The most scariest article ever.

You know how much you enjoy sitting on your couch every May, watching two stressed-out, tired, nervous kids sing the world’s most gawdawful songs?  I’m speaking of none other than American Idol finale night, of course, when the remaining two contestants are given some fetid compilation of standard “verse-chorus-verse-chorus, bridge-GLORY NOTE!-modulate-chorus!” music and saccharine words generally consisting of dream, hope, wish, storm, cloud, etc?  Well, if you’re anything like me, you sit there in stupefied amazement, quite sure that you must currently be listening to the Worst Songs Ever Written (at least since last year).  You’re probably also sure that these songs must be abberations.  Certainly, the hit songs of today have to be miles ahead of these songs, right?  Wouldn’t they have to be in order to be hits?

Errm…no, actually.  In fact, in his article How To Write a Song That Hits, musical middleman Luke Eddins presents his formula for getting your little musical gem on the airwaves.  And just as you feared, the recipe is simple, straightforward, and chillingly unapologetic: vapid, bland lyrics; mind-numbing repetition; and above all, the eradication of all traces of individuality and innovation.  Here are some quotes.

You will never catch an A&R rep’s attention because you sound completely different. It will be because you sound familiar, only slightly different. A different shade of orange. The band Five for Fighting’s vocals sounds like a different shade of Dave Matthews’. They just sold 500,000 albums. Pete Yorn’s voice sounds like a different shade of Eddie Vedder’s. Coldplay is a different shade of Radiohead. Get over the idea of ‘selling out.'”

“Appeal to many, not just a few. If your song tells a story, leave out misleading details and paint a broad picture using vivid—but universal—words.  Goo Goo Dolls are a perfect illustration of this. Like them or not, they sell albums. They color their songs with general words like ‘dreams, life, world, earth, angels, forever, touch’ that are effective.”

“Certain words will keep popping up over and over—it is shocking! Themes pop out too. Figures of time for example: Hanging by a Moment (Lifehouse), Stuck in a Moment (U2), 3 a.m. (Matchbox 20). Themes that are easy to connect.  Study lyric trends, they are no accident. They sell.”

Good grief, that was depressing, wasn’t it?  Luckily, there is a cure.  Make yourself a cup of green tea with a dollop of honey and turn on some Chris WhitleyTrust me–Whitley’s music is unconventional, haunting, and anything but simple.


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November 2006
    Dec »

What the kids are sayin’

"I hate them all. The judges, TPTB, the blatant manipulation, the songs, the contestants, everything. I'm a die-hard Cook fan, but for the love of god, at least try to look like you're enjoying yourself up there! Please? Syesha was awesome but she ruined it by being completely shameless and disgusting. Yes, being on American Idol is exactly like the civil rights movement, except for the part where you're fighting to make the world a better place."

"All I can say after the disgusting display tonight of favoritism towards the mediocrity that is David A. - good luck trying to market and make money off of that kid, American Idol. (Not to mention good luck dealing with his father.) All the teeny boppers may buy up his American Idol coronation single, but they will quickly forget about him before the album comes out. And I shudder to think of a David A. album - song after song of unrelenting sameness and heavy breathing. Why they are pimping him for the win is beyond me."

"This show was simply a hot buttered mess tonight. And Jason "needs to be arrested for what he did to I Shot the Sheriff. But I hope he stays. He amuses me. "

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