Thursday, October 04, 2007

Hannah Montana

I'll bet y'all thought this post was going to be about Hannah Montana, didn't you?

O contrare mon ami.

Well it is a little bit. I'm going to use her to make a point and explain something about myself.

I'm one of those people who, when faced with an opportunity to chose a side in a football game on TV or something, if I don't care or don't really like either team, I'll choose the underdog.

That goes for music too.

Most people, including myself, love music. There are some folks out there who aren't crazy about music, but for the most part, we all love music.

I'm a child of the rock and roll generation. My preference in music is music in the rock and roll style.

If you like other genres, that's great. Musical tastes are such individual things. I can be moved by the music and lyrics of a hard rock song that might make Lovely Wife roll her eyes in annoyance.

But one thing that I cannot stand is when people, like music critics, treat rock and popular music as if it is the most profound invention ever created.

Let me explain.

An example is when a TV network like MTV or VH1 might produce a series of The Greatest 100 Rock and Roll Songs Ever. I have no problem with them doing this, and I usually like to watch them because I'm intrigued by creative people, but the problem I do have is the grandiose way critics and even the musicians themselves talk about rock and roll music.

I love almost every song by The Who, but when Pete Townsend is on TV trying to say things that are profound so that rock and roll will seem profound, it makes my skin crawl. He's a talented man music-wise, but stick to the music, Pete; the philosophizing makes you look like a complete moron.

Paul Stanley of KISS is the same way. Really, Paul; don't speak, just strap on a guitar and play and sing.

Rock and roll is just music. The music itself is what is great, the critics and the musician's who try to sound smart or profound invariably sound stupid.

As much as I love rock and roll music, I do not really want to hear a critic pontificate on the merits of, say, John Lennon's songwriting ability versus the songwriting abilities of Paul McCartney. They will talk on and on, and try to create this argument for their choice in the matter and you can tell that they are so smug in their arguments, so sure of themselves, and so disgustingly arrogant that it makes me want to puke.

In my opinion, it's just rock and roll, you know? Someone who hates rock style music thinks they are ALL idiots, and their opinion is just as valid as mine is or the critic's is.

The amount of money and time that I've spent on albums and CDs over the years is a testament to how much rock music means to me personally, but lets be real, it's not a cure for cancer and it's not a recipe for world peace either.

At some level, all types of music are only useful and meaningful to the particular group of people who happen to like that style of music. That usually leaves a couple of billion people in the "I don't know what that music is and I don't care" category.

So in the big picture, the snotty attitude of rock music critics is about as meaningless as art critics or drama critics or whatever.

As a teen, some of the music that was the backdrop to my high school years were rock bands such as Styx, Boston, Queen, The Police, The Clash and others.

Over time, Queen, the Clash, and Police have been generally liked by music critics while bands like Styx and Boston were hated by them, and even given the label of "corporate rock."

Corporate Rock was a hideous slur in the minds of music critics, describing what they considered to be music that was created at the behest of and ONLY for the ability to sell and make money for the record companies. Critics hated Styx and Boston and especially despised their success in the face of the fact that the critics were so vocal in their hatred of these and other band's music.

In other words, music critics actually think people care what they say and that people make record buying choices on their say so. They simply could not understand that people bought Boston and Styx albums by the millions after they said that these band's music stunk.

Poor critics.

Ten years ago, a group from England called the Spice Girls sold incredible numbers of CDs. They sold out concerts all over the world and were all made incredibly rich despite the constant cries of critics that their music wasn't worth spitting on.

I personally never liked their music either, but I have the humility to understand that people don't care what I think of the Spice Girls or their music.

But as the critics cried, I was happy to see the Spice Girl's success, if only to send music critics scrambling for their Maalox.

What brought all of this on?

I have been reading lately about the Police rock group having gotten back together and doing a reunion tour and tickets selling for huge sums of money.

The Police were darlings of the critics, and this reunion tour, over twenty years after they first broke up has made headlines in the amounts of money that people were willing to pay to see them.

I have absolutely no problem with that. If people were willing to pay that kind of money for something I can do, then I would do it and sleep well afterward.

Yesterday, I read a news article about Miley Cyrus. Miley is Billy Ray Cyrus' daughter (he, of Achy Breaky Heart fame) and the star of the teen television show called Hannah Montana.

Miley Cyrus is 14. She has put out one CD already that sold over two million copies. She's a multi-platinum music seller just like The Beatles and Elvis.

Her new CD has already sold over one million CDs.

Most people have never heard of her, but she's making some waves because her upcoming concert tour is selling out so fast that parents of the teen and pre-teen girls who want to go to her concert are paying hundreds and sometimes even thousands for a single ticket to one of her shows.

Now Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana is not really even on the radar of most music critics, but by having already sold over three million CDs, it won't be long.

I'll bet what they have to say about her will be as mean-spirited and judgmental as their critiques of her father's music of times past.

But I hope young Miley sells lots of CDs and keeps selling out concerts just like the much ballyhooed Police reunion tour.

I love seeing the underdog win. Especially when they seem to be genuinely good people in a tough and heartless business.

And I especially hope all the uppity rock critics and egotistical people who actually think that rock music is world shaking, get a good dose of indigestion.

I'll still keep on loving rock music myself, and hoping for some screaming Les Paul guitar leads on the next CD by my favorite bands, but I'm not conceited enough to think that rock music will change the world.

I just like listening to it. Your mileage may vary.

And I'll keep enjoying the fact that musical Davids can still strike big blows against the musical Goliaths of the world, and against the big headed critics who not only love them, but actually think people make decisions based on their thumbs up or thumbs down.

Good luck Miley! Give the windbags something to whine about.

I actually got to speak briefly with Billy Ray Cyrus once at the height of his success. He was incredibly humble, gracious, and friendly, and more than a little blown away by it all. It was really funny, both being Southerners, we kept trying to "out Sir" one another. (You know; yes Sir, no Sir, etc.)

I didn't care for his music, but he sure is a nice guy and I'm glad that his success has gone on into other areas like TV. I can only hope that Miley has even a little bit of his humility.

I might have to blog about that encounter sometime.

In the meantime, blogging about Hannah Montana might get me a few extra hits;-)


Babystepper said...

What I find interesting is she is making it big time as a television show character. She's not headlining or selling as herself, and everyone knows it, but no one cares.

The Rock Chick said...

Miley is huge around here! My 3 teenage daughters were very disappointed that I was unable to get tickets to her concert with The Jonas Brothers.....they were sold out almost immediately and the ones for sale are going for thousands of dollars!! (not gonna happen here!)

She is great, though and I admit to liking the Hannah Montana show, too :)


Emily said...

Isn't Billy Ray a Christian of some sort? I recall hearing that somewhere... I don't care much for Hannah Montana and country music either, but Billy and Miley seem like a very nice father/daughter duo, and I hope Miley doesn't end up like all the other starlets. =)

Dane Bramage said...

Miley is popular around my house because of the 3 to 8 year-old demographic living here. I had no idea she was selling out concerts. Bully for her. All anyone is talking about around here is Van Halen reunion tour. I am with you though. It won't cure cancer or bring about world peace no matter how badly they wanted to teach the world to sing. If you want to see musicians and critics full of themselves let them talk about Woodstock and how it "defined a generation". Yeah right.

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