Thursday, January 20, 2005

Defending Ashlee Simpson

Speaking as someone who has been playing and studying music for about 25 years now (19 years of guitar, plus bass, drums, keyboards, and the occasional vocal squawk), I have immense respect for the pursuit of musical craft. As such, I suddenly find myself in the untenable position of defending Ashlee Simpson.

It's not that I like her music. I don't, at least what little I've heard of it. It's the same over-produced, over-hyped, under-talented, pre-fab teeny-bopper crap that's come down the pike forever.

But since her Saturday Night Live fiasco, the backlash has been high. This petition sets the tone, yet there is no debate. The cold, hard fact of the matter is, it's canned music, just like most of what the major record companies produce. It's canned music, and these folks are merely pissed that they caught a glimpse of the hand holding the can opener.

It's not that Ashlee is interrupting their appreciation of the Brandenburg Concertos or anything, she just pulled a rather blatant Milli Vanilli. As always with music critics (especially the professional ones), it's not about her, it's about them, the listeners, the Lord God King Bufu of Music Appreciators. Fucking snapperheads. You're not fooling anyone, petition people. You got bamboozled, and now you're hurt and embarrassed. First the Monkees, then Milli Vanilli, and now this.

Well, you know what? If you like the song, just enjoy it. Don't worry so much about how the sausage gets made. Believe me, it's a fool's errand. A lot of high-integrity groups use a bit of "sweetening" here or there in their live performances -- including rock legends like Rush and Aerosmith, people you'd never expect to use backing vocal tracks here or there. They do it. I've seen it, I've heard it, and it's okay.

It happens not because of a lack of integrity, but because of what the majority expects. They want to hear the CD-quality cut, but it never occurs to them that they can save the $125 and stay home and listen to the CD, and not pay $8 a beer. The musicians give you what you want to hear, because you don't want a new and interesting musical experience, you want an event with your favorite hits the way you remember them, with all your drinking buddies.

So lighten up on the poor girl. It's not her fault you don't know shit about music. Now, if you want to go after that fucking tool William Hung, where do I sign up?


jordan said...

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