By Jared Chausow
By Katie Toth
By Elizabeth Flock
By Albert Samaha
By Anna Merlan
By Jon Campbell
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
If I sang this column onstage, you would make a shitty phone video of it
Because the winners of TV talent shows seem to spend their entire careers in the competitive mode. Every note is designed to win something. ... Those shows also give a boost to washed-up singers who become judges and suddenly have hit records again. How many career chapters do these people really need?
The number-one slot on the chart generally goes to whoever gave the most free copies to concert-ticket buyers that week. The second week, they're suddenly not even in the top 100. ... Adele is happy. ... Once you've heard the title of a Taylor Swift song, there's no need to hear the actual song. ... The "Piano in the Dark" sample in Flo Rida's "I Cry" drives me cuckoo crazy. I keep wanting them to finish the phrase! ... Someone please tell Rihanna it should be "shine brightly like a diamond." ... Boybands are back. They're like a case of crabs you just can't get rid of. I really like their hair, though. ... The musical repetition that started with all those Kesha songs is now in every single mix-mix-mix-mix-mix by every singer-singer-singer-singer. Stop-stop-stop-stop. ... People who walk around listening to music are generally oblivious to everything else, not even aware that they're endangering your life as they step into traffic in the middle of the street. Somehow they always come off scot-free as they glide through everyone else's tragedies. They're probably listening to Eminem.
Last year, the Oscars' Best Song category only managed to dredge up two nominees. This year, they're being forced to come up with five, whereas a better idea would be to just eliminate the whole obsolete category! ... Any recording artist over 40 has about as much chance of getting played on the radio as they do of getting their own Disney series. ... Why go to concerts when you're just going to see your favorite stars lip-synch their hits? If I want to thrill to the sight of them moving their mouths without activating their larynges, I can just watch their videos. ... When you're seeing the stars "perform" in an arena, you're mainly watching them on a large screen anyway. You've paid hundreds of dollars to basically tune in to a lip-synched TV show. Again, stick to the videos! ... Madonna hits the stage so late that the audience is ready to switch to Gaga (though you have to admire Madge for being willing to emerge in public a couple of hours older than she needs to be).
Performers with flopping new albums always insist on playing all the songs from them in concert, to the detriment of their way-more-interesting back catalog. They seem to be the only ones who didn't get the memo saying, "The new stuff sucks." Why don't they realize that the best way to promote the lousy new album is to not play it?
Country music was getting sexy and almost topical for a while, but now it seems to have gone back to Grand Ole Opry–style hootenannies. ... Local-bar-band patter too often runs along the lines of "This next song is a song about love. [Pause.] And how it really sucks sometimes." ... The only way I could listen to music during the blackout was on a 1980s Walkman I happened to keep in a dustbin, just for an occasion like that. But all I had on cassette was the chirpy cast album for Thoroughly Modern Millie. It drove me extra nuts!
Every song today happens to be "featuring" someone. Would the Beatles have had to give up their instrumental breaks to someone rapping about bitches and hos? ... Auto-Tune saves absolutely everyone from disgrace, so while some of our greatest singing stars can barely carry a tune, the public will never manage to find that out. Please! Celine did not need Auto-Tune! (Maybe Paula Abdul could have used it, though.)
And now, I interrupt this kvetch-athon for some "Why I Hate Music" reasons from a music journalist even more wildly plugged in to the scene than I am. Here are his gruesome gripes:
"Remember selling out? Now it's a good thing to have your song featured in a commercial! ... The show Nashville has better country music than the real Nashville does. ... Indie bands seem to be competing to see who can be the least rousing and emotionally engaging. They're generally flat and self-consciously unconnected to the emotions. If Nico's voice were a beat, that's what they'd be dancing to.
"Pitchfork.com is an intentionally obscure website that reviews every indie record, rating them with a score from 1 to 100. It's hard to get a score over 73. They create stars, like Melody Maker and NME did in England 20 years ago, and then they turn on them. As a result, your EP will sell 6,000 copies in Brooklyn, and then your full album will stiff. If you're no longer new, you're not as cool to them. They love bands they never heard of, and they love Neil Young, but everything in between is not good.
"The Starbucks for the indie crowd is the iTunes store. Amazon is also selling directly now. You can't even own the music if you don't own the physical device. There's no such thing as 'your copy' anymore.
"We saw in the election how Bruce Springsteen is still the guiding saint of working-class white people. But if he recorded a song right now, there's not a radio format that would play it. There are no stations that play new, straight-ahead, old-fashioned rock songs. The Nirvana-style music supplanted old-school rock some time ago."
And now back to my own vengeful complaints: Curry in a Hurry is actually not always that fast. No, wait. That's for the next "Why I Hate Food" column. All this bad music has me woefully confused. Let me stop-stop-stop-stop.