Friday, February 7, 2014

The Voice…Not.

That's British for "you suck."
Something happened to pop music singers between the 1980s and the 2010s. There was a time not too long ago (or maybe it was) when you could flip on your car radio (car radio?) and get a blast of alterno-caterwauling from someone like Robert Smith of the Cure, Perry Farrell of Jane's Addiction or David Burne of the Talking Heads, and you wouldn't feel one bit bad about trying to sing along with them. These folks may not technically have been the best vocalizers in the world of pop-rock, but they managed to stand way out and neatly fit in all at the same time. Their lack of technical perfection was in fact, part of the charm and appeal of their music. Can you imagine Just Like Heaven or Burning Down the House being sung by Robin Thicke or Rihanna? Yeah, that ProTools experiment might be interesting for about half a minute, but the final result would be A) nowhere near as good as the originals, you know it, and B) devoid of any human character, you know that too. Suffice to say, Smith's all-over-the-place vocals and Farrell's raspy whine were artistic statements as much as they were instruments that served the music. So put on all of the meat-suits and funny glasses you want, Gaga, your songs are still pablum.

So there we are in late '89, trucking away to the sound of Van Halen slowly turning into the worst band in the universe, and along comes the 90s. Then suddenly, for some unexplained reason, every male lead singer between the ages of 18 and 35 decided that it would be better if they sounded exactly like Eddie Vedder, even Scott Weiland. Sadly this trend contaminated the genetic lineage of pop music so thoroughly that even today, bands still crop up at random sporting a Vedder wannabe at the mic. Things only got worse when a little band called Green Day came out of nowhere and decided to screw up punk rock forever by putting a professionally-trained singer at the helm. (wtf?) Luckily, Billy-Ray Arrmstrong's over-the-top SoCal accent caused so much confusion amongst the masses that nobody even noticed. "Is he trying to sound British?"

But then, in 2002, the game changed forever. After a decade of everyone complaining about how pop music and its associated artists no longer had any heart and had just become part of a massive manufacturing process which removed anything remotely human from the source talent in order to form it into the perfect plastic product, along comes Simon Fuller with American Idol. Bastard. This Gong Show retread took the world by storm and slowly killed off the notion that anything less than utter perfection in a vocalist was desirable. The inevitable imitators followed en masse and now every kid that's grown up in the last decade thinks Daughtry is the pinnacle of rock and roll.

Digital perfection. That's all popular music is about now. No heart, no earth, no whimsy. Just Taylor Swift.

So since there's no longer anything worth listening to on the radio (was there ever, really?) I'm going to put on some Talking Heads. Enjoy and have a good weekend.

Talking Heads - Once In A Lifetime by hushhush112

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