Boy Bands, Some of the Devil’s Finest Work

The Boy Band phenomena isn’t new. Some argue that the concept goes back to theThe-Osmonds Doo-Wop bands of the 50s but I think the concept is different today and should be traced back to the Monkees. Some believe that the Beatles, who the Monkees were based on, were the real innovators, but I disagree. There are some key elements that make up a Boy Band, and a Girl Group for that matter, that the creators of the Monkees pioneered – the concept is the engineering a band. The Beatles were too real.

First, the band is made up of different manufactured personalities that will each appeal to different people, thus extending the audience. The Doo-Wop bands didn’t do this on purpose, if it happened it was real. The personalities created for the Boy Band are usually the heart-throb, the brain, the clown, the introspective artist, and the jock. There are variations, but these are the five I’ve noticed. Kiss did this with their make-up, though I’m not sure their intentions were the same. The boys in the band then need to play these roles whenever they’re out, which has the unfortunate effect of turning their lives into one big performance and increasing the risk of total burn out and breakdown…

Next, they all need to be pretty. Each person in the crowd they’re appealing to is interested first in how good a mate they would be. There is a profound shallowness in relationship between band and fan based on the combination of appearance and false persona. Luckily for the fans, they’ll probably never meet their “love” so it can fade on its own before any kind of soul-crushing disappointment can occur.

Finally, the band will need to be able to perform music and dance… The music is somewhere in the mix, but is less important. Their handlers chose the music for them, and if they have a hand in it creation at all, it’s just suggestions here and there while the real work of music craftsmanship (not composition or artistry, mind you) is handled by the corporately-approved songwriters and psychologists who craft trite, mostly meaningless songs that will get stuck in your poor head and drive sales just far enough to make a few people millionaires before the song is forgotten and replaced by another meaningless piece of garbage. Of course… this is just my well founded and deeply researched opinion…

In the end, the Boy Band isn’t the culprit. The Boy Band is a symptom of the cancer in our society that makes nearly everything stink. Our quest for money, which is really just a form of power and control, is to blame. But that’s for another extremely long post.

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Music isn’t changing…

It’s just being explored… and much like the Earth, there isn’t much left to explore. After the work of the mid to late 20th century, nearly all harmonic combinations were pretty much exhausted. Then came the rhythmic exploration. What’s left?

There are still composers across all genres doing great innovative things. What we see becoming popular across most genres, however, is pretty much just old ideas with some new orchestration slapped on and no innovation at all.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad to return to old ideas. In the evolution of Rock we see a direct development from the blues, then an infusion of folk, classical orchestration, back to the blues, etc… and this is just in the first 10 or so years. This is how music has always evolved and become something new. But, as I said above, all we see now is the plunder of old ideas.

Although there isn’t much new coming from most of the “popular” artists, this isn’t an accurate reflection of the human spirit. Rather, it’s the result of an industry that’s in panic about losing everything because all of their old models have been destroyed by new technology. They’re only concerned now with pumping out a hit song that will make at least a million bucks.

And the artists they’ve chosen to work with are either pretty and pliable people, or diligent researchers of what has made songs hits in the past. They either smile and sing whatever is handed to them or dissect old hits, extracting the elements they need to construct a new one. Facade, sterile and surgical… no art allowed.

If you look deeply past all of this, all the fireworks that explode once, blinding you for a while, but then disappearing forever, you find the underground. The fertile ground where new ideas actually take shape.

Sites like Made Loud help you to navigate this new and vast terrain. There are others. Just search indie or underground or DIY and the genre of music you love the most. Unfortunately, as powerful as the internet is, there is so much garbage to wade through but there’s also a lot of gold buried there! You’ll find it well worth it in the end!