Today's musicians are lazy. Their audiences are even more indolent. I wouldn’t refer to myself as old. I am a seasoned twenty-nine. However, I worked with bands on all levels in the past. I have handled marketing and promotion. I have heard every type of music from all walks of life, derived from every portion of the soil within the US. The only common attitude today’s music culture shares is a lack thereof!
I grew up when grunge music was fashionable. Despite what the Kurt Cobain’s would have liked for their fans to think – pouting about their lives in heroin sheik clothing was a multi-million dollar business, still is. The angst of teenage rebellion has sold throughout decades in this country. Youth rebellion is what has made music, changed music, and created music. Like seasons, the mores and vanity of the rebellion’s flavor has changed with each new generation of hormone infused pissed off adolescence.
For me, Kurt Cobain’s agonizing voice meant something. It united me with my peers. We had a common cause in listening to his music. There was a sense of community in being misunderstood by the rest of the world. We weren’t going to take your glam rock anymore. We weren’t going to play Pleasantville for our parents anymore. We were the alternative in every aspect of the word’s definition. And though the trend of “I don’t care” rock was commercialized, and ended sadly, there was still a sense of belonging for me. A badge I still wear whenever I hear Mud Honey or Dinosaur Junior hit the “Rewind Weekend” program of my local ration station.
There are many stories like mine. The eighties had their tone. Everyone united with Aquanet, Cocaine, and being reckless together in the name of bands like Motley Crue and Guns N’ Roses. This type of uniting youth through music has gone on since Elvis swung if hips – if not before! However, today’s youth concerns me. It seems to be more about generation “me” then generation “we”. The musicians of today no longer seem to care about talent either. Since when is it okay to make a musician on a television show based on the votes of housewives, Twilighters, and product sponsors? Since when is it okay to cough up one hundred dollars to see a train wreck strip her way, through a circus like production, to a track so saturated with effects that the artist isn’t even sure it is her signing?
Bands today are fleeting from sound and message- to corporate sponsorship and social media popularity. They depend on these things more then they depend on talent. One band that is a great example of this is Paramore. Yeah, I said it. Bands, like Paramore, Escape the Fate, Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, Jonas Brothers, Plies, The All American Rejects, and Sugar Cult are all listed on the same page of MySpace’s top bands.
These bands weren’t talented musicians whose message became a product once they were discovered. These bands are products who became “musicians” through the reality of social networking. Miley Cyrus is the voice of today’s youth? At the same time so is Escape the Fate? Where is the common ground I had in my teenage years? Where is this sense of community? I don’t see how anyone can have a horrible day at school, run home, and throw on some ‘Jonas Brothers’ to relate.
The even scarier aspect of today’s youth, and their lack of identity, is the fact that these kids are forming bands inspired by the lack of talent in today’s entertainment industry. Not only do they have to look up to The Jonas’ Brothers and their recent appearance with Stevie Wonder on The Grammys (of which they didn’t even know the lyrics) but today’s youth are going to be emulating this same ignorance of relatabilty.
As long as they have a MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and Last.FM account – the possibility of someone like Lady Gaga becoming a smash hit is a possibility. So much for talent, showmanship, and honest teenage angst. Today’s music industry has become a ball of manufactured songs, backing musicians, and street teams who win prizes if they can sell so many ninety-nine cent singles via an html-url promotional code. Today’s youth lacks any type of culture, talent, or ambition. It is a sad day for me when I look at my four year old nephew who already has music ability and think his talent may never be discovered because he might not get enough phone votes!