Music: An art or a Con? Essay

Popular music is dead. Rock Music is dead. Now we just have pretty models to look at, whilst their “music” simply serves as a continuos drone of un-originality and as commercials for the corporate entities such as Britney Spears who masquerade as “musicians”. The term quality that has been associated with music has been replaced with ‘child exploitation.’ It should be illegal!

The music industry and music industry press with entities such as MTV, act like N Sync, Eminem, Britney Spears and about a dozen other musical acts are the only music available, anywhere. In the early nineties MTV and music magazines used to expose literally hundreds of new (and not so new) performers every year, although admittedly, not all of them were brilliant. Now they focus on the same group of performers (who all seem to be image oriented rather than music oriented) only deciding to change bands when a record company decides to pay them lots of money for their next product to appear. But the result is always the assumption that there are no musical alternatives to these untalented bands like N Sync, or performers like Britney Spears etc.

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These untalented people, who usually have the abilities to sing as well as any one else, dance in synchronization and always look good, have no discernable traits to separate themselves. As they can’t write material or play their own music, their careers are short lived so in the time they have, they absorb as much attention as possible paving the way for their record labels next ‘big thing’. Unfortunately, most of the gullible public is too lazy to look beyond what is advertised to them, and as a result numerous performers are ignored who would have received exposure in the “old days”.

The problem largely stems from the fact that the media bosses who own the record companies are the exact same ones who own the magazines and television networks who report on the music scene. As a result, subjectivity and honest reviewing is replaced with intense advertising campaigns (like the Burger King and McDonald’s promotions with Britney, Backstreet, and N Sync), hype, and nonsense. Songwriting and musical ability are no longer what makes a musician popular. Spokes models such as Britney, Christina, N Sync, Backstreet, Ricky Martin, Enrique Iglesias, etc. probably get more money and success than an actual musician because what is being marketed now is looks instead of music. Previous generations had their heartthrobs such as the Beatles, Springsteen, and Elton John were great musicians first and foremost. They also had their modern day equivalents such as David Cassidy, Sean Cassidy, and Leif Garrett, but back then the media didn’t have the power to keep virtually talentless pretty people at the top.

The recording industry was far more fragmented back then, with dozens of major labels and major independent labels competing against one another. We now have only four major record labels in the U.S. due to the many mergers and consolidations that have occurred in the last 20 years. Instead of competing on the basis of musical quality like they used to, major labels make bands to appeal to all market segments, with acts such as Rage Against the Machine and Korn labeled as “alternative” when they are actually calculated corporate attempts to make as much money as possible with as little musical integrity as possible.

This trend doesn’t seem to be stopping, with more Britney Spear Clones, and with hugely successful bands like Linkin Park arriving on the scene to appeal to a whole new demographic. With the trend continuing, some people may find resolve in the knowledge that these bands exploitation purposes are being exposed. The terms ‘boy bands’ and ‘manufactured bands’ have all started to appear with the success of the much used 5 piece boy band template and programs like Popstars and Pop Idol, where the bands are shown to be modeled for exploitation on TV. But despite the acknowledgement of this, parents still seem to be happy buying albums (that were made by any writer for any band) that have the soul intention of manipulating money out of little children. Merchandise is also used in the same way. If people think the threat of ‘brainwashing’ to their children is non-existent, you must only look at how American culture has infiltrated the Japanese youth!

There are a large number of decent bands coming out of England such as Muse, but they are continually living in the shadow of their American counterparts, who can be both genuine musicians and money churning concoctions. The English population for their part needs to find their senses (and taste) and protect their money, children and culture by moving away from American culture and try and support English bands. For as long as they do nothing, English music dies.

There used to be a time where English rock dominated music in the same way American pop does, but at least then it had dignity. Now, there are only a few English bands, a fraction of whom achieve success out of England. The same can be said for Europe. If people here think the Americans run a monopoly of music in England, in Europe, it is all American (and to a lesser extent the that fraction of English bands mentioned earlier), with only a few bands, such as the German born Rammstein gaining recognition out of their own country.

For a long time there used to be a clear difference between Rock and Pop, due to their different sounds, styles and band character. How-ever in the sixties the first pop group came along in the form of a rock band, the only problem was they couldn’t play their supposed instruments or write their own music. For a period of time they enjoyed huge success and they went down in history as the Monkees, or to some the first experimentation’s of the new form of child exploitation.

Now as more and more ‘manufactured’ band appear, the line between rock and pop has got thinner and the only thing that separates them is their demographic audience, which goes some way of showing how much it is controlled by companies hoping to make a profit off children. Rock has been subjected to as much hype as pop recently with a man called Andrew W.K having millions invested in advertising him to create hype, but he failed thankfully, before polluting the Rock/Pop mainstream and making the line thinner.

The Internet, underground clubs and parties offer the only salvation from this invasion of corporate blandness. Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins a few years ago said on Howard Stern that while rock is basically out of ideas, there is still groundbreaking innovation taking place on a regular basis in the world of electronica. His words have proven to be true, as underground dance music has replaced rock as the true voice of musical rebellion, and the Internet has replaced MTV as the place where the music of the future is exposed and exchanged right here in the present.

Which would explain the lengths that Record companies have gone through to make Internet music banned. It would seem that people like me who have noticed this, will soon be able to make a difference, which is already happening in rock with the appearance of English bands in American charts, but they too have been subjected to hype and that probably means that in the background, a company is making the descions. For mainstream rock and pop, their era of importance is completely over, to be replaced with machine music and to be remembered for the bad mistakes that filled the late nineties. Infact, at the current time, an English electronica band are topping the albums charts followed closely by a lot of American popstars/groups and only one European Rock band at number 10 (an unusual success for Europe culture).