411 Fact or Fiction Music 12.14.12: One More Shot
Posted by Joseph Lee on 12.14.2012
Did Metallica do the smart thing by letting their music appear on Spotify? Will we be watching the Rolling Stones concert PPV? Should PSY be forgiven for his anti-American past? 411's Chad Webb and Jeremy Thomas debate these questions and more in this week's Fact or Fiction: Music!
Welcome to another edition of Fact or Fiction: Music. I'm your host, Joseph Lee.
This week we have Chad Webb against Jeremy Thomas.
Okay, so we're back on the "attack someone for their lyrics" bus now? Actually, let's put that a little bit more accurately...we're back on the "attack someone for their lyrics from a song that they performed almost a decade ago in response to an exceptionally emotional and volatile situation involving another country's military" bus now? There are so many things wrong with the criticism of him for this that I barely know where to begin. Let's start with this: if this was an American singer who performed a song in which the singer calls for the deaths of South Korean military members because an American got killed as a result of the conflict between North and South Korea, no one in the US would be complaining about this. It's only because the shoe is on the other foot. When Ted Nugent said that Barack Obama should suck on his machine gun, people on FOX News defended him; when Zach de la Rocha said that the Bush administration should should be hung and tried and shot, the left defended him. This is the same sort of situation.
Add in to all of that the fact that he was in his mid-twenties (and, like all people in their mid-twenties, prone to saying stupid things). He apologized immediately and unequivocally, so anyone who has any potential issue should accept it and move on. Personally, I would have been fine with him standing by his statements as socially-motivated statements of his youth that he no longer believes in, but the apology was the icing on the cake. Let it go, people; there are much more important things to be outraged by.
Chad Webb: FACT.
Let's lay out what happened here. In 2002 he contributed to a song called "Killer," which was a response to the war in Iraq after two South Korean schoolgirls were accidentally killed by the US military. Later in 2004 he performed a protest song called "Dear American," which included lyrics such as killing "Yankees" painfully and slowly. The fact is, the war in Iraq brought out passionate opinions in everyone and though it may be a shock to some, not everyone is in love with the USA. PSY has since apologized for the language he used. All I know is I can't speak for everyone. On one hand, he had the right to say what he wanted. Certainly Americans are familiar with rap artists who spout lyrics about killing people. To pretend otherwise is ridiculous and somewhat hypocritical. However, that does not mean I have to like what he said. Other artists have strong opinions and manage to deliver lyrics that aren't so blatantly offensive. I can't say I was a big fan of PSY before this. His song "Gangam Style" is catchy and fun, but I won't be spending money on it. I won't say he shouldn't be forgiven either. I lost a little respect for him for sure, but I won't be picketing his concerts or anything. Some have said that his apology was genuine and we should move on. I agree that it's possible that he sincerely regrets his comments. I hope that's true. He could also be telling us what we want to hear so his career lasts longer because America is a big market and he doesn't want to burn bridges. I think it's odd that this news is getting mainstream attention now. He has a hit on the charts for awhile, but now someone drums up this controversial old song to ruin PSY's reputation? Weird timing. I'll be amazed if this doesn't cement his "one hit wonder" status though. The fact is this stuff does happen and if we believe in "freedom of speech," we can agree that PSY had the right to say what he did. But we also have the right to say the track is disgusting. There is no forum where people can decide if he should be forgiven, so what does it matter? In interviews he seems like a decent enough guy, so yeah I can forgive I suppose, but I also won't be waiting on the edge of my seat for another hit track from him either.
I have no interest in a reality show about the members of Run-DMC and N.W.A., so why in the world would I give a rat's ass about their kids? Don't get me wrong, I love the music of both groups but in general reality shows that follow celebrities or pseudo-celebrities around and document their lives (see: Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Snooki & J-Woww, Honey Boo-Boo, Kate Plus Eight, Ice Loves Coco, etc.) are the worst kinds of entertainment this side of a Chelsea Handler marathon. Supposedly, this show is about the kids trying to get out from their fathers' shadows, which I'm sure will be very easy when they're being marketed on this show as the kids of Run-DMC and N.W.A. I know it will find a network and it will air, but I have less then zero interest in watching it.
Chad Webb: FACT.
If this show was about the actual members of Run-DMC and N.W.A. I still probably wouldn't watch it. I grew up idolizing Hulk Hogan, but I only watched an episode or so of Hogan Knows Best . Reality TV isn't my cup of tea, especially a show about the sons of these two legendary rap groups. I love the music and if they gave an interview about their careers, I would watch/read it, but other than that, I don't see why I should care about what their kids are doing. The "I'm related to someone famous so therefore I should famous too" trend is among the most idiotic in history. What could this possibly be about? Since reality television is scripted, I envision this being another Real World or Jersey Shore style series. No thanks.
