Ashlee Simpson, you're our last H.O.P.E.
November 16, 2004 9:26 AM   Subscribe

Trade in your Ashlee Simpson CD here.. A group calling itself HOPE (Horrified Observers of Pedestrian Entertainment) are offering to trade your Ashlee Simpson CD for one by one of Elvis Costello, The Ramones, X, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, Aretha Franklin, Mr. Bungle, Ray Charles, Abe Lincoln Story, Grateful Dead, Neil Hamburger, Joni Mitchell, and Brian Wilson. Next target is the film "Taxi".
posted by salmacis (68 comments total)
 
First you have to admit you bought it in the first place. . .
posted by Quartermass at 9:43 AM on November 16, 2004


why, quartermass? it's easier to just rummage through the $2 bargain bin in a local used CD shop, find an ashlee simpson release (shouldn't be hard to do in a bargain bin, right?) and hey presto - you get elvis costello's newest album for $2 and a few minutes of feeling dirty for poking in the bargain bin.

alternatively, pay a neighborhood kid $5 to raid his sister's CD rack. little more paid out up front on your part, but it still ought to work - and if your conscience gets you, burn a copy of the CD you get in exchange and give it to the kid.
posted by caution live frogs at 10:04 AM on November 16, 2004


Or, you could delete your A.S. mp3's and download some good ones to take their place.
posted by Outlawyr at 10:11 AM on November 16, 2004


Or you could realize that most people listen to music like Ashlee Simpson because it puts them in a good mood. Some people just enjoy that music (Yes, she is a product of the marketing machine, but at the end of the day if the music sounds good to you then more power to you.). I understand the point of giving people the chance to listen to Elvis Costello and the Dead etc., but really, let's imagine that you forced everyone who listens to Ashlee Simpson to go through every hip musician on your hip radio station for a day. Who wants to bet that they'll just go back to their old CD collection afterwards?

Jimmy Fallon however, needs to be shot.
posted by Stan Chin at 10:22 AM on November 16, 2004


Ha ha ha. Ashlee Simpson's fans are totally gonna LOVE Mr. Bungle!
posted by kevspace at 10:27 AM on November 16, 2004


it's always extremely tricky to do something like this, b/c you run the major risk of coming off as snobs (re: that guy with the bullhorn at bad rock shows).

these H.O.P.E. guys seems to balance it well. the Paris Hilton protest was great.

"If you think all publicity is good publicity talk to O.J. or anyone associated with Gigli."
posted by mrgrimm at 10:30 AM on November 16, 2004


Personally, I would take Ashlee Simpson any day over The Grateful Dead. Any, any, any day.
posted by hummus at 10:39 AM on November 16, 2004


Jimmy Fallon however, needs to be...

... put out of his misery. And Queen Latifah should have known better.
posted by lodurr at 10:48 AM on November 16, 2004


Are you going to tell me that Ashlee Simpson's new album is WORSE than Elvis Costello's "The Juliet Letters," WORSE than the dull, complacent, coasting that has comprised 3/4 of Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin's careers, WORSE than Brian Wilson's "Orange Crate Art" or "Imagine," WORSE then Led Zepplin or any of Page and Plant's post-Zepplin records (Honeydrippers excepted), WORSE than ANY album by the Greatful Dead except their first album and "Workingman's Dead" and "American Beauty," WORSE than anything by Joni Mitchell after "Blue?"
Ashlee Simpson is a cute kid with some okay songs -- no Grace Slick to be sure. But she would have to live a thousand lifetimes before she could match the kind of lazy-ass musical abominations Elvis Costello has been subjecting us to for the past decade and a half, the sickeningly empty and commerical work of late Ray Charles or Aretha Franklin, or the brain-damaged spew of Brian Wilson after "Pet Sounds."
Why anyone should find Ashlee Simpson offensive, while U2 walks the earth is beyond me.
posted by Faze at 10:48 AM on November 16, 2004


Heh, but what are all the self-declared cool kids gonna think when Ashley Simpson fans start "invading" their cool territory?
posted by Boydrop at 10:54 AM on November 16, 2004


Whoops . . Ashlee, not Ashley . . . so much more unique!
posted by Boydrop at 10:55 AM on November 16, 2004


hummus, you can have her. I'll take the Dead, thanks. Or pretty much anyone besides these stupid little pop tarts.

This is a great idea, its like Guns for Cash only without the guns or the cash. Oh well. Its still a cool idea. I wish someone would do this for AOL CD's!

