Chris, I’m going to preface this by saying that I listened to a couple of your songs on your website. I commend you for making your music available to the public because most people who criticize music either don’t make their own or aren’t willing to put it up on the chopping block. So bravo to you.
That being said, I think it’s pretty funny that you’re deriding “soft-spoken singer-songwriters mumbling timidly into their guitar” when your songs would sound right at home in a “Grey’s Anatomy” montage. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong — it’s actually quite pretty. But it doesn’t exactly scream out that you have fatter, hairier balls than the Shins or Snow Patrol.
Chris, it’s perfectly normal to believe that the world of music is dissolving into tasteless mush. It’s all part of a process called “getting old.” If you need any proof of your aging other than the self-diagnosis provided by your second paragraph, might I suggest you schedule a physical exam with your general practitioner? All throughout your piece, the writing’s on the wall:
“I first noticed this trend a few years ago”
“I also grew up watching old clips of Elvis”
“Youth culture is now practically sponsored by iTunes and Starbucks”
“the kids performing onstage don’t care about earning your attention or respect”
Why aren’t musicians as raw as they used to be? Why does this candy bar cost more than it did when I was a boy? Why does it hurt to pee? These are questions that are asked by every aging generation. And this article makes you sound two gallstones away from shouting “damn kids” from a screen door.
Remember when people griped over the glib virtuosity of early ‘70s arena rock bands? How about when critics railed against the soulless, kitschy sound of disco in the late ‘70s? Do you recall when they bemoaned the lifeless hum of synth pop or the silly costume parties of hair metal in the mid-‘80s? What about the corporate machismo of post grunge in the late ‘90s or nu metal of the early 2000’s?
The truth is, Chris, every musical era has its share of talent that everyone loves to hate that will later be called brilliant when adopted by indie bands. But we’re also in a very unique time. Music is thriving. Bands now have their entire catalog available to the world on the internet, a luxury that bands in any other decade could only dream about. And if you’re wasting this amazing time to be a music lover by focusing on a narrow band of college rock…then you’re a bloody idiot.
Now let’s get to your critique. And I hate to say it, Chris, but you’re prone to forming an opinion and labeling it as earth-shattering:
“Turn on the TV at any given moment and you’ll see a Buick ad accompanied by an acoustic soundtrack as turtleneck-clad, neutered adults exchange wet glances at each other, car coasting into the snowy twilight of this, their American future.”
Dude, I don’t know how long you’ve been acquainted with television advertising, but generally ads geared towards the 26- to 34-year-old suburban demographic are more Cat Stevens than Sid Vicious. Most of those people settle down into marriage, children, and home ownership and look for products that will add comfort and stability to their lives. And if you’re an advertiser who wants to keep his job, then you choose music that pairs well with those goals. Love it or hate it, that’s capitalism.
Plus, how are you seeing a Buick ad at any given moment you turn on the TV? I suppose it statistically MIGHT happen if you only watch Lifetime or the Hallmark Channel at certain weird intervals on the hour. And if you’re watching those channels with that kind of regularity, then it should be further proof that you’re getting old.
And then came the personal statements geared toward making you seem like a brooding badass…or even…a SMOKER:
“And I’m here, in the back of the room, in a smokeless Nashville concert hall, wondering why the guy onstage is singing into his guitar lifelessly and, even more so, why everyone else in the room is listening.”
So lobby your congressman for smokers’ rights legislation and go to a venue where they play music that you like. Or just keep pouring on the melodrama. Oh my god, do you pour on the melodrama:
“I’m still in the back of a smokeless room, waiting for someone, anyone with a kick drum and an amp, a vein in their neck and a thorn in their side, hungry and desperate and raw, to step up and sing something with a heartbeat from the Other America, where there’s something to prove and nothing to lose.”
You’re probably going to be waiting a long time, Chris, because those people are already in bands playing the music that you think doesn’t exist. You might want to try listening.