Saturday, September 24, 2016

Internet Killed the Video Star

In 1981, the year before I was born (I know, right, I'm older than I thought, too), "Video Killed the Radio Star," premiered on MTV as the first music video. 

Pandora was founded in January 2000 (We all knew the world was gonna end).,
XM Satellite Radio started September 25, 2001.
I cannot remember the name of the extremely popular music downloading site that destroyed my computer around 2002/2003.
Facebook opened its virtual doors in February of 2004.
Youtube played its first video, not music related, in 2005.
Spotify was launched in October of 2008.

A song came on my Pandora (nope, not my radio) this morning, and I thought, heh, that song is obsolete. That's when it occured to me that country music hasn't just gotten bad (not all of it, mind you, but I would say with no hesitation that most of it is terrible) because the singers aren't as good or because the availability of stuff like Auto-tune has given the high ups in the music industry total autonomy on who gets to be famous. These things, these pretty much expected results of time and money, this stuff is just a tiny symptom of the real problem. 

The problem is the internet. All of these easy song-find-brilliant-boxes, which save my life when the worst song is stuck in my head (or the best but just part and all damn day), they all give it to you too easy. And when you hear a song, you hear it all alone. But when your favorite song comes on the radio, you know you're sharing it with someone, lots of someones. This i-Age is so lonely.
Sure, the youtube tells you how many people have seen that video, and surely whoever made the spotify playlists are listening (Are they really, though). And these "music experts" must really know what they're doing on Pandora when they pass on the pleasant stuff with few commercials, and you can just thumbs down that annoying stuff or the stuff by that artist you don't really like.

If it hadn't been for radio, I was ready to give up on Brad Paisley after his first song ("Who Needs Pictures"), though let's be honest, he's a part of the mess, now, too. If it weren't for country radio, I would not have learned how to be a little patient with songs and artists I didn't like immediately because I couldn't skip, pause, whatever. If I really hated a song, I was willing to risk commercials or picking up partway through something (I still do this in the car). But I think the biggest problem is that the pain is different.


Yeah, I'm not really here to talk about ease and accessibility of music. I'm talking about ease and accessability of everything. The song I heard this morning:

If you wonder what your ex is doing now, you can just log on to facebook or linked in or insta-whatever it is, or that bird one and there you go. There's no mystery, you get all the gritty details, since everyone puts their life (or at least the part they're willing to admit to) out on the stage for everyone to gawk at, so sure maybe you can hurt a little over actually knowing what she's doing now, but really, you're so overloaded with information about everybody and what they're doing you don't really have the chance to be all broken up about any of it, cause then you just might miss the status update of that one guy you knew in highschool and talked to twice in the past 30 years (both times on facebook). Listen to this tune by Becky Warren - slow. Real. Pain. You can't just click on it and be done. It's the real stuff you can't click away from.

This pain is new and alone and slow and droning. That's the kind of country music we ought to be hearing. We need those steel guitars back. Only they can dig deep enough to make you put down your damn phone and feel something. People can't protect themselves from pain by ignoring what is going on around them, by walking down the street and missing the eye contact of the rare person sans phone (who are you all talking to anyway). That's where the real connection is, that's the cure for your pain you don't even know about.

The country music we're hearing on the radio now, this c-rap, this stuff that fills you up with something, with this fleeting lusty lie, this stuff is bad country music. We were all tricked by the early Jason Aldean, with his mixing in stuff like Amarillo Sky in with Dirt Road Anthem. We all thought, okay, that sounds kinda cool, and surely it's a one-time thing. I honestly love half of that song and don't like the rap part at all, but it feels worth it. I don't even know how to defend myself on that.

See, George and Alan had it right when they said, "The almight dollar
And the lust for worldwide fame
Slowly killed tradition
And for that, someone should hang."

I don't understand why we are standing for it, as listeners, as lovers of music. Why are we letting these big money people sell us prostitute us out like this? Why don't we demand better? Why don't we buy the better? Maybe what's going is is that the money is just getting to Nashville or New York City or LA or wherever it's going nowadays without us even really buying what they're selling. What if they're getting this money because of the advertisements sold on these website music pages, Pandora, Spotify, et cetera. What if they're just spitting out this stuff, telling us it's popular (I had a bit of Lauren Alaina stuffed down my throat by two radio stations in a row this morning, only to turn the dang thing off and wish I had more CDs), but there is not anything real there? It's just empty space. Oh, the songs are so empty. To quote one of the best rock bands of all time, 

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