Friday, October 28, 2011

The end of "real" rock and roll?

OK, a coupla things: 1st off, Seano over at CIRCLE OF FITS ( recently posted something he picked-up from Buzzfeed called "12 Disappointing Facts About Rock and Roll" -- basically a list pointing out that new, young pop stars like Katy Perry & Ke$ha & the Black-Eyed Peas (or older middle-of-the-road stars you never cared about like Celine Dion & Barbra Streisand) have been more successful & sold more albums than the Beatles, Hendrix, Nirvana, Springsteen, Queen, Michael Jackson, etc. (I don't 4 a minute believe that the cast of GLEE has charted more songs than the Beatles, but....)
The drift of all this seemed to be that maybe good 'ol' rock&roll as we know it has reached its sell-by date -- 2 B replaced by ... whatever The Kids R listening 2 these days.
Of course, The Kids R gonna have Their Own Music, just like you & I did. Just because my kids sang along with "Behind Blue Eyes" doesn't mean your kids R going 2.
1 commenter hit it on the head 4 me. He said older generations always hate the younger generation's music. & he's right. You didn't let your parents pass Final Judgement on YOUR music, did you...? Of course not.
...& then 2nite I saw my buddy Crabby's list of summa his favorite "Pop Fluff" from his teen years (which you can read at -- & hoo boy, there's some great stuff from the early '70s listed there. & there's also some Real Crap I STILL won't listen 2.
So: If you think there's Nothing New & Good on the radio anymore (like I do sometimes), & all The Kids listen 2 is garbage, then maybe you're ready 4 the idea that Classic Rock is Over With. That maybe all those sales records held by the Beatles & Michael Jackson deserve 2 B toppled.
Maybe. Records exist to be broken. It's a bigger consumer market now, & it's EZer now 2 "sell" a tune thru downloading & etc.
But the undercurrent of summa this bugs me. The assumption is that Back In The Day (meaning the '60s & '70s), only Good Stuff got played on the radio, & only musical artists with creativity & vision & soul were rewarded.
Like hell. There was a LOT of crap that sold massively back then. Maybe my fellow Classic Rock Brothers & Sisters will try 2 convince you otherwise, but lotsa good stuff back then went unheralded, while lotsa pure hackwork went straight 2 #1.
I'd like 2 say quality work always lasts. I do believe that. But....
The mass of consumers -- who may not B rabid music fans, just want something good 2 listen-2 in the car -- always buy schlock & always will.
4 proof, I call upon Joel Whitburn & BILLBOARD's TOP POP SINGLES 1955-2002. This invaluable book is not only great 4 tracking down Great Lost Singles, it also has easily-accessed lists of #1 hits, year by year.
Let's take a look back at some of the timeless classic songs "my" generation -- the generation that now listens 2 Classic Rock & thinks most new music is trash -- helped push 2 #1 in the US.
Starting with Beatlemania & the "British Invasion," back in 1964, some of these forgotten #1 classics include:

Dean Martin -- Everybody Loves Somebody.
Lorne Green -- Ringo.
Bobby Vinton -- Mr. Lonely.
Freddie & the Dreamers -- I'm Telling You Now.
SSgt. Barry Sadler -- Ballad of the Green Berets.
Frank Sinatra -- Strangers in the Night.
New Vaudeville Band -- Winchester Cathedral.
Frank & Nancy Sinatra -- Something Stupid.
Bobbie Gentry -- Ode to Billy Joe.
Herb Alpert -- This Guy's in Love With You.
Bobby Goldsboro -- Honey.
Jeannie C. Riley -- Harper Valley PTA.
Henry Mancini -- Love Theme from ROMEO AND JULIET.
Ray Stevens -- Everything is Beautiful.
Carpenters -- Close to You, Top of the World, Please Mr. Postman.
Partridge Family -- I Think I Love You.
Tony Orlando & Dawn -- Knock Three Times, Tie a Yellow Ribbon 'Round the Old Oak Tree.
Osmonds -- One Bad Apple.
James Taylor -- You've Got a Friend.
Donny Osmond -- Go Away Little Girl.
Melanie -- Brand New Key.
Mac Davis -- Baby Don't Get Hooked on Me.
Chuck Berry -- My Ding-a-Ling. (Yes, he deserved a #1, but this?!)
Helen Reddy -- I Am Woman, Delta Dawn.
Vicki Lawrence -- The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia.
Paul McCartney & Wings -- My Love, Silly Love Songs.
Charlie Rich -- The Most Beautiful Girl.

...The peak year 4 Total Schlock was 1974. Take a look at THESE classics:
Barbra Streisand -- The Way We Were.
John Denver -- Sunshine on My Shoulders.
Blue Swede -- Hooked on a Feeling. ("Ooga-chakka, ooga, ooga, ooga-chakka, ooga, ooga....")
Elton John -- Bennie and the Jets.
Grand Funk -- The Loco-Motion. (Heard Little Eva's version lately?)
Bo Donaldson & the Heywoods -- Billy Don't be a Hero.
Paper Lace -- The Night Chicago Died.
Paul Anka -- You're Having My Baby.
Olivia Newton-John -- I Honestly Love You.
Dionne Warwick & the Spinners -- Then Came You.
Helen Reddy -- Angie Baby.

Take a deep breath. There's more:
Neil Sedaka -- Laughter in the Rain.
Frankie Valli -- My Eyes Adored You.
Elton John -- Philadelphia Freedom.
Freddy Fender -- Before the Next Teardrop Falls.
Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds -- Fallin' in Love.
John Denver -- I'm Sorry.
Silver Convention -- Fly Robin Fly.
Staples Singers -- Let's Do it Again.
Starland Vocal Band -- Afternoon Delight.
Elton John & Kiki Dee -- Don't Go Breakin' My Heart.
Walter Murphy & the Big Apple Band -- A Fifth of Beethoven.
Rod Stewart -- Tonight's the Night.
Mary MacGregor -- Torn Between Two Lovers.
David Soul -- Don't Give Up on Us.

