The problem with music today is not the fault of the record labels or the radio stations or MTV. Sure, they can all be blamed for the giant cluster f*ck that is the industry itself. They can be blamed for keeping the price of CDs exorbitantly higher than they should be. They can even take the blame for keeping independent artists down while promoting far less talented pop singers. However, responsibility for the piss-poor quality of popular music lies squarely on the shoulders of a different beast: The Public.
It is in fact people’s taste that has caused music to drop so severely in quality over the past decade. And why do I say this now? After watching last night’s episode of American Idol it became painfully obvious. The unthinkable has happened, and the two most talented members of this year’s pool (the third having already been voted off in a controversy) wound up as the bottom two in this round. And in the end, frontrunner La Toya London was voted off. You could see the exasperation in Simon’s eyes, and Paula Abdul began crying at the realization of what this travesty meant.
Now I’m not a huge fan of the show. I only started watching it this season, and even then rather sporadically. Last season I happened upon the show during Clay Aiken’s first performance and basically said, “This guy is incredibly talented, but he’ll never make it through such a shallow and vapid popularity competition as this.” Much to my chagrin, he made it all the way to the finals and is now selling millions of records. I had to give the show and its viewers some credit for seeing the talent behind his nerdy veneer, and so Lisa and I started watching this season from time to time. I’ve enjoyed it for the most part, and Lisa can testify to the fact that nine times out of ten I’ll nail Simon’s comments before he even opens his mouth. In other words, I found it to be a fairly decent guage of talent, albeit with a tad too much sensationalism builtin. But as more and more of the talented singers were knocked off (Scooter Girl, Matt, George Huff, etc.), while such a mediocre “talent” like Jasmine continued I got frustrated. Last night was the last straw, and I told Lisa that I wouldn’t watch it anymore.
For those who don’t watch the show, it may be difficult to appreciate what set these three divas apart from the rest of the crowd. Yes, they are all along the lines of R&B singers, but not in such a generic cookie-cutter way as we are used too. Jennifer Hudson sounded like a young Aretha Franklin. La Toya has one of the most incredible and powerful voices I’ve ever heard, anywhere. And Fantasia? Well just check out what Matt Haughey said about her performance of “Summertime” last month (better yet, download the mp3 from him), and you may begin to understand her. It was bad enough when Jennifer (the weakest of the 3) was voted off, but for La Toya to be ousted over the weak Jasmine? Well, America deserves what it’s going to get.
I’m not going to gauge the entire music industry by this one silly show, but it’s made me realize that there’s just no accounting for taste in this world. If you really want to hear good music, go ahead and seek it out. It’s really not that hard to find. But don’t blame the power-hungry media or the mega-global corporations for shoving this crap down our throats. Blame the idiots that buy it.