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!