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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Are music listeners today lazy?

I was reading a Huffington Post article about "15 New, Young Artists on the Rise" - seems like a straightforward article, right? They're new so you probably haven't heard of them yet. And by young it should seem fairly obvious that they're, well, young; some may even be teenagers. So of course I scrolled down to the comments and saw grumbles that "I've never heard of any of these artists." "Good grief, are any of these artists even over the age of 18?" One person even dismissed them on the basis that they all looked like "bubblegum pop," with his reasoning that the article used the word 'pop' to describe all of them. (If you read through the list the word 'pop' is only described for five of them - a paltry 1/3 of the entire list - and is accompanied with such qualifying statements such as "pop/rock," "a hipster boy's total dream girl," and "a more comprehensible Bjork...with legends like Elton John in her corner.") I wanted to bang my head against the wall...and then I wanted to bang those posters' heads against the wall. I'm not sure why I insist on driving myself crazy by scrolling down to any article's comment section these days because I already know both a) my low tolerance level for people who lack reading comprehension skills and b) the ubiquity of lack of reading comprehension skills on the internet. But I do it every time anyway.

There were of course other posts which pointed out that the entire point of the article was to introduce NEW artists, thus making it absurd to expect that you've heard of any of them. But really, how lazy are music listeners these days when just the mere fact that we've never heard of someone before is a sole reason to completely dismiss them? Goodness, no wonder it is so much harder for new artists these days to even get a moderate hit, let alone sell an entire album. People these days really just don't want to give anything a chance unless and until it receives some massive stamp of approval from a larger entity.

I'm trying very hard not to generalize but I very much get the feeling that people are a lot less willing to explore and actively seek out new music on their own, and even less likely to do so when that new music may or may not be part of one particular genre. Has it always been this way? Or am I just now noticing this because I'm older and a bit more observant of music attitudes outside of my own? Maybe it is just becoming more apparent because of the generally decreased interest in music, period (also reflected in decreasing album sales)?

I don't know but whatever the reason, I find it depressing that we've become such an incurious bunch that needs the next big thing to be spoon-fed to us.

And on a side note, one reason I hate this seeming laziness is because of another type of laziness that I see rampant in music article pieces,  whether it be reviewers who clearly only half listened to an album once while sitting next to a loud dishwasher or writers who clearly got their marching orders from someone's label or publicist. I notice it most, however, when it regards music competition shows (Idol, The Voice). In that Huffington piece, the article goes out of its way to say Forget Javier [the winner of The Voice], the real breakout star of "The Voice" is Dia. Really? This was an absolutely UNNECESSARY dig. First of all, Javier is approximately 30 and Dia is 23 if I'm not mistaken. His exclusion from this 'young' list is simply due to age and not Dia being the obvious bigger star. Second of all, while the article mentions that Dia's debut single from The Voice debuted at #20, it fails to mention that Javier's single debuted that same week at #17. There was never any week where Dia's song was above Javier's (neither charted for very long). Darn those pesky details getting in the way.

This isn't a dis to either of them, as I think they both have their talents, but frankly I'm not sure I see either of them having a 'breakout moment.' I think they'll both sell around the same amount, but will be lucky if they even sniff a gold album certification. I just don't get the sense that there will be a huge marketing machine behind either of them, and and they're both niche artists (HAC/AC, essentially). That combo makes it unlikely that either of their styles will resonate on a large scale and take off with audiences. I am always happy to be proven wrong, however.

Surprsingly, the piece on Haley Reinhart was spared this foolishness. That's okay though because there are nine seasons' worth of badly written articles unnecessarily putting down one contestant just for the sake of boosting another, as if the competition didn't end several months or years ago. This is not to mention the many, many articles written DURING a season of Idol where it's obvious that the writer either doesn't even watch the show, or hates it so much that it's like pulling teeth to get them to give an objective opinion on anyone's singing. There's a huge anti-cred albatross that hangs around Idol contestants' necks, unfortunately, and if you're not the producers' favorite of that season it's almost impossible to overcome it so that you can secure a decent deal and start your career off on the right foot. So of course you are branded as a flop even though 99% of the time it's due to matters out of your control (like being handed your songs instead of allowed to write them, or not receiving any promo or radio play). Oh, and don't think you can escape that by actively choosing to go indie. Then people will just write you off as not being good enough to be signed, period. TV contestants don't get to be artists. You're a product, and you either need to sell in bulk or you're a failure.

....I probably should have saved the rant for another post of its own. Oops, lol.

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