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Exhibit A: The Black Eyed Peas Halftime Show (I apologize in advance for just how awful this performance was):
In case the video above is taken down, you can read about it here: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110207/ap_on_sp_ot/us_super_bowl_halftime_review
The Who was infinitely better, as was Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, even though they were all probably in their sixties or seventies. I’d take an aging rock band over this nonsense any day. Led Zeppelin anyone?
This is a plug for my brother’s fledgling rap group, comprised of him and a few of his friends. In this video, they take on high school issues, and seem to be having a lot of fun while doing it. For high school students, they’re pretty good!
December 23, 2008 in entertainment, society | Tags: american idol, country, emo, hip hop, jazz, jennifer hudson, justin timberlake, kanye west, love, love song, mariah carey, materialism, metal, metallica, missy elliot, music, pop, punk, r&b, radiohead, rap, rapper, rhyme, rock, rock and roll, SNL, song, soul, system of a down, voice | 7 comments
I think I’ve known this fact for a few years, at least, but I think it took the release of Kanye’s new album to irrefutably confirm that fact. When someone has to depend entirely on auto-tune to produce a supposedly “sung” album, there’s a problem. Even worse is when Kanye can’t manage to give even a halfway-decent live performance without a whole host of technical accoutrements and an army of backup singers. I have never laughed so hard watching SNL in recent years, but it wasn’t the sketches that made me laugh. That’s right, it was his live performance.
Music is dead, or at least has taken a pretty severe beating.
Prior to about 2000 I didn’t really have a preference for what kind of music I liked. I did slowly start to get into hip hop for a while, at least stuff from around that time period i.e. Eminem, 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg, etc. When hip hop started to go from talking about the issues to talking about booty, money, and excess, I shifted to rock. Rock, for me, still felt real to me. It had real emotions, real lyrical prowess, real musical talent.
By rock, I don’t mean the punk and emo nonsense that people have willingly eaten up as though it’s the best thing since sliced bread. I also don’t mean death metal, where screaming seems to replace singing in most cases. I started out actually erring more on the side of metal, listening to such bands as Disturbed, Korn, System of a Down, Taproot, Chevelle, Metallica, and others. Eventually they sold out too, or just fell off the face of the earth.
I should probably define what I mean by sold out. It can mean one of a few things:
1) The themes of the songs change and become more conformist.
2) The musical structure changes and becomes more conformist, that is to say, they end up using a lot of overly-used musical motifs in their songs. Can’t think of a better way to explain this one.
I think I’ve found my niche with so-called “classic rock” (Queen, Beatles, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC) and some 90′s rock (Nirvana, Soundgarden, Rage Against the Machine, etc.). Likewise with old-school hip hop/R&B (everything from Ray Charles to Notorious B.I.G.). There are very very few bands or singers today who can inspire me…which brings me to my real tirade against music today, as a whole.
It sucks. Big time.
Rap has become a walking joke. There’s no message that people can hold on to. It’s all about materialism and about sex. Lost is the message about hope, about aspiring to great heights, about finding purpose. Hidden in the background are the greats like KRS-One, Talib Kweli, and Rakim. In the forefront are jokes like Soulja Boy (seriously?), Lil Wayne, Birdman, and the sort.
R&B isn’t much better. I think Mariah Carey’s career sums up the route that R&B has taken. She has gone from producing songs like “Vision of Love”–which showcases her incredible skill and vocal range–to songs like “Touch my Body” which are, well, lacking. The whole industry, I think, has followed the same path.
Pop is, well, pop. It’s supposed to be vapid and dealing with surface-level topics. It’s mostly love, boys, girls, and not very much beyond that. The songs all pretty much sound the same. There are, of course, exceptions…but they’re few and far between. I was very much into pop when I was younger, and still am a little…more as a guilty pleasure than anything else (Spice Girls anyone?).
This whole emo thing…I just don’t get it. It’s awful. The music is whiny, the singers are whiny, the whole movement is just whiny. I’m probably sounding whiny, whining about emo music. It’s another one of those music styles that will pass quickly into the annals of history, and will be replaced by another equally annoying form of music. The one person born out of the emo scene that seems to have any shot of surviving the slow fall into music anonymity with any shred of dignity and a shot at a legitimate future is Pete Wentz…by way of Ashlee Simpson. He’s (I believe) a host of some show on MTV last I checked…I could be wrong.
Country is…country. Don’t know enough about it to really comment.
So who are my favorites from the last couple of years in each genre and why?
Ludacris: The man is brilliant. He can rhyme like no other.
Kanye: Yes, the Kanye I just maligned earlier. Note how I put him in the rap category instead of R&B. He’s meant to rap, and should stick to rapping. “Gold Digger” is still one of my absolute favorite rap songs.
Eminem: Say what you want, Eminem is probably still one of the most talented rappers and producers on the scene today. I should probably thank my brother for reintroducing me to Eminem.
Missy Elliot: Absolutely my favorite female rapper. She’s got a knack for putting rhymes and verses together in unconventional ways, and she’s not afraid to push the envelope.
Jennifer Hudson: She is today’s Aretha Franklin, without a doubt. It’s no surprise she managed to upstage Beyonce in “Dreamgirls.” I love her vocal range, and that her voice is full, unlike many R&B singers nowadays.
David Cook: Surprised to see his name on this list? Despite the fact that I HATE his first single, “The Time of My Life” his second single “Light On” shows at least some promise. Plus he was brilliant on American Idol, especially his cover of Mariah Carey’s “Always Be My Baby.” I think he’s got a shot.
Radiohead: Always brilliant, always have been brilliant, always will be brilliant.
Metallica: Their most recent album has proven me wrong about them, for the time being. I intensely disliked “St. Anger” but “Death Magnetic” (at least based on the two singles I’ve heard) sounds very much like the Metallica of yore. There is hope yet.
Justin Timberlake: A real artist in a sea of wannabes. Not only did he manage to survive the rise and fall of boy bands, but he has carved out a niche for himself that straddles R&B, pop, rock, sometimes rap.
Norah Jones: See I don’t know if I can comfortably put her into a separate “jazz” category, but I still love her earthy sound.
Obviously I’m not exactly a music expert. Sure I sing a little here and there, dabbled in learning how to play a few instruments, but that’s about it. This is just my personal opinion about the whole music scene today. I’m just upset music, in general, has lost some of its intensity and that real talent is hard to find among the supposed performers of today. Most seem to rely on technology to sound better, or to sing in tune, and cannot put on a live show even if their life depended on it.
Here’s to hoping the music of tomorrow will sound a bit more like the music of yesterday.