One can have music conferences until the sacred cows come home, but what none of these tribal gatherings do is to teach people how to be creative and original.
If anything, all they do is create more copycat custards and with these blobs moving together towards the same goals with the same herd mentality made up of bits, bobs and cashew nuts heard by speakers, talkers and two-time tweeters.
Last night, I heard about one of Hong Kong’s more senior musical citizens working hard to reinvent himself and create his own version of Gangnam Style. Own version? Can there be an “own version” when the raison d’être for bothering to do this waste of time comes from looking at the success of someone else?
Being “another” Psy is now, as they say in social media terms, “trending” and, to me, it’s a mutha of a trend with only those making any moola outta this being SEO companies in Bangladesh who can get you 15,000 YouTube views for around HK$12,000 which is about US$8,500 and which is why I remain unmoved at the shock and awe of “views.” It reminds me too much of the Susan Boyle “phenomenon” and its over 100 million Youtube views.
Think about it and the award-winning quelle supris faces of the judges as if seeing her for the first time when Susan Boyle had been hanging around for years on UK television talent shows and even had her own website. Think about that, too and how she was recruited and possibly setup for her appearance as a dowdy housewife from Scotland.
One can say that this preoccupation with “views” today is all part of a launch campaign, but- and no names mentioned-when “views” become “phenomenal”, my cynical meter goes berserk and I realize that marketing today comes with some white lies attached and all-too-similar marketing plans lacking the same originality as the musical product being product.
Same with getting twitter followers and being asked to retweet to “gain more followers.”
Maybe I am being too much of a party pooper and adamant not to live in a Pollyanna world but I find something untruthful about this- just like all those old farts trying to be the Next Psy. It actually reminds me of something that would have made a great Peter Cook and Dudley Moore skit along the lines of the one-legged actor auditioning for the role of Tarzan.
So, amidst every young Chinese pop bands having clean-cut kids sporting the same cockerel plumage in a variety of colors along with N’Sync dance moves and doing their best to pass themselves off as K-Popsters along with the usual Hello Kitty girls trying so hard to look “sweet” and sing and dance like trained seals- seals clap far better- we now have some new Psydom taking place. And for fuck’s sake remember that Psy is hardly “K-Pop.” If anything, he’s a K-Poppa. K-Pop is teeny weeny cutesy pop with cutesy popsy dancers who sing and from the same kim-chee factory. And it’s a very cut-throat factory where the careers of these manufactured artists have a very short lifespan.
Alongside all of these are the other EMO and Hipster copyists making whiny sounds over music concocted after listening to whoever and whatever is the Hipster’s plat de Jour of Le moment. People, it’s fucking embarrassing!
Who’s to blame for all this shallowness and style over substance and learning from E! and TMZ worlds and which have created a generation of Peter Principle and promoting incompetence and unoriginality?
Possibly all of us who grew up surrounded by crackling creativity and which was passed on to us by our parents, uncles, older friends etc- the Jazz of Dave Brubeck, Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Miles. There was the comedy of Lenny Bruce, Shelley Berman, The Goons, Peter Sellers, Monty Python, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore.
There was the music of Dylan, the Beatles, Motown, Stax/Volt, and we went and discovered all the great session musicians Phil Spector and Brian Wilson used.
Rolling Stone when it was relevant, Creem, Lester Bangs, Andy Warhol, Velvet Underground, Bowie, Zappa, Hunter S Thompson, the Stones and the Human Riff that is “Keef”.
We had some great teachers- but have we been selfish or done a crappy job in passing down all this knowledge and sounds and trivia and stories we absorbed like sponges?
Have we even mentioned Kyu Sakamoto topping the Billboard charts with his Japanese recording named Sukiyaki by an American DJ and which happened around 50 years before Psy?
Today, we have apps for this and that and for many things we don’t even need but now think we do and have technology controlling our lives and with much of this having robbed an entire generation of the thrill and journey of discovering new music and letting this music take you where you wish to have it take you.
Today, if we still watch it, MTV is only eye candy and background clutter. It’s Muzak Television. Hendrix, the Beatles, Led Zep, Dylan etc didn’t need all this technology- only a four track recording machine and great originality and talent and teamwork. Music today has become insular and disparate and made up of hairstylists and fashion designers. It’s all bullshit and outta the bullshit shall rise the truth and, with it, great music as both go hand in hand.