I’m so excited for Pearl Jam Twenty, an upcoming documentary made by the great Cameron Crowe (who also directed Almost Famous, the only band movie I love). Here’s the first trailer, released today:
The answer is no. A million times no. And the only reason one might suggest it has redeeming qualities is in pandering toward the corporate music machine. Case in point: Rolling Stone, the same publication that gave Avril Lavigne’s gag-worthy song “Alice” (from Burton’s Alice in Wonderland) three stars, recently published the article Why Rebecca Black’s Much-Mocked Viral Hit ‘Friday’ Is Actually Good:
For one thing, Black’s voice is totally bizarre. It’s not just the processing on her vocals – she has a peculiar tonality that inadvertently highlights the absurdity of boilerplate pop lyrics that may not seem as ridiculous if, say, Katy Perry was singing instead. When she sings the “Friday, Friday” hook or the “fun fun fun fun” refrain, she sounds unlike anything else in pop music. Perhaps the closest comparison is Laraine Newman in Saturday Night Live’s Coneheads sketches – pinched and stilted, like an alien attempting to pass an average American girl. Obviously, this isn’t the most pleasant sound in the world, but Black comes out sounding like a distinct singer with an alluring sort of anti-charisma.
I suppose one ought to credit her for highlighting the importance of cereal (breakfast is the meal of champions) or the profound dilemma of choosing which car seat to sit in — a metaphor for life, really, in which she chooses the back. Lazy.
I much preferred this quote from Salon:
Like any effective horror show, “Friday” seems innocuous — almost innocent — at first. But this is no mere off-brand Selena Gomez or Demi Lovato production. Somewhere around the second note of the eerily auto-tuned song — and its equally unlifelike video — it becomes clear that it’s possible to create something that’s an insult to Kidz Bop. With lyrics like, “Yesterday was Thursday, Thursday. Today is Friday, Friday. We we we so excited. Tomorrow is Saturday and Sunday comes … afterwards” — delivered in Black’s dead-behind-the-eyes monotone, “Friday” will haunt your nightmares. Did I mention the tragic rap interlude, where a man with delusions of being Usher throws in a “Whooo!” and something about “passing a school bus”? I’ll leave the final verdict on the whole thing to my 7-year-old, a child whose penchant for eating ChapStik suggests she may not have the most discriminating of tastes, who declared of “Friday” that “This is the worst,” before stalking out of the room in disgust.
But remember how in “Alien” it was really scary because of the Alien, but in “Aliens” it was even scarier because there were a lot more Aliens? Here’s the ominous thing about Rebecca Black — she’s just the tip of a horrible iceberg called Ark Music Factory. With its roster built almost entirely of very young, trying-very-hard girls, the recently launched company from producers Patrice Wilson and Clarence Jey emits a distinctly “Toddlers and Tiaras: The Next Generation” vibe. What good can ever come of a company that uses comic sans for its artist profiles?
The only redeeming quality about this song is that it serves as a wake-up call for an industry far too out of touch with its artistic roots. Compare the feeling of watching the Grammy Awards to that of watching the Oscars. Or compare the nominees from this year’s Grammy Awards to those fifteen years prior: Katy Perry and Justin Bieber vs. Alanis and Pearl Jam. With the burgeoning indie scene and established artists leaving major labels, it’s getting harder and harder to find any relevancy in the system.
To have money spent on this lyrical nightmare while loads of hardworking artists go unnoticed is just a travesty. I dared the universe to find me something worse than Ke$ha and I was once again moded.
Before our show at Red Devil Lounge last night, I had been watching music performance videos to sort of get me into “the mood,” which is, I think, the equivalent of watching porn before having sex. Though who does that, I don’t know. Anyway, I ran into a Rolling Stone article on Kurt Cobain, discussing the sixteenth anniversary of when the rock icon committed suicide. The article commemorates his life with an amazing photo collection and some updates on his legacy, including his inclusion in Rock Band and the planned biopic on his life, Heavier Than Heaven. Here was a guy, loved and hated musically, that stood for something beyond music, injecting something more meaningful than sex and booze into rock culture. And as destructive as he was, he was/is pretty damn inspirational.
As a musician, I think it helps to constantly reevaluate why you create music. I think great music comes through if it stands for something, if you’re motivated by something more than simply creating melodies for the sake of creating melodies. That’s what separates an artist from a hobbyist, I guess. Artists create largely because they have to. Like the need to drink water or breathe air, their medium is an ingrained form of expression that, whether they want it to or not, needs to come out. Not allowing it to would be akin to never speaking for a kid that can’t shut up.
Nirvana’s performance at Reading, regarded as their greatest, is available on an NME award-nominated DVD. I’m seriously considering finally picking this up.