Song of the Moment

J. Cole - Lost Ones

Friday, January 7, 2011

Rant #13 - "You And Me Could Write A Bad Romance"

Pop music. What does it mean to you?

I bag on pop music a lot. Not just here on the blog, but in real life too. Often when a song comes on the radio or on someones iPod or anything, I turn it off. And you might sit back and think, "B Side, aren't you just being narrow minded? Why can't you open your ears to a new, rising culture of music?" Well friend, I'm about to tell you.

Pop music to me isn't even so much a genre anymore. Pop music means to me one simple thing....making money. And the reason I think that is wrong, as a consumer - you're not getting what you paid for. Since I used her photo above, let's talk about Britney Spears for a minute. 1999 and '....Baby, One More Time' dropped. Whether you like that album or hate it, it's irrelevant. Someone in a studio decided to find some really hot and willing woman and completely exploit her. Did Britney write any of those tracks? Do you think it was her idea to dress up like a school girl? Do you think any of what she was singing about or the image she was portraying was the real Britney Spears? Think about it. When the cameras shut off for 20 minutes - she shaved her head and starting driving around without undies on. She was huge - dropped pretty much all the way to the bottom with the K-Fed show and marriage, the baby on the lap thing - and what happened? 90% of those "followers" dumped her as soon as that image wasn't there. Nobody wants to listen to an old, beat down pop star. (Take note Ke$ha, your time is coming too.)

Is Spears sans any talent? I highly doubt it. She's a solid dancer, she's got a pretty decent vocal and she has a knack for getting play in the club. What if she wrote some lyrics? What if she produced her own image? Would it be a little crazy? Of course! But what fan doesn't like that? Almost everyone I know LOVES when their favorite artist is real. Not just the persona the record label created. To this day, Spears only got 1 or 2 writing credits on her latest album. Might it be a train wreck if she did her "own" record? Who knows? We probably never will...

Record labels hold ALL the power. If I'm a young artist with a style, a vision and a sound. That doesn't mean anything. If I walk into a studio and lay some sick tracks down - it's up to some guy in a suit to determine if I have a future. If he thinks we've got talent, but not enough to sell - there is an option. Sell out. Turn my great garage band rock style and start singing some other guys song to a jazzed up beat. Why? Because they'll make money. Will I too? Sure. A little bit. But when I sing 'I'm A Slave 4 U' it's pretty hard as an artist to come out the next album and drop a really serious work. It's almost impossible. Once you go pop, you lose street cred with the other fans. And all because you didn't see the light right away, or because some guy told you that your sound wasn't good enough. I'll never stand by that.

It wasn't always this way. Madonna did what she wanted and it was pop and it was a beautiful marriage. Some band are in the pop category, and still are making the music they love. It's just really - REALLY rare. Gaga today seems to be conveying her message through her work. And some things she does might be overdone to stir up more controversy, but overall - what she's saying seems to be what she really feels. She just found the stage for it. In a sense, she's exploiting the record label and using it for her platform. I actually respect that. When someone goes up to Eminem, and tells him he needs to drop another album - because "it's been too long", what happens? Relapse/Refill comes out. If you listen to that, do you really think he was ready to hit the studio again? Of course not. It was a double album of really subpar or even bad music. And he knew it. He addressed that a million times. But hey, gotta keep the checks coming in right?

So in summary, it's not that I'm saying the music itself is BAD. Hell, I tap my toes to it sometimes too. I'll admit it. It's the way it happens that bothers me. It's the filter put on artists, not only in the studio - but in real life too that bothers me. How many really creative and new tracks have we missed out on because a studio didn't think it would sell? Makes you wonder. I don't ever want to congratulate a record exec for creating something like Ke$ha. It's sad. It's sad that she very well might be a totally intelligent, respectable woman. But she was told to convey the image of a party girl to sell records to teen girls and college girls. It's all a game. And it's not right.

Have a great weekend B Siders!


