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"Inoffensive Pop Music"

Quick note: the 300th Soapbox is coming up soon!

After flipping past MTV over the previous week, it's really scary to see just how much the network's been taken over by the boybands and candygirls. When it's not the making of the new 'NSYNC video, it's a countdown of retired TRL videos (which are, not surprisingly, mostly 'NSYNC, Aguilera, Spears, Backstreet, etc.) or looking at 'NSYNC's houses or Andy Dick spoofing Spears. It's just 24 hours a day of the same four or five bands. Like when MTV first started!

Of course, they never show videos anymore, just clips of videos, and, again, the making of them. Even more amusing is that the above artists haven't released albums in a while.

I don't think I'm just getting old because this music is primarily geared towards pre-pubescent GIRLS. It's not like GUYS are listening to this shit, I hope. And it's not that I really have anything against the music; it's pop music, what can you expect? But come on, it's just EVERYWHERE. Where's the guy music? Oh, yeah, there's Creed and Staind and Linkin Park. Cough. I'll be more specific. Where's the music with more edge? Like 'em or not, at least Eminem and Limp Bizkit have a hard sound.

Here's a look at the top 10 according to MTV's TRL:

  1. "Pop" 'NSYNC
  2. "More Than That" Backstreet Boys
  3. "Here's To The Night" Eve 6
  4. "Irresistible" Jessica Simpson
  5. "The Rock Show" Blink-182
  6. "All or Nothing" O Town
  7. "I Wanna Be Bad" Willa Ford
  8. "H*sh Pipe" Weezer
  9. "The Ghost of You & Me" BBMak
  10. "Don't Let Me Be The Last To Know" Britney Spears

And Billboard's:

  1. "Lady Marmalade" Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mya & Pink
  2. "All for You" Janet Jackson
  3. "Hanging by a Moment" Lifehouse
  4. "Ride Wit Me" Nelly Featuring City Spud Fo' Reel
  5. "Follow Me" Uncle Kracker
  6. "Survivor" Destiny's Child
  7. "Fiesta" R. Kelly Featuring Jay-Z
  8. "Get Ur Freak On" Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott
  9. "Thank You" Dido
  10. "My Baby" Lil' Romeo

Oy fucking vey.

I think out of all those songs, the only one I like is the Missy Elliott song. Blink 182 is alright because I find them amusing and their music is cool and happy.

But the overwhelming theme is boppy pop, a sort of poppy version of trance with lyrics. And if you look at the dance charts, it's so rife with trance that you can't avoid it. The worst is trance remixes of pop songs. It's like chicken fried chicken. Does that make sense to you? Let's overdo it!

I only find all this to be a problem because it's just completely saturating everything out there. And I can't figure out for the life of me what guys are listening to. Well, actually, I do know: it's pretty much confined to old stuff, or the new Tool and Weezer albums. Or maybe some hiphop/rap albums from a few months ago. The entire market is for girls right now.

Of course, MTV plays better stuff on their other channel, MTV2, but who in the entire country actually GETS that? And what good would it be for me to call the cable company? I'll be one of five people who requests MTV2 and the phone folks will just sit there and laugh.

I mean, really, do you really think the whole thing about Napster and its offspring was just getting music for free? As though what was available through public channels was diverse and thorough in the context of the rich music background behind it? Way too much attention has been spent on the price of music and not the substance of the channels the record industry uses to give us music.

Not that I'm completely ignorant of the fact that that is what the majority of people want, the above listed groups. Companies are going to keep feeding it to people until the demand is exhausted. Simple business.

And I guess the phenomenon is easy to understand as well. Somewhat androgynous young guys (going back to my mom's theory that young girls only like famous guys that look somewhat feminine because it's familiar to them :P) singing poppy music about how the woman is the most important person in the entire world, while they dress in tight fancy clothing and run around expensive and exciting locales. I mean, god. Throw in Hello Kitty and closeups of some summer shoes and it's like the newest Japanese clothing line. Harro Poké A.J.! ^_^

But isn't it worse now than you can remember it? I hear more of Outkast, Moby, Crystal Method, DMX, Eminem, Mos Def, Prodigy, etc. in frigging CAR commercials and movie trailers and news reports than on the airwaves where they belong. Which is kind of sad in itself, because it means the people making the stupid commercials are people not much older than me, trying to make themselves and their companies look hip by using riffs off artists who pretty much spend their days buying vinyls and then injecting heroin or smoking dope or crack along with liquor shots all day while boning groupies and pushing bills into thongs. But Mr. I Just Sent My Three Daughters to Dartmouth with New BMWs Board of Director Executive is convinced that the new image is hip like the Macarena and approves it, and then the smarmy ad guys get paid big time and go home to look at their crumbling 100% tech portfolios.

So...anyway...I watched some special where all the stoners from yesteryear in the days of grunge and Kurt Cobain and Blind Melon (huh? they were grunge?) and Pearl Jam and Lollapallooza were getting all nostalgic for the "old days" of the second Woodstock and Seattle's music boom and all that and now they're lamenting about the current state of music (which IS different than how I feel, mind you) and how they thought that right before grunge hit it big, there was a lull of soft poppy music that led to a rebellion against all that. Which makes sense I guess since things are cyclical. Which could mean we're due.

Then again, rock is pretty much dead as we used to know it. The punk bands hit it big and then turn soft, along with R&B and whatnot, all to get the big bucks. Which is fine I guess but there's not a font of new angry rebellious artists bubbling forth fast enough. I swear we're heading to the days of Gibson's "Idoru" where clubs and artists come and go over the course of a night or week, only to fade away just as quickly as they came. You look at the DJ scene and the big names are established, and then newcomers come and go before anyone knew why they got famous in the first place. Or perhaps I'm just out of touch with that whole scene. That's just what it feels like. Oh, and of course there's the whole anti-clubber movement that disses on ravers and candystripers and all that bullshit that's kind of missing the whole point of the club scene, which isn't to judge anyone but to involve everyone in having a good time. But then again, I guess this always happens.

I don't have the luxury of hitting the big club spots like my friends out east do, but I do try to get the new stuff that flies under the radar. Not to consciously listen to obscure music (I dislike people who just try to be purists who only listen to small 1 city groups that they consider the best ever) but because that's the only place jungle and hard stuff can be found. Of course I like mainstream stuff as well, but it's pretty touchy feely. I like most rap and hiphop that floats to the top, although it quickly degrades as you get into the B and C artists.

So here's what I'm listening to right now:

  • Missy Elliott's single, "Get Your Freak On"
  • the new Crystal Method album, "Tweekend (promo)"
  • Dave Navarro's single, "Rexall"
  • Aaliyah & Timbaland, "We Need a Resolution"
  • Squarepusher, "Going Plastic"

...and older stuff...

  • stuff by Herbaliser
  • "Cold Krush Cuts" disc 2, DJ Krush
  • Tom Waits, "For No Man"

Not that you care, but I think I probably will when I come back and read this twenty years from now.

As a side note, living in the online post-Napster world isn't all that bad. There's a lot of alternatives (most of the Gnutella derivative crap is just that...crap) like Morpheus. Napster has been completely demolished, but it doesn't seem to have dampened the spirit much. If anything the record industry is going to find it harder to track where everyone is. Which they had to have known going in, but didn't care...

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