Latest 3 Things

Monday, March 8, 2010

3 Sour Notes

I've always been a music guy. Not a musical guy, mind you - my personal playing aspirations died in the 6th grade band when I hung up my coronet. No, I was into the listening, the playing, and the experience of music. In a strict household, there were few unadulterated freedoms, but the visceral escape offered by music was amongst the few and the most treasured. I remember my parents' LPs and 8 tracks, the 45's and cassette tapes that I saved my allowances for, and dubbing songs off of the radio. I became a DJ at an early age - not loving the art of the mix nearly as much as I simply loved having all of the music at my fingertips; being able to create any mood at any moment - with the touch of a button. But, I was never a music snob - I've loved my one-hit-wonders as dearly as I've loved my classics - cherished my Mmmbop like I do my Freebird. But there have always been a precious few musical genres, artists and songs for which I can't even muster the slightest bit of appreciation; collections of sounds and words so devoid of any value that I can hardly stand to listen to a moment of them.

Lately, this occurs far more often than it used to. The music industry, desperate to adjust to the demands of the digital consumer, has decided to crank up its output volume rather than its associated quality. Decent acts are rushed into rapid production of full albums with one hit, and follow up albums with none, and more often than not, poor acts are rushed into production with even the smallest bit of commercial appeal - peddled to us with the fervor of fight promotions and used car sales, and ultimately leaving us even emptier than had we simply settled for the silence. So, from this music lover, whose eclectic taste spans from metal to mash-ups, here are 3 things they'll never get me to listen to:

1. Justin Bieber. I have no idea where this kid even came from. I don't know what he sings and I'm not certain I'd recognize him if he walked right by me. But I do spend my days in front of a computer, so I am unable to avoid the phenomenon that surrounds him. What I do know is that he was discovered, like all great talents, on YouTube, is from Canada (which makes me like him a little less, given all the post-hockey-gold-medal gloating I've seen), and looks a lot like a 13 year old girl with a bad haircut. In fairness, I can count the number of 16 year old boys that I can stand on one hand and have five fingers left over. The fact that he performed for the President at the White House Christmas special was even more disappointing than watching Obama shake hands with Khloe Kardashian (during the Lakers' visit). I'd like to be able to say I've never heard him sing, but due to the worst decision about an introduction since Gerardo's "Rico Suave", I heard this lovely little lady inexplicably lead off the otherwise great remake of "We Are The World".

2. Taylor Swift. If the music industry was trying to force this artist on me with any more frequency or force, I'd consider filing a rape complaint. I can't turn on my radio, listen to Pandora, or even watch CSI without having this country Britney Spears up in my face like an drunk Irish guy in a Boston pub. I even like country music and can't stand another moment of this girl. I haven't heard an act with more similar sounding fare since Lil Jon and the East Side Boyz released the same song under three different titles. Country hasn't had a female vocalist this easily hate-able since Shania Twain, and it's not as the the genre can afford it. Country music is to the music industry what the NHL is to sports - it's there, but you have to look to find it, and it's one disaster away from disappearing altogether. Seriously, this forgettable waif with her forgettable voice and forgettable songs very nearly deserved to be upstaged by Kanye, and her winning country music's biggest honor (Entertainer of the Year) is the biggest award show disappointment since Marissa Tomei got an Oscar for My Cousin Vinny.

3. Miley Cyrus. There are so many things to dislike about Miley Cyrus that I hardly know where to begin. You can certainly make a case for the apple not falling far from the tree - "Achey-Breaky Heart" is the most embarrassing American fad this side of "Ice Ice Baby" and "I'm Too Sexy", so what could you expect from a kid growing up in a house with that gold record on the wall? Well, the combination of the Disney tween hype machine, the Polanski-esque oversexing of a pre-pubescent girl, and some of the worst song writing since the New Kids on the Block have produced the least tolerable artist in recent memory. I'd rather sit through back-to-back N'Sync concerts in a crowd full of 13 year old girls than watch Miley Cyrus perform a single number. Listening to her croon about her "struggles" in life, make it ever-so-obvious that she's no more writing her own songs than she is actually singing them in concert. When questioned about which Jay-Z song she was referring to in her latest inexplicably popular record, she was quick to note that she couldn't even name a single one, because she hadn't written it. Wow.

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Okay, so it's no accident that these are all current pop artists whose target audience is young enough to qualify as possible children I've fathered (for the record, that's a joke people). I expected that as I grew older, I'd get more and more out of touch with the younger generations' music, and start to act like my parents listening to Elvis and Barry Manilow while I longed for Motley Crue and AC/DC. But, to be honest, there's plenty of great new stuff that I do enjoy listening to, even some of the pop. However, it feels like the entire music industry is designed to make me appreciate the few great artists I have discovered by producing mountains and mountains of crap to compare it to. And maybe that's it after all. I used to wonder why on earth I'd pay nearly twenty bucks for an album, when I could just download the singles I wanted - but if that purchase included the opportunity to burn one album of each of the artists above (with the consequent subtraction from their sales numbers), I think I just might do it.


Stephanie said...

How about watching Taylor Swift on the Grammy Awards with Stevie Nicks as a BACK-UP singer? Ouch. That hurt.

Jen and Tonic said...

That's why I don't watch the Grammy Awards anymore. NOBODY puts Stevie in the corner.

Taylor doesn't bug me nearly as much as some otehr Tween sensations because she seems like a genuinely nice girl. Miley Cyrus is just....well, she's two steps away from an Achy Breaky STD.

Justin Bieber reminds me of what Ellen Degeneres most likely looked like as a child.

Anonymous said...

The thing that makes me crazy about ALL of these pop stars is that not one of them, with the exception of Taylor Swift, write any of their own songs. They are basically winning grammys for singing Karaoke. Not to mention the fact that all of their canned music makes me want to throw up in my crotch.


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