Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Future of Rock 'N Roll

Every generation has their rock 'n roll trends. In the 70's, it was what is now called "classic rock" but at the time was most likely called AOR (album oriented rock), which competed with the birth of punk. In the 80's, new wave bands were popular, alongside NWOBHM (if you don't know what it stands for, don't ask) and hair bands/glam metal. In the 90's, we saw the rise of "grunge" (spare me) and alternative rock.

And what will we remember from the 00's?

Trust me, the easy answer is "nothing". The easy answer is to disparage the music of the last decade as it comes to a close. Well, guess what? Many of the generations before us disparaged the music of the time and longed for the "way things used to be". To say there is no good music currently being written and played is WRONG.

OK, yes, we have the Nickleback effect. Songs by both Theory of a Deadman and Shinedown are virtually indistinguishable from anything Nickleback ever put out. And yes, Nickleback has to be one of the most commericially successful but least creative bands I have ever heard, and no one should be attempting to copy them note for note.

However, newer bands like Kings of Leon, Interpol, Daughtry - and my personal new favorite Lovesick Radio (with members from the now-defunct band Frickin' A - a band I will almost certainly write about later, as I tracked down their debut album on Ebay and am listening to it right now) - are exciting.

So is there a future for rock 'n roll? Certainly. But only if you look for it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Then vs. Now: Music and young girls

The year was 1996. I was 10 years old. Friends and Seinfeld were two of the most popular shows on TV. Bill Clinton was president. Dial up AOL was just taking off. Albums still had the potential to be RIAA certified diamond with sales of 10 million copies. And what was I listening to?

My first CD was Ace of Base - "The Sign". I also had Real McCoy's "Another Night" album, Celine Dion's "Falling Into You". And then I listened to Disney related music, like the Lion King soundtrack and A Goofy Movie soundtrack.

Well, kids are still listening to Disney related music. Except now, it's Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers. Maybe Demi Lovato, if they are ever-so-slightly edgier.

I will admit I just watched the "Best Of Both Worlds" Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus concert DVD. Interspersed with the concert footage is some video of the fans attending the concert. They are singing at the top of their lungs Hannah/Miley songs for the camera and saying why they like her so much. This is innocuous, as are many things that Hannah/Miley does. Every generation has their teen idols and for those born after 1996, it is Miley.

It's what these Miley fans are wearing that is so shocking. These girls are wearing what appears to be makeup, long blonde wigs, glitter and sparkles, and too tight clothing that looks like it belongs on a sorority girl making her way out to a bar, nervously clutching her fake ID.(This photo is captioned, from the NY Daily News web site, "'No. 1 Fan' Eliana Planer, 8, from Raleigh, N.C., affixed eight Miley Cyrus and Hannah Montana pins to her hat and showed off colorful argyle socks in an outfit she got from Kohl's.")

Aren't kids kids anymore? Apparently not.

I'd chalk this up to music and pop stars that are targeted DIRECTLY at them. When I was younger, most kiddie shows were animated. Not computer generated, not live actors. ANIMATED. The live action shows like Saved by the Bell and Boy Meets World were targeted at an 11-15 year old audience, which is far different from a 4-10 year old one.

Now every television show seems to be tied into a pop starlet looking to build her singing and acting career. Look at Miley herself, iCarly, Selena Gomez, Hilary Duff, Demi Lovato. Even Jamie Lynn Spears and her show "Zoey 101". There's concert tickets, lunch boxes, posters, candy, tie-in books (wait, do people actually read any more?) with the star's face plastered all over it. And there is the inevitable Wal-Mart (or Kohls, or K-Mart) clothing line. So an 8 year old girl can dress "just like" her favorite star, who is at least twice her age.

Even the star's wardrobes themselves are suspect. Miley Cyrus was 15 when she was thrust into the public eye. While nothing she is wearing is particularly R rated or scandalous, I compare her clothing to what I wore when I was 15 - namely men's black concert t-shirts that hung way too large on an 125-pound frame. The jean style then was far from the low cut, tight jeans that are favored today - instead they were cut way too high and were incredibly baggy. Hey, it was cool at the time. I think. There was more of an innocence.

Isn't that what being a child is about? Innocence? The music industry today should support that. Let kids listen to Disney movie soundtracks and harmless Swedish pop or 90's dance music. Let kids be kids.