Musical crap factories

Traveling and hiking in Switzerland there has been one constant: bad music. A few days ago we were waiting on a tram and did not feel we could leave the building and chance missing it. We felt like prisoners in a psychiatric ward undergoing torture. It was loud, and one bad singer after another assaulted our ears, often enough that throaty and emotive teen-something girl pouring out her deep and bitter angst.

Just this morning we were having a quiet breakfast on our hotel. Someone must have noticed it was quiet … too quiet. The button got pushed, and pleasant time was over.

Over at Gnostic Media Dr. Hans Utter reads a lot more into it than I, an interesting interview. (Click on the link for that site to the right. I am limited in what I can do with an iPhone.)

I made the mistake of criticizing Taylor Swift to a person who turned out to be a fan. I even said it was highly unlikely she writes  her own music.   I caught some blowback. Still, I doubt any but a very select few performers write their own songs. It all comes from a factory somewhere. Song writers avoid serious content, and churn out one bland and heavily produced piece of crap after another.

I left Philip K. Dick’s Radio Free Albemuth back home. I am not done reading it, so no spoilers please. In it a man working for a music company in LA says that his job is to bring together song writers and singers. It is unusual for one person to be able to do both, he says

I take it further: a musical performance requires a trained singer (trained to project the voice – not to sing well – think Bono).  It requires people skilled at playing instruments – these people dress like performers when on stage but have to focus, so usually just stand there while playing. It requires written songs, usually by others even as credit is given the Swift’s and Lennon and McCartney’s. It requires stage presence, these days supplemented by lights, giant screens, massive speakers and special effects (and sophisticated software to … ahem … help the performers hit the right notes).

And it helps tremendously if audience members are drunk or high.

For all of that to come together requires professionals behind the scenes writing the songs, ghosting the voices, playing the instruments for on-stage feedback (or  sitting offstage ghosting for the performers).  The ‘ stars’ are selected and trained years in advance … the Mouseketeers were far more than just annoying kids. Most lack real talent, but mere suggestion is usually enough. (I do not believe that either Janis Joplin or Jimi Hendrix, for instance, were anything more than the product of hype, which is why they had to fake their deaths . They could not sustain it.)

Music is not spontaneous. Stars are not discovered – they are bred and selected and trained long before bursting on the scene.

If you think, as I do, that the result is uninspiring, unmoving, non-thought provoking,  bland and unsatisfying, it is by design. Music is too powerful a force to be left to talented musicians. Like art, entertainment, science and sports, music has long been corrupted by the overlords.

 

46 thoughts on “Musical crap factories

  1. In most genres you will find only obscene, regurgitated garbage. In some, you will find better garbage. In a few genres, you will find brilliance and artistry on a classical and even more advanced level. Trust your ears and your heart.

    I have been an avid Metal fan since my youth, and nothing will likely change that. Anything “pop music” has been useless to me since well before the Grunge era in the early 1990s. But lurking beneath the shadows are those gems and treasures of classical talent, combined with the potency of advanced instrumentation. My current favorite is August Burns Red. They are admittedly a “Christian band”, which threw me off their track for a decade. I’d even seen them live and not paid any attention. But they’re amazing and the music alone is sheer genius. Here’s a favorite track, and I promised it won’t disappoint if you can entertain the acoustic/classical intro:

    Even if you don’t enjoy that track, my point stands. If you’re looking for good music, good art, good science, or good anything, you cannot find it in the mainstream. It excludes such talent, by definition.

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    1. i still remember taking my step son to his first concert, a death metal fest that i attended just to witness an authentic mosh pit! well BOOOOY was i blown away!!!!!! when the band “Children of Bodom” with the lead singer on stage with a dislocated shoulder – jammed out for 20ish minutes straight and i’m talking at speeds that had my jaw on the floor – it was in that moment i realized the real guitarists were metal heads and i was glee fully happy to have found a true expression of anxious energy…love ABR – Martyr is a fav off new(est) album!

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      1. I’ll have to check out their latest album, as I don’t think I’ve heard Martyr before! Thanks for the heads-up.

        And yes, regarding the guitar as an instrument and art form, Metal is its perfection and mastery. Not just the thrashy, gritty distortion but the Metal artists. They write the best music in a century, some of them anyway. And I love listening to some doom with my son! He’s all about it, a great bonding point.

