There is a part of me that likes the fact that the internet makes it possible to bring art and music quickly and conveniently to my computer, even though I have no idea how to properly download music or operate an Ianything. Well, that's not true. I have IHOP damn near figured out. Yet part on me doesn't like the effect that the internet has had on music.
"People used to make records
As in the record of an event
The event of people
In a room"-from "Fuel" by Ani DeFranco
We love band. We hate bands. We hate bands, but love that one song they do. I have freaking weird tastes in music. I'm open to a lot of things, but some stuff just bugs me. Mark and Kristie recently wrote about Lady Gaga, and having heard absolutely nothing of her work and having heard she's a visionary it was time for me to investigate. So went on YouTube to find the video for her latest song "Telephone".
I found the tribute to it. I found the parody of it. I found the "unofficial" tribute to it. I found the parody to the tribute to it. I found the tribute to the parody to it. I found the tribute to the parody to the tribute to it which I think is official but may in fact be unofficial. However I still have not seen the actual video. I have the first part of the song about someone not having proper cell phone reception nine times now and it would have been ten but I lapsed into a coma due to my brain's defensive mechanisms which prevent me from from grabbing but everything I can lay hands on and weaponize on a bend to lay waste to whatever is in front of me when I get that fucking annoyed with something. So the neighborhood was safe, but I lost bout five hours and awoke brown-trousered and unable to form a coherent sentence for fifteen minutes.
Much like the great pop culture rivalries, like Pepsi versus Coke, Lady Gaga has set against her Taylor Swift. Which would you listen to? Which would you let your daughters listen to? Christ. All I know about Lady Gaga is that she has a stupid name, dresses really funny and is reported to have at one point in her life had male dangly parts. I spent the better part of a year thinking this Taylor Swift person I kept hearing about was a guy with a very cool sounding name. I could not have picked her out of a police line up comprised entirely of herself and a bunch of hobos until that incident with that douchebag Kayne West.
So, I'm out. I have no clue about these people other than their music doesn't do a damn thing for me. And none of you even try that "well you need to listen and disect the various layers of what she's really saying" shit, because if my brain needs that kind of exercise I'll read something by Grant Morrison. Lady Gaga is a freakin' weirdo, and she sings weirdo pop. And that's just fine. I'm glad weirdo pop is out there, but I'll be elsewhere.
I like nerd rock. I'm a nerd, and I rock, so nerd rock is the stuff for me. I remember way back in the day when something new happened, and they called it "Windows 95" and through that you could see something called the "World Wide Web" and we deemed it exciting. And what was one of the first things we saw? "Buddy Holly" by Weezer. There they were, spliced in with old footage from "Happy Days". I like Weezer. I approve of any band that has the Muppets in one of their videos and sumo wrestlers in another.
And then there's OK Go, who I'm damn sure only have a band so that they can make cool nerdtastic videos to go along with their songs.
They've embraced YouTube, because they had to embrace something since MTV doesn't really give a damn about music anymore. But I wonder now that since nu-record stores only exist as electrons scurrying along circuits do bands car about making great albums or just great singles which they can release through their MySpace page with accompanying videos on YouTube. The last really great album I've purchased was "Welcome to the Black Parade" by My Chemical Romance which skirts the fringes of nerd rock since their lead singer is Gerard Way who writes THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY, but transcends nerd rock with this album which is a concept piece in the same scope as "The Wall".
Maybe I am getting old. I currently have "London Calling" in the car's CD player with the image of Joe Strummer swinging that guitar towards the stage planted in my head. Bono may be old and pretengious, but when he was young and angry with albums like "The Joshua Tree" and "Rattle and Hum" U2 was awesome. I'm like black coffee that been sitting in the pot for a few days: old and bitter. And I like my music old and bitter too. When I'm not listening to nerd rock, there's a fair chance I'm listening to complaint rock. Yes, there is a Midnight Oil CD in my car somewhere.
WE had cute songs until the Beatles said "Let the Monkees have the kids." We had disco and bell bottoms until The Clash and Ramones said screw this, here come the 80s. Then the 80s got out of hand and the guys who were reportedly hard and dangerous wore spandex and had big hair, and the youth said "fuck that" and a bunch of pissed off guys out of Seattle armored themselves up with flannel and changed the scene.
And of course radio and television glommed onto these things and beat the masses over the head with them until what was new, exciting and different became the norm and mundane. Alternative became conformity. But that is the good thing about the internet. It's to unwieldy. And industrious artist who is willing to network his ass off can get is work into the eyes and ears of anyone with modem. YouTube can prop up certain artists, but if their work isn't to muster, then they won't be sustained. What's hot isn't measured by airplay, it's measured by mouse clicks.
People listen to and watch Lady Gaga because they want to, not for a lack of something else. I can't take that away from her now matter how much her music makes me want kick things.