Of course the entertainment industry has always been full of flash and pizazz. Just take a look at the Ziegfeld Follies from the early 1900s. But in the arts there seems to be a constant tug of war going on between the razzle dazzle and the musical concepts or talent. At what point do we accept completely canned and squashed performances for the sake of watching a performer jump up and down in a shiny outfit with an elaborate set? Entertainment is meant to be a little magical, I know, but I personally don’t want it to turn into a complete house of mirrors.
I understand that lip syncing and pre-recorded vocals are not the choice of the performer at times. A huge performance, where dancing and acrobatics are expected, can make breath support and diction a little strained, and it’s a liability.
Lately I have felt like the music Grinch when I talk to people who don’t know much about the music industry. Sometimes I want to blurt out “She didn’t write any of her songs!”, or “His family was in the business, and that’s why he gets paid millions to jump around stage in a unitard shouting things that don’t make sense”, or “her voice as been auto tuned to the point of no return”. However, that would not be fair and it would also be really obnoxious of me. For the same reason that viewers of reality TV are often not aware of the amount of production work a ‘reality’ show entails, many people just wanted to enjoy what they are listening to without being told that the singer is just famous due to connections and money, or that they may or may not have songwriting or vocal abilities. Same goes for our food–sometimes consumers choose not to read the ingredients of a product.
After being asked about a particular performer over the weekend and feeling like I was telling a child that Santa did not exist, I suddenly felt quite awful for being so negative about the performer. I felt that she bulked up her name in the industry by her antics and image, while her songwriting ability did not seem great to me, and her vocals-while good-were not outstanding. It seemed so formulaic. Want to get noticed? Ditch your roots, change your look to something that pops out, change your name, put out a single that ruffles some feathers…and this is a route many performers go down.
So, I guess my ‘Part 1’ to this debate is…what is the threshold for taking entertainment over talent? Are we OK with talent being dancing and big costumes, even if the individual is making money by being marketed as a singer? These entertainers bring happiness to many, despite how much musical ability we think or know is there. And it’s not exactly Max Martin who is on the cover of Bop Magazine. Is he?
Again, I have been sitting on these thoughts for a while. Reading this pulled me toward writing about it, which I would recommend taking a look at: