Your Take: Mediocrity No More

Karlie Justus Marlowe | March 26th, 2011

Along with its usual basketball and St. Patrick’s Day calamity, the biggest madness March has seen so far stems from an autotuned song about the weekend. Virtually unknown until a week ago, Rebecca Black had dominated YouTube, Facebook and Twitter conversations with her song and video “Friday”:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CD2LRROpph0

Music blogger Bob Lefsetz used Black as an example of how the music industry has changed, listing out 23 lessons from the Black explosion. Here is one of the most interesting:

19. Either go for train-wreck value or be exceptionally good.  Yes, if you’re an “artist”, mediocre doesn’t cut it.  The landscape is evanescent lowest common denominator crap or incredible art.  In other words, if you’re not going to be the next Bob Dylan or Radiohead, stay in school.

What do you think of Lefsetz’s statements? In today’s digital age, is there room for mediocrity? Do you think his statement applies to country music? In country music’s history, has there been an equivalent to Rebecca Black?

  1. Waynoe
    March 26, 2011 at 9:18 am

    Why is this stupid song on here? If you are running out of country music-realted material, we can provide some. Pathetic.

  2. Ben Foster
    March 26, 2011 at 9:26 am

    Lefsetz makes an interesting point, and I almost wonder if such reasoning was behind such a turd of a song. “Friday,” may be bad, but it’s so bad that it’s making a lot of waves. (I’d take “Finally Friday” over this any day)

    I wouldn’t say that’s necessarily been demonstrated in country music, since we definitely do hear a lot of mainstream country music that is just plain mediocre. I can’t really think of any act that would be a country equivilent to Rebecca Black except for maybe the JaneDear Girls, but that still seems like a bit of a stretch.

  3. Michael Stover
    March 26, 2011 at 9:29 am

    Mediocrity rules the day. Unfortunately…everywhere you go. Look at your popular TV shows or media darlings. Most of them have NO talent and are simply trainwrecks. The digital age of easily accessible digital media has eliminated the “gate keepers” that were once the major record labels. YouTube has allowed for instant stardom, just because of numbers of views/comments, etc. It has nothing to do with art or quality. Today’s digital media, including YouTube, has led to an irreversible lowering of standards, when it comes to talent and led to a dismal society that wallows in it’s mediocrity.
    Look at country music. Most of it is cookie cutter, mass produced and boring. There are some originals that stand out. But if I hear another Taylor Swift song that sounds EXACTLY like the one before it, I’m gonna scream! Look at what that did to Shania’s career. Her stuff all sounded the same after a while. Look at American Idol for mediocrity. Some of these kids couldn’t hold a candle to some of the people I’ve heard in karoake bars. And the judges reinforce their mediocre talent by calling them “unique” or “having character.” PLEASE…let’s be honest. Not everyone is talented. That’s why it should be special when someone is…

  4. Barry Mazor
    March 26, 2011 at 10:01 am

    And–once again–there was this Golden Age when Amazing Moving Creative Music ruled the airwaves on popular TV shows, was not cookie cutter and was not (because this is what everybody really means here, not mediocre) disposable and bad?

    When was that? I’ve despised the word “boomer” all my life, for lots of reasons, though I’m of that over-praised, over-derided, over-analyzed and too often cranky generation. And I can’t seem to recall which year or period that time when quality ruled mass media was exactly.

    There’s no guarantee that any given period (or year) or culture will be tossing up masterpieces–an answer to the “something now MUST be great, so this New Thing is great” crowd. And if there are structural or national reasons this is not a Great TIme for Music, somebody can take a crack at showing why–but it’s not a small or offhand sort of subject. And again, we really ought to be skeptical of claims of The Great Fall. And informed enough to know the trash of other eras!

    Ms. Black has no apparent talent; just parents who bank-rolled this little gift to the world, so it is what it is. But I can remember in my lifetime novelty acts like “The Sinigng Cabdriver,” who badly sang “If I Had a Nose Full of Nickels, I’d Blow It All on You” on the Ed Sulilivan show, and one Bermuda Schwartz, who made records wildly out of tune and had a short radio fad, as did a certain unlistenable Mrs. Miller. These things blow over, fast, and a few nuts like me manage to recall them. From the Golden Age before mediocrity.

  5. Fizz
    March 26, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    No worries, mediocrity is here to stay, in every arena. TV and radio just want something to keep people tuned in until the next commercial, but not so great that they’ll turn it off as soon as it’s over. Turn on just about any terrestrial radio station of any format (the discussion of earlier this week notwithstanding), and you’re sinking into a vast sea of mediocrity.

    As for this song, which I refuse to click on, as Barry said, it’s a novelty. But it seems as if, in these days of YouTube and Twitter and karaoke-contest winners with major record deals, a freak-of-the-week like this chick gets afforded a lot more exposure. Do your part and don’t click the link or talk about her. She’ll go away faster that way.

    Hopefully …

  6. Jon
    March 26, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    As for this song, which I refuse to click on…

    What a rebel! Way to stick it to The Man.