Faze, I'm in the U2 sucks ass camp. But I'll have to respectfully disagree on your condemnation of the later Dead albums.
posted by fenriq at 10:59 AM on November 16, 2004


How the hell did Neil Hamburger get on that list!?
posted by mr_roboto at 11:04 AM on November 16, 2004


Faze, no Hejira or Hissing of Summer Lawns?
posted by kenko at 11:06 AM on November 16, 2004


kenko -- No! Joni Mitchell must be punished for her failure to continue the incredible, Mozart-like precocity of her early work, and for settling into mere artistic success that pleased those who were already her fans. If Joni Mitchell's first album had been "Hissing of Summer Lawns," would she have ever gotten a second?
posted by Faze at 11:21 AM on November 16, 2004


If Joni Mitchell's first album had been "Hissing of Summer Lawns," would she have ever gotten a second?

absolutely. that's a great album, Faze.

i agree that Blue is a masterpiece, but musicians are talented humans, not gods. famous Mitchell quote:

"Nobody ever said to Van Gogh, 'Hey, man, paint A Starry Night again!'"
posted by mrgrimm at 11:33 AM on November 16, 2004


...$2 and a few minutes of feeling dirty for poking in the bargain bin.

I'm sure there are plenty of folks who wouldn't mind poking around Ashlee Simpson's bargain bin...
posted by spilon at 12:00 PM on November 16, 2004


Nice to see Faze is on form today. Stay tuned tomorrow when Faze tells us "pie is bad."
posted by adamrice at 12:16 PM on November 16, 2004


Swapping Ramones CDs for Ashlee Simpson's strikes me as somewhat akin to casting pearls before swine, but it's the thought that counts.
posted by clevershark at 12:24 PM on November 16, 2004


You're stupid, Faze.
Joni Mitchell was justing starting to get good after Blue. She got bad again in the early 80's, but that run of albums between Blue and Don Juan's Reckless Daughter is untouchable.
And anyone who points to Workingman's Dead and American Beauty as pinnacles of the Dead's output is a dumbass.
Your taste in music is terrible, but I do admire the forthrightness with which you declare it.
And Elvis Costello is still good. Oh, and Grace Slick?? Are you kidding me?
posted by ghastlyfop at 12:33 PM on November 16, 2004


"Nobody ever said to Van Gogh, 'Hey, man, paint A Starry Night again!'"

Nobody ever had to say this to Van Gogh, because he was awesomely consistent right up until his final picture. He never got together with Pierre Brodsky Quartette, or Jean Paul Mingus, and said: "Hey, let's do some paintings together that will use up all the goodwill we've accumulated with our best work, and squander it in lazy, self-indulgent self-pleasuring that people will buy anyway, since they already know we're geniuses, and will think that these painting blow because there's something wrong with THEM and not with us."
Van Gogh did no such thing. The man had a powerful work ethic that didn't involve just churning out project, but applying the full, tightly coiled tension of his creative energy into nearly everything he did. Even though he was insane, he never put out anything as bad as Ray Charles "I Can't Stop Loving You," or as cynical as Aretha Franklin's "Freeway of Love," or the silly, sad later work of Brian Wilson.
posted by Faze at 12:34 PM on November 16, 2004


ghastlyfop -- Yeah I'm sorry about that Grace Slick comparison. I knew that would be taken wrong. Let's just say, she's no A-Teens.
posted by Faze at 12:36 PM on November 16, 2004


Honestly, who didn't see Faze coming with his sweeping screed of contempt? Every time some form of music is mentioned, down he comes to spew his decrees of Good and Evil. You know what's ten times as dull as The Juliet Letters, Faze? You.

I'm not even a fan of any of the artists you just took a dump on, but your grandiose pronouncements, which I guess we're just to accept and embrace as Truth because you're you, just make my skin crawl.
posted by picea at 12:43 PM on November 16, 2004


taken wrong? grace slick? perhaps best known, beyond the white rabbit croak, for that ultimate aquarian anthem of power to the people "we built this city on rock and roll", whose "volunteers of america" is now being used on television to hawk etrade accounts ("got the revolution!" oh yeah, baby, i'm sooo radical)? get out!
posted by quonsar at 12:53 PM on November 16, 2004


Personally, I would take Ashlee Simpson any day over The Grateful Dead. Any, any, any day.

Must. contain. fists. of. death.

Obviosuly spoken by someone who has either never heard anything by The Dead or has only heard Tough of Grey and has made the decision that 40 years of music and millions of fans must be wrong. Or too young to have been lucky enough to attend a concert, which is really the best way to appreciate the amazing music The Dead made.

