around. In many areas, and multiple milieu.
That's not a bad thing, I guess, unless you want to retain some semblance of your soul. OK, that might be a bit harsh, but I can't stand the music industry telling me what to buy, especially when their choices for me include Britney, Jessica, Sanjaya, Fergie, Katy, and Zac. I am not a fan. At all.
The artists listed above, and countless others, are famous and popular because they fit a certain mold, or have a certain look. Not because they have tremendous musical abilities or talent. And that is a shame. It is a shame because today, as in the past, there is a tremendous wealth of talent around the world, and it goes largely unrecognized, or totally unnoticed. People are still making wonderful music, and creating sounds to soothe, move, or ignite the soul. We just don't hear as much about them because they don't fit the industry's mold. They don't look like Ken and Barbie.
I have also used this space to complain about reality television, and shows like "American Idol" and "America's Got Talent". I find them mind-numbing and ridiculous. I know that I am in the minority with that, but I generally find myself comfortably fitting that mold, so that's OK by me. The good thing about those two shows, though, as I see it, are that they give the music industry a good idea what the public wants. At least an idea of what the vote-texting, sign-waving, Simon-adoring public thinks is good.
While that includes Sanjaya and the like, it also shows the industry that the good looking people don't generally make it to the end. The people in the final rounds are not generally great either, but they are the more talented of the crew, and don't always have the "look".
When the American public gets to choose, it seems as though they overwhelmingly choose the folks that don't fit the cookie-cutter. Ruben Studdard, Jordin Sparks, Jennifer Hudson, Clay Aiken, Adam Lambert, Chris Daughtry, and the David guy who won last year are all a little overweight, or a little too feminine, or a little too bald to be one of the pretty people that gets continually pushed down our throats over and over again. They are a lot like the people we all know, and they can sing. Or at least sing better than the Sanjayas of the world.
The country-singing chicken-catcher who won the talent show this past year isn't going to be modeling for anyone anytime soon, and he garnered a huge American vote. That's the record-buying public letting people know what they want to hear. Somebody from the country who looks like your neighbor, has core principles and values, and loves to sing a good song. What a concept.
Sure, the Pussycat Dolls sell a lot of records, but if anybody else's songs were played a million times, or were advertised to the youth like some kid-friendly legalized drug, I am sure they might move a little product as well. Britney's songs are bad, but she has a huge media machine keeping her relevant and popular - it certainly isn't her voice that put her atop the charts. Katy Perry? Fergie? None of them stand up to Adele, Amos Lee, Eli "Paperboy" Reed, or Bob Schneider - and none of those artists is ever going to be a huge star because they don't have the perfect look or Disney factor.
Letting America vote on these shows should show the higher-ups that maybe America is ready for entertainment from people who seem more like them, who aren't pin-ups or centerfolds, who might possibly have talent. Maybe people are finally interested in hearing a good song, rather than watching someone gyrate across the screen in a slick video production. Or, maybe I'm wrong - that's much more likely.
It doesn't stop with just music, though, if you think about it. You can't have a best-seller these days without being a top pick of Oprah and her book club, and television shows only get picked up if they have a good prime-time lead-in with an "established" star. This summer has been somewhat good for movies, however, as independent cinema has been very successful while a few big names have tanked. For every bad Eddie Murphy/Jim Carrey/John Travolta flick that flubs, there is a "District 9", "Zombieland", or "Paranormal Activity" to even things up. But then you have your horrible blockbuster epics that made huge money with horrible reviews because they had the advertising dollar to make it happen (Can you say "Transformers 2", "G.I. Joe", or "Fast and Furious"?).
Hollywood. It's a sad state of affairs out there...
Well, anyway, sorry for the rant. It was just on my mind. And I hope the people in charge listen to the people who should be in charge - the ones who are buying the product - and move a little more towards quality, rather than exposure, glamour, or market share. Heady days, indeed.
|Citizen Kane at Scully's|
|Citizen Kane rocks the crowd at Scully's in Johnson City on Friday, November 26th with new lead singer Rusty Honeycutt.|