  7. luckyoldsun
    March 26, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    Waynoe–
    This is as bad as when the writer on this site posted a topic about songs featuring her dog’s name. Or was it her boyfriend’s name? It was one of those.

  8. Greg M
    March 26, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    Must be a slow news day in COUNTRY music when a COUNTRY music site is even talking about this song and giving it the attention it says the song shouldn’t have. I guess the site hasn’t bashed anything for a while and this song was ripe enough, even though it has NOTHING to do with COUNTRY music.

  9. Waynoe
    March 26, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    How ’bout we list somw ideas for this site to write about since we are now reduced to this rubbish? Start the list please.

  10. Fizz
    March 26, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    You first, since it’s your idea.

  11. Lewis
    March 26, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    Barry: Another person who sticks out like a sore thumb is Justin Bieber who exactly did what Rebecca Black did and posted his so-called singing and talent on YouTube and got the attention of a whole bunch of giddy young girls and teenagers who seem to think he’s something on a stick. Bieber reminds me of a little boy who never has really grown up with that prince boy haircut of his and his singing and talent is very hyped up when it’s about like Taylor Swift’s voice and she’s another person who has made it without much of a real singing voice. All you hear now from her is “la la la”, “why-a-why-a-why”, “call-a-call-o-whoa”, etc.

  12. MayorJoBob
    March 26, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    Country music may turn into this rubbish if something doesn’t change!

  13. Phil
    March 26, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    Yeah…the media and blog sites are just as much to blame for giving this crud any attention as the “artists” are who put it out in the first place. And I guess I can blame myself for actually commenting on it, even if I’m not really commenting on it so much as I am commenting on the lack of credibility of the media today, and the artists and so called music because of it. It’s all about money and popularity…and only about money and popularity.

  14. Jon
    March 26, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    Kudos to Barry for not only grasping the point – including what “mediocrity” means and doesn’t mean (he might be the only person here besides me who recalls the late Roman Hruska)- but actually addressing it.

  15. Brody Vercher
    March 26, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    [...] is there room for mediocrity?

    Only as long as Waynoe or Fizz are allowed to comment — on anything.

    Seriously though, why do either of you bother to visit The 9513?

  16. Mike W.
    March 26, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    I’m not surprised by Rebecca Black’s popularity.

    Top 40 and Pop music as a whole is complete shit. It’s a mindless genre of music with no heart or feeling behind other than background music at people’s jobs and while they shop or when they go out to a club.

    Country music definitely has it, but I still think the genre cranks out more music with “heart” behind it than most of the other popular mainstream genres.

  17. Phil
    March 26, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    OK Barry, then tell us who is creating incredible art in Country Music today? That seemed to be Lefwits contention…that it’s either a trainwreck or it’s incredible art, with no mediocrity inbetween. I guess Taylor Swift and Keith Urban are producing incredible art if you have to compare it to this. lol Maybe there’s a new scale we go by now than there was in the past since anybody can pretty much put a video on youtube for the world to see, and call it music and art.

    Anyway, I said it before…Artists are no longer defining themselves and a generation…they are being defined by this generation and somebody or something else. Yes, it’s always been about money and popularity (and fame), but it used to be about talent and creativity and the music first and foremost. Or maybe I’m just fooling myself into believing it ever was.

  18. Phil
    March 26, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    Sorry, I meant Lefsetz. I’m not sure if spelling matters much though. :) And I don’t think anybody ever said there was some specific Golden Age for music…that is subjective to each person. But at least at one time it was about the music. 20 years from now, people will probably be complaining about how much better the music and artists today were than they are at that time too, and wonder whatever happened to real music and artists as some robot dances across the stage as an artist in place of an actual person….and we’ll call that art and entertainment. lol For those who actually remember any of the actual music…or what the artists of today sang besides what role they played. But I could be wrong. Time will tell.

  19. Waynoe
    March 26, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    Brody,

    There is room for mediocrity as your posting and taking up space here proves.

  20. Fizz
    March 26, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    Because I like to rant about music, and because it’s fun to piss off people like Jon The Omniscient: “Kudos to Barry for being the only one here whose intelligence even even sniffs that of my all-knowing self–but he’s still a few backwoods miles off yet.”

  21. Kyle
    March 27, 2011 at 1:04 am

    Waynoe… you just used the same joke Brody made about you.

    I think what Lefsetz said is really only true for viral things like youtube videos. There really isn’t anything that gets played on any radio format for its “train wreck value”, and there’s mediocrity everywhere.

  22. Fizz
    March 27, 2011 at 1:27 am

    I agree, Lefsetz was way off-base. Sure, the Susan BOyles and Rebecca Blacks of the world tend to generate lots of media coverage, but radio likes to keep everything awash in droning mediocrity.

    But I alrady said that, in different words.

  23. Ollie
    March 27, 2011 at 7:42 am

    FYI. For those of you wondering about Jon’s Roman Hruska reference, Hruska was a U.S. Senator from Nebraska who, in 1970 or so, responded to criticism that Supreme Court nominee G. Harrold Carswell was a mediocre judge by stating: “Even if he were mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren’t they, and a little chance?”

