Nobody Makes Albums Anymore
A title like that should offer some foreshadowing into how I feel about modern popular music. Yes, I am admittedly a grumpy old man with my eyes specifically set on “the old days” and how things “used to be.” Even with that fact out in the open, it doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m too far off-base.
Really look at the big picture. When is the last time you heard a more mainstream album that really moved you, that really had something to say? When was the last time that one of these albums in question captured your attention from start to finish?
For me, it was Lady Gaga’s “Fame Monster.” I am in no way, shape or form a pop music fan. Most of my knowledge on the genre is cursory at best, and comes from the limited listening time I acquire in the car with my girlfriend. She’s the one who turned me on to Lady Gaga’s music, and damned if it didn’t take a really, really long time to do so. But below all the high-glamour, fame-obsessed, self-absorbed lyrical imagery, as well as the ever-crazy stage get-up, there really was something deeper to it. “Fame Monster” proved that for me. It managed to cut out all the filler of a full-sized album in favor of a more EP-like approach, and in doing so, managed to lock in seven tracks that really defined who Lady Gaga was as a person. Beyond that, they were catchy and radio-ready, which did nothing but help her explode into even greater popularity than ever before.
This story has a somewhat depressing end, however. What was next for Lady Gaga? A big, year-long tour, followed by the release of her third album, “Born This Way.” She continued her journey of combining experimental lyrical themes with catchy pop music, but this time, the music was less catchy and more out-there. And what happened? 2 out of 18 of those tracks became singles, and then she fell off the face of the Earth. Yikes.
Such is the nature of pop music. Get your flavor of the week, toss it in the trash, and then move on to the next big thing. For the most part, anyway. God knows Katy Perry can’t push out singles fast enough to keep up. She’s still coasting off songs from 2010’s “Teenage Dream.” In the same vein, however, God also only knows how long that will last. Heaven forbid she try something different, and immediately fall out of the mainstream entirely.
So what have we learned here? That there’s a different perspective you need to take toward looking at your favorite pop artists. The next time you hear an overly cheesy, pandering single, don’t look at it as that artist selling out. While that may indeed very much be what they are doing, listeners need to take into account the fact that famous artists want to stay famous artists. If the nature of the industry demands that they keep doing the same thing over and over again, you better believe they’re going to do it. If the industry burdens them with adopting some quick-to-pass fads and trends? Well, you better believe they’ll jump on that bandwagon, too.
Nobody makes albums anymore, because that isn’t what the industry demands. Furthermore their reasoning for this is that albums aren’t making them the same kind of big money anymore. They want singles, they want them radio-friendly, they want them catchy, and they want them now.
And we’ll keep eating them up, because @#*!%! it… they are pretty catchy. And only 99 cents on iTunes, too!