That’s the title of a blog post from EatSleepDrinkMusic, or ESDmusic.com. I had pretty much the same thought when I watched one of the more infamous sequences on this year’s World Series of Pop Culture on VH1, so it’s nice to see someone else noticed how funny it was and how it makes a big statement. Here’s the blog in its entirety:
Posted on 07.19.07 by David Medsker @ 8:44 pm
A funny thing happened a couple days ago on VH1’s World Series of Pop Culture, and every record label in the world should be scared to death because of it.
In a match-up between Almost Perfect Strangers 2.0 and Remo-Leen-Teen-Teen, the last two contestants, Almost Perfect Strangers’ Lucien and Remo-Leen’s Warren, faced off to decide which team would advance to the semifinals. The category was “Party Like It’s 2006,” and host Pat Kiernan would read a couple lyrics to a pop song, and Lucien and Warren had to name the artist. The songs were by artists like Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, Shakira and Paris Hilton, all pretty big names.
They didn’t get a single one right.
Think about that for a second. Those songs are only a year old, and these guys, both very knowledgeable trivia buffs, had already forgotten every single one of them. And to drive the point home further, neither one of them was even embarrassed about it. In fact, after the third or fourth missed answer, Lucien laid it out on the table. “I don’t mean to sound like an old fogey, but today’s songs are terrible!”
The audience erupted with applause.
This, to me, is the most awesome thing that possibly could have happened.
Blame illegal downloading all you want, music industry goons, but the real reason you’re losing so much money has less to do with downloading – after all, sales were never higher than when Napster was at its peak – and more to do with the fact that you’re not releasing music worth owning. A few other questionable business decisions also contributed to the decay, such as:
- Allowing your product to be used as a loss leader in order to lure people into stores that don’t specialize in, and therefore place no real emphasis on, music
Record labels survived the tough times in the past by having strong back catalogs that could pull in some extra coin when the current crop doesn’t pan out. If the labels think they’re hurting now, what do they think things will be like five or ten years from now, when the back catalog is Paris Hilton, R. Kelly and Fall Out Boy? By missing every question in that category, Lucien and Warren inadvertently summed up everything that is wrong with music today: simply put, the music industry lost respect for its own product, and eventually, so did everyone else.
As you probably know, J.D. and I were contestants on the show this year on the Westerburg High team. We spent a lot of time getting to know all the other contestants in the green room. The author is right that Warren and Lucien knew their stuff. Everybody did. We all had to pass a nearly impossible written test and play in a mock tournament before even being cast. Here’s the thing–
While having vast knowledge in movies, TV, older music and pop culture in general, very few of the people cast on the show bother to keep up with the new hitmakers of today. And we’re not alone.
I don’t listen to the radio.
That doesn’t mean that I’ve stopped listening to music; quite the contrary. Everybody I talked to on the show were huge music fans and had big music collections. I remember being semi-astonished to find a bunch of Elliott Smith fans among the contestants. Sure, everybody had their own genres that they dug the most, but the point is that the stuff that’s on the radio and TV is just not doing it anymore.
For further proof, just look at the cover of the August 9, 2007 issue of Rolling Stone. What hot new band that’s ‘ripping up the charts’ these days is featured on the cover?
Guns n’ Roses. It’s a photo from 20 freakin’ years ago!
In the article, David Medsker blames the music industry. I’ll be more specific. I blame radio. They cater to the lowest common demoninator and by trying to please everybody, they end up pleasing very few.
It’s like a politician. Al Gore was staid and boring and covered all the mainstream bases running for president in 2000. As soon as the election was over and he lost (a whole ‘nother ball of wax I won’t get into), he was freed up to actually say what he wanted and not have to worry about catering to the massses. All of a sudden, he was the only person speaking out against invading Iraq (he did so from the beginning), and it was because he wasn’t trying to please everyone anymore.
On the original blog, one user’s comment suggested satellite radio. This is something I haven’t explored, although it probably seems like a good option. Right now, I’m fine with my 20,000 song iPod and the Shuffle function. It’s the best radio station I’ve ever heard because I’m the one who programmed it.
There’s plenty of great music being made today. It just isn’t getting played on the radio. With mp3s becoming more accessible, more and more smaller label artists will get heard via word-of-mouth (Ever traded mp3s with someone?), even if they don’t get paid what they should.
In that case, go see ‘em live and buy a T-shirt– they could use the cash. Seriously.