    Too bad Hruska missed his calling as a Music Row executive….

  24. Thomas
    March 27, 2011 at 9:06 am

    …ms. black is not mediocre – she’s sub-terrestrial. anyways, it’s the mediocre that makes the great so outstanding. and yep, i think mr. hruska was spot on.

  25. Jon
    March 27, 2011 at 10:31 am

    @Fizz And yet, you seem more pissed off than I.

    I’ve asked before, I’ll ask again: why do people pay attention to Lefsetz? That’s not a rhetorical question. Does he have a track record of making sharp artistic or business decisions? A catalog of insightful analyses? Or does he differ from folks like Waynoe and Fizz only in that he’s not afraid to use his own name?

  26. Phil
    March 27, 2011 at 11:35 am

    I think the question should be, why do people pay attention to Jon. :) I found out a long time ago that people don’t pay attention to me. Which I’m perfectly fine with judging by most of the comments on this site by others. But they’re fun to read nonetheless and sometimes I get something out of it all. lol

  27. Justin
    March 27, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    This song is spreading like wildfire. Shame on this site for posting this song. It’s not country music, and they are simply giving it more attention. Dont listen to it folks!

  28. Donald
    March 27, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    >>>>Shame on this site for posting this song. It’s not country music, and they are simply giving it more attention. Dont listen to it folks!
    <<<<
    Please, read the posted questions before questioning the inclusion of the video: In today’s digital age, is there room for mediocrity? Do you think his statement applies to country music? In country music’s history, has there been an equivalent to Rebecca Black?

    And the answera are…Barbara Mandrell and Sammy Kershaw. My opinion only, of course

  29. Jon
    March 27, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    Whoa. Barbara Mandrell and Sammy Kershaw are equivalents to Rebecca Black? That’s kind of harsh, eh? I mean, I think it’s kind of funny when folks go on about Barbara Mandrell as an exemplar of “classic” country, but that’s still a long way from “Friday”…

  30. Paul W Dennis
    March 28, 2011 at 5:51 am

    Sorry folks – this song isn’t country no matter how far you try to stretch the boundaries – it is to Taylor Swift (near the outer boundary of what reasonably can be considered country) what Taylor is to Roy Acuff

  31. Jon
    March 28, 2011 at 6:38 am

    Commenting here on whether the Rebecca Black song is country is like walking into a bar and asking if they’ve got that shoe in a 9 wide.

  32. Stormy
    March 28, 2011 at 7:46 am

    When was that?

    Post-grunge 1990’s.

  33. Waynoe
    March 28, 2011 at 9:03 am

    @Jon – I am glad that myself, as well as others, who do not use our real name bothers you. Goal accomplished!

    @Phil – We just love to indulge ole’ Jon. Gives him something to do in retirement.

  34. Fizz
    March 28, 2011 at 9:20 am

    “When was that?” Insert your own personal “golden age.”

  35. Jon
    March 28, 2011 at 9:31 am

    “When was that?” Insert your own personal “golden age.”

    Exactly. Including the present moment.

  36. Tom Parker
    March 28, 2011 at 9:34 am

    Stardust Cowboy

  37. Fizz
    March 28, 2011 at 10:20 am

    “Is there room in country music for mediocrity?” Well, thinking of it another way, maybe not, the way various critics, artists and fans seem to act like, if a single doesn’t go top-five, or top-ten at the very least, it’s a failure. Guess it’s like the musical equivalent of buying a genetically-engineered “designer baby”: you want your money’s worth. If it doesn’t graduate from Harvard …

  38. Phil
    March 28, 2011 at 11:38 am

    Stormy said, Post grunge 1990’s….Don’t you mean Lilith Faire? Or do you mean the Spice Girls, N’Sync, NKOTB, Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, Leann Rimes, and Shania Twain. I do recall when grunge was going on, the divas Whitney Houston, Celine Dion…and Garth Brooks Country Pop were popular too.

    I’ll just say it was before Reality TV hit the airwaves in 2001. Or maybe it was before Ophrah and Jerry Springer. Or before Rap and Hip Hop went maintstream in the 80’s and made it all about the artist as a person singing, rather than the person as an artist, and that mentality carried through to every genre. Or perhaps before disco. Afterall, if I had to compare today’s pop music to any time period, it would be disco. Probably because many of the artists parents grew up listening to that and they think that’s what real music is. As for today’s mainstream Country, it sounds like 80’s pop but with artists singing immature and childish songs about nothing but gossip and small talk…and themselves. My opinions of course.

  39. Phil
    March 28, 2011 at 11:55 am

    Oops…NKOTB was early 90s…just a precursor of what was to come I suppose. Even in Country Music with the likes of Love And Theft, and perhaps Rascal Flatts. But the term “Boy Band” didn’t actually exist until the 90’s…according to wiki.

