Friday, March 24, 2006

Of course I've had it in the ear before

Everything old is new again. Or some cliche like that.

I mostly listen to this radio station when I'm tooling around in the car. I think it's the only non-college-radio station around here that isn't owned by Clear Channel (of course, I listen to lots of college radio, too; how could you not, living in Boston?) It bills itself as "true alternative" radio, but it mostly just plays a slightly different selection of songs over and over, as opposed to the Clear Channel stations that play the same "top hits" over and over. Sigh. (Side note: Why, when the DJs are talking about a new album coming out, do they have to say "drops"? "The album drops March 28th." I hate that. Just say it comes out March 28th, for pete's sake.)

I've been struck lately (ow!) by how many acts from my relatively long-ago youth (we're talking late high school/early college years and yes that's more than ten years ago now) are either still a going concern or have re-surfaced after disappearing years ago. Driving to a doctor's appointment with Nolan a couple weeks ago, I heard: Morrissey* (new), Depeche Mode (new), Nirvana (old, obviously), Red Hot Chili Peppers (new, but sounds old) and Nine Inch Nails (new and sounds like crap).

Now, you could certainly argue as to whether these guys ever really went away (Depeche Mode) and come back or have just been lurking around the whole time putting out mediocre albums (Chili Peppers and NIN), but I can't believe that there aren't more new bands out there that could blow these guys out of the water.

(I remember driving around my podunk little hometown with Nine Inch Nails in the tape player [yes, tape player] with the volume cranked, shouting "I'd rather die! Than give you control!" at the top of my lungs. It fit right in with being 16 and aching to get out of there - out of my parents' control, out of high school, out of that hellhole of a small town. Perfect teenage rebellion music for your mom to say "Turn that crap down!" to. But these days, Trent Reznor's lyrics just sound stupid and pointlessly belligerent to me. I mean, "There is no fucking you, there is only me"? Then who the fuck are you singing to, Trent?** Maybe it's time to pack it in, buddy.)

I think part of it, of course, is the corporate culture of the music industry today, with big behemoth media companies like the aforementioned evil megalith Clear Channel being so unwilling to risk taking a chance on new acts that haven't already been proven sellers. They keep putting their marketing and publicity machinery behind the established acts because they know there's big bucks in it for them. I'm glad for the "revolution" in the industry taking place now with the Internet giving smaller acts a chance to build a following and get some oomph behind them so the corporate-owned radio stations have to take notice.

But I also think part of it is that the shelf life for any given act or song is incredibly short. I heard The White Stripes described on the radio the other day as "elder statesmen" of alternative rock. I was like, "What the fuck? Elder statesmen? They've been around, what, five years?" Elder statesmen are The Who. The Rolling Stones, for fuck's sake. Even U2 or R.E.M. I could accept as elder statemen of alternative rock - they've been around for twenty years. But The White Stripes? Come on.

It's MTV's fault.

Thanks for reading.

*Have you ever heard a more Morrissey-esque lyric than "As I live and breathe, you have killed me, you have killed me"? I gotta get that new album.

**This brings me to another tangent: Songs that have contradictory, oxymoronic lyrics. I hate them. Two prime examples are Carly Simon ("You're so vain, I bet you think this song is about you" - well, if it's not, then who are you talking to, Carly?) and Meatloaf ("I would do anything for love, but I won't do that" - well then you wouldn't do anything for love, now, would you, Mr. Loaf?) Hate them!

3 comments:

Adams said...

On the other hand, you have awesome* musical metaphors like the one running throughout Otis Redding's "You Left the Water Running," in which tells his ex-lady that, when she left, she left the water running. But then...and here's the brilliant bit...it's been running from his eyes . He's talking about tears, Rule-a-lenska. Do you get it? Do you get it?!

By "awesome," I mean "tortured," "nonsensical," and "still better than 99% of emo crap."

Viva Stax Soul!

Adams said...

On the other hand, you have awesome* musical metaphors like the one running throughout Otis Redding's "You Left the Water Running," in which tells his ex-lady that, when she left, she left the water running. But then...and here's the brilliant bit...it's been running from his eyes . He's talking about tears, Rule-a-lenska. Do you get it? Do you get it?!

By "awesome," I mean "tortured," "nonsensical," and "still better than 99% of emo crap."

Viva Stax Soul!

Electric Mayhem said...

Adams has a point, that IS some good shit.