As a long-time Deadhead, I will admit that the studio albums pale in comparison to most live compositions, but anyone who could utter that comment above probably listens to pop radio and is therefore beyond help.
posted by terrapin at 12:55 PM on November 16, 2004


quonsar -- "Volunteers of America" is a sensational phoney baloney anthem, and "We Built This City" is a hook-a-lacious monster that still cuts through your brain like a bulldozer whenever it comes on the radio. Grace Slick was the only hipster female singer in the late 60s with the guts to sing in her own, white-person's accent, rather than adopting black southern fieldhand intonation, and to actually enunciate her words. My reservations about Slick have more to do with her autobiography, which reveals her to have only two brain cells, despite all the good songs she was involved in.
Speaking of the 60s, it's interesting to note how Ashlee Simpson copies Joan Baez's sexiest move, which was to perform barefoot. That girl is going to be big.
posted by Faze at 1:16 PM on November 16, 2004


Oh faze. You silly thing.
posted by jokeefe at 1:20 PM on November 16, 2004


your music sucks and so do you

fwiw, i'd be very surprised if you could find an Ashlee Simpson CD for $2. maybe i'm wrong.

i also have no desire whatsoever to poke around in Ashlee's bargain bin. i don't get it.

"We Built This City" is a hook-a-lacious monster

i don't hate the song as nearly as everyone else does, but you have to admit it's pretty darn horrible. it's not one of the songs that sounds OK the first time, then gets old fast. it sucked the very first time i heard, and then kept sucking more and more and more (see Bob Seger's Breakdown, The Beach Boys' Kokomo, or Glen Frey's Smuggler's Blues for comparable quality). hook-a-lacious!

Speaking of the 60s, it's interesting to note how Ashlee Simpson copies Joan Baez's sexiest move, which was to perform barefoot. That girl is going to be big.

sure, that's something nobody else does. at all.

i used to think that you actually had rational opinions, but just liked to piss people off. maybe i'm wrong.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:23 PM on November 16, 2004


Just be thankful this story didn't include subway buskers or Faze would be writhing on the floor, foaming at the mouth.
posted by turaho at 1:42 PM on November 16, 2004


mrgrimm -- I fully understand how you might make a categorical connection between "We Built This City" and "Breakdown," "Kokomo" and "Smuggler's Blues," since they all seem to be shamelessly fishing with the same bait, but Slick's "City" really is of a higher order than those other tunes. I ask you to listen to the masterful way they handle the early part of the song, keeping you involved through a wonderfully labyrinthine verse, building the pressure, piling on the suspense, holding you prisoner for an astonishingly long time before unloading that monster chorus. Then, once they've dropped the hammer, they show near tantric restraint before they drop it again. You'd be surprised by how few times they actually repeat that chorus on the actual record, compared to how many times it repeats in your head. "Built this City" is a superbly calculated piece of cynical 80s popcraft. It is genuine top-40 architecture, compared to the slack, hop-headed Segar, Frey or Beach Boy product.
posted by Faze at 1:48 PM on November 16, 2004


I ask you to listen to the masterful way they handle the early part of the song, keeping you involved through a wonderfully labyrinthine verse, building the pressure, piling on the suspense, holding you prisoner for an astonishingly long time before unloading that monster chorus.

You can't be fucking serious. What next, Faze? An essay extolling the heartbeat sound effect at the beginning of Huey Lewis and the News's "The Heart of Rock and Roll?" I never thought I'd see the day when the word "labryinthine" was applied to the likes of Jefferson Starship.

Wake up and get some taste, sir.
posted by ed at 2:46 PM on November 16, 2004


Hey, faze, it's great to sit here and read all your fatuous pronunciations about the relative quality of this or that. No, I really mean it! I mean, it's really cool how you're showing up how silly it is to sit around and waste cycles ragging on Ashlee Simpson, especially when you don't give any real reason or rationale for what you're pronouncing.

At least, I sure hope that's what you're up to. Because if you're serious.... well, let's just say it all gets funny for a whole different reason.
posted by lodurr at 2:56 PM on November 16, 2004


Will they also accept Milli Vanilli albums?
posted by gyc at 3:41 PM on November 16, 2004


"Built this City" is a superbly calculated piece of cynical 80s popcraft

well, ok, but it owes that more to craig chaquico and mickey thomas than to grace.
posted by quonsar at 3:47 PM on November 16, 2004


haha, Neil Hamburger! America's hardest working funnyman!
posted by crank at 4:22 PM on November 16, 2004


"Built this City" is a superbly calculated piece of cynical 80s popcraft

well, ok, but it owes that more to craig chaquico and mickey thomas than to grace.


and does that even make it a good song? i could say the same about Richard Marx's "Don't Mean Nothing" or Alanna Myles "Black Velvet" or Phil Collins' "Another Day in Paradise," but that doesn't make them good songs.