I've seen the comments by Bieber's manager, Simon Cowell and such who claim that he was robbed out of a Grammy nomination. The only semi-compelling point I have seen making this argument was one by a Billboard writer who compared Believe to Justin Timberlake's Justified and noted that while both represented a very similar point in each person's career, Justified was nominated while Believe was not. That being said, Justin Bieber does not live in a bubble and the situation when Justified was nominated is entirely different than it is now. You have to look not only at an artist's quality when considering whether they were snubbed, but the quality of the rest of the year's artists, combined with the listening trends of America. 2012 has been a year where mainstream pop has started to backslide a little bit and rock is starting to seep in. Believe was reviewed moderately well, all things considered, but it was still largely considered a decent album at best while rock groups made headway. Don't believe me? Just look at Album of the Year where the nominees are three rock albums (Black Keys, Mumford & Sons, Jack White), one rock-influenced indie pop album (fun.) and one R&B album (Frank Ocean). It hasn't been that obvious yet, but for those who have missed it, let me be clear: rock is on the rise and will continue to do so, while pop will be tailing off in the next year or so.
The only place where Bieber was potentially snubbed were the pop categories. That being said, even in pop there were stronger contenders. Best Pop Solo Performance are the powerhouse voices of Adele and Kelly Clarkson, the ever-present (and more musically-mature than Bieber) Katy Perry and Rihanna and Carly Rae Jepsen. Jepsen is the only one you could really switch out for Bieber and any argument you can make for him, you can also make for her. As for Pop Vocal Album? He didn't have a chance against P!nk, Maroon 5, fun., Florence + The Machine and Clarkson. Plain and simple, Bieber was just outclassed this year and I don't think it's a slight that he got passed over.
Chad Webb: FICTION.
I realize Justin Bieber is immensely popular and his fans feel that he should be given every award and accolade known to man, but the fact is, popularity does not always equal quality. Sometimes they blend together, but not all the time. Bieber is a popular young singer, who has lasted longer than I would have expected, but seriously, does anyone anticipate him continuing to be a success 2, 3, 4 or more decades from now? Doubtful. His music is generic and lifeless. I don't care how passionate his fanbase is, how many commercials he does, or who in the recording industry wants to work with him. He has not proven anything. There is one of him in every generation. Not one aspect of his songs stands out and the lyrics, usually not written by him, are terrible. He did not get snubbed because there is nothing special about him, period.
I guess. If the implication is that Metallica had something to gain by joining Spotify, I'm not sure I agree. People will listen to them regardless of whether or not they're on Spotify. Lars and the gang have had very public issues with accepting how the music scene is changing and I can understand that. I can also understand why an artist/group would be hesitant to dive into Spotify even though I love it. But in the long run I think they realize that it won't hurt their sales so why not just give the go ahead and move on? For iconic bands like them, I think part (if not all) of the reason for allowing their music on Spotify is simply to show the public that you're adapting to the current climate. If they had waited too long if might reflect negatively on them or something, who knows? I think it's cool that they joined, but I don't think it would have made a huge difference either way. On a side note, while most of their catalogue is on Spotify, Live Shit: Binge & Purge is not and that's the only album of theirs I do not own, so get with the program!
Jeremy Thomas: FACT.
I think that Metallica joining an internet streaming service, to be honest, is a symbolic nail in the coffin of physical media and the old ways of doing music sales. Remember, this the group who fought tooth and nail against internet piracy and, along with Dr. Dre, stood as a symbol of the music industry's refusal to accept that the industry was changing outside of their control. Now obviously Spotify is not the same thing as internet piracy; far from it. But you have a handful of major artists who have held out from joining the service because of the same kinds of complaints that iTunes saw regarding artist compensation and such. The more people like Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Linkin Park and such who join Spotify, the more the industry moves forward and accepts the new landscape of music sales, which will only be good for said industry as a whole.
The combination is so odd. II can't even wrap my mind around it. I wonder how it could possibly equate to something good, but hey, weirder collaborations have happened in music. I can't say this proposal enthralls me, but I am a fan of Big Boi and enjoy the songs of Mumford & Sons, so by default, I have to say "Fact" because I would be genuinely curious if it ever comes to fruition. I don't think their styles would mesh well and it's obviously not a collaboration I would have wished for previously, but hey, you never know right? I feel like I have a mixed reaction to almost every question this week.
Jeremy Thomas: FACT.
That's just weird enough that it could really be brilliant. Big Boi always brings something interesting in terms of music and Mumford and Sons is on top of one of the hottest new trends in popular music, so why not? I'm not saying it will be a guaranteed success or anything; those are two very different musical styles and it could well end up backfiring in a big way. But I don't have to be guaranteed of brilliance to have interest in something, and in this case it is something I would not at all mind giving a chance to.
I'm not going to watch it because I'm planning on attending the 50th Anniversary show on the 13th! The Rolling Stones are a group that I have not seen in concert, so I'm excited to see them now before they hang it up forever. I will say though that even if I wasn't going to the show, I probably wouldn't order it on PPV. I have never ordered a concert on PPV and don't plan to start. Absolutely having to see it live would mean it is an extra special event for me personally. If I were to watch this specific concert, it would be on DVD or Blu-Ray when that is eventually released. That way I can watch it at my leisure and have it on in the background or something.
Jeremy Thomas: FACT.
Come on, it's the Stones live. How could I not be interested in that? Make all the jokes you want about Mick Jagger's appearance, Keith Richards' drug habit or unintelligible mumbling, et cetera but when they strap their instruments on and start playing you are almost guaranteed a great time. I picked up Grr and love the few new tracks on it, plus of course all the classic stuff so I'm all over the idea of seeing them perform, and I'm not even normally one for watching concerts on TV.
Score Card: 5 for 6
Anything you agree with? Disagree with? Sound off in the comment section.