Wednesday, September 28, 2011

919 Music: The Autopsy Report

919  Music:  The Autopsy Report

This has been puzzling for a long time:  What’s radically different about today’s music, compared with previous eras?  Finally, a possible answer.  And thanks for that to Nicki Minaj.  Who?

Minaj is a 28 year old “singer” from Queens by way of Trinidad and Tobago.  She has been nominated for or won scads of awards from everyone but the Grammys, which also will fall into line.

You can sort of understand what she’s singing.  This makes her a hybrid between today’s singers who are as articulate as Demosthenes fixing his speech by practicing with marbles in his mouth (except today’s singers do it without marbles) and Tony Bennett with every word clear.

Hearing Minaj has led to an epiphany of sorts.

Musical instruments since well before the age of Bel Canto have mimicked the human voice for both accompaniment and solo performance.  Somewhere in the late 1970s or early 1980s the roles reversed and the human voice became an accompaniment for the instruments.

The words don’t matter anymore.  It’s about sound.  And the human voice has become just another instrument.  Plenty of room for nuance.  Plenty of room for tone.  But lyrics are secondary, which makes you wonder why so many of today’s “artists” labor so over them and when they don’t rhyme and the meter is off.

Here is a link to “Make Money by Any Means” by the “artist” 50 Cent.  It’s clownish juvenile junk that makes little sense.  That’s the bad news.  The good news is when you hear it, you can’t understand it.

(It’s in link form because heaven forbid we should quote ten words and get sued even though it would be “fair use” under the copyright law.)

“Money”as example because you’ve probably heard of the “artist.”

Alan Jay Lerner, Johnny Mercer and Hank Williams Sr., Ray Charles, Leadbelly, and Andy Razaf are whirling.

Now when you hear Brittney Spears or Lil Wayne, Rihanna, Lady Gaga or “Blink-182” “singing,” you can understand why they sound that way, just not what they’re saying.

Remember at the same time that at least since “Walk Like an Egyptian” in 1986, no music in any genre -- even classical -- has been more than just soundtrack to accompany the video.


Shrapnel:

--There now are at least four major singing competition reality shows on TV:  “Idol” “X-Factor,” “Got Talent” and “Sing Off.  That’s too many and they’re all too long.  Running two consecutive nights of two hour programs is just a cheap way to avoid having to develop worthy drama or comedy series.


--The Televangelists tell us that 9/11, Katrina etc. happened because we’re doing bad things in God’s eyes.  But you don’t hear that from them when the Bureau of Labor Statistics say the unemployment crisis is tougher in their territory -- the south -- than almost anywhere else in the country.  But maybe, just maybe...


I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2011

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