Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Music Business' Continuing Death Spiral

Constant readers know that this is one of my "broken record" posts. (For those of you in the cheap seats, and those who are chronologically challenged, when a vinyl album would get cracked, it would often skip and play the same groove over and over again.)

The music biz is not just in a slump, it's headed for a terrain conflict (as a pilot friend of mine used to describe a crash). You don't even need to count past fingers and move onto toes to enumerate the number of albums that sell over a million copies anymore.

What confounds me is why these articles never connect the dots between the terrible state of broadcast radio and music sales - even when news of payola scams abound.

But beyond radio, what's offered as the latest and greatest pop is often just dreck. (Yes, we have standouts like "The Flaming Lips" that put out great stuff, but they're decades into their careers and follow the beat of their own drummer. I'm talking about mainstream pop music here.)

I gave Justin Timberlake's (a former boy-band member) FutureSex / LoveSounds a spin, and boy did it suq.

The best way I can describe it is like someone ate disco singles, a drum machine, boy band clichés, and lengths of master tapes from Michael Jackson doing those weird vocalizations he does and vomited them up for 60 odd minutes, while barking out sexual euphemisms in the intermittent the dry heaves.

The new Gwen Stefani has a similar problem in that she's trying to ape the more brain-dead and monotonous end of the hip hop scene, doing the million-tenth version of singing the melodies of children's ditties like "nyay-nyah" and "Frère Jacques" to the same freakin' canned beat, which is too bad because she's more talented than that. The whole CD isn't a waste, though. Like the Star Trek movies, every even-numbered song is the good stuff she usually does.

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