It took me a while, but I've found a good (rhyming) analogy for Katy Perry: Nickelback with a rack. The amount of mediocrity is astounding. Katy is the modern margarita; equal parts formulaic, teen-appeasing lyrics and the kind of over-produced thumping beat that emanates from any given Hollister. And dj's are more than happy to serve up this unsatisfying pre-packaged mix to patrons that are willing to overpay for it. A Glee compilation has never failed to make the charts. Teens and twenty-somethings pretending to be teens are making money hand over fist on other people's hard work. If only I could make that much for rewriting 1984 for a new generation. "OMG, Big Brother is,like, totally invading my privacy. Ugh. Lol, nvm, I <3 bb." Gold. Ship it.
Looking at the the pop/rock section of a music store I see Demi Lovato next to Led Zeppelin. Bieber by the Beatles. How anyone could reconcile them is beyond me. Two of those are enormously inspirational bands that changed the face of rock over their careers, evolving over time to incorporate many different styles and genres. The other two tested well with ten year old girls. While some spend years learing to play an instrument, developing a sound, and playing local venues hoping to be discovered, Disney spawns "artists" by the dozens, growing them in enormous farms like those seen in The Matrix and fostering them from a young age to take their place atop the Billboard charts. The system works so well that it was adopted by the Chinese gymnastics program. At least Disney waits until they're teens.
Of course, not all bands start out that way. Some become hypocritical ghosts of their former selves through the course of their career. I'm looking at you Green Day. Thank the maker someone was there to decry how empty-minded Americans being controlled by the media. On MTV. And Top 40 radio. And movies, videogames, and every other form of entertainment that could license songs from Warner Music Group. When you claim to have "fought the law", I'm guessing it wasn't the kind of window-smashing, car-igniting anti-establishment hysteria that punk bands in the sixties may have inspired in hooligans. It was probably closer to the breach of contract suit against your former label, Lookout,over unpaid royalties. Oh, and you won. I look at Weezer with the same incredulity. The every man can sympathize with your plight, Rivers Cuomo. Clearly, there's no place in Beverly Hills for millionaires.
As I look at the recording industry full of pitch correcting software, drunken harlots talk-singing their way through party anthems, and whatever crawls up from the talent sewer that is American Idol, I'm left with one question: how soon can piracy kill it?