  40. Fizz
    March 28, 2011 at 11:58 am

    The post-grunge ’90’s, i.e. the musical wasteland of ’95-’99-ish, populated by utterly faceless bands like Collective Soul, Live and Tonic. PASS! On the other hand, Nevermore, Testament, Iced Earth and Opeth all put out fantastic albums during those years … but I didn’t discover them until years later, since they received no airplay. “Metal” was a dirty word during those years. But my “personal golden age” point remains. Maybe it was before disco … or before the British Invasion, or before rock ‘n’ roll entirely (face it, a ton of early R&R lyrics were incredibly immature and childish). Maybe it was before Bob Dylan went electric, or before ANYBODY went electric, before Les Paul built “The Log.” Maybe it was before Edison invented the phonograph. After all, it’s mighty hard to live up to something of which no recordings exist.

  41. Stormy
    March 28, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    Phil: I am referring to the era when Grunge broke the mainstream monopoly and you had everything from Salt N Peppa to Nirvana to Tori Amos to Alan Jackson.

  42. Phil
    March 28, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    Haha…well, my personal Golden Age is after the Beatles broke up and music splintered in many directions (even hip hop and rap were created in the early 70’s). I’d say 1970-1975, was the Golden Age for me (I was born in 1971), as that is what most of my music collection consists of in any genre.

  43. Fizz
    March 28, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    Well hell, even in those halcyon days you had stuff like the Osmonds and the Partridge Family and the Starland Vocal Band. Every era has its diamonds and its turds. I just think the way it’s being delivered and received has changed. Radio likes to keep it as bland as possible for fear you might actually notice something and not hear the next car-dearler commercial. Meanwhile, YouTube and Twitter and the like have made it easier for the really bad ones to make a name for themselves. Rebecca Black would never have made it out of her bedroom even ten years ago. There was a guy, in about ’03 (again, pre-YouTube), who had a song that was all the rage for about two weeks, where he played piano and sang in the voice of a twelve-year-old boy, this idiotic song about how the Superbowl was gay, and this, that and the other thing was gay. Too bad he didn’t hang onto it a few more years. If there was YouTube back then, he’d probably have a record deal.

  44. Fizz
    March 28, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    And I don’t buy this “grunge broke the mainstream mold” thing either, since all of the “Big Four” grunge bands were signed to major labels, who pushed and promoted them as “something new.” This whole “grunge changed the musical landscape overnight” routine is a fallacy.

  45. t.scott
    March 28, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    “tiptoe thru the tulips,by the window,…..”

    ah, the immense talent of Tiny Tim..

    I agree with Barry.

  46. Troy
    March 28, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    The Golden age is 1997-2002, then music wasn’t as good until around 20005. 1958 to 1962 and the 20/30 also is a good time period for music. 70/80 were horriable except for last few years of the 80’s.

  47. Troy
    March 28, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    2005*

  48. numberonecountryfan
    March 28, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    Think of it this way, if there was no mediocrity (even in country music), what would we be talking about?

  49. Phil
    March 28, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    Starland Vocal Band only had one hit in 1976 (Afternoon Delight). The Osmonds and Partridge Family were only a small part of what was going on musically in the early 70’s. I don’t think any of them ever won a grammy (let alone were nominated) for Album Of The Year like Taylor Swift did. The closest I saw was Marie Osmond was nominated for best New Artist in 1973…which Bette Midler won.

    Looking at the list of nominees and winners at the Grammy’s in the early 70’s, and comparing them to today’s winners and nominees over the past few years shows just how much music and the artists have changed in the last 40 years. Probably not fair to compare Simon And Garfunkel (who won album of the year in 1970), Carole King (1971), George Harrison (1972) and Stevie Wonder (who won album of the year in 1973 and 1974) to Taylor Swift though (who won album of the year in 2010)…and 3 other awards as well. lol

  50. Fizz
    March 28, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    Here’s a list of all (or almost all) the songs that charted on the Billboard Top 40 in 1971 (and you can go up into the address bar and change the year if you want to). Yeah, there are the greats, but then you have stuff like “Brand New Key” or the aforementioned Osmonds and Partridge Family. I see your point that those artists didn’t usually receive Grammys, fair enough. But consider the time: there was still a lot of uncharted territory. In 2011, what hasn’t been done already?

    Oh yeah, the link:
    http://ntl.matrix.com.br/pfilho/html/top40/1971.html
    <—-Stumbled on this site years and years ago.

  51. Fizz
    March 28, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    This could be a topic for a future Your Take: when was your golden age?

  52. Stormy
    March 28, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    Phil: It was probably a similar thing, but I was -4 years old in 1971. (Ducks thrown objects)

    I think you hit a golden age anytime something major and unexpected that the industry didn’t create happens and they have to take the “toss the spaghetti at the wall” approach to figure out their next move.

  53. Fizz
    March 28, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    Until you reach the point of oversaturation, right?

  54. Phil
    March 28, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    Fizz asks, In 2011, what hasn’t been done already?

    It isnt’ about what hasn’t been done…it’s about what already has been done, and is being done today because of it.

