More musical notes
O Crest Whitestrips Where Art Thou?
The Grammy success of “O Brother” (a total of five awards), the album’s subsequent No. 1 ranking on the Billboard chart (above Brandy and Alanis Morissette) and its impressive sales of 4.4 million copies have all seemed to send a message to the country music industry.
Well, the album did send a message, and that message has been received and marked: Return to Sender.
If there’s one culprit in the current state of country music, it may be Crest Whitestrips. Yes, Crest Whitestrips, the new dental whitening system. Because when you point a finger at Crest Whitestrips, you’re pointing at Procter & Gamble, the product’s maker and one of the largest purchasers of radio advertising time. And the major advertisers are the people who really control what you hear on the radio, especially country radio.
You can keep your Garth Brooks. I’m listening to this guy instead.
1991 was a really exciting time for music. It very clearly marked the end of what I what I used to call “The Great Music Drought” that began in the latter half of the ’80’s, when Cheese Metal bans walked the earth and formerly respectable outfits like R.E.M. and U2 started putting out crap ballads (“They think that ‘slower’ means ‘deeper”, my pal George used to say).
In 1991, the Machester scene brought a fusion of guitar pop and dance. Techno was just getting started; even then The Prodigy were already cranking out some catchy tunes, and Messiah was doing the rock-meets-electronic music thing long before The Crystal Method. Raves were still interesting and new, and I have the goofy hat and pants to prove it. In the Pacific Northwest, a bunch of bands were mixing the best elements of punk and metal, while farther south, groups like Jane’s Addiction and the Red Hot Chili Peppers were doing the same with funk and metal. Father east, bands like Sonic Youth and a new group calling themselves Smashing Pumpkins were doing wonderful Hendrix-esque things with guitar noise. Near and dear to my heart, groups like Ministry, KMFDM and Nine Inch Nails were proving that the keyboard was not a wimpy instrument. Before today’s obsession with bling-bling, hip-hop was mutating into interesting strains, what with Black Sheep, Del the Funkee Homosapien on the West Coast, Public Enemy, Boogie Down Productions and Das EFX on the east coast and Urban Dance Squad and MC Solaar out in Europe. Hell, even the pop fluff was better — give me Black Box over Eiffel 65 any day. It was a great time to be a DJ, which — funny enough — I was.
1991 also marked the first year of Lollapalooza, which had a pretty varied line-up: Siouxie and the Banshees, Ice-T and Bodycount; Nine Inch Nails, Butthole Surfers, Living Colour and Jane’s Addiction, all on the same stage. The ’92 lineup was still pretty decent, but by the last show in 1997, its lineup had already skewed towards cheese-metal, and we were yet in another Great Musical Drought with Korn on one side and Britney on the other.
Now it seems as though Lollapalooza will be coming back in 2002. And this time, Clear Channel — the people who brought you homogenized broadcast radio — will have something to do with it.
Between what’s going on with my two lines of work — computers and music — I may have to go looking for a new career. Maybe children’s television.