November 11, 2004

Live Wire

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A couple weeks ago I wrote an article about Jennifer Lopez and her tendency towards selling out. As I contemplated this theory again today, I realized that it isn’t necessarily just her — there’s a significant trend in show business towards doing everything rather than sticking to one talent. If you look at entertainment today, especially the music business, there is a lack of great, dedicated talent. Remember when you were younger and your piano teacher would plead with you to practice because if you didn’t, you would suck? This may apply to what is going on here. Why do you think that all of these singers get accused of lip-synching? Imagine finding out that you have a concert in three hours after you have spent the past week shopping, going to clubs, drinking and snorting coke? You’d want a tape backing you up too. I may be exaggerating, but it just seems that we’re not getting the effort and originality that we should be. If they’re that interested in partying and screwing around they should just go back to school, because then they would at least be learning something (maybe). Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson and others of their kind could really get a whole lot more respect if someone simply told them to stop screwing around and to start doing voice exercises. That’s the problem with singers these days; they are too busy with their new perfume line to actually re-evaluate why they’re famous in the first place.

Take Jessica Simpson. She has her own television show and she just signed a $10 million dollar licensing deal with Andrew Sports Club to develop her own sports line. Did the edible beauty product line (including products like Deliciously Kissable Body Shake and Deliciously Kissable Sugar Scrub) not turn out as successful as she hoped? My point is how could you expect her to practice her vocal exercises if she is so busy designing sports bras? Jessica wants to be like her competition; she wants to be involved with merchandising, ad campaigns, designer clothing, films, television shows and anything else that she can get her hands on. The sad thing is she couldn’t survive in the entertainment industry if she didn’t get involved on anything.

We live in a world of bad, under-practiced entertainers who get out of breath on live television and end up giving terribly ill-rehearsed performances (J.Lo, MTV Video Music Awards, 2001). These people don’t play their instruments, they don’t always write their songs and they appeal to an audience picked by their publicists. People like Christina Aguilera and Jessica Simpson, who actually have decent voices, sing songs that barely show their talent. Meanwhile, Britney Spears and Mandy Moore only have mediocre voices, and I doubt that it would take long to find someone with a hell of a lot more talent walking around Cornell. No wonder they sing songs requiring little range — they couldn’t provide it if they tried.

The other day I looked back at the film The Last Waltz, footage of The Band’s last concert, with guests like Neil Young, Emmylou Harris, and Muddy Waters. The film documents the heart of the music industry in 1978. There are no special effects, strange costumes or back-up dancers. There are simply a group of talented musicians singing and playing their instruments. It’s a shame that we can’t be fortunate enough to enjoy such quality and heartfelt music today due to overexposed performers and audiences who care too much about scandal and too little about quality.

Archived article by Amanda Hodes