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    2. That hurt, and not just my ears, but I felt it was assaulting my soul. Reading the lyrics was just as painful and even depressing. I’d say this example of “music” is exactly what Mark is telling us about. IMHO, of course.

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      1. You didn’t like the intro? And I find the lyrics very uplifting, myself, along with the complex music and amazing tones. Why? Because they feel like an accurate description of reality, if in a poetic sense. To each their own, but this level of musical talent is unsurpassed in the genre, and the complexity is on par with many of the old masters. Not just this song, but their body of work.

        They DO actually have a Christmas album, if that’s more your style? 😉

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      2. Additionally, this song and band don’t fit any of the descriptors Mark used in OP. And they aren’t spooks or promoting any agenda at all. For Metal, they’re very neutral. No celebration of evil, no “satanic” garbage, just really good music performed and recorded well.

        But I completely understand if you don’t like it. Metal isn’t for everyone, especially not the faint of heart. Not an insult, but rather a compliment. I wish my black heart didn’t need such music to release itself. I tend to confront my grief through music, and this type of music is the only way I can cry.

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  2. I made the mistake of criticizing Taylor Swift …
    I even said it was highly unlikely she writes her own music.

    Of this I am pretty sure 😉

    I left Philip K. Dick’s Radio Free Albemuth back home. I am not done reading it, so no spoilers please. In it a man working for a music company in LA says that his job is to bring together song writers and singers. It is unusual for one person to be able to do both, he says.

    I read the book, but refrain from spoilers here …
    But PKD was and is right. There exist several patents for technologies to embed subconscious message in sound. Just check the US patent office database. They use to go under inconspicuous keywords like “subliminal/subconscious learning”. I remember one from the ’70 (I think), granted to the (in-) famous Andreij Puharich. Not at all a conspiracy theory.

    And IMHO the so-called stars are the spoiled prats of second row neo-peerage, who “want to be famous”, but are devoid of any talent and creativity. One just needs to deliver and represent the message of the hidden king. The computer and the sound engineers do the rest …

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    1. I have been suspicious about this. It is too coincidental that music has the ability to bypass the brain’s edit functions and carries with it tightly woven words. Music without words is hardly done at all anymore except for some movies. The message is sublime and heard what – several hundred times for a “hit” song?

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    1. Really though, you’re right, Mark…. I used to manage a club in the Village of NYC called the Bitter End, and I would see great talent all the time, one example of the talent I ran into was Eva Cassidy, she walked through the doors of The Bitter End as I was setting up the Bar and she sat down and ordered a coke and handed me a tape of her music.

      I thought she was beautiful, so I injected the tape into the PA system and let her rip, and boy did she stun me with her rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” I ran up to tell Ken Gorka, a very cool dude who booked the bands, and I looked at him and he looked it me and we both said, “what the f—” and we invited her to audition right there….

      She was living out of her van at the time and she went out to get her guitar and gear etc… She came out and played, and we were driven to tears by her talent…. Anyway she never really became famous until after she died… I’ve see a lot of people like that, they just weren’t selected by the star makers for whatever reason, I think Eva was intentionally left out to save her from being exploited by the circus animals… Here she is just before she died, performing “Somewhere Over The Rainbow.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2rd8VktT8xY

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      1. I just listened to Eva. I was in tears. This was my song growing up. The principal in my grade school invited me to sing it in front of all the classes! I never heard of Eva! Thank you so much for sharing. I just shared on my FB.

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  3. Mark, I really enjoyed your article. I 100% agree. I remember loving the country music of the 80’s, it was fun music and told stories with the melodies. The singers were all different and had their OWN sound. Now, if you turn on the radio to a country station every song sounds the same…boring. I think the only place one can hear real music these days is going out to a local bar and paying 20 dollars at the door. The past few years when I am driving, I listen to classical…that’s it. It seems to me to be the last clean thing on the airwaves. While I’m here I will also add a little rant about the damn tv’s everywhere! The airports….whew! Doctor offices and nail shops. “They” don’t want us thinking for ourselves for one minute. I am relatively new to your blog and enjoying reading the truth….just feels good. Happy travels.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Man are you right about TVs! Even the car wash, and every treadmill at the gym. I treasure my gym time, not that I work that hard, but it is a nice time to look at … wait, self censor here, and listen to classical music.

