Tuesday, 30 November 2010
"Daddy, why this song is never played on the radio?"
A week ago or so, I was bringing my daughter Alba home after swimming, and I was playing "Futile devices", one of the most catchy songs from the last Sufjan Stevens album. Alba, whose tastes use to be quite good (in spite of the unavoidable hooking on Justin Bieber, may Disney be damned forever) was quietly listening, and when the song was over, she said she liked it very much.
Then she asked "Daddy, why this song is never played on the radio?".
It was one of those moments of "father-rolling-eyes", as it was quite difficult to explain such an issue for a 12 years old little woman.
I tried to explain that radios play only music from bands who pay to be included in playlists. And that most of the good music being currently made never appears in radios, so that music from people like Sufjan Stevens (one my current very favourite musicians) are always missing. I tried to stress that it is worth to digg for music beyond the massive channels, as you can find real jewels receiving little or no attention at all.
And this prompted me to realize that the current young generation is receiving among the worst possible music diet in the last fifty years.
As I said often, I am convinced that music made in 2010 is just as good as at any other time, and there are some tops of the iceberg that demonstrate it.
But the big, big, big problem is that the music business is its worst shape ever, and therefore they are completely focused on making money at any price, no matter how shitty is the music, or how fast it is going to disintegrate, once the hype is over.
Let me focus on my country, but I'm pretty sure the situation is similar everywhere:
If you are an early teenager as my daughter, it's very probable that you have been exposed during the last years to Disney Channel, who are becoming more and more ridiculous while promoting miserable music being lypsynched by goodlooking nobodies without any talent whatsoever (other than being goodlooking and young). The few times I've heard so-called songs from the so-called singer Hannah Montana, my ears were bleeding.
Then you turn on the radio and of course you go to the mainstream radio: the Top 40, and you listen to what? Again more Disney shit, and when it does not come from Disney, it can come from either Lady Gaga (for whom I can only say that I detest her more than Madonna, which is saying) or any of the X Factor [i]wonders[/i].
Gone (forever?) are the times when big labels were nurturing talented musicians to reach their maturity and become actual, massive superstars (who's the Prince in the making of 2010?). Gone are the times when the Top 40 included at the top positions music from Elvis or Prince or Beatles or The Rolling Stones (I mean, coming from new albums of young musicians, not in the n-time compilations of old superstars).
And the worst of all is that people with huge talent do exist and do make stunning music, TODAY. In my book, they are called Sufjan and Antony and Erykah, to name only three. And I'm sure there are many others. But they are simply under the radar (with only a few exceptions) for the main radios & tv channels. They belong to the category of "why this song is never played on the radio?".
And the worst of all is that this miserable state of affairs in music, is happening right at the time when internet allows to get in touch with all kinds of music, in a couple of clicks. Which makes for a sad contradiction: when it is easier than ever to discover and enjoy good music, the good musicians are finding more problems than ever to ensure their work is known by masses.
Of course I realize there are many issues behind this situation, including the file sharing and the changing paradigm in music industry, from a disc-driven business to a gig-driven business. But still I see my daughter playing shit from youtube (she, who is clearly enabled to appreciate and enjoy good music) and I can't avoid to feel a little depressed.
Anyway, I want to finish this with a positive tone: I am trying my best to make Alba discover truly good music, even in the catchy category, and I admit that my efforts are compensated often.