I’m deeply ashamed. I guess I should have seen this coming. After the big three-oh, things can get weird for just about anybody. It’s a moral dilemma, you see, and I must suffer the indignity like a man.
I’ve been enjoying Christina Aguilera. Not in a carnal sense, no, no…but, forgive me Ozzy, in a musical sense. And that’s not all. American Idol snared me this year. And now, last year’s winner Kelly Clarkson has won me over with her new single too.
I realize that I’ve established myself in my own columns as a man of rock, a champion of the mullet arena. It was me who predicted the Rise of Metal in the wake of Queen Britney’s predictably petering career. What can I say to defend my shocking acceptance of these girly-teen anthems?
I don’t know, I just like ‘em.
Well, maybe I do know why this stuff has infected me like it has so many thousands of TRL junkies, reality show surfers, and Star 96-point-whatever radio listeners out there.
The TV People have successfully glamorized the popstar factory with American Idol, and I don't know about you, but I'm just thrilled to see this much-needed forum for confused-looking, occasionally pimply twenty-somethings who can maybe sing. A little. While MTV cranks out the audio Big Macs, we get a glimpse of the sticky, dirty, nasty sauce that fuels a quality musical performance: Competition! Crush thy enemy! Do it faster, louder, and harder! If your squealing opponent is choking on a falsetto hook, hit 'em over the head with a microphone stand and breathe some friggin' fire into that camera!
That’s what Gene Simmons would do, anyway.
There's a reason I dig this stuff, and it's not just because the new girls are easy on the eyes. They're stepping out and doing something that most men in the music biz seem to have forgotten how to do: they're singing their asses off.
Think about it. That chorus in Clarkson’s "Miss Independent" is right out of the Paul Stanley catalog of stock, ass-kicking arena rock shouting. So what if she sounds like a 14-year-old asthmatic with a cat in her throat when she sings live? In this day and age does it really matter? Similarly, you have Christina and her song "Fighter", though the Sci-fi Channel Alternafreak can actually pull it off the vocal pyrotechnics in front of a crowd. Let her loose on a stage and the girl tears it up like an angry bull in a guitar shop. For real, yo.
On the other side of the radio-ready coin, the hard rock industry is trying to turn long-haired, small town, grease-monkey deadbeat dads into the new pop divas. They're sensitive, but they don't wash their hair. They're deeply committed to suffering, and you can tell because all they sing about is their ex-girlfriends. They're all ripping off Kurt Kobain and Layne Staley, and the kids are lapping up the stale, heartless miming of genius like so much Capri Sun.
I’ve had it with this Godsmacky, Staindnickel Salivacreed radio reality.
Call me old, call me a traitor to the rock ethic, call me Cyndi Lauper - you gotta be good to walk into a studio and sing in a truly exciting and passionate way, and the women seem to be pulling it off, even if it is over a soundtrack to teenybopper shopping mall angst.
An article printed today in the LA Hollywood Reporter reads, "Rock music remains the most popular genre among U.S. consumers...". This is a good thing. It makes me happy. Obviously, there's some high-quality, hard-working rock bands out there doing a great job of keeping power chords in the mainstream. We’ve got Chris Cornell, thank God, the man is still wailin’. We’ve got Maynard from Tool pushing the envelope of acceptable melody and content. There’s a bevy of lesser-known rock sickos out there, I can’t name them all, but thanks boys.
Having said that, let’s step it up a little.
Let's hear some new standout screechers amongst the introspective hillbilly prophets. ‘Cause right now, the chicks are digging in a little deeper, and the reliable few arena-worthy leaders are aging quicker than my 80's nostalgia columns.
Brown eyes, brown hair, bluejeans and a T-shirt. Digs loud guitars and good design. Easily hypnotized by green-eyed blondes, shiny leather, B-movies, and brightly packaged foods. He's got a bustle in his hedgerow - but he is NOT alarmed.
ABOUT JEFF MILLER
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IF YOU LIKED THIS COLUMN...
6.23.03 @ 11:07a
Singers who can sing.
6.23.03 @ 11:11a
I know - it's amazing I was able to work up a column of somewhat-reasonable length based on that simple idea. Really, though, as a musician, I'm prone to long-winded opinions on such things - the truth is, it's all about personal satisfaction. One of the most basic laws of music production: How do you know if something sounds good? The answer is: If it sounds good.
6.23.03 @ 11:31a
Has anyone heard Evanescence? From what I've read, it's Metal, but with a diva out in front. Best of both worlds?
6.23.03 @ 11:33a
Y'know, I think they sing the song I've heard 5 times on the radio in the last couple of days, but the station refuses to name the band after the song ends. I hate that.
does a quick internet search
Yup, it's them. Not a terrible sound, but the song is the sort of agnst I appreciated much more 4 years ago.
6.23.03 @ 11:47a
It gets harder every year for me to listen to people singing stuff like "Save Me" over and over again. Maybe that's another reason i appreciate a tune like "Fighter" which is pretty much the opposite of all the whining we get from so many rock acts. For the most part, Christina's album is pretty upbeat, attitude-wise.
6.23.03 @ 11:49a
I love Chris Cornell.
Christina's "Fighter" sounds almost identical to Destiny's Child's "Survivor." PUH-lease.
But I'll give you the fact that at least Christina can sing. As can the woman from Evanescence. And both of them put together sound better than Sheryl Crow. Ick.
I commented to Matt* the other day that it's a shame there aren't any good female rock vocalists out right now, except for the E. chick. Gimme Ann Wilson (Heart is supposedly making a comeback.) or Stevie Nicks or Melissa Etheridge or Shirley Manson anyday. There are so few real rock females and it's a damn shame.
6.23.03 @ 12:10p
yeah, the two songs are similar - i won't deny there's a formula going on, right down to the melodies. It's pretty sad that I find their half-assed formulas refreshing compared to the half-assed formulas of the rock industry. Just another sign of age, I suppose. I sicken myself.
6.23.03 @ 12:24p
Ooh, I love Evanescence's "Bring Me To Life." Very nice vocal work. Lyrics: lame. But still. It makes me listen every time.
6.23.03 @ 12:29p
I have the album, it didn't knock my socks off. She sings well, but does she rock? I'm just not sure...I'm looking for electricity to run up and down my spine, and maybe a little soul to fuel the fire. That's why Cornell is such a monster - energy and soul, wrapped in sandpaper and denim.
6.23.03 @ 1:51p
Yeah. That man definitely hit the lead singer lottery.
6.23.03 @ 7:12p
As little as I am impressed with teenybopper rock, I must say that I was taken with Avril Levigne. As long as you're going to recycle style, it so much more refreshing to see a Chrissy Hynde type than yet another Tiffany type.
6.23.03 @ 7:47p
Every night I PRAY that the South Park people will make an episode in which Cartman sings the " Damn cold night / I'm with you" song. Think about it....perfection...