      I was listening on headphones one morning and I guess humming and a gal came up behind me. She was flirting of course, and pretend-dancing to my humming. We had a chuckle and then she said that there had to be some relief, and pointed at the TV and I later learned it was the fake Paris attacks. I could have put her mind at ease but was not up to speed that morning. TV just owns people’s thoughts.

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  4. Greetings: The pumps at one of the local gas stations are connected to “GasTV” (!!!) so that one is subjected to endless commercials via a screen on the pump while gassing up, and there’s no way to turn it off. I, too, listen mostly to classical music, which I find conductive to creativity; I sometimes listen to what writer Dave Barry called “geezer rock” (stuff that’s been around for at least 30 years), but contemporary? Nope. IMHO, it’s “music” the same way modern art is “art”. Thanks for letting me add my 3¢.

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  5. What do you think of Vangelis? Some albums that have songs that I like: Opera Sauvage, Odes, Blade Runner soundtrack, Direct, Rapsodies.
    Regarding classical music I enjoy piano, flute or harp musical compositions. I believe that these 3 instruments are more harmonious or maybe more calming. Sometimes I fall asleep listening to musical compositions involving these instruments. Boccherini and Bach have some good flute compositions. Chopin has nice piano compositions.

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  6. I recently wrote a piece about noise pollution on my own tiny blog; in part, it reads —

    <<<The world has turned into the noisiest place that it’s become unbearable to me. Everywhere I go, the music is blaring at an uncomfortable level and I simply cringe. I was at an early physical therapy appointment recently and I stuck my fingers in my ears when obtrusive music seared the atmosphere. Loud, stimulating music at 8:00 am? Just a trifle early for me. I looked around and no one else seemed affected as I was. People chatted away, and here I was doing an exercise at the wall with fingers stuck in my ears. Or consider the corporate gym Zumba class where the music seemed to reach dangerous decibels. I had to walk out; no extra cardio for me that day.

    “How was your visit?” asks a department store survey? Terrible, I reply. I couldn’t hear the sales clerk because the music was so loud.

    If someone is deliberately ratcheting up the volumes to mess with us, they are doing a heck of a job. I feel anxiety, discombobulated and simply want to leave a store without buying one thing. I read the other day that physical stores and shopping centers are suffering because more and more people are shopping online. I want to be the person that supports actual stores because I don’t want to live in a virtual world, but something has to change. I guess I will keep my eye out for smaller, quieter stores where it’s a pleasure to visit. But we are losing those right and left, too. We are losing our composure, our quiet; we are losing a sane world because NOISE everywhere cannot be good for our brains or for our children.>>>

    http://www.swooninggrace.wordpress.com

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  7. The MTV VMAs were a particularly politicized nauseating spectacle this year.
    And Janis Joplin’s music is awful imho.
    I grew up on “indie”/alternative rock and have suspicions about that genre as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Grace ,
    Target and Aldi are two that have no muzak/music or store announcements ,
    around Christmas it’s so surreal to experience silence .

    I live on a ‘busy’ road and my house ( 100+ years old ) is near the front of the
    property , no cars going by back then . What gets me are the endless parade
    of super loud Harleys that go by early on Sat. & Sun. and the horrible screeching
    of the bluejays , maybe we can use these disturbances as an opportunity
    for zen meditation – using our minds/brains to lower the level of negativity .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aldis was founded by two very smart German brothers, they knew that we’re all being scammed by the outrageous food prices (Primary method of social control) and hence they simply took a look at ways to introduce non-name brand foods that were of equal or even greater quality at half the price as the name-brand stuff…

      Music systems in department stores, grocery stores are just a way to get you whistling Dixie as you’re being fleeced, it’s a designed pacifier!

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    2. Thank you, Dave. I do practice meditation and endeavor to cultivate calm within and I try to use the disturbances as a challenge to test my serenity, and of course I have to make choices about where I spend my time. I appreciate your comment!