You'd be surprised by how few times they actually repeat that chorus on the actual record, compared to how many times it repeats in your head.

and now you've overplayed your hand, sir. i dare you to listen to that song and count the number of occurrences of "built this city." from memory, i'd bet that it's at least 25-30 times. if it's under 10, i'd be very surprised.

from your stringest defense of it, i'm sure you own a copy?
posted by mrgrimm at 4:25 PM on November 16, 2004


stringent. and even that doesn't really make sense. how about defiant?
posted by mrgrimm at 4:26 PM on November 16, 2004


Crap, I had something to say about all this but I'm too busy laughing so hard I'm crying. Whoo boy.

Though, now I've got "we built this city" echoing through my head, which wouldn't be so entirely hideous except for the fact it's locked on an some sort of A-B loop of the title refrain, which is extremely unfluffy.

*calming down now to sporadic giggling* So, Faze, music is at it's best when it's calculatedly and cheaply manipulative of our basest emotions and/or specifically designed to chart heavily? Am I reading that correctly? Do you write for Bam! or NME?
posted by loquacious at 4:49 PM on November 16, 2004


Oh, and Van Gogh? That wasn't work ethic - nor was it talent in the sense of something earned and achieved through some sort of Protestant work ethic - that was compulsive insanity.

Not that there's anything wrong with that; That's where the best art comes from.
posted by loquacious at 4:54 PM on November 16, 2004


Err, to be clearer: Yes, practice and work is essential in any art. But without vision and talent it's merely uninspired craft.
posted by loquacious at 5:00 PM on November 16, 2004


Though, now I've got "we built this city" echoing through my head...

Fortunately, I was listening to a really hooky punk-pop band from the Westmann Islands right before I read this, so now I've got one of their tunes stuck in my head, instead of that wondrous Chaquico-Thomas masterjoke.

In the late '80s, I shared a very thin apartment wall for six months with a rabid Madonna fan. For several weeks, he played her "Greatest Hits" CD every day when he got home from work. Often twice. I would walk around for DAYS with "Lucky Star" echoing around my progressively emptier skull....
posted by lodurr at 5:09 PM on November 16, 2004


This is an awkward meeting between the gullible and the pretentious. Sure, kids are dumb for buying a CD from a pre-fab hack, but it's very presumptuous of HOPE to tell them what they should be listening to.

Faze made a salient point in his first post (before he lost control and crashed)-- they're offering to potentially replace shit with shit. I'd like to see a list of what albums these kids might get. Are they better off getting one of Elvis Costello's numerous mailed-in contractual obligations? They'll just learn to hate him. What if they get The Dead's "Built To Last"? The kids will see through the veneer of the Dead immediately.

This isn't the solution.
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:31 AM on November 17, 2004


... replace shit with shit.

No, he didn't really have a point. Not really. Because he missed the point in the first place.

The point is that if you've got an Ashlee Simpson CD, the chances are that in once sense or another, you're just taking what's shoveled at you. You're not making a choice: You're buying what somebody told you is popular/good just because they said so, and continuing to listen to it for that reason (and we all know there are lots of people who do that, even ones who should know better). Or maybe you got it as a gift. Or maybe you just don't get much exposure outside the commercial mainstream.

My point is, they're giving people a choice. Well, really, they're not giving any "Ashlee Simpson fans" a choice, because those people won't even hear about this; what they're really doing is making a real world statement about choice. "Why not just blog about it," one might well ask. Well, because things like this have more force and provoke more discussion when they're actually realized -- as this has done, here.
posted by lodurr at 5:36 AM on November 17, 2004


lodurr said: "The point is that if you've got an Ashlee Simpson CD, the chances are that in once sense or another, you're just taking what's shoveled at you. You're not making a choice: You're buying what somebody told you is popular/good just because they said so..."