  1. I've agreed with you on so many of your posts here on: The B Side, but this particular one right here, you truly struck a chord with me personally, I mean that :)

    For the past two and a half, maybe three years, I haven't watched MTV, BET, VH1, CMT or any of these music stations the way I used to, that is for the music. Seems like the reality shows catch my attention more than the music should. I have nothing against them; it's that I feel they have now become platforms for TEMPORARY musical enjoyment. In a blog of mine, I spoke very keenly on LONGEVITY in the music world; something I feel is slowly but surely decreasing all the time. Just like you, I have very often wondered what I COULD have heard from the minds of these artists were it not for the confines that the record labels place around their creativity. I find it very fitting that you bring up this subject now, because I’ve been thinking very frequently as of late, “Why is it that I find myself constantly reverting back to music of a particular period of the past, as opposed to staying in the now?” What you said is apart of my reasoning. These day’s I don’t connect with but a handful of current artists. I think what’s becoming more common now is the lack of patience to let the creative process, (whatever that may be, wherever it may begin, however long it may take, however it may take place, or why it did) flow as it should.

    I hear the phrase: “Pop Music” and I think of two things.
    1) Popular music, what PEOPLE (the consumers) like
    2) Like you said, what will make a quick buck now?
    Personally I love music too much to ever say “I hate…” blah, blah, blah, it simply may not mesh with my taste the way another might. Looking at music and artists in terms of similarity of content (something I’ve mentioned all too often), it will EVENTUALLY repeat itself. Every artist in some form or another has talked about love, hate, relationships, confusion, drama, happiness and the list goes on. However if it’s not relating to me, John or Jane Doe across the street in a genuine manner, then there’s no connection. And I’m telling you, it seems no matter how good a beat is you can’t fool a legitimate listener when it comes to being real. I may be repeating myself, but I can’t help it. It’s like there’s a ridiculously long assembly line of mass produced artists, with possibly brilliant musical intelligence, limited solely to computer generated sound/output.

    I hate it.

    Urg, I could go on and on, but I won’t. I’m not mad at computers, soundboards, voice altering devices or whatever. You want to create a cool effect that’s fine; I’m frustrated that it’s based off of what will sell instead of what’s in the heart.

  2. I guess I could go on after all. I meant to add that I agree with you in regards to what Gaga is doing. I respect her as well. Some might consider her displays as mere antics, but she goes full force on it. She's all in love it or hate it.

    I love live instrumentation, what do you think?

  3. "Do you think it was her idea to dress up like a school girl?" Actually, it was hinted on the Biography of Britney Spears that it was her idea. The biography is on hulu. Her greatest skill was probably how to entertain and engage her audience.

  4. Ashley, I'll comment on what you said in a bit.

    Jen - so do you think Britney reached her full potential? I assume you enjoy her music and everything, as a fan then - do you think she could have done better?

    It just seems to me her on stage talent, might have been mishandled by execs who made her convey a certain image.

    The question is, is that just life of a pop star? Or should things change?

  5. ↔ I know I'm kinda late on this comment.

    I was downstairs getting something to drink about an hour or so ago, and I was thinking about the title to this post. And it just hit me how fitting it was. I understood the message immediately, but I didn't think of how the title fit in until today. I'll admit I have my slow moments but my noggin is always churning ↔

  6. agree with jen - on more than one occasion i have read that b. spears had alot of ideas for at least her videos (toxic comes to mind), if not the songs. we all know that songs aren't always written by the performer who makes it a hit. at least she's giving creative input somewhere. but i don't really see anything else huge coming from her, unless someone throws a few great songs her way. she's a solid dancer yes, but i think her vocals are terrible. not kesha terrible and not quite jessica simpson terrible (i find her mainly annoying), but she's no lady gaga and she's no christina aguilara.

  7. Okay, so maybe in whole that was a bad example. I just don't think pop music is made based on what the artists wants. It's just what sells.

    The main point I'm trying to make, is I think we could be missing out on better music. What people THINK we like and what we like are two very different things in my opinion.

  8. Pop will always have the fans. That's what it's meant to do. I just don't want to support it.