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andee's world: The Killers Suck and Coldplay Are Boring

andee's world

Hello and welcome to my blog. This space will be devoted to opinions, observations, lists, articles and whatever else I feel like posting. Subjects will include music, human nature, politics, life in NYC, etc. If I paste someone else's writing up here, it is because the author said something way better than I ever could. By the way, I don't claim to be a particularly smart guy; I'm just a musician with some opinions. If you disagree with me, that's cool -- but then, you're probably wrong.

Monday, April 17, 2006

The Killers Suck and Coldplay Are Boring

Last night I checked out the second disc from the dvd of the original Woodstock concert (thank you for the loan, Randee Riot!). I'd seen alot of the performances before but not all of them. It was an eye-opener. Watching this footage in 2006, it occurred to me, rather depressingly, that the sheer intensity of the playing and the raw soul that burned incandescently off those musicians in 1969 is something that is all but extinct today.

The level of talent, vision, fearlessness and commitment exhibited by those bands was staggering. I mean, the bass player -- the BASS player -- from Alvin Lee's Ten Years After dug into "I'm Going Home" with more all-or-nothing fury than all of the members of Maroon 5, Matchbox 20, Sum 41 and Blink 182 combined. And nobody even knows that guy's name.

Jimi Hendrix's apocalyptic rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner," without saying a single word, delivers a more poignant and affecting anti-war protest than the entire lyric sheet of Green Day's well-intentioned American Idiot album. I'm not knocking Green Day at all, either. It's just that watching Hendrix do what he does in that performance makes your blood run cold.

Hearing Janis Joplin tear her heart out onstage with a naked emotion and near-desperation that almost makes you embarrassed to be watching her makes you wonder how people like Beyonce and Alicia Keys can summon the nerve to call themselves "soul" singers. A thimbleful of Janis is more potent and intense than a year's worth of MTV. By today's standards, she's almost too much to bear.

I don't understand why anyone's showing up for today's top-selling artists. Is the produced-to-within-an-inch-of-its-life, minor key blandness of Evanescence as close as we're gonna get to "angst"? And how can anyone stay awake long enough to make it through one Coldplay song, let alone an album? These guys are selling out stadiums?!

Is the singer from nu-wave hacks The Killers supposed to be the epitome of bad boy rock star androgyny in the 00's? He looks like the Class President with a splash of eyeliner and a skinny tie. A very nice boy you can bring home to mother. Yawn.

I'm not saying there aren't great artists out there today. There are, of course. I'm just asking, why are we crowding around such a tepid lot? Fall Out Boy? Avril Levigne? How did we get duped this badly? Why are King's X still struggling to put food on the table? How come no one's heard of Nellie McKay? And why does Nickelback still have a job?

Most of today's mainstream rock music is like a bootlegged copy, seven or eight generations down, of something that was once good in its original form. It's like xeroxes of xeroxes of xeroxes; the colors are all faded, the nuances gone. You keep adding water to it every year and every year it tastes a little blander.

In the new millennium, the shortcomings of untalented singers are easily patched up by Auto-Tuner, the Hardest Working Software in Show Business. The incompetence of the rhythm section is neatly ironed out in the Pro-Tools quantizing. It gets easier and easier to be a rock star every day.

And what's the difference, anyway? It's only music; it's not worth anything anymore. You download a few songs onto your Ipod or have your friend burn you the disc, which you then add to your collection of generic CD-Rs, which stand in unmarked stacks around your apartment. You don't even know what the artwork is supposed to look like for most of these albums.

What did you say? You don't know what an album is? Well, an album is what musicians used to make back in the olden times when people still considered music to be valuable, and would pay good money to own it and to support artists they believed in. Back in the time when the songs you listened to were written by the same people who appeared on the album cover and the posters.

What? You don't know what a song is? Well, nowadays we just call them "ringtones."

4 Comments:

Blogger TrippFan said...

THAT was by far the most poignant and articulate commentary on the state of music today. I remember when bands and their music had a REAL impact on the fans. It wasn't just a band...it was a way of life! It all started to fall-apart when MTV and the "biz" realized they'd created the perfect consumer. They learned they could just tell kids what is "cool", wrap the “artists” in the requisite “image” du jour, and then sell it to kids by spending ~$800, 000 to have the songs played over and over again…all because major radio-stations, ticket-agencies and record-companies are a corrupt monopoly. In the saddest social-engineering experiment ever, MTV managed to change "alternative" into “mainstream” but keep the title! You must realize, when someone like Hilary Duff lands the job of performer/host of the New Year's Eve show, it's because her people have the money to BUY the opportunity for her exposure! It's certainly NOT because everyone at ABC was thinking "we'll get Hilary Duff…at ANY cost...yeah, THAT will really draw viewers in"...please! In addition, the industry seems to have streamlined the ability to "clone" its latest successes, making originality a LIABILITY in the search for faster, larger profit! Commercial music has become the ANTI-art, and the idea of the company & the fans sticking with a new artist for more than a few releases is all but discouraged.

5:53 PM  
Blogger TrippFan said...

By far a most articulate commentary on the state of music today. I remember when bands and their music had a REAL impact on the fans. It wasn't just a band...it was a way of life! It all started to fall-apart when MTV and the "biz" realized they'd created the perfect consumer. They learned they could just tell kids what is "cool", wrap the “artists” in the requisite “image” du jour, and then sell it to kids by spending ~$800, 000 to have the songs played over and over again…all because major radio-stations, ticket-agencies and record-companies are a corrupt monopoly. In the saddest social-engineering experiment ever, MTV managed to change "alternative" into “mainstream” but keep the title! You must realize, when someone like Hilary Duff lands the job of performer/host of the New Year's Eve show, it's because her people have the money to BUY the opportunity for her exposure! It's certainly NOT because everyone at ABC was thinking "we'll get Hilary Duff…at ANY cost...yeah, THAT will really draw viewers in"...please! In addition, the industry seems to have streamlined the ability to "clone" its latest successes, making originality a LIABILITY in the search for faster, larger profit! Commercial music has become the ANTI-art, and the idea of the company & the fans sticking with a new artist for more than a few releases is all but discouraged.

5:56 PM  
Blogger His name is Matthew Jackson said...

I've gotta disagree with you about the state of music today. There is no question that what you hear on the radio today is...well it's bad. But there's a distinction in music today that, to a certain extent, didn't exist until the late 1970s.

There is a massive and power underground music scene in the US that has been building since the emergence of punk and it's here that you find the real spirit.

And the music is very frequently as politically aware and as powerful as the woodstock bands. Take for instance Fugazi, a band that has grown a huge following through a strictly social and political standpoint and with no assitance from mainstream media.

Other great music that is more traditional in execution is out there too, you just have to look a little below the surface. Josh Ritter, for instance, is a great singer songrwriter with a traditional Dylan feel. He could easily break out into mainstream audiences under the right circumstances.

http://www.joshritter.com/album_animal.shtml

Why this music stays underground is another can of worms but the bottom line is that the radio is barely any representation of what fans of real music are listening to.

11:41 AM  
Blogger andeee* said...

My gripe is about today's mainstream music, not about the underground/indie scene.

Back in '69, artists like The Who, Hendrix, Joplin, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, etc, were the top selling, mainstream artists. The notion of a Billboard Top 20 list populated with talent like that today is almost inconceivable.

Why do the great ones have to be forced into the "underground"?

11:34 AM  

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