...That takes us thru early 1977, about the time Fleetwood Mac's RUMOURS was released, & I'm sure there R LOTS more Mbarrassing Xamples I could add, but this is probly enuf.
...Now some of those R OK songs ... I guess. I even bought a couple of them. (I plead peer pressure!) But they ain't Xactly rock&roll, R they?
Want some more disgusting facts from the days of good 'ol' rock&roll?:
Helen Reddy had 3 #1 hits, & 7 Top 10 singles.
John Travolta had 1 #1 single, 3 Top 10 hits, & 6 Top 40 hits.
The Carpenters -- who I didn't think were COMPLETELY terrible -- had 20 top 40 hits & 3 #1's.
Tom Jones had 19 Top 40 hits, 5 in the Top 10. A couple of 'em were pretty cool. But most....
Engelbert Humperdinck -- who's name I NEVER thot I would mention here -- had 9 Top 40 hits, 2 in the Top 10 -- in 1967 & '76. Rock & roll?
Barbra Streisand has had 21 Top 40 hits, & 5 #1's.
Olivia Newton-John had 28 Top 40 hits, & 5 #1's.
Moving 2 something a little newer:
Whitney Houston had 11 #1 hits up to late 2002.
Mariah Carey had 15 #1's thru the end of 2002 -- & can you NAME any of them other than "I'll Be There"?

...This list of forgotten classics isn't Xactly a triumph 4 good 'ol' Classic Rock. But I think it all depends on when you started listening & what you were listening TO. Some old-time fans could say "real" rock&roll was dead by 1958, or 1960. Or 1967. Certainly by 1975. Or '77.
Whenever the cutoff date is 4 you, I don't think Paul McCartney is 2 worried about some1 selling more songs than the Beatles. I also don't think Elvis & Michael Jackson R 2 concerned, wherever they R....
Today's no-talent flash-in-the-pan will be forgotten in 2 years. Keep playin' the Good Stuff, & let the rest go. You can bet that fans of Elvis, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong & Benny Goodman did the same thing in their time....


R S Crabb said...

Hey TAD, ol' Crabby here.

As always thanx for the plug. I think music has had their share of shitty music over the years but the difference is that I remember more of the shittier stuff in the 60's thru the 90's better than the autotuned crap dance rap of the past decade. Or the American Idol screamfest that makes radio sound like torture. In fact I cannot tell you any of the Mariah Carey or Whitney crap that hit the top forty last twenty years. Why I don't remember is that it's not my music, my generation's music probably ended around 1985, of garbage like Mr. Mister or Take On Me. But then again the 70s had their share of Godawfulness (Disco Duck, Having My Baby, Light Up My Life etc.) too.

Back in our day, it was uncool for a guy to like The Carpenters or Donny Osmond and his brothers. And guilty pleasures of even remotely liking it one was asking for ridicule and a forfeit of the Rolling Stones or Led Zeppelin 45s. Our AM station did play Immigrant Song or Whole Lotta Love (the short version that is)alongside with Sweet & Innocent or The Candy Man. 1985 also gave us the specialized playlist that radio stations played certain songs and alas, has been in place ever since. Even back then, there was so many 45's of DJ Promos of great music that never charted.

But with each merger of record companies, the quality of music was getting less and less. At least in the 70s, labels like Warner/Reprise or MCA or Columbia/CBS was willing to give a band 3 or 4 albums to improve their craft. Not unlike today to which if a band don't sell X amount of copies of their first LP, they would be gone.

The problem of music today is that even I can't remember half of what comes out or how it sounds like even after listening to it a few times, unlike the old days to which Moody Blues or The Beatles or Zeppelin or Queen making music that you can remember better due to certain hooks or words. Hell, even crap like Fly Robin Fly has at least a bass line that I can remember. Today's stuff, I can probably hum a few bars of Cee Lo Green F**k You (or Forget You) but still it doesn't have much memorable value like the Pop Fluff of the 70s.

It's hard to pinpoint the glory years of rock music (1976 may have been the zenith for creative stuff) but I think 1985 was the beginning of the downhill slide but perhaps the day music did start to die may have been the infamous 1996 Telecom Act that enabled Cumulus Radio and Clear Channel to buy up the independent radio stations to become robot stations or 1998 when Universal bought out Polygram Records and the arrival of Limp Bizkit that could be consider the day the music died. I keep reading that big mouth Bob Lefsetz is saying the music revolution is now here thanks to Spotify and the net and that commercial radio is dead in the water. Which is bullshit. Problem is that there's not another Beatles on the horizon, nor the next Zeppelin since the Big 4 labels are not interested in band development but rather resting on the laurels of the past.

To sum it up, the majors are only interested in the flavor of the day and whatever comes out as number one today is forgotten tomorrow. Which makes crap like Having My Baby or You Light Up My Life back in the past sound better than anything on top forty today. And that's a pretty bad situation.

TAD said...

Crabby: I think you're right about the "memorability factor" of the "pop fluff" you & I both listened 2 when we were growing up. Seems like the song construction was stronger back then, & there was always some kinda nagging chorus or hook that would implant even the worst, cheeziest song firmly in yer brain -- especially if you didn't want it there.
Also, I think CeeLo's "Forget You" IS memorable & IS funny -- I didn't want 2 like it, but I think it works on a number of levels -- his vocals, the funny lyrics, the fact that you can hum the tune, etc....