Tuesday, March 27, 2012

An old man vents.

Tonight I had the great good fortune of going to an awards show and dinner for an award that means something to clients and planners and researchers, but is all but meaningless to me personally and to creatives in general.

But this is not my usual philippic about awards shows.

It's about a bigger problem:

The mix.

Now, I'll admit from the outset that I could give a rat's ass about Lady Gaga or Amy Winehouse or nearly any other contemporary talent. It's nothing against their contemporaryness.  It's just that my tastes--while broad and eclectic, run in different areas. My prerogative.

But tonight the "entertainment" at the awards show was a quartet called "The Midtown Men" whose claim to fame is that they were in the original cast of the "smash Broadway hit" Jersey Boys. So their entertainment consisted of re-warmings of songs from the 50s and 60s, from Frankie Valli to the Mamas and Papas.

I've spent some time thinking about this, I've spent time listening to the originals of the songs the Midtown Men imitated. One thing was clear: You could actually hear the words. And the melody. They were both important. Just not at the same time.

Listen to the Beatles. You can actually hear their poetry.
And Dylan.
And Simon and Garfunkel.
And scores of others.

Much of what I hear, see and read now gets the mix all wrong. Everything is turned up an extra notch so you can hear it. It's all too loud. Too shrill. Too insistent. Further, there is no hierarchy. Everything, every voice, every instrument, every riff is of equal importance. It becomes a melange of all colors...black.

It's like when a client asks you to bold "the important words, phrases or sentences" in a piece of copy. Before long, so many words are bolded, the regular type stands out.

Maybe this is just the venting of an old man who doesn't understand what "the kids today are listening to."

Guilty as charged.

However, that doesn't change what I believe.

When everything is turned up to 11, you can't hear anything.

1 comment:

Tore Claesson said...

Well, I hear what my kids and their friends listen to. They actually have quite broad tastes as well. Both Beatles and classical music are on their list. Classical I believe much thanks to movies such as Star Wars. But their is also a lot of alternative and electronic, mixed with hip hop and European. I don't even know what the styles are called. Either way, aside from some house stuff, most music is rather nicely arranged I have to say. They are no huge fans of mainstream hit music however, which all seems to flow in the same vein. But it's all too easy to say it was better before. It wasn't, it's just different know. I still think many modern music makers are as aware as ever of structure, lyrics, moods, etc. But it's certainly getting harder and harder to come up with anything new and good. We've heard it all before in one form or another.