While watching TV last night, I finally figured it out
For awhile now, I’ve been griping about the state of popular music. I know I’m not alone in finding that what is popular today, at least on the country charts, lacks the creativity and depth we enjoy from many of the older artists. As I type this, I realize that the same can be said of a lot of popular fiction.
What really brought the idea home was when a diaper commercial came on using a song I’ve truly come to despise as being nearly as deplorable as what comes from the pen and mouth of Taylor Swift. I’m sure by now, you’ve heard that catchy little ditty, “All About the Bass” because it’s been splattered all over social networking, shown up (to my complete disgust) on award shows and is now even rearing its ugly head on “The Voice”.
When did Marketing begin to overshadow content?
Whether you’re talking about “All About the Bass”, any one of TS’s dreadfully repetitive whines about breaking up with yet another boyfriend or mean girls who never thought she’d make it, or what I’ve come to refer to fondly as “Fifty shades of Meh”, I’ll be the first to admit that these people are marketing geniuses.
Even last year, watching Taylor coach the Voice contestants, I could see that she really knew her stuff when it came to packaging a bucket of shit and convincing people that it was French perfume (Not that I would ever, in a million years, put the Voice contestants in that category. They’re all amazing!). Meaghan is no different. They’ve done their homework when it comes to knowing what sells, and are doing a phenomenal job of…well…let’s not sugar coat it, dumbing down the music industry.
The message we’re hearing loud and clear is that it is no longer necessary to write a song which reaches straight into your heart with both its words and its incredibly complex instrumentals and melody, nor is it about writing a well thought out, well written novel. With the right marketing strategy, “See Jack Run” and “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” could be massive commercial success stories. What it comes down to is that what sells today will be tomorrow’s commercial jingle.
Writers and Song Writers need to write, but they also need to eat.
We’re faced with a truly moral dilemma. Do we quit or day jobs to do what we love, knowing that it will likely not pay the bills, or do we work all day doing something we hate just to give us the roof over our heads and the ability to create something meaningful? Or worse, do we give in to the pressure, learn to market to the lowest common denominator and write something we hate nearly as much as that day job?
I used to find it mildly amusing that my daughters and their fellow band members chose Queen, Santana, Chicago and the Eagles over more contemporary music when we had car washes or other somewhat social events. In hindsight, I think they figured it out long before I did.
Every cloud has a silver lining
What saves us from the complete collapse of literacy and music is that some of the true artists have embraced the need to market and are using the same tools those short-cutters have learned so well. It might be a tougher road as their songs don’t make for good jingles and their books don’t leave as much room for a director to put his own mark on the story, but they do keep inspired music and stories that make us think alive. I’m sure those people are working a lot harder for their living than those who are bent on selling us baby food for the brain, but I, for one, am incredibly grateful that they remain true to their craft.
My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful that there is still a modicum of integrity in the arts, and hope that the few who support that integrity continue to raise their voices loudly and proudly.
2. I am grateful that we have the choice; we can listen to the brain numbing, jingle worthy top 40, or we can listen to music. We can read mindless pap or we can read something which makes us think.
3. I am grateful that given the right spin, just about anyone can make a mark in the world.
4. I am grateful for a forum in which to share my observations, and that people do not have to agree with me. I really wont’ take it personally.
5. I am grateful for abundance; choices, family, love, friendship, encouragement, opportunity, harmony, peace, health and prosperity.