  55. Lewis
    March 28, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    Can someone tell me how Barbara Mandrell and Sammy Kershaw got into all of this in the first place? It took Barbara 11 years from her first charted record to become Entertainer of the Year and she wasn’t exactly a child when she won either and she got it in the old fashioned way by earning it unlike several people in country music today (Taylor Swift, Lady Antebellum, to name a few) who have gotten it more quickly than others who have worked and slaved for years working and paying dues to get where they’re at now, while what other than being married to Lorrie Morgan at one time has Sammy Kershaw done lately or why they got in the same league with Rebecca Black? At least Barbara could outsing and outplay Taylor Swift in a minute if she could come back from her retirement and prove to everyone that she still has it.

    And speaking of teen idols, has there been any in country music to speak of much less of note? Pop music certainly has had plenty of them (David Cassidy, Shaun Cassidy, The Osmonds, Donny Osmond, Leif Garrett, New Kids On The Block, N’Sync, Backstreet Boys, Ricky Martin, etc.)

  56. Paul W Dennis
    March 28, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    Thanks for the site link, Fizz – I hadn’t thought about “1900 Yesterday” by Liz Damon’s Orient Express in a long time. It was quite similar in theme to a song Mark WIlls had a few years ago “19 Something”

  57. Donald
    March 28, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    Sorry Jon- I didn’t follow my own advice and posted an unclear response to the writer’s questions. I would not compare Mandrell and Kershaw to Rebecca Black. I would, however, call them mediocre talents within the field of country music, especially when compared to other ‘stars’ of the genre. Personal bias, of course; my ears don’t like what they do/did. I wouldn’t call Rebecca Black even mediocre- she has a way to go before aspiring to such a level. If the kids like it, who are we old farts to worry?
    Has there ever been anyone equivalant to Black in country music? Harder question, that- I think we would all agree that the sift factor is not as strong today as it may have been forty, thirty, twnety or even five years ago…people/fads/events blow-up much faster- and the tail of such an event is probably shorter now, too. Without understanding how big RB is this week- cause it doesn’t really impact me, and this is the only place I’ve heard her mentioned- I don’t think it likely that anyone in country music history ‘could’ have been her equivalent simply because the technology, the speed of information travel, wasn’t the same. Though I do remember Trisha Yearwood making a pretty impressive and even remarkable impression with the video about the boy. Of course, she backed it up with three or four other songs. However, even that went through a process of airplay, video play, appearances…imagine if they had YouTube and Twitter in the days of Patsy Cline! Boy, would we be better informed!

  58. Donald
    March 28, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    Fizz- thanks for that hits link; I’ll use it in the future. Scanning the list, it reminded me of the surprise I would have any week (last year) when listening to Casey Kasem on the Sirius 70s channel when we caught it on Saturday drives. No matter the year, it was certain that there would be three or four acts/songs featured that I had never before heard of- having listened to a lot of top 40 and other radio from 74 to 84 and reading more than my share of pop music history during that time (and since) I was frequently gobsmacked that artists could have had hits that I had never heard, and more that there were groups and singers that I had never tripped over. The world was smaller then, and what was a hit in the US might not have made it north to Alberta- especially the soul hits- but you’d think that in the thirty and more years since, I would have tripped across them somewhere. Extrapolate that to today- there is so much out there, we couldn’t possibly expect anyone to hear it all or even be familiar with it all. I’m pretty sure their are lots of Rebecca Blacks out there- and some of them are more than likely playing and singing country music- we just don’t hear them because it never catches on, thank goodness. Then again, there are lots who think they know country music who aren’t familiar with even semi-familiar names such as Tony Booth, Bobby Austin, Kay Adams, Johnny Darrell, Dick Curless…- before we worry about the future, some of us- and that includes me- have to have a better understanding of the past.

  59. Fizz
    March 29, 2011 at 9:48 am

    Here’s another chart site for more research and nostalgia purposes:

    http://www.rockonthenet.com/archive/index.htm

    Can’t seem to find an equivalent for country, though.

  60. Lewis
    March 29, 2011 at 9:50 am

    Donald: Why would you call Barbara Mandrell’s talent mediocre when she’s in the same class of singers as Dolly Parton, Kitty Wells, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, Dottie West, Reba McEntire, Linda Ronstadt and Connie Smith? Did having a successful variety show on TV make her mediocre? First woman to win Entertainer of the Year twice make her mediocre? Playing various instruments make her mediocre? Having charting records over 20 years make her mediocre? Would you call Dolly, Kitty, Patsy, Loretta, Tammy, Dottie, Reba, Linda and Connie mediocre because they actually sang songs instead of droning it out on and on and on and not having to resource to writing about the latest boyfriend in their lives and making princes and princesses a common theme in their music? If you have something against Barbara Mandrell then that’s fine and that’s your opinion, but calling Barbara “mediocre” is an understatement when in fact she has real talent.

