So the television talent game show The Voice passed on singer Malford Milligan of the band Storyville.Don’t be surprised. Not one judge turned their chair around. Don’t be surprised. The “judges” didn’t even know who he was. Don’t be surprised. The glut of “talent shows” that we are currently being subjected to have one major side effect in common; they continue to encourage the devaluation of Music as an art form. America’s Got Talent, American Idol, The X Factor and The Voice all present music as nothing more than a competition with a cash prize and a potential for fame. Ah FAME! The only real prize left! We value it more than money, more than life and more than talent.
I wonder if Prince or Howlin’ Wolf would have made it on The Voice. I wonder if Jimi Hendrix or John Coltrane would have done well on America’s Got Talent. Bob Dylan or Nirvana on American Idol? I doubt it. Make no mistake, I don’t blame the shows themselves, or the networks. Television is only about money. Advertising dollars mean money and the more people that watch your show, the more you can charge advertisers and the more money you make. Money is ALL that it’s about.
I’ve watched at least some of most of these shows and I don’t really see the “judges” or “coaches” doing much more than giving superficial instructions to the contestants to “sing it more like this...” or “move around more...”. Yes comparing this to music of true artistic expression is like comparing apples and oranges but it contributes to the homogenization of music that we hear on the radio and buries true artists under a blanket of white noise.
The music industry has always gone for a “more of the same, if it’s selling” strategy. That part is nothing new but the overall decline in quality of the music is what’s truly depressing. Melodies and chord progressions that are reduced to the most basic form. Lyrics with no imagination or, at times, even any coherent meaning. Google the lyrics to Blurred Lines (here, I’ll help;http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/robinthicke/blurredlines.html) and just read them. Lennon & McCartney wish they could write something equal! Of course poor Miley Cyrus has been getting bashed for her recent antics onstage but what has she really done that wasn’t within the current climate? Britney Spears was tongue kissing Madonna, stripping to a nude body suit and writhing around with a snake 10 years ago. ( Madonna by the way was rolling around, groping herself on television 20 years ago) Nothing new there. I’m more disappointed in the fact that she comes out with a song like this (http://www.directlyrics.com/miley-cyrus-we-cant-stop-lyrics.html) “It’s our party, we can do what we want...” I think it would be really impressive if she backed up the silly stage act with something real musically. I guess sometimes we fight so hard to get the mic that it’s only after we have it that we realize we don’t really have anything to say.
Just remember; Blake Shelton or Simon Cowell are no better judges of whats good in music than you are. If it touches your soul, gives you a lift, inspires you, makes you feel, it has value.