"I guess I have a lot of problems, so many that I don't have time to go into them all in detail. Suffice it to say I'm anal, obsessive, vain, quick to temper, overly introspective, lazy, judgmental, insecure, and self-righteous. Probably the most annoying thing about me is that I'm hugely opinionated. But I kind of make up for that by always being right."

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Why Popular Music Sucks

There was a time when music was music to the ears. It evoked emotions, both positive and bittersweet. The best songwriters in the world wrote the songs, which were clever and infectious. The best musicans in the world played the instruments. They were masters of their craft. The best singers in the world sang the songs. Then, in the early sixties, three geniuses and a lucky drummer named Ringo changed everything.

The Beatles infused the youth of the sixties -- and all that followed -- with ego. The ego to believe that they could write the songs and play the instruments and sing. Sadly, this harebrained notion is still around today. Which is why the music industry is in such a sad state -- with the exception of country music, whose stars continue to buy their songs from professional songwriters and populate their bands with professional musicians rather than with some guys who happen to live in the neighborhood.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that four Liverpudlians with shaggy hair destroyed popular music. Of course not. Not alone, anyway. They had help from a whiny Jew named Zimmerman.

Bob Dylan infused the youth of the sixties -- and all that followed -- with the notion that songs could be about something real, and perhaps even change the world. First, let us take a moment to admit that Dylan is the single most overrated "artist" of his generation (followed close behind by Jim Morrison and Whoopi Goldberg -- whose real name, incredibly, is Yippie Tie-Yie-Yay Goldberg).

If Dylan had sung normal popular songs like "Heartbreak Hotel" or "Daydream Believer" he would have been laughed out of the business. And if he had submitted his song lyrics to poetry publications he would have been dismissed as a hack. Neither his singing nor his writing would stand on their own, but put them both together and... genius!!! Dylan's "poems" are elevated to an undeserved status for the same reason Lennon's scribblings are regarded as art -- the architects of your generation's popular culture can't be wrong.

The notion that a song could change the world is both absurd and frightening. Absurd, because the truth rarely rhymes, and, if someone's mind could be changed in two-and-a-half minutes, would you really want them on your side? And frightening, because anybody can write a song. If songs really do have such power, imagine the damage that could be done by an evil songwriter -- like, say, Batman's new foe, the Anti-Burt Bacharach, polluting the minds of today's youth with songs like "What the World Needs Now Is Hate," "This Guy's in Love with Satan," "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Balls," "Do You Know the Way to Hell," and the consummately sinister "Wishin' and Hopin' and Thinkin' 'Bout Rapin'":

Wishin' and hopin' and thinkin' 'bout rapin'
Planning to spread her soft legs apart
That won't get you into her heart
So if you're looking to find love you can share
All you gotta do is drug her and do her and dump her
And pretend that you care