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  1. #1
    RETIRED CzeCze's Avatar
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    Sep 2007

    Default When Rock Goes Pop or Pop Goes Rap -- Basically False Advertising

    I'll preface this by saying I do not watch MTV or MTV2 for that matter. The only music video shows I watch are on the homo channel -- which btw is the BEST damn music video showcase I've ever seen. Better than 120 Minutes. Better than Headbanger's Ball. Logo (the homo channel) is owned by MTV so it figures. Or I watch 2 hour loops of soul/80/etc. on the VH1 spin-off channels you get when you order expanded cable.

    Anywhoo, I rely on the moments I spend in the car to listen to chart toppers and sometimes TV commercials. I sometimes hear a song a year or two after it became a hit. Right now there are so many new young female pop singer-songwriters coming out like the girl who sings about the bubbly toes and the other girl who's not gonna sing you a love song. So when I heard 'Rilo Kiley' and that song Silver Lining I figured she was one of them, as in she sang one of those other songs, too.

    Then I visited the website and I was both put-off and surprised at its dark art student vibe. Then I realized they are an emo-pop-rock blah blah blah blah blah band...or at least they want you to think they are.

    So my question is -- why'd they do that???

    Who marketed them and decided to turn that bubble gum pop song into their debut single? False advertising! People who want to hear a blonde girl next door peppy girly love song like that 'Silver Lining' are most likely NOT gonna wanna listen to the rest of the album or this band. Frankly, the single sounds really uncharacteristic for them. I guess they got a deal with a hitmaker or producer or something.

    Anyhow, the point of this long post is, music is so much more than how much you like a singer's voice or a song or even a band. They need to be marketed well, you need to 'get' them and find them authentic and predictable, even if it's in their unpredictability. Even top 40 pop singers like Pink complained at how they weren't marketed right and packaged through producers to create a sound they later changed.

    And notice how a lot of rock singers abandon ship and turn into jazz singers when they get older? Some such singers are very good at jazz, like Pat Benatar, and some are horrific like Joni Mitchell but their continued popularity seems to have nothing to do with how legitimately good they are at their craft.

    It has more to do with how they are marketed and how they're perceived. Joni Mitchell's kooky croaking ass (don't get me wrong, I love me Blue Canyon and Joni's folk) in experimental jazz still fits with her hippie roots, so people actually follow her and buy her albums. But a "rocker" like Pat Benatar gets slammed for supposedly selling out or going elevator music on people when she does the same.

    Alright, tangent over. But does anyone feel as strongly about this as I do? I'm actually really annoyed that the music industry (or bands themselves) feel the need to crank out cookie-cutter monotonous Top 40 'guaranteed hit singles' instead of being true to their particular sound and identity. It cheapens a band's muscianship and credibility I think and encourages a flavor of the week mentality and not actual artist development or helping music. It just seems fake. This reminds me of when The Cardigans had a number of pop hits and then declared themselves to be a hard rock group. They tanked and were never heard from again.

  2. #2


    I actually have strong feelings about this. I think the labels that people (ESPECIALLY marketers) slap on bands are really constricting. To take Rilo Kiley as an example, they made a song that wasn't especially consistent with the rest of the album. But shouldn't that be A-OK for an artist?

    From the listener's point of view I get that maybe you want an artist to be predictable, as you put it, in the sense that "If I want to rock out I put on Artist A and if I want to chill I put on Artist B". But when you're the artist, your goal isn't to fill a niche in someone's CD collection. You want to make great songs. And great songs can come in any or all genres, even on the same album. It can get monotonous to hew too closely to the same themes and sound all the time.

    I think listeners sometimes have too much of a "dance, monkey, dance!" attitude towards their favorite artists. And when the artist doesn't play that game and does something a little different, the cries of "sellout" start. Too many people equate "doing something different" and "selling out". Selling out is abandoning what you would like to do in favor of something you don't want to do that will make you more money. I think that this hardly ever happens. Stretching isn't the same as selling many artists have altered their sound and gotten less popular? Tons. And yet they're accused of selling out.

