STILL LOUNGING AROUND 1

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The last Bitchback post of what are usually fobbed off as “lounge singers” versus those who have cred ‘cos they play clubs has been making me think about quite a few things, but mainly how little those doing the hiring for many venues know about music and are still given titles like Director Of Music or are in charge of booking acts for events.

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Oh for there to be more real all-round creative talent like Christopher Bailey at Burberry who has made an old brand relevant again through projects like Burberry Acoustic and other ground-breaking ideas that have successfully married music with his brand.

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When there’s a will, there’s a way and where there is lethargy and complacency, there is only wastage and which is what has afflicted the music industry as the lawyers, pencil-pushers, marketing gremlins and accountants started to control the creative product whereas a private equity knob like Guy Hands, below, who bought EMI thought artists were muppets he could buy and control like his toilets on the Autobahn.

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What is very sad is knowing how much hotels and clubs can help rebuild the music industry- and help themselves at the same time by expanding their customer bases- but, instead, most cling to the past and their jobs and sit there and join the dots and are incpable of seeing- and hearing- anything other than the obvious- and whom they hire

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It’s really not funny to walk into a five-star hotel lounge, ask how the new singer is and get the reply, “Very tall.” Or if in Asia be told, “She’s from Canada, very talk and black.”Or, “From Philippines”. Is she any good? “Maybe little sexy. You take a look.” No, what does she sound like? “You decide, I don’t know.” Doesn’t that just fill you with confidence?

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Also, when and where was the “rule” created where a singer in one of these lounges MUST be backed by a Jazz trio? Why? Didn’t this go out with Diana Krall when she first became commercial? Why does this still “trio format” exist in 2012/2013? Becuase no one can bother to break “rules”? Why not pay more for some good singers and have them perform with a Music Minus One backing augmented by a few ‘live’ musos? I know: What’s Music Minus One or MMO? Yes, to paraphrase the song, why don’t you people, do right, and pay them some money, too?

As I have said before, just because these singers perform in lounges, they are not some mutant form of Muzak. Many are usually very talented singers who are performing “what the customer wants”, but without understanding or knowing the customer and with a song list “approved” by whoever is in charge of managing the venue. And do THEY know what a customer wants to hear? Duh.

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Sure, some of these singers are shocking, but someone hired them- and I come back to the wrong people doing this gig of finding talent.

If, however, the singers are good- and quite a few are- turn these nondescript and bland “sets” into showcases and turn these lounges into something more than breeding grounds for Lonely Guys, Accidental Tourists and that one group of guys in plaids who always want to hear “New York New York”‘ sung like Ethel Merman.

Let’s try and make even five-star hotel lounges somewhat cool and with a good vibe instead of sterile cuckoo meeting places where lonely guys and hookers bargain over some poor dear trying to make a living singing “Making Whoopee” in the background. This is Sixties shtick, it’s bad Vegas corn, it gives lounge singers a bad name and is an albatross that tarnishes their image forever while making them Liza Minnelli long before their time and making it embarrassing for those who just wanna chill and hear some good music to be seen in one of these over-priced, uncool, and pretentious joints.

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Wait, I see a TV series coming on. And based around what a lounge singer has to go through and how she ends up in Asia. And where she is tall. And he is black.

Let’s stop using this word “lounge singer” which pigeon-holes some very good singers into a very small part of the musical universe and becomes the punch lines in jokes and the Rodney Dangerfield of music where there’s no respect and, whether a male or female singer, a very old-fashioned idea of entertainment based on shuck and jive and fake sincerity.

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…………………………….

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No, I have not forgotten the death of the great Ravi Shankar on12.12.12. But what’s there to say that hasn’t been said about this great man and brilliant musicians before? How he made the The Concert For Bangladesh possible? His influence on the Beatles and Norwegian Wood? His friendship with George Harrison and the raga influences he brought to Western pop through this friendship? None of this does him the respect he deserves.

He left this world yesterday at 92. But this world will continue to hear his music and the music he influenced for years to come from the Beatles and the Byrds to Hendrix and Miles and Philip Glass and his own brilliant music. Ravi Shankar wasn’t “just an Indian musician”. He was world music before there was this label called World Music.

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