Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Why I want to be a POP star

It's all about the money, isn't it.  POP stars get to sleep late.  They have FAB GEAR.  They are driven, or drive SUPER cars in CANARY YELLOW, or FIRE ENGINE RED.  They get LOTS OF SEX, and everyone wants to know them.

But thats not why I want to be a POP star, well not entirely.  I want to do the work.  The writing of the tunes. The rehearsing the band. The long days and nights in the recording studio.  The ecstatic audiences dancing wildly in the darkened ball room.  Thats where the real fun is. If you want to sleep late everyday, wait tables at night. Want a fancy car, be a stock broker.  Fab Gear, open a boutique.  Lots of sex, not usually a positive job attribute.

But to work on your own music all the time, that is a rare career.  Most working musicians spend their nights playing other peoples music, whether a band leaders, or in a cover band.  They are certainly honing their chops, and getting their stage legs under them, but what about the creative muscle. One you need to flex if you hope to work through all of your ideas to find the 2% worth sharing with the world.

Unlike the "art" world, where they prefer their painters DEAD and BURIED, the POP star industry want's fresh young meat.  The myth is your at your best when you are young.  But the truth is you are at your most marketable as a slab of beef, or a ready made commodity.  Is Bob Dylan putting out work as great as he did in the mid sixties, when he was at his peak.  How can we judge.  Dylan continues to reinvent himself time after time, but based on his own interests not that of the market.  So if Bob doesn't speak to you as strongly as he did on Highway 61 Revisited, it may just be that either his work doesn't appear as new and exciting based on past experience and familiarity with that set of concepts and sounds, or that his vision has become more and more personal as he has matured, and the two of you have moved apart.  While it is true that his voice (never the greatest of his attributes) has lost  a bit of its elasticity, his delivery has gained in character.

A better example is our dead friend Serge Gainsbourg.  He did manage to stay as fresh as a decaying alcoholic junky could through out his 30 year career.  He moved from his start in the traditional chanson style, into whatever took his fancy over the years. In the early 60's he discovered brazilian, congolese, and afro cuban sounds.  His 1971 psychedelic masterpiece Histoire de Melody Nelson is the most listen-able recording I own from that period. By the time I saw him in Brussels 1985 on his Love on the
Beat tour, he had already moved through a number of Reggae sounds into a up to the second hot dance sound, and as always scandalizing the media with his video of Lemon Incest staring his daughter Charlotte. The audience at his show was the most age diverse audience I had seen before or since. 

So while visually old Serge and old Bob are not as appealing as some lean scantily clad POP Prince or Princess, they may still have the goods, perhaps in greater depth than they did (or the PP's will ever have).  And, it is my assumption the same may be true of any of us, given a chance to work entirely on ones craft and creativity.  

We are living longer, and while the overall population is growing younger, those of us still kicking it as mature producers of culture are also becoming a larger audience.  Just one that is routinely ignored as irrelevant to the arts and nightlife industry.  

I say they do so at their own peril. 

As the youth move more and more into home bound solitary interaction with machines.  Getting more of their software and entertainment for free through P2P networks (they didn't go away), do you think anyone over the drinking age will actually buy French   flavor of the month Plastiscines "Barcelona" based on the music and the sound all by itself.  The sound is so dated, it's slept with the grandfather of every sound in town, and the song itself is pure dross.  Now the band looks great. The right haircuts (long), skirt length (short), and boot style (tall).  They appeared to be skilled, and if they can rise above the mediocrity of the market they are fighting tooth and nail to enter, I am sure they will hit it big with teens.

But can you picture yourself buying their downloads on Itunes, or carrying their CD up to the counter at Amoeba Records.   I think not.  I have yet to catch myself humming along, or singing "Lets get down in Barcelona" no matter how many times my daughter subjects me to this song.  And I am subjected. The Plastiscines are suddenly everywhere teens exist.  Put out by Nylon records the new label from the teen magazine of the same name, the band is being leveraged through Nylons existing marketing into hoped for multi channel disposable consumption profits.

In light of the current implosion of capitalism, to assume these people know what their doing is laughable.  The band may hit it big for years, or zip they are gone.  But do not think I am bitter to not get my Nylon chance like those fresh faced mademoiselles.  My haircut, after all is strictly Joy Division 1979.  My skirt length is pants only (not even a utility kilt). My boots are a very 1964 ankle height.  My Label, Laryngitis, is not so loud.  And my magazine is strictly ones and zeros, so  here I am amongst the many.  My dreams of POP stardom however  are still alive.  As I work on this great puzzle of inspiration and experience, I am finding more and more of the pieces making up the picture I seek.  So who knows, it ain't over till the fat lady sits on your cat.  And then it's only over for the cat.

Thats all for now.



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