Some of you may not be watching “American Idol,” and who can blame you. I’m not, but Kate is, and every so often I wander through the room while she’s catching up with the recordings that are stacked like cordwood in our DVR. (I suspect her interest is flagging, too.) So maybe you saw this clip and maybe you didn’t — it’s the Black Eyed Peas stinking up the room with a live performance of whatever their new single is. Oh, right: “Rock That Body.” Wow. Original. What was the name of their last single? “Bodies That Rock?” Or was it “Rockin’ My Body?” I can never remember.
It’s a pretty good example of what too much pop music has come to — bands selected by labels based on how good they look in videos, then bound over to producers who smush them through the best technology and support staff money can buy, until they emerge, glossy and sexy and autotuned to a fare-thee-well, to put on huge arena shows with lasers and explosions and backup dancers and lots and lots of costume changes, all for $150, minimum, for a floor seat, and it all works really well until it doesn’t, and you can see it in that clip. Is anyone in sync? Is anyone even remotely close to …I guess it’s not “notes,” exactly, or “music,” so let me put it this way: Is anyone yelling the part they’re supposed to yell with any degree of precision? I can’t see it. Lots of busywork up there, with everyone marching around and waving their hands in the air and demanding that everyone else wave their hands in the air and rock that body! come on come on rock that body! come on come on rock! that! body!
It so happened that a couple of days later, I was in the gym, and whoever was in charge of the radio had tuned it to the urban-pop station, which is to say, it’s a little rougher than the sub-niche of pop that Taylor Swift rules, and there’s hip-hop in there but not the really hard-core stuff, just cut after cut after cut of Black Eyed Peas-style party music — that thumpy, looped club-style foundation, over which are pasted this or that autotuned singer, asking us to rock our bodies, or shake them, or shake them while rocking, whatever. After 15 minutes of this, I was ready to kill someone. After 25 I said to the gray head on the next machine, “I don’t care what anybody fucking says, the music we listened to when we were young was better than this. Not different. Better. BETTER.” He said that’s why God made iPods, but seriously, if I worked in a store that played this bilge all day I’d seriously consider pouring acid into my ears.
You think this is just another rant of a baby boomer, and maybe it is. Get me some Dentu-Creme. But I think what pushed me into the red zone today was this story in the NYT, about the Live Nation/Ticketmaster takeover of virtually the entire concert industry, and the new music-business model, which is to write off recorded-music sales in favor of a robust gouge at the ticket office, so that nine-figure “360-degree” deals with people like Madonna and Jay-Z can be financed.
Madonna played here on her last tour, a last-minute addition in what calls itself her hometown. I’m told Ford Field’s seating was discreetly draped, the better to mask all the unsold seats. (It’s tough to sell $200 tickets in a state with 17 percent unemployment, Madge. You should know that.) The show was marked by top-notch production values — in that there were many props and costume changes — and a robot-like performance by the star, who treated the concert stage as yet another two-hour cardio workout in a lifetime full of them. Even Britney Spears, that old train wreck, was getting $100 a head for her autotuna-palooza last year.
May I see the hands of any soul out there who thinks Britney Spears is actually singing during these shows? Or Madonna? You are spending hundreds of dollars on tickets and t-shirts for the chance to watch the big star on a Jumbotron. After taking Kate and her friend to the Miley Cyrus 3-D concert movie a couple years ago, I reflected that there should be a lot more of these things, because $30 for the three of us (plus popcorn) had saved us $75 a head to see her down at Cobo, and the seat was better, the parking was free and we got to go backstage! Plus, one of the Jonas Brothers threw his drumstick at the camera, and we all flinched! Cool.
There aren’t many days I go to the gym and think, thank God I’m an old bag, but friends, I saw Elton John blow the roof off of St. John Arena, and I was so close I could almost pluck those big sunglasses off his face, and it cost me ten bucks. There were cynics and money-grubbers in the business then, too, but we got out with the shirts on our back.
These days, I’m shopping for tickets to “Tosca,” which is playing at the Detroit Opera House the weekend of our anniversary. TIckets are steep — pushing $100 for the main floor — but you’re paying for a lot when you see an opera. What I don’t understand is the $9.75-per “convenience charge” tacked on by Ticketmaster. And guess what they’re charging for me to print the ticket on my own printer? Two-fifty each. As Tosca herself might say: Siediti e ruotare.
Thanks, Sarah Palin, for all you do to make this country a better place! States warn of ‘Obamacare’ scams: In Illinois, a telemarketer recently sold an elderly woman a fraudulent health insurance plan that supposedly protected her against “death panels,” the state insurance director says.
The things you find when you check your pingbacks: Coozledad, again.
And as I have too much to do tomorrow, it’s off to bed with me.