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  9. Wow. I really enjoyed reading people’s thoughts on Music. Each comment has shown the different ways the Power of Music effects Us in our daily lives. It stops Us from bettering our health when Zumba is too loud, it stills a busy mind on a treadmill, it connects us with hard to reach inner emotions, and its a rallying point for strangers to bond as they complain about the Industry. Music amps Us, calms Us, motivates Us, We get lost in the groove, and one note or kyrical phrase can instantly take Us back to a forgotten place or time in our lives and cause extreme emotional reactions in Us. Is there anything else on the planet that has the power to create an instant shared touchstone between folks, or used as an identifying code of dress that shows the world what group or singer’s music has you under their sway, or by just the public playing of Music. The beat or lyrics or grace of playing is so powerful that it posseses the ability to bring people with nothing else in common other than all of them having the same positive emotional response to the Music that they will pay money, forfeit time, travel great distances, endure unpleasant, crowded, slightly dangerous environments to be part of a quickly created community of like minded individuals who can experience this Music being created in front of them?
    I personally think it goes back to Africa and the drum. It’s the Heartbeat of Life and its beat is the most powerful thing on the planet. Drum circles can bring the players together in a mental rhythm as they feed off of each other and music. Chanting is the same thing as singing a song. The ge leader may start and a call and response by the rest of the group follows. As the chanting progress the participants can slowly feel the tempo set and each member. The is a beat is there its not a loud pronounced sound. Rather the beat is there in the pauses and cadence.
    I am looking into the power of repetition and syncopation. It is used for the creating of songs and has been the key factor for centuries. How has this Power been coopted and for what purpose? Do We as a culture react in a way that may be unseen to ourselves but this specific response that allows positive or negative reactions can it be used to further certain TPTB agendas? It is a subject that I am currently researching.
    I live this blog and the sharing of perspectives and knowledge.
    Thanks to Everyone.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nice comment Charlie, Aren’t we trying to get back to that familiar and soothing sound of the rhythms our mothers heartbeat? Musical rhythms are born from those earliest roots, are they not? Swimming like dancing tadpoles to the roots of our musical lives, waves of pulsing rhythms encompass us with the beating of our mothers heartbeat…

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  10. Here’s something weird but true .
    About ten years ago I spent alot of time converting my vinyl collection
    to digital on my computer and one day , I think it was a WAR album ,
    I had the needle cued up in the groove and dragged it backward and I hear the
    word mother so I drag it forward and it says rhythm .
    Has anyone ever heard of this , how can it be a coincidence ,
    your mothers heartbeat is the first sound you hear .
    The other weird one was a Zappa lp were the word
    Suzy dragged backwards says Jesus .

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    1. Since I regard the Beatles now as mere fronts for other people working behind them, the spate they went through of embedding messages in the music that had to be played backward to be heard (and subtly publicized as well) could not have been accidental. There is stuff going on there.

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  11. Love the article. I thought I was the only one that had this “it’s too noisy” syndrome.
    I spend alot of time at home in silence so as to hear my own inner chatter.
    Bug Art greeting cards have a lovely card called “Cat Cushions” that I give to all my younger stressed out friends. When their stressed from too much ‘world noise’, I remind them of the card and have they had their eight cushion time…. A nice way of saying ‘chill out’ and have some silent time to hear yourself and sift through what you want and work out who you are. Have a look at the card, hint…cat and mouse game… such is life…

    Meanwhile my husband surfs through youtube channels and finds great music from different countries as we too have become selective. Just recently we discovered the chinese instrument
    “erhu’ and it’s amazing sound when played by someone intune with it. Jesse Cook is another great guitarist.

    I love my silence and relish it, and realised along time ago how music is a tool of control and so for me having it in small doses is enough like anything else in life.

    Tess

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thankyou Grace, I have just listened to his ”Sea Turtle” composition on my pc.
        When hubby comes home I will enjoy it through our amazing sound system …. he’s the tech man here.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Mark, I like your comments, but take issue only with the reference to Hendrix, who I believe was a fantastic blues guitarist. The later work was even more soulful (Hear my Train a Coming, etc.) than the earlier more pop pyrotechnic psychedelia. His innovative sound (on a guitar strung in reverse as he was left handed) has rarely been duplicated well (perhaps by Stevie Ray Vaughn, another early death). Not to question the strange circumstances of his death at 27 as being perhaps illuminating of your larger point, the man had serious talent and was still evolving as an artist. Just my take.

