Monday, January 22, 2007

And she'll have fun fun fun 'till daddy takes the CD away....

Eilene Zimmerman got the duty of tackling the phenomenon of High School Musical, and delivered this dead-on observation:

Musicologist Elizabeth Upton, a professor at UCLA (and mother of two tweens) whose many areas of scholarship include children's music, says in the last decade there has been a dearth of pop music for the 5-14 age group. The reason Disney's songs are so attractive to tweens is that they are, well, pretty. "This kind of melodic pop music just hasn't been fashionable for a long while. A lot of what's been popular has been scratchy, alternative stuff," says Upton. "If you're a kid and you're going to listen to pop, Disney isn't a bad place to be. Imagine that for your entire life, pop music has been ugly, edgy or beat-heavy, from grunge to hip-hop. This kind of music is a revelation."

Exactly. They're catchy. They're pretty. I hate every song from High School Musical with a deep blue passion (and have had to tell my daughter to not play it the third freakin' time, twice was too much), but they are sparkly little nuggets of pop.

Upton is right. If you can find a local radio station that plays new music (or, even rarer, one that fits the original mold of radio, cycling old stuff with new hits), you're not going to find a lot of "pretty" music. It's either rap, repetitively mind-numbing (and usually crude) hip-hop, or cookie monster vocals over banks of droning steroidal guitars. Not much of it is downright pretty. When a pretty song comes on, you should see both of my daughters (ages 10 and 2) light up.

So, dear God, for all our sakes, let's let pretty music actually make it to radio stations and best seller lists so we don't have to die in a sea of Disney tunes. Next time you read a music critic take apart an offering of pretty, catchy (non-Disney) tunes, write them and tell them they are responsible for the demise of civilization.

It's your civic duty.

FWIW, some examples of great pretty music from the past:
- Beatles
- Marshall Crenshaw
- Queen
- Electric Light Orchestra
- U2
- Pink Floyd
- Eagles
- Steely Dan
- Earth, Wind and Fire

You get the idea. Fight the power.


Sleemoth said...

"Cookie monster vocals..."

My side's splittin, dude. I'm getting worried looks from coworkers. Thanks for brightening up my day. Those uncontrollable fits of laughter are few and far between. Last time this happened was during the nude wrestling scene in Borat. I damn near had to walk out, in fear of having a massive MI and keeling over.

Whisky Prajer said...

The notion of "safe" television resonates with me, too. It's a little disturbing to think that when I was a kid, Starsky & Hutch was the edgiest show on the air. From an adult viewer's perspective, I'd say television content has seen remarkable improvement over the years (thank you, HBO). But if I look at the offerings on Cartoon Network and the Disney Channel, I've got to wonder if the kids aren't caught between an edgy rock and a saccharine hard place.

Yahmdallah said...

Glad it gave you a chuckle, sleemoth.

Whisky, I hear ya. My daughter doesn't really watch cartoon network anymore because they kind of retired the powerpuff girls. And some of the other stuff is just too out there for kids. The one with the grim reaper comes to mind. Also, they advertise "adult swim" a little too blatantly.

One of the more annoying things my wife and I had to endure was we had to have the sex talk with our daughter about a good two years before we wanted to because all the commercials on the big three for a while were adults blatantly discussing sex and if it wasn't that it was about gay this and gay that. We were able to put off the (hetero) sex stuff to other things, but you can't describe what gay is unless you give them enough of the mechanics of sex to explain it. So, we had to have the full talk simply because the commercials wouldn't stop the pounding on the gay thing.

My wife and I have nothing against gays, etc., but we wish it could just stay in the adult world.