There’s nothing quite like reading an unbearably self-righteous article to provoke me to write a ranty post. Hello! Today’s culprit is this article on the BuzzFeed website listing twelve apparently disappointing facts about pop music; I reckon you can probably see the author’s smugness from space.
As someone who revels in their own high standards (read: outrageous snob), I do find myself in the novel position of criticising someone else for their unnecessary snobbery. The issue here though seems to be born from sour grapes. So what if Ke$ha, the personification of Auto-Tune, has sold more copies of “Tik Tok” than The Beatles did of any of their singles; I’m sure Paul McCartney cries into his diamond encrusted pillow every single night, sporadically blowing his hooter into any spare bank notes he has lying around – the poor love can’t even afford a proper handkerchief! Sod Children In Need, when are we going to have a fundraiser for dear ol’ Macca?
This BuzzFeed article can be summarised thusly: ‘we deem our music tastes superior to yours, and you’re all buying the wrong music‘. To avoid the perpetuation of this clearly heinous situation, perhaps at the next UN summit they could make sure their agenda contains some discussion about the introduction of a traffic light labelling system like they have on food, only for music…
When I looked at these twelve so-called ‘extremely disappointing things about popular music’ while some are surprising, my general reaction was “who gives a monkey’s?”; admittedly I did laugh and nod approvingly upon seeing Justin Bieber parked at number 12. My issue with this chipmunk lesbo however, is less to do with his music and more to do with his irritating “ladies man” persona that he puts forward, constantly flirting with female TV presenters who are twice-his-age upwards, and clearly aren’t interested…unless their name is Caroline Flack (ooo, topical!). Usually this Bieber-turn provokes me to scream obscenities at the screen until he pisses off. In many ways, this douchebag posturing is unsurprising when you consider he was discovered by that pinnacle of modesty, R&B artist Usher. Anyway, I digress…
Correct me if I’m wrong, but the last time I checked, the term “pop music” stems from the word popular, so by definition is determined by those who have been bought the most. While certainly it’s true that just because something is popular doesn’t necessarily mean it is any good, equally, however, just because something is underground and less well-known doesn’t mean it’s automatically brilliant or superior to the more popular music.
Most people are utter morons and will buy any old shit, but so long as you buy the music of the artists you like, thus helping to sustain their career then why should it bother you what other people are buying? When you find an artist whose music you adore, spread the love: tell your friends, tweet it to your followers, get a blog to wax lyrical on….hell, even put it on Facebook if you reckon it’ll be seen amongst the sea of dross and endless baby photos from all those self-absorbed new parents.
Life is far too short to be so preoccupied with the “quality” of the music other people are listening to, working yourself up into a lather in the process. Many people bemoan the over-influence of shows like The X Factor and Glee on the music world at the moment, but one way of looking at it is that these shows (particularly Glee) allow music by lesser-known artists or those from previous decades the chance to reach a wider and/or new audience. I’m sure all these credible artists don’t mind cashing in those royalty cheques when the Glee Cast version of their ditty charts highly.
One of the main points of complaint from these riders-of-high-horses is that too many acts these days are manufactured and devoid of talent. While this is perhaps true of some acts that are around, comments like this are very dismissive of the genuine musical talent that surrounds some of these manufactured entities. Take Girls Aloud who are 100% manufactured, having come through the talent show Pop Stars The Rivals. While I’m a fan of their music, I am also of the opinion that they were exceptionally lucky to have teamed up with that superb musical-hit-factory Xenomania, who essentially wrote all their songs. The girls themselves, with the exception of Nadine, have fairly average voices and minimal writing credits across all their albums. This partnership was basically them winning the musical lottery. Case in point, their boy group counterparts One True Voice who came through the same show but got paired up with Pete Waterman’s label sank without a trace after a couple of dismal singles.
Dismissive commentary of this type also fails to take into account that people use music in different ways and place importance on numerous aspects. Some use music in a very disposable way, and are quite content listening to a track once during a day. Others (*thrusts hand in air* hello!) were the reason the “repeat one” button was created, happily listening to a track over and over and over again until every note and lyric is impressed on to their ear drum. Some people think it’s more important that the words say something new and unique and resonate with the listeners, others (me again!) get greater pleasure from the melodies and vocal harmonies and are less fussed if the lyrics don’t move you (of course, there’s a high chance I’m dead inside – see earlier comment about baby photos). There are also those who love live music and how someone performs on stage is key for them; personally I find the presence of other people at concerts irritating so don’t go very often. If I could attend a small-scale concert with other audience members vetted by me, then I’d be more up for it; is this really so much to ask….
Even in the SYCO-driven world that we are currently inhabiting, there are many great artists out there, both “popular” and underrated or unknown. It boils down to two things. (1) being open to finding out about new music from sources other than music shows on mainstream TV and radio (I’ve found Twitter a great source for hearing about new musical talents), and (2) more importantly putting your money where your mouth is: when you find an artist whose music you like, put your hand in your pocket and buy their music. With the advent of purchasable digital music, it is easier than ever to buy music as you don’t have to leave the house or even get dressed! With individual tracks being as cheap as 59p and no more than 99p, there’s really no reason not to support the artists you love. I would also recommend actually buying the music rather than only having a subscription for a service like Spotify; great for the listener but seems to suck royally for the artist in terms of making any money, just take a look at this depressing diagram – no seriously click on it.
When all is said and done, however, who cares if some middle-aged, jumper-wearing bore reckons Jimi Hendrix is empirically better than Creed? Listen to the music you want to if you like it and listen to it unashamedly, but more importantly buy the music and support the artist, whoever they are. Now excuse me while I go and mince around the room to some Daphne & Celeste.