Saturday, July 14, 2007

The best "music" in the world today

Having been an annoying and persistent telemarketer in my 'past' life, I hate it when I "buy" something someone else is trying to sell to me. By "buying" i mean "accepting" to buy here. Recently I started listening to BBC World Service, Gold 90.5 FM, WKRZ etcetera, and I came across this song by Rihanna called Unbrella.

Now you must know, I am very, very, VERY anti-pop music. I abhorr it. Ever since the Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears and NSync era has passed, I have realised that none of it is real music as I understand it now. Did you know that NSync's second album, No Strings Attached, sold 2.4 million copies in the first week after it was released but the music itself was outsourced to a whopping fifty-two people? It was a team composed of sound engineers, music technologists, real musicians and what not that made the so-called "music". NSync was just the face of the music.
And here, Rihanna is the face of her music.

If you just look at the video after you hear the song, you will see how the video has got nothing to do with the song. The song is about being just friends and sticking out for each other till the end no matter what. It's not really romance (think failed romance maybe?) and it's not really sexual. But the video is selling sex.

In her interview with Channel 5 in Singapore, she admitted that her director had told her to project the image of a rebellious girl and the only reason for that could be that he has cracked the commercial code like everyone else - he knows it is stuff like rebellious girls that will make a hit. Britney and Christina are good examples of "girls done bad" trying to maximise their album sales once their stardom started to fade. Naturally, a rebellious girl will show more skin, mingle with the wrong crowd, get tattoos and piercings... Everyone knows what happens when a 'girl goes bad': she has a lot of sex with a lot of different men. Men, as I have come to know most of them, will "buy" that image. I don't think most men are self-respecting enough to turn down a one-night stand.
This brings me to why I am making this post. Having the understanding of the "music" industry as I have demonstrated, I HATE it when I still "buy" some of their crap. The umbrella song by Rihanna is one such example of a song that has got stuck in my head. It's annoying the hell out of me. But I can't get it out of my head - the sound of "umbrella, ella, ella, ay, ay, ay, under my umbrella, ella..."

[YouTube link]

My explanation? I heard this song on the radio a few times... I was somewhat forced to listen to it as I had limited options while travelling on the bus (my phone can only store 128 MB of songs). Then I was forced to see the interview, since, once again, I had limited choice (only one English channel in Singapore). When I saw glimpses of the video in the interview, I immediately signed on to YouTube to see the complete video (I guess I bought the sex in it). And since then I have developed a strange obsession with the song. The more I listen to it, the more I like it. And I am falling in love with Rihanna.

I may be aware of what they're trying to do here, but I am still unable to help myself. I wonder, how can I judge all those people who still listen to Backstreet Boys and believe they have bad music choice? Is it really their fault?

But there is hope... The imposed popular, hit-driven culture is coming to an end. The people behind all these blockbuster hits are about to sell out soon. Maybe they wouldn't sell out completely, but the new media will take over most of their blockbuster business. And people will finally find the things they really like. Not what marketing thrusts upon them. Not pop.


Regina Escobar said...

I get pissed off when they say that the infringement of copyright will lead to the demise of artists. Seriously, these manufactured artists are not artists. Ugh... we can only name a few.

Aymah R. said...

I think you are more at fault than any one else here. I fell in love with this song way before i watched the video.It is a very sticky song. and i guess i am more or less over it, but still whenever i happen to listen to it, i enjoy it. Also i dint purposely go on any website to watch the video. I happened to stumble upon it. And throughout the video, all i had in mind was that the effects are new, and good, especially the water stunt and body painting. My personal opinion is that the video is aesthetically refreshing + unique, and so is the song.
No doubt, sex sells but there is always the other side to look at it from. And that reflects your inside. What is the harm in appreciating beauty or triggering viewers' imagination?
Lastly, not all pop songs/videos/singers use or have used sex to sell their albums. 'Words' by boyzone or most of savage garden's songs. or Maybe you should listen to Travis. Pop music was also there when the music industry dint have so much of the current technology. Pop music does not imply that it is artificial. Its just that pop music is another genre and is no less than any other 'real' music. Different tastes, or for that matter, some people like variety. So, you should not judge anyone or their taste in music, as some people in an effort to produce 'real music' also end up creating something that is not at all pleasant to hear.

omer said...

I think what u r doing here ayma is confusing real music with synthetic music. Synthetic music is, which in the case of this song, computer generated effects to make the song sound more "sexy" as per say or make them sound better. The "artist" themselves cannot do this without the help of these computer effects...and trust me the song will sound crappy without all these effects in place. And then they need such videos to make their songs sell.

Now mind you, not all pop is like that, in fact there is no such thing as a pure genre. There is always a mixture of popular culture in rock as well. But how i define pop is to categorize all those music which have synthetic effects to make them sound more pleasing or "good". So the artist himself is not all that talented and if u ever look closely at all those popular "artists" like shakira, Brittney and the rest, you will notice that they need to look good and half naked to make their music sell. Their music is all in their image and thats how ppl view them as well.

waqas said...

Alternatively, we could treat this artwork on its own, a standalone object which has come to our experience and delighted us in being just that. Think of it as a flower in a garden, something that you find beautiful because its beautiful. The question of who made it (perhaps no one) and how don't even occur to you and may even seem irrelevant. That the flower may have been a consequence of natural events or that it may have been made by god or several gods wouldn't put an end to your admiration of the flower.

The issue of who made a particular artwork needn't come into consideration until we start considering issues of authorship; something which needn't enter our discussions unless we're debating issues of legal rights or aesthetic credit. That the singer isn't the only one producing it doesn't make this song any less real or pleasing. It would remain as good/bad as it is now were you to find out that Rihanna is the only one to have made it. Perhaps what would change is your admiration of Rihanna (assuming you like her for her art) but your experience of the song will remain unchanged.

Lastly, the issue of authorship is quite confusing and doesn't merely confound pop music; it is a lively debate for almost any artwork you pick -'real' or 'virtual'. Consider the following excerpt from an article on authorship:
"Who may be considered the author of "A Clockwork Orange", for example? Is it Anthony Burgess, who wrote the novel upon which the film is based, or is it Stanley Kubrick, who directed and produced the picture as well as adapted the screenplay? Can there be considered an author of a film like "Supernova" which was created by three different directors and three different writers?" -
Once you begin to ask whether the lead singer is the author of a song, or is it the drummer, or the guitarist, or perhaps even the CEO of the company which made the guitar, you'll find this notion of 'real music' crumble to non-sense.

Regina said...

mr waqas and his non-partisan ideology itself.

this music is cheap. as said by one radical philosopher as yourself - only sick music makes money today.

and unfortunately it is a reflection of the status of existing esthetics.