Archive for March, 2011

VIDEO KILLED THE MUSIC STAR

March 3, 2011

The role video is playing in music is clearly changing. Lady Gaga’s ‘Born This Way’ has already topped the charts around the world. NOW she gives us a video. Same with several prominent videos in recent times. Eminem and Rihanna didn’t REALLY get together, for the video,  until AFTER ‘Love The Way You Lie’ had become a runaway hit. So what’s the rationale here?

It used to be that music video clips were made to save artists from appearing on every television show going to promote their latest release – when there were still television shows to appear on. Video didn’t kill the radio star. It killed the music star. We saw them more often, mouthing their songs accompanied by eye candy  often so memorable we talked about “seeing” someone’s new song. But we stopped seeing them in their raw state. Live performances on video and on television shows became boring.

But I digress.

Videos USED to promote songs. If you create a high profile big budget video for a song with already proven sales traction what’s the purpose? It HAS to be to promote the artist rather than the song, to make them more famous than they already are. For what purpose? Isn’t Lady Gaga’s video going deflect our attention AWAY from her song? We might look at the video again and again. Will we want to buy the song – if we haven’t already – to play the song again and again?  Playing the audio has been made a partial experience.

In Lady Gaga’s case the strategy MIGHT be to raise our expectation for the album waiting for release. Maybe. Hasn’t the music industry destroyed the album’s pride of place as the artist’s ultimate gift to their fans – a body of work in a collectable package?   

For some time we’ve been in an era of fame for fame’s sake. The music itself is a sideshow, the bait when there’s bigger fish to fry.  Sponsorship. Merchandizing.  Get a hit. Make a video to raise the artist’s profile even further, with product placement if possible. Create a platform from which to sell merchandise. How did someone who can hold a tune – not that all of them can – suddenly become a fashion designer or perfume mixer? More dollars in that than the pittance iTunes has forced the music industry down to.

And yet those top music artists are making much more money than music artists ever made. It ain’t just about music any more.

For artists who ARE about music the video still serves the traditional purpose.  Go visit YouTube. But where do you start? And how long with that forum last before it goes the way of MySpace?

WHAT I’M LISTENING TO

The Waifs (Temptation):  There’s more to music than struttin’ and  dancin’ and posin’. There’s self-expression, emotion, melody and performance. There’s the Waifs.

Advertisements

SINGING WITHOUT CONSCIENCE

March 1, 2011

As the people of Libya take it on themselves, at the risk of their lives, to end the reign of Muammar Gaddafi, the world’s politicians aren’t the only ones left condemned for leaving Lybia to its plight and choosing pragmatic harmonious relationships with its known terrorist and murderer leader.

A number of performers have enriched themselves by accepting Gaddafi’s favours, a fact highlighted by Nelly Furtado’s announcement she will donate the $1 million she was paid by the Gaddafi “clan” in 2007 to play a concert at an Italian hotel. If only it was that easy to wash their blood-stained hands for the world’s leaders.

In 2006 Lionel Richie helped Gaddafi and more 1,000 senior Libyan officials and diplomats – where were the people? – “celebrate” the 20th anniversary of a U.S. raid on the North African country. Gaddafi’s former home had been kept in its wrecked state to mark the overnight attack in which an estimated 40 people were killed including Gaddafi’s adopted daughter Hanna. The concert was named “Hanna Peace Day” in honor of the child, one of several infants reportedly killed in the strike. The event ended with a group of children dressed as angels standing on a balcony of the house and waving candles as they sang along to a recording of  Richie’s humanitarian anthem “We are the world”. It’s not known how much he was paid.

Mariah Carey was paid $1 million to sing just four songs at a lavish New Year’s Day 2009 bash on the Caribbean island of St. Barts, hosted by Col. Gaddafi’s son and national-security adviser, Muatassim.

The following  New Year  Beyonce, collecting $2 million,  and Usher provided the entertainment at St.Barts .

You might forgive these entertainers if these entertainments had happened before the December 1988 Gaddafi-sponsored the bomb planted on Pan Am Flight 103, which came down on Lockerbie, Scotland, ignoring all the other known Gaddafi atrocities. Reportedly, Gaddafi was a major financier of the “Black September Movement” which perpetrated the Munich massacre at the 1972 Summer Olympics. Gaddafi should never have been forgiven for Lockerbie.

However, if it was good enough for the world’s leaders to still want to pal up with “”mad dog of the Middle East” after all that why not Lionel Richie, Mariah Carey, Beyonce, Enrique Iglesias, Jose Carreras and others? – while there’s financial gain in it.

What I’m Listening To –

The Memory Machine (Julia Stone). With brother Angus she’s charming. Alone she’s emotionally tortured.