Sunday, February 24, 2008

Video Killed The Radio Star

The Buggles may not have known much, but this they did get right. The other day, in my never-ending search for new music, I came upon a blog that was supposedly all about new music. I was, of course, intrigued. Unfortunately, instead of new music, I was bombarded by music videos courtesy of YouTube.

I love music. I love to listen to music, but I find that music videos are often so visually overwhelming and most of the time unrelated that I spend so much time and energy trying to sift through the director’s interpretation of the music that I can’t hear the song. Now I’m not sure, but aren’t music videos supposed to encourage you to listen to the song?

Why are fashion and gimmicks such an important part of the music industry? Why can’t artists just make good music and put it out there? Marilyn Manson with his year round costume, The White Stripes love of red, white and black and The Dresden Dolls mime get-up are all examples of my frustration. I just want to hear good music and it’s hard to do that when I am distracted with colorful-yet-unrelated videos and publicity-stunts. Why does there have to be this staging to promote one’s band or music? I was in a band once upon a time. We didn’t dress alike or wear make-up, but we never ended up on the top 20 charts. Could there be a correlation there?

It seems to me that you would want your music to represent you and not your clothes and videos. I find a lot of new artists through Rhapsody and it’s a good thing for them because if I was introduced to their music videos first I may never become a fan. Paul Simon for instance, who is currently rocking my morning, I have only seen wearing jeans and non-descript shirts and sometimes a baseball cap. Where is the KISS outfit Paul? Don’t you know that melody alone isn’t enough? Good songs aren’t going to get you a million hits on YouTube. It takes (which is sadly evident) more style than substance to get your point across in America.

Has it always been this way and now I am just more aware of it? I mean KISS and David Bowie were around long before MTV, but I wonder if gimmicks weren't so important maybe some of my favorite bands who didn't make it big commercially (Luna, GBV, Lincoln) would still be around making more great music.


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