    I guess the crux of the matter is that I disagree with your premise that bands shouldn't stray from their "sound and identity" to make Top 40 singles. Sometimes the bands don't go looking for the market, sometimes the market comes around to them. I think the whole idea that bands have a sound and identity that needs sticking to is constricting creatively. What if some marketer with the same idea got to the Beatles in 1965 and told them to keep cranking out radio ditties like "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" and "She Loves You" for the sake of consistency and a clear identity? We would have never gotten Sgt. Pepper or Abbey Road.

    In the end, I guess I see a difference between a wedding band and a recording artist. The former plays what you tell them; the latter plays what they want.

    (For the record I LOVE the early exuberant Beatles. Just making a point )
    Everybody have fun tonight. Everybody Wang Chung tonight.


  3. #3
    Senior Member TenebrousReflection's Avatar
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    Sep 2007
    4w5 sx/sp


    I don't listen to much top 40, MTV etc (tho I do sometimes flip to VH1 to see whats on), but I have a slightly different take on this that may even be somewhat opposite. Sometimes I'll think I don't like a band based on what the radio plays of them, but I'll hear them at a firneds house playing a non-radio track and go "wow, who is this" they respond and I say "no way!, this is a lot better than anything I've heard of theirs before" or soemthing like that. I like bands that have diversity in their musical style, and sometimes one song on an almbum will stand out thats not characteristic of the rest of their music thats a really great song. I can't think of any recent examples of this as I described it, but I do sometimes buy an album based on previous expereince with the artist and think "WTF did they choose _____ for their promo song/video, its the worst song on the album!". My suspicion is that I'm missing out on some great music because I'm only judging it on the basis of what gets airplay when I mgiht really like the rest of the songs from those artists.

    One album I bought recently has one outstanding track that quite different than the rest of their music and was a pleasant suprise. I really recomend giving this one a listen (one of those hidden gems that you would only find if you like the rest of their songs and buy the album or know about the song).
    Lunascape - Yairo

    A bit offtopic, but we have a local non-profit radio station that often plays an ecelcitic mix of music, but rarely tells you what the songs are and does not have an on-line "what song are we playing" sort of thing, and I heard a song from a softer female vocalist (sounded like a mix of pop and folk) that had a lot of sky and earth references and I really liked the song, but I have no idea what it was called or who it was from. I saw that silver lining reference and thought "maybe thats it" but it wasn't. oh well...

  4. #4
    RETIRED CzeCze's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007


    ^^ Yes, it's that damn music industry picking singles for the artist. Or someone's producer/agent/manager. It's true that bands should have to freedom to decide their sonic destiny, but what I was referring to was the overriding commercial decisions from 'outsiders' like their label and others who are more concerned about making money and selling as many records as possible. A few bands I agree purposely seem to tank or stray away from commercially succesful sounds just so they can have have the freedom to make music that they want.

    BTW, Tenebrious, I like listening to music on Rhapsody or Pandora -- it's really nice because it 'matches' a song you like and will play only similar songs. Rhapsody lets you mine for songs.

    Whenever I hear a song and can't figure out what it is, I use the interwebz like crazy to find the song. While listening to a song, I either write down or memorize 1 or 2 lines (preferably the chorus) and then run it into different search engines on the computer. I've been able to find the title to about 80% of songs that way.

  5. #5
    Order Now! pure_mercury's Avatar
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    Feb 2008


    Personally, I like it when a band stretches out and takes on styles that are uncharacteristic for them. I dislike the new Rilo Kiley album, though. That song "Moneymaker" is damn near tuneless. It's been downhill for them since "The Frug" IMHO (although their first couple of studio albums have good songs, like "Portions for Foxes").
    Who wants to try a bottle of merc's "Extroversion Olive Oil?"

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