  61. Donald
    March 29, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    >>> If you have something against Barbara Mandrell then that’s fine and that’s your opinion, but calling Barbara “mediocre” is an understatement when in fact she has real talent.<<<

    And, I believe, that is your opinion. I think we're allowed to express opinion here, especially when one takes the time to clearly identify such as such. Because you put her in a class with other notable singers doesn't mean I do. Having a successful tv show (Donny and Marie), being entertainer of the year (Hank, Jr., Alabama), and being in the business a long time (many Las Vegas lounge acts) doesn't make someone more than mediocre, in my opinion. And you're welcome to agree. BTW, I'd put Dottie and Reba in the same category.

  62. Fizz
    March 29, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    On the one hand, people gripe and groan about Taylor Swift winning Grammys, but when Barbara Mandrell does it, it’s a validation of her talent?

  63. the pistolero
    March 29, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    This isn’t directly addressed to you, Fizz, just more of a general observation:

    I don’t think the Grammys (or any other awards, for that matter) are a validation of anyone’s talent. I used to get all het up about my favorite artists not winning *insert award here*, but once I started listening to and liking music from artists who’d never get nominated, let alone win those awards, it pretty much put their validity in perspective.

    Regarding the whole “grunge” movement, Fizz, I got a kick out of whoever edited the Wikipedia page for grunge saying that “glam metal…fell out of favor in the face of music that was authentic and culturally relevant.” There was a lot of authentic music getting made in the 1980s. It just wasn’t getting played as much as the glam metal. And what were “2 Minutes to Midnight” and “Fight Fire With Fire” if not culturally relevant?

  64. Leeann Ward
    March 29, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    I’m not a personal fan of hers, but that she’s legitimately talented is difficult to refute as anything other than fact. She’s also an accomplished multi-instrumentalist

  65. Fizz
    March 29, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    I agree with you about the Grammys, but it’s an unpopluar opinion around these parts, with the likes of the Omniscient, and folks with horses in the race, so to speak.

    As for teh grunge thing, again, agreed. Glam metal burned itself out with bands like Slaughter, Trixter, Firehouse, Steelheart (although I personally like the last two) and other less-notable ones, who were trying to appeal more toward a top-40 audience. The major labels (many of whom didn’t really like hard rock anyway) just used grunge to fill the vacuum. But to say grunge was more “authentic” or “culturally relevant” is crap. It was just as much about fashion and image as “hair-metal” had been: it was just a different fashion and image. I never had a beef with grunge itself, just the way it was hyped up at the expense of pretty much everything that had come before in the preceding ten years or so (remember all that “decade of credibility” BS trumpeted by the MTV/Rolling Stone/Spin crowd? Chris Cornell insisting that Soundgarden “were not influenced by heavy metal in any way, shape or form?”) A ton of great music was released in the years ’87-’91-ish, but all anybody remembers are the cheesy video like “Cherry Pie” or “Seventeen.”

  66. the pistolero
    March 29, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    ‘Rain’t much I can say in reply to that, Fizz, other than…exactly. Spot-on. Some years back in a discussion someone credited the grunge movement for killing glam metal. I remember thinking, “Yeah, I suppose it did, but the flip side of that is that it made people forget about the other subgenres of metal, too.” To go back to the old cliche, they threw the baby out with the bath water. Of course, I could be wrong, but I don’t remember radio ever really playing that much of the traditional metal back in the ’80s or early ’90s to begin with. And this is but one reason I remember it that way: The first time I ever heard anything from Queensryche other than “Silent Lucidity” or “Jet City Woman” was when I ponied up for Sirius satellite radio a couple of years ago. I thought, “this band made MORE music? Who knew?” I had never heard Megadeth, Iron Maiden, or Dream Theater AT ALL before Sirius.

    As for what was said in Rolling Stone and Spin, for some strange reason Guns’n’Roses’ “Get in the Ring” comes to mind. I don’t take them any more seriously than the awards, to be honest.

  67. Fizz
    March 29, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    Warning: this post is for The Pistolero, so y’all can skip it if you want.

    Agreed, Pistolero, and at the risk of getting way off-topic (although the official discussion looks about used up at this point), those bands did get some airplay back in the day. Megadeth got a ton of it for the Countdown To Extinction record, and Dream Theater got a lot of spins for “Pull Me Under.” Not on top-40 radio, of course, but on your harder AOR stations, the equivalent, I guess, of what would be today’s active-rock stations. Maiden, to be honest, I never really heard that much of, but occasionally something like “The Trooper” or “Flight Of Icarus” would get played. In the early ’90’s though, their popularity was declining, so they didn’t get as much play as they might’ve in years past (I myself hadn’t really been into them until about 2000 or so, because their heyday was before I got into music, and like I say, they weren’t as popular by then). Queensryche got a good amount of play as well, even had some of their videos on Dial-MTV (the late-’80’s version of TRL). It really depended on the station, as some AOR’s had skewed more to harder rock than others did. And some, like Los Angeles’s famous KNAC, or Baltimore’s WHVY (which I listened to as a kid), were all-out metal-formatted and would play stuff like Pantera or Sepultura in rotation. And there was the Z-Rock satellite format that a lot of stations carried at one time or another during the late ’80’s and well into the ’90’s. (By about ’93, though, they’d replaced a lot of the glam with grunge and stuff like Tool.) But not even every major city had a station like that. MTV, of course, had Headbanger’s Ball, so that was where most of the heavier music got aired, while Dial-MTV was mostly for glam or bands that got lumped in with glam.

