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Android of the Apocalypse

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Mark Morford and I definitely saw the same halftime show, but he sees Shania Twain as an Android of the Apocalypse. Morford writes:

    And then out Shania strutted, all perfectly timed fireworks and perfect makeup and perfect cutesy head flips and perfect stiff hip flicks and a perfect toothy smile and perfectly catchy heavily synthesized completely lip-synched lyrics non-sung to perfectly pointless pop tunes. And the crowd went, shrug.

    All lukewarm and hollow enough to make you cringe and recoil and sigh and wonder why it was again you were watching this bizarre overblown spectacle, this Super Bowl half-time extravaganza thing, oh yes, that’s right, for the bizarre overblown spectacle, dear God please kill me now.

    But there was something very wrong about this, something a little off, and you couldn’t put your finger on it right away, because Shania’s eight-minute soul-molesting medley was script perfect and Vegas tacky and she hit all her stage marks and sported that godawful glittery faux-goth trailer-park hotpants ensemble thing, looking like something hocked up by Liberace during a laudanum-infused Barbarella nightmare.

    Too harsh? Nah. She lip-synched every word. She completely faked it. She was a walking mannequin, all hair and teeth and strings pulled from above. Nothing new there, though as a culture we’re probably more accustomed to such simulated performance from non-singers like Britney or J.Lo, rather than someone who professes to be an actual crossover diva “artist,” but still.

    ….Twain is the megastar, sixth-best-selling album of all time, current No. 1 album in the country, reaching tens of millions. Baffling, and more than a little sad. Here is why:

    Because, for one thing, despite all the bare midriffs and push-up bras and coy lyrics, Shania Twain is not a sexual person. She says as much in a recent terse Rolling Stone interview. She is not sexual or even convivial or sociable or even all that friendly. She is a workaholic, she and her superstar-producer husband focus on her pop career with a laser-beam intensity, hell-bent on pop megastardom at all costs, on propagating the image of a fiery fun-loving sexually perky independent babe, even though it has absolutely nothing to do with who she actually is. God bless America.

    There she is, openly admitting in RS that not a single song on her new best-selling CD “Up!” means anything to her personally, not one song is the slightest bit about her or anything she really cares about, her desires or emotions or painful angst about her hair or teeth or life in a remote multimillion-dollar Swiss chalet, where she now lives.

What Morford doesn’t seem to realize is that most people – the great pop masses – couldn’t care less about what Shania “really” feels about her music, they just like the songs because they are so hermetically sealed and perfect, as in without flaws and easy to digest. There is no art to it, just artifice, BUT THIS IS WHAT MOST PEOPLE WANT. This is where the big numbers are.

We rant and rave against the recording industry, but it exists to give people what they want, and most people – those who consume music the way they consume fast food or sitcoms – find “perfect” more genial to their consumption than “magical,” because my magic may be your crap.

Every single one of the producers I interviewed for The Encyclopedia of Record Producers who is still active said the industry is too reliant upon technology, EXPENSIVE technology, and has been for some time – even the mixers and “tuners” said this – because it’s easier, quicker, less frustrating and more statistically reliable than trying to find the performance that may not be “perfect” but IS magical. And recognizing that magical performance is subjective, and subjective isn’t perfect, and an industry leveraged up to its eyeballs, shitting bricks over the next weekly report, is much more interested in “perfect” than in “magic,” and so is most of the public.

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About Eric Olsen

  • The Theory

    yeah, that seems fairly accurate.

    peace.

  • http://www.foliage.com/~marks Mark Saleski

    i saw a report about this somewhere yesterday…dang, can’t remember where….basically everybody playing at halftime had live mics but taped backing tracks.

    also, a sound guy is watching the proceedings…if anything happens (such as a mic cutting out), his job is to quickly fade in a vocal track that’s running in sync.

    that would explain why you heard her voice keep going at one point despite her mic being nowhere near her mounth.

    somehow though, No Doubt and Sting made the whole thing look a lot more convincing.

  • Josh (IL)

    Twain has had her many live performances so this is no shock. It is the super bowl and your article is so one sided about her not appreciating one song from the Up album. Where do you get all the facts and what is BS? I think your article was brave but it isn’t fair to her. You need to go one on one with her live and get out your opnions.

    Her lyric in She’s Not Just A Pretty Face: at night she pumps gasoline…her mom pumped gas she put that lyric in she remembers doing homework at night while her mom pumped peoples gas. That is part of her life where do you get the bold statement to say nothing she writes about reflects her life. You are a reporter who writes to entertain and this article is a mark of when a reporter can get it wrong.

    Her next album is due this year in 06. Mark we will make sure we save a tv spot for you on her next tv special. Get out all you think you know and lets get both stories. What an ass… dont mess with this Canadian or her fanbase!!

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