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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Frank Hamilton Why does bad music sell? (96* d) RE: Why does bad music sell? 29 Sep 99

Liam, "culturally adventurous" is the operative work here, I think.


Standards of beauty are arbitrary of course. Another cliche would be "one person's crap is another's manna. The point I make is that each form of music has to be met with it's own criteria for whether it works or not. (God help us if we do a poll of cultural preferences in the US in music.) IE: Is Barry Manilow a good popular singer? I think so. Is "gangsta rap" riveting and speak for a generation of disaffected young people effectively? I think so. As much in the days of my youth in the folk snobbery club, I used to abhor Eddie Fisher but I now come to the conclusion that the man could really sing whether I liked his music or not.

I think that the premise of this thread will lead us down a blind alley because we are attempting to apply specific judgements to popular music that don't fit. It's not supposed to be art music or folk music. It's created to entertain and sell. What's the goal of an artist in the pop field? Mostly platinum records and a bullet on the charts. If they say something important musically for them then that's gravy. There are those in the field who are not plugged into the mass distribution of recordings who desire to be accepted artistically on their merits. Many singer/songwriters fall into this category and they develop their own audiences such as the unique Tom Paxton. But they're not trying to be popular artists. Tom has done that already with "Bottle of Wine". The question "Why does bad music sell" is because a judgement is placed on music that's designed to sell without regard for it's intent. Also, there is the implied judgement that because it sells it somehow must be "bad". The answer to this question is to question the notion that because it's popular it has to be "bad". When we bring such judgements to bear we have to determine specifics. What parts do you consider "bad" and why?

Beating a dead horse here, Mariah Carey is a "good" singer. I don't care for what she sings about but she knows her market better than I. She's still a "good" singer whether I like her or not. "Good singer"....She has command over her vocal instrument, clear diction, true pitch, dynamic range and can employ sophisticated vocal ornaments culled from an African-American singing style associated originally with Black gospel churches in metropolitan areas. I think she uses this style to excess but I understand that it sells. But this doesn't make her singing "bad".

Lets get specific. What are we specifically talking about here?

Frank Hamilton

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