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    1. I agree , Hendrix’s talents , guitar , vocals , writing , improvisation
      skills , and later his studio lps , are of such a high degree , it’s
      hard to imagine he put that all aside to become a non musician ,
      but I could be wrong .
      How do I know it’s not a faked talent ?
      I have twenty plus hours of un-released material ,
      the concerts , jamming with Winwood/Traffic , Larry Young etc .
      The way other musicians put it , – he could play out of his
      mind , seemingly without end , his ideas never seemed to dry-up –

      His over the top stage tricks , where highly influenced by Ernie Isley
      ( Jimi played w/ Isley Bros before Chas Chandler ,
      weird that rhymes w/ handler ) .
      So yes the spooky stuff surrounds him but his music ,
      if it falls into your taste zone is something that’s hard to deny ,
      and he was just getting better at studio work , reading notations
      and allegedly getting untangled from his bad deals with the
      biz suits .

      Perhaps like Becker/Fagen , Jimi’s abilities did not have to be
      faked , like so many contemporaries do .
      Although they are all part of a system to bring down
      the plebs of society , the bringing down is self inflicted .
      For me I take only joy in ‘Cry of Love’ , ‘Electric Lady Land’ etc…

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      1. Anything is possible, including rave reviews by insiders for ordinary people (read Jennifer Lawrence’s Wiki page towards the end where people are in awe of her acting talents), but if I am wrong, and he really was that talented, I need a hall pass because I never cared for the genre or his work in particular. In addition, the guitar is one of the easiest instruments to learn, and requires no ability to read music. Perhaps like the electric bass (McCartney) and tambourine (Davey Jones), it allows many people of little talent access to fame.

        Now I will catch hell for implying that McCartney had little talent. That could be why Mike replaced Paul, that he had more ability.

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        1. Mark, that is a bit over road as a critique, and would apply to 90 years of blues masters, who have a phenomenal depth and breadth of seemingly endless improvisation expression of gut wrenching emotion limited only by the imagination of the guitarist. The blues for the most part is a simple framework of three chords (1,4,5 of a given key) played over usually 12 bars with a turnaround. That simplicity is a springboard not a ceiling to nearly a century of disparate forms of masterful technique. As to the simplicity of guitar as an instrument, I would refer you to wizards such as Steve Vai, Yngwie Malmsteen and Joe Satriani (or early Eddie Van Halen and many others) who have off the chart complexity in most of their work.

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          1. Yeah , I just saw Gary Clarke open for Robert Cray ,
            and if the guitar is simple , these two among others
            are Gods walking the earth .

            Mark T. , we have a show on pbs here in Philly called
            Onstage at Curtis School , ever see it . ?
            It’s the students playing , and I’m amazed at all the modern
            classical they choose to play , although maybe
            someone higher up is promoting it .

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        2. Just as a side note –
          Did you know that Jennifer Lawrence, her performance in the “Hunger Games”, and especially the related film posters are a laughing stock for the hobby/professional archery community ?
          But the same goes likewise for Kevin Costner & Russel Crowe as Robin Hood …

          Liked by 1 person

  13. Fascinating and interesting comments from everyone, I switched off from chart music somewhere around the mid-80s when corporate rock whoredom really took hold of the industry. I occasionally listen to oldies from the 70s, but my preference now is classical.

    One thing I read years ago about rock music; the heart has two pulsing beats, a strong followed by a weaker one, but rock music has two pulsing beats, a weak one followed by a strong one. (I may have got those the wrong way round as I was rubbish at both music and biology at school.) So – if we’re listening to music with a beat that is so out of sync with the heart, what is that doing to our bodies?

    Have a great time in Switzerland, Mark; I’ve only ever passed through it but it is gorgeous.

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  14. Like to add some strange associations about PKD’s “Radio Free Albemouth” and the music factories. You know, there is this song the book dwells about for several pages: “Last night a grand chick saved my life”. And how it supposedly pushed a positive sublime message about an ARAMCHECK organization.
    Strange thing is, reading this lines, I immediately thought about “Last night a DJ saved my life” by Indeep. However, the book was supposedly written in 1976, and PKD died in ’82. The Indeep song was released the same year he died, peaking in ’83. And one year later, 1984, the book was released, supposedly posthumously …
    A coincidence ?
    Or another fake ?
    And what sublime message is the Indeep song supposed to propagate … ?
    Just some random thoughts …

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