Friday, June 22, 2007

American Idol

Right, so here’s something I really must have a bitch about ‘cause it genuinely drives me insane, & has lately been the cause of me ending up in a quiet fury following various ventures downstairs in innocent, clearly naïve, search of something to watch which is either interesting and beneficial to my life, or a trashy reality show which serves as light entertainment and a reminder that I should be grateful for my fairly well-functioning brain. But, instead, I return upstairs concerned not only about the lives of the people who create it’s popularity, but the repercussions it could have and is having on the already unwell music industry. “Well, what is this ‘it’?” I hear you say. “quit rambling and get the hell on with it!” you exclaim with exasperation. Ok, no need to raise your voice. The cause of my emotional upheaval is one of a few shows which, if I were a Christian, I would, I think, truly believe had come straight from the devil as part of a cruel but absolutely genius plot to poison society. The current culprit? American Idol.
It was a good idea. It’s undeniably difficult to get seen in the music industry. Hundreds of awesome, talented artists a year probably decide to go for something less risky or give up and take that office job after their last chance demo was to no avail, it was a good idea. So what happened? I suspect that, as with so many other things, the U.S. government for example, something which was potentially an immensely powerful force for good ended up in the wrong hands and was, therefore, turned into something which could dilute the patriotism of a senator. To get to the crux of why I have such an issue with the show, it would serve, I think, to inform you of my finely tuned methods for seeking out music which will influence my life in a positive way:-
-it is absolutely indisputable that the voice must be unique. Forgettable voices, voices that fit into a genre, & voices that you wouldn’t say ‘oh my god what is that voice doing on this cruise ship stage?’ to are not going to narrate inspirational lyrics.
-the artist has got to have a huge amount of character, and an interesting personality and life story.
-the lyrics are central; if I can’t hear/relate to/believe that there is integrity behind the lyrics, the music is pretty much invalid.
-as a direct result, genres such as screamo are more or less ruled out, along with cabaret-type clichéd lyrics (often identified by use of the word ‘babe’/’baby’).
-albums with sleeves that don’t say “all songs written by (artist’s name) except track five which is a phenomenally well done cover or written with someone the artist feels a very strong musical affinity with.” are immediately put back on shelf, occasionally accompanied by a small look of disappointment.
-the only artists not subject to the above rule are those which either not only fit point one but exceed it to the degree of ridiculousness (e.g. Barbra Streisand), or are so phenomenal at what they do in every other area that whether they can write or not is irrelevant (e.g. Madonna).

Now, considering that American Idol has been created to actually breed ‘artists’ who:-
-all have good, very (often actually to the point where they are barely distinguishable from eachother) forgettable voices.
-all have one of a pre-compiled list of I would guess four or five life-stories (ok guys, there’s “I’ve always sung, even as a kid, I would just sing!”, or “well my dad left home when I was five,”, or, everyone’s favorite “I spent my childhood going through my parents’ (insert decent artist you have no interest in) records”-what’s it gonna be?).
-all have zero writing or instrumental capability (the ones who do are quickly removed when the novelty of talent wears out).
-and, not forgetting the most crucial ingredient, all have an inexplicably very high opinion of themselves and no personality. (any with personalities are also promptly dealt with).
you can probably get why I don’t so much like the show. It upsets me-one, because I have to watch songs written my real musicians with passion and talent and personality become irreversibly tainted, along with the charts of the era which I will have to take responsibility for having grown up in at some stage, and two, because I genuinely feel sorry for the contestants. The poor unfortunate souls who win are then promptly chucked out into the charts to a fan base of grannies with no desire to actually buy records and teenagers with attention spans so tiny that they have already become disinterested with you by the time you’ve released your painfully cheesy and irritating debut single (complete with corny music video montage sensitively depicting the emotional roller-coaster of a time you spent on No-Longer-Proud-To-Be-American Idol, of course) and the harsh realization that their good, strong, unoriginal voices do not equate talent and will not provide them with a long standing, rewarding career in the big wide world outside the studio where the critics aren’t followed around by a sweet little woman with something nice to say to make you feel better. But America has bought it. Hook, line, & sinker my country falls season after season for the idea that this time some real talent is gonna be unearthed. And I can do little more that look on with disappointment and disapproval, much like one watches a close friend repeatedly go back to a violent relationship. Actually, no, it’s more like watching someone you no longer wish to be associated with set fire to ten dollars then run into a wall repeatedly before looking ever so slightly disillusioned, strolling off, then returning twenty minutes later with a vague smile and lobotomized look of interest to repeat the process. Please, America, just give up and let the idols find you. Please.



