Part of the problem.Posted: January 6, 2011
If you watch and talk positively about The X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent, Glee or anything else related to that shit, you’re part of the problem.
I hate referencing 1984 in anything I say, but in 1948 Eric Blair wrote about a machine called a versificator that would write music and literature for the masses without a party member being involved in the process. We’re getting closer and closer to that point. Look at those fuckers from Glee. Much as I despise the show and everything it stands for, the performers are not without talent. Why, then, is everything they sing still auto-tuned and quantized until there’s no trace of life in it? Because the public keeps buying music that sounds like it’s being sung by robots.
It’s my understanding that about six months ago there was some kind of controversy involving a talent show where it was revealed the contestants used auto-tune. Suddenly, the average person knew what auto-tune was and were outraged by it. Better late than never, I thought. I hoped it might lead to a revolution after the public realised that everything they listened to on the radio was auto-tuned, but alas, they went out and bought more when the papers stopped complaining.
“But Ryan!” you may cry. “Why do you care? It’s not like you or any of your friends listen to the pop charts anyway! There’s more music out there than anyone has time to listen to. Just pick what you want and forget the rest!” And you’d be right. Sort of. For a start, I like top ten pop music. I don’t spend hours in the dark dissecting it or insist on putting it on at a party, but I’ve got a soft spot for Katy Perry. That Mr Hudson and Kanye West song ‘Supernova’ was pretty good. Hell, I even liked that Black Eyed Peas song ‘Meet Me Halfway’, and as far as I’m concerned they should be put on trial for Crimes Against Music. So it does bother me that when I happen to listen to the radio, all I can hear is a mush of synths and drum machines and a robot voice singing about gettin’ it on at the party or da club. Katy Perry, for all of her monstrous popularity, barely seems to show up. Here’s the thing, though: at a time when the record industry is broken in half, when nobody is getting any money and labels are increasingly relying on their big acts to bring in the cash while they haemorrhage money at an alarming rate, they’re going to play it safe. Why sign a rough-but-promising act as an investment in case they produce a Rumors in five years when you can just get your producer friends to slap together a song that’ll sell hundreds of thousands of copies this week? You can’t exactly blame them.
Far be it from me to engage in a discussion of what is and isn’t music (hint: everything’s music and equally worthwhile unless you introduce personal criteria), but when a TV show can produce sterile, anodised karaoke versions of songs you’ve heard a million times before and place 104 weekly singles on the Billboard top 100 in two years, you’ve got to wonder when people stopped caring.