    As for Rolling Stone, I’m with you on that one as well. Like the major labels, those magazines never liked hard rock anyway. You can look at old Rolling Stone reviews of classic metal albums, and they’re grudgingly positive at best, but usually downright abysmal. The first addition of the RS Record Collector’s Guide in the early ’80’s gave every Black Sabbath album (some of which they now hold up as four- and five-star classics) just awful ratings. So they were only too glad when grunge came along, adn they could gush about how “meaningful” it all was, just because the bands dressed down and acted mopey. It was like their precious alternative and college-rock was finally getting its day in the sun, and damn if they weren’t going to make the most of it.

  68. the pistolero
    March 29, 2011 at 11:11 pm

    those bands did get some airplay back in the day

    Interesting. I guess that answers the question of “how have those bands lasted so long?” ;-) Apparently I was listening to the wrong radio stations when I was younger. In my defense, though, I did grow up in a small town in Northeast Texas and I’m pretty sure we didn’t have anything like that around there. I am glad to get to hear it now, even if it is old enough to drink. Lol…

    The first addition of the RS Record Collector’s Guide in the early ’80′s gave every Black Sabbath album (some of which they now hold up as four- and five-star classics) just awful ratings.

    Somehow that does not surprise me. I’ve read Rolling Stone here and there, and it’s always struck me as an institution that thinks anything beyond straight-ahead ’70s rock isn’t worth mentioning. RS likes to position itself as a magazine that’s on the cutting edge, but in reality it’s anything but.

  69. Fizz
    March 29, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    I know what you mean. I actually grew up about 80 miles from Baltimore, in a small town that had a couple of “home of rock ‘n’ roll”-type AOR stations, one a somewhat harder than the other. But the transmitter for WHVY was located well outside of Baltimore, in our direction, so reception was usually pretty good. But the format changed in about ’94 to a station Rolling Stone would love. Speaking of whom, I glance at each issue, and will read any articles that interest me, but yeah … They do like to fly the hippie flag, and sing the praises of people like Jackson Browne, but really, they may as well change the name to CMJ, because the majority of the new music they talk about is college-radio crap. And they love their hip-hop and silly pop fluff like Katy Perry. When they do review a hard-rock or metal release, they like to be fairly vague, like a kid doing a book report on something he didn’t actually read all the way through.

  70. phil
    March 30, 2011 at 9:17 am

    Let’s face it…the Internet has played a huge role in killing music. I certainly wouldn’t have wasted the last 3 years of my life discussing what’s wrong with today’s music if it wasn’t for that. And I never would have even had the privilege of knowing this song exists…and probably not most of today’s mainstream artists either. Including Taylor Swift.

  71. Barry Mazor
    March 30, 2011 at 9:24 am

    Clearly Phil, if you’re wasting your life talking about music you would not have heard of otherwise (though you might consider stopping if it hurts so), it follows logically that the Internet has had a huge role in killing music. For the whole wide universe.

  72. Fizz
    March 30, 2011 at 9:28 am

    Then again, theInternet has also made it much easier to discover new music that you DO like, that you wouldn’t have otherwise heard of.

  73. phil
    March 30, 2011 at 9:44 am

    Barry…nope just for me. But who else really matters when listening to music since music is a personal thing.

    And Fizz, I’ll just say that we wouldn’t be discussing this if it weren’t for the Internet, and wouldn’t have to wade through a million songs and artists to find one good one worth listening to. That right there proves my point.

  74. Barry Mazor
    March 30, 2011 at 9:54 am

    Yes, Phil, in the final analysis, who else really matters..

  75. phil
    March 30, 2011 at 10:00 am

    But clearly Barry even you can see the ramifications and role the Internet has played on music…not only for yourself, but for the “whole wide universe” as well.

  76. Fizz
    March 30, 2011 at 10:02 am

    That’s right, Phil, we’d be stuck listening to the radio and taking the best of what’sspoon(force?)-fed to us.

  77. phil
    March 30, 2011 at 10:07 am

    Fizz…we still are…but at least there might actually be something in that spoon actually worth swallowing and digesting.

  78. Barry Mazor
    March 30, 2011 at 10:15 am

    Yes Phil. Perhaps, perhaps I can..

  79. phil
    March 30, 2011 at 10:16 am

    Let’s just say, I’d rather go searching for one golden nugget in a spoon than have to wade through an entire ocean to find it. And unfortunately, that is what the Internet has created…among other things.

  80. Fizz
    March 30, 2011 at 10:27 am

    To each his own, but I’ve discovered so much music of (many genres) that I’ve enjoyed, that I never would have without the Net. It might be an ocean, but if you find some garbage, you just toss aside, and unlike radio, it usually doesn’t get shoved back in your face 90 minutes later.

  81. phil
    March 30, 2011 at 10:39 am

    So Fizz, have you voted online yet for Taylor Swift Entertainer Of The Year at the ACM’s? LOL That’s what music has become thanks to the Internet. That’s one of many things we could take off the spoon if there wasn’t one.