Saturday, June 02, 2007

coming soon...

don't go away! my a.s. exams finish on the eighth, which means...that's right-more incoherent ranting and unnecessary use of italics are on their way!

look out for upcoming posts on:

--> myspace
--> "American Idol"
--> homophobia vs. christianity
--> faith schools
--> philosophical arguments for the existence of God

and possibly much more!! stay tuned folks.



Friday, June 01, 2007

on Tony Blair's resignation.

May 10th 2007 (sorry, took me a while to post).

So Tony Blair resigned today. Resigned. I mean, he doesn't leave office until June 27th, but he's quit; ten years after a six year old me marched around my london house during elections chanting "to-ny-bleughr!", on the conviction from my conservative-voting father that he was "the bad guy", along with the added justification of my views that he was the head of some "party" (which confused me immensely-surely the running of the country is not to be intermeshed with such jovialities as parties?) whose color was red, and whose name was "Labour" (British spelling out of respect). Yeah, labour-you know, that thing women go into screaming and bleeding-blood-you know, the red stuff?...these links were sufficient logically in my six-year-old mind to confirm my father's claim, and so I was duly quite disappointed when he was elected prime minister.
I then took my place to sit back & ignore politics for the rest of my childhood-stepping back in only recently, at the revelation that, everywhere I looked, everyone seemed to hate the leader of their country. No society seemed to be capable of electing a suitable leader and sticking with them. Deeming this a pretty ridiculous situation, I decided to re-evaluate my own views. All I could see was that there was a war going on, for which the justification was disturbingly vague and disputed, and which the public were being, on the whole, disturbingly light-hearted about; it was on every comedy sketch around. Terrifying.
Yet, although I was witnessing all of this in Britain, I didn't have anything really against Blair; I mean, I didn't hate him. I knew how hard 9/11 had hit; to watch such a horrific thing happen in what I still consider to be my country on t.v. when I was ten years old was the most crushingly, unbearably terrifying thing that has ever happened to me. I was at boarding school at the time, and, without any trusted sources nearby to convince me otherwise, I walked around terrified and cried myself to sleep every night for over a month because I thought something that terrible happening meant the world was going to end. And, even within the sheltered environment I was in, I was pretty aware that the horror and outrage was public concensus. If we're being honest here (which we are-no lies in my blog, honey), whether or not the two were in fact linked, it looked it, and at a time when there was mass fear and paranoia, and such a huge threat sitting at our doorstep, the most dangerous thing that anyone, let alone the prime minister, could do, was to appear in any way un-patriotic or not as outraged as everyone else.

((NOTE: I am not saying that I ever thought of this war, or any war for that matter, as justified; I don't pretend to know anything about politics, but plain common sense and logic tells me that there must be a better way of dealing with a problem than just killing people. I mean, seriously-
"I want to do this."
"I disagree."
"Ok, well, how about we talk about it and try to sort something out?"
"Ah, screw it. We're not getting anywhere here, let's just send out a bunch of people to kill eachother-whoever kills the most wins?"
"Great idea! Let's go-race ya to the conscription ads!!"
Wow. And these are the smartest people we can find; the ones we've chosen to be in control of the world. That is impressive.))

So, yeah, from my uneducated-on-such-matters teenage point of view, he should have taken the risk, but I don't know if I would have. With the world-power equivalent of a mentally challenged eight year old kid running around holding a hand gun, in the form of the United States under the bush administration (which I refuse to capitalize), breathing down my back, I might have done the same. (although, that is one of the reasons why we do not elect sixteen year old world leaders, and why I do not currently intend on running for president).
The point is that we are all human, and we all make mistakes, given, some have much larger scale repercussions than others, but when a person tells me that "Hand on heart, I did what I thought was right.", that's a person I can forgive. I have a lot more to expend my energy on hating across the Atlantic, and besides, with Blair in power, I've felt undeniably, inexplicably safe.
And that's what struck me today when I watched what looked like a man (keep reading, I'm not suggesting he is in some way androgynous), who wasn't allowed to explicitly admit he'd done anything wrong, trying to apologise; despite his funny ears, despite his decision to back faith schools' veto to section 28, despite raising his children into a religion, despite all of his mistakes, I can't deny that I felt a loss.
A loss, I guess, of the sense of security that comes from having had a leader for so long that he crops up in one of your earliest memories, and an unexpectedly tangiable fear of the unknown, made even more dangerously real by the constant, stark reminder just an eight hour flight away of what can happen when the wrong person ends up in power.



post scriptum

"you don't have to be a pilot to fly in the R.A.F." oh god, you don't? Christ, who's flying the planes then??!! hahaha, I know I just said that the situation should not be used as comic fodder, but what a perfect illustration of the stupidity of it all.