I'm a 21-year-old student of Modern History and German at Hertford College, Oxford, currently living in Bonn, Germany. I've just rediscovered Ciao after a long absence and would welcome any comments on my latest review!
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SAVE REAL MUSIC!
I've failed to think of any
It's pathetic, it's killing real music and it can even be dangerous
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Ooh, I could rant my head off over this, I really could! But you probably don’t want to see, or even listen, to me when I’m in one of my stressy fits, so I’ll try and make this op as coherent and balanced as possible. I just wish that the ‘musicians’ of today would do the same with their ‘songs’.
Before I wrote this op, for the purpose of research I went and checked out this week’s Top 40 chart. As this represents the most popular music which is most widely listened to, I feel this represents the core of modern music most accurately. As I expected, I was not impressed by what I found.
First, I crossed out all the songs which are cover versions. Next, I scribbled through the tracks which display all the lyrical ingenuity of an inebriated monkey, repeating the same phrases over and over until they bore into your mind. Subsequently, I took great pleasure in striking through the artists who I feel are successful based on their looks and their image as opposed to their actual music. Now, I was satisfied that I was left with all the real artists, the genuine musicians who are actually trying to make an honest buck by producing decent music. These are the artists whom I respect.
All seven of them.
You don’t need to be a genius to work out that this represents a pretty poor turnout. This means that for every proper musician, there are four or five more talentless wastrels just out to make a fast buck. This, to me, epitomises what is wrong with the modern music scene.
Some of the artists popular today make me cringe. Take the example of the Cheeky Girls. Look at them, they can barely even speak English! But clearly that doesn’t matter any more, since as long as they cavort around in their size six skirts, touching each other’s derriere with now-monotonous regularity, whether they actually have any musical talent is irrelevant.
Let’s take another example. How many of you have heard the Fast Food Song? For those of you lucky enough still to be blissfully unfamiliar with it, its lyrics are as follows:
“McDonalds, McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken and a Pizza Hut.’
Yep, that’s it. All accompanied by lots of ridiculous dancing around in PVC dresses. Pathetic.
To me, all this reeks of exploitation. This bubblegum pop is the brainchild of greedy music bosses, who take acts with no demonstrable talent and whip their target audience (pre-pubescent teenagers, no doubt!) into a frenzy with their clever marketing ploys. They’re taking advantage of both the performers and their impressionable audience, purely to line their own pockets.
This has very serious consequences for what I like to call real music. Real music to me is music which the recording artist has had input in; that is, they have been involved with the production of the track, and they actually sing it, rather than all this ridiculous miming. How would you feel if you were a genuine artist, you were truly passionate about your music, you saw it as the perfect expression of your feelings as it’s meant to be, yet no-one ever got to hear it due to the music scene being dominated by these bland, carbon-copied excuses for musicians? Musicians are very much an endangered species.
It doesn’t stop here. The effects of the commercialisation of music stretch far beyond threatening original music. I worry about the effect it has on its audience, particularly the audience which most of it is aimed at, the early teenage years. I think the image which is being presented to these people by the pop stars they love to idolise is potentially very dangerous.
This is particularly relevant to young girls. Holly Valance, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera et al are saying to their listeners: ‘Look, you don’t need to put any effort into that school lark, you don’t need to be good at anything! Just take your clothes off and you’ll be raking it in like me.’
At an age where it is traditional for one to be very conscious of their appearance and image, these scantily-clad pop stars have the potential to do some serious damage. What kind of message are these singers with their gym-toned figures giving to their audience? Their environment at this age has a huge influence on the way they develop into an adult. We risk a generation of teenage girls starving themselves to death in order to obtain a figure like Holly’s. It’s when this commercialisation reaches this level that something has to be done; it’s far beyond irritating now.
Recently there have been signs of a downturn in fortunes for fat-cat music bosses. Viewing figures for Top of the Pops are at an all-time low. ‘But that’s no problem, we just need to update the format a bit.’ Meanwhile, single sales are also dropping quickly. ‘Aah, this is because of music piracy. We need to stamp it out!’ Hiding behind these excuses, record company bosses consistently fail to see the truth. Modern music sucks, and there is a growing backlash against an industry predominantly driven by image rather than talent. This is why fans are becoming disillusioned. It needs to be rectified, before the music industry implodes catastrophically upon itself.
Now I know that manufactured music isn’t something which has come about in the last few years; there were always acts like The Monkees who were formed on this principle. But it’s when it reaches the level it’s at today that we need to be concerned. Acts never top the charts for more than one week; instead, they just disappear into obscurity, ready for the next bland act to take their place. Acts are treated as an expendable resource with a ridiculously short lifetime, because when they flounder another is just churned out to take their place. It’s the Great Musical Production Line.
I resent this, because I feel that it goes against everything that music is supposed to be. My idea of music is of something which expresses your innermost feelings in a way which other media just can’t; a good song combines vocals and instrumentation to a stirring and beautiful effect which has a lasting effect on the memory. How many of you will remember Gareth Gates in twenty years’ time?
The music industry is as fickle as it is insecure. It has sold its originality and its roots in British culture, in favour of ever increasing profits. Now, it just seems to lurch from one embarrassingly shameful act to another. And it’s telling; one day, it may just come back to haunt it.
One day, record companies will get their comeuppance. I, for one, can’t wait.
Thanks for the read, which turned into a rant despite my best efforts, Matt
PS. I’m currently constructing a web site to fight for the survival of real music. I’ll put the details up when I’ve got some content sorted.
Good review, but i disagree on a few points.Cover versions aren't necessarily bad.'Hallelujah' by Jeff Buckley is a cover and don't tell me that ain't great. I don't think music is any less 'real' than it was in the 60's or 70's, just a bunch of disgruntled old men who don't understand dance music trying to stop another generation which threatens them from having fun
MissSurfer 27.04.2004 17:22
Good argument and review - I kind of agree and disagree because you make it seem like ALL (ok well all 37 you probably didn't cross off) the Top 40 are rubbish songs. In my opinio, good music is music you enjoy listening to and they are a lot of new songs which are very good. However, with songs like 'Kentucky Fried Chicken and a Pizza Hut' I completely agree - I dispise those songs!!!b They're annyoing and I can't believe ANYONE would enjoy listening to it. On your point of Britney Spears - some of the songs are very good (I particulary like the melodies on some of the new stuff) and people like Blue and Christina Aquilera write their own songs and they are usually very good :) So thats my opinion!
Nar 31.03.2004 01:20
im tied between very hlpful and h rating - reason being that as a musician with a degree in performance, whats happening now has always been happening, even in the classical world. If you look at some of the bands in the 1970s and 1960s beyond that youll find theres a lot of rubbish flying around too. "I lost My Heart To A Starship Trooper," is one song Id rather forget for example. The combination of music, media and technology has culminated in this sausage machine production of consistently releasing poor thought out music but there again, it wasnt in abundence until now and 20 years ago the internet didnt exist and people scoffed at the idea of getting a PC in their homes. Could they all be connected. I think so. Good luck with your website. N