  82. Fizz
    March 30, 2011 at 10:56 am

    Nope … because there are so many other options, I no longer care about the ACM’s, the CMA,s the CMT’sthe AMA’a, , the Grammys or any of that stuff. They’re just small, irritating comets that streak through my universe once a year, leaving a cloud of dust and a bad smell.

  83. phil
    March 30, 2011 at 10:56 am

    What I’m saying Fizz, is that if it weren’t for the Internet, what’s on the spoon that is being force fed us would be vastly different than what is on that spoon because of it. We probably never would have even heard of Taylor Swift (among many of the other artists today), and if we had, she wouldn’t be singing a song about how somebody is “mean” to her because she can’t sing…among a lot of the other “garbage” that is being put on that spoon as well.

  84. Fizz
    March 30, 2011 at 11:21 am

    Yeah, man, if we weren’t hearing about this shit, we’d be hearing about some other shit instead, and without the Net, that’d be the ONLY shit we’d be able to hear about. [Sorry, Verchers ...]

  85. phil
    March 30, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    But you wouldn’t have to wade through an entire ocean to find something worth listening to. And the stuff that is being played now on the radio would have never been heard. That was my point.

  86. Fizz
    March 30, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    That’s like blaming the highway for the guy who went roaring past like a maniac, because if it wasn’t for the highway, he’d be on some backroad and you wouldn’t have to be near him. You act like there weren’t any inexplicably popular, no-talent, hack singers until the Internet came along, which is ridiculous.

  87. phil
    March 30, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    Where in my comments did I say anything about there not being any inexplicably, no talent, hack singers until the Internet came along? lol

    I’m simply stating that the music that is being put on the spoon is vastly different from what would be on the spoon if the Internet didn’t exist. And much of that music that is on the spoon now never would have to begin with. It wouldn’t even be in the ocean to take it out and put on the spoon. I think it’s safe to say that most of the artists today are capable of much better than what they are producing today in order to stay on that spoon (mainstream) and not get washed away into the ocean (the world wide web).

  88. Fizz
    March 30, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    How can any of us say for sure what would or wouldn’t be on the spoon if there was no Internet? There are lots of things you can blame on the Net and debate, but to say, “Oh, music sucks now, it’s because of theInternet” is a bit of a stretch.” You don’t like what’s on the spoon, find another spoon. Yeah, you might have to get off your ass and do some digging, but that’s the trade-off for having more choices.

  89. phil
    March 30, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    Use your imagination.

    Plus, The Internet just made it a popularity and Personality contest where a certain demographic of Fangirls (and Fanboys) vote for their “favorite” no matter what they sing. Let’s just say I’ve never felt more manipulated in my life to like who somebody else wants me to like based on that certain demographic of “listeners” that is picking the winners and losers in music today. Which is another reason I probably don’t like too much of anything today…including what is being put on The Internet that isn’t popular. Most of it seems to just be karaoke versions of what somebody else did 10 times better anyway…or something like this song. And I’m tired of wading through the sea of muck to find an oyster with a pearl worth keeping in it. I’m glad you’re not. :)

  90. Chickette
    March 30, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Wow, this is a mind-numbing conversation if ever there was one.

  91. phil
    March 30, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    I think it’s probably best just not to use your mind when listening to and discussing music today…since most of the music is mindless to begin with anyway. :) Maybe my mind is numbed because of it. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.

  92. Fizz
    March 30, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    I think you just need to find a new ocean to wade in.

  93. phil
    March 30, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    There’s a thought. Mind-numbing or not. :)

  94. phil
    March 30, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    Oh, and by the way Fizz, The Internet is only one of many things I have brought up that has made music what it is today. It isn’t only about the music that is being put on the Internet, it’s the blogs, the fan forums, the social networking sites and the media that plays “favorites” and actually gives praise and attention to artists like Taylor Swift and not others who have something substantive to offer when discussing that music. Add in Reality TV, Cable TV and celebrity gossip shows, and it’s pretty obvious where music stands today as a result, and who the audience is that gobbles it all up. Since it really isn’t about the music first so much as it is about the money and fame. Of course, for me the last thing I would want to be is famous in this day and age anyway. Or an artist actually trying to make music for that matter.

  95. Fizz
    March 30, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    I’m not disagreeing with anything you’re saying, Phil. But what I’m trying to tell you is: those things don’t have to affect your life hardly at all. You can’t count on the traditional outlets to dump music in your lap anymore. You just have to make peace with it and find music you enjoy, and forget all the other bullshit. Yeah, a lot of mainstream music is vapid and disposable. Deal. It’ll always be fun to make fun of lame music, like your honey Swift, but in the end, we’re not her target demographic anyway. Her audience will outgrow her, and we’ll ALL have to find some new game. Meantime, you’re starting to sound like some grumpy old grandpa.

  96. phil
    March 30, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    Grumpy old grandpa. Nah…just a cynical Gen X’er. lol

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