Peer pressure is no excuse. It's still a matter of choice. I think we proud few who have discriminating tastes look at someone listening to Ashlee Simpson and we ridicule them because we can't face the truth. There are human beings who actually like Ashlee Simpson; particularly young people. He look down on them from some high precipice as if we're more important, but for them it's a choice too. The Ramones are just as available to them as half the crap on this list and they choose to buy Ashlee Simpson. They choose to tune in to radio stations that actually play the crap that passes for music today. I propose we demonize these people and sic the National Guard after them. Let's have a war against topfortyism.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:22 AM on November 17, 2004


Well, I'm not sure we disagree on this, and that's why I qualified my statement: At some level, they are just taking what's given. For the most part, their field of choice is pretty narrow and constrained, and they probably do make a lot of their choices based on extrinsic factors ('she has nice clothes', 'I wish I looked as cute as she does', 'Meredith and her friends listen to Ashlee...') But at various levels, we all do this: I prefer to browse random indie stuff on Usenet, but part of the reason is that I have ideas and prejudices about what it means to be "popular".

A project like this is really not about the quality of the music per se; it's about exposing the quality of your choice to your own personal criticism. If Ashlee can compete on the "open market", great, fine, I have no issues with that. Frankly, I don't even know what she sounds like. I'm just saying that when this thread became a discussion about musical "quality", it lost sight of what this tradein thing was really all about.
posted by lodurr at 6:30 AM on November 17, 2004


I'm just saying that when this thread became a discussion about musical "quality", it lost sight of what this tradein thing was really all about.

True. It's really about a group of people being condescending to another group. I have no particular affection for Ashlee Simpson-- I know her work only through the whole miming "controversy" and haven't heard any tracks from the actual cd. It's not my type of music, but taste is subjective. I don't like most of the artists that the organization is trading for-- Elvis Costello owes me 35 bucks for the most listless concert I've seen. But this isn't going to persuade Ashlee Simpson consumers to alter their preferences. It's just a group of people who are too cool for school making fun of an artist that they don't like.

What if the hipsters win and decide that their next target is bands that I like? I know they won't win, but it's an ugly concept to think that one person or group should dictate taste.
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:49 AM on November 17, 2004


Lodurr, you argue that their "field of choice" is "narrow and constrained", but that can't be further from the truth. We're not talking about children in third world countries with few prospects for schooling or luxuries or even survival. We're talking about mall rats sucking on mommy's financial teats. We're talking about 3l33t h@x0r couch potatoes with PlayStation 2 surgically attached to their wrists. They have access to the best and worst of the past century. They choose Eminem. They choose Destiny's Child and Kelly Clarkson.

They can access Elvis Costello, The Ramones, X, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, Aretha Franklin, Mr. Bungle, Ray Charles, Abe Lincoln Story, Grateful Dead, Neil Hamburger, Joni Mitchell, and Brian Wilson. They could support any artist of twentieth century that they wish. To them that's all old and therefore not worthy. They find Snoop Dog and Trick Daddy to be representatives of their voice. And just as twenty years ago when I thought Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Dire Straits, Simple Minds and Til Tuesday were THE shit, the young people of today are never ceasing to amaze their elders with utter stupidity and bad taste.

For the record, personally I happen to like Bowling For Soup, Alicia Keys, Nora Jones, and Hoobastank. However I'd never buy their albums. This is why the music industry caters to the younger people: they actually buy this stuff. I buy stuff like this, but music I like can't compete on the open market, because the music industry is not an open market. It's a corporate oligarchy. No trade-in stunt is going to fix that.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:00 AM on November 17, 2004


I've heard every studio album and countless bootlegs from the Grateful Dead, and been to about 15 shows in my life, and I won't say that I'd pick Ashelee Simpson over a collection of my personal favorite GD songs, but if presented with a box containing five Dead records and one Destiny's Child record, nine times out of ten I'd pick Destiny's Child. My only point is that it is possible to honestly and knowledgeably like pop music more than the Grateful Dead.

I am enjoying Faze's music commentary. It's sincerely impressive to me that anybody would put that much energy into deconstructing and defending "We Built this City on Rock and Roll", which, regardless of my own personal feelings on the song, has become the poster-tune for crappy soul-less pop monstrosities and is, rightly or not, generally dismissed out of hand as not being worth our attention.

I may disagree with Faze's general taste (although I too am unimpressed with latter day output of some of the musicians involved in this giveaway) but I applaud the examination of his own preferences. And I think it's absolutely possible to genuinely like Ashlee Simpson over Mr. Bungle. And highly probable to like Ashlee Simpson over any late-model Jimmy Page/Robert Plant output*. I'm more inclined to respect an opinion backed by honest self-examination--even if its extolling the virtues of "We Built This City on Rock and Roll"--than one that assumes a particular band is better than another by virtue of pedigree, longevity, non-mainstream distribution, or other amorphous characteristic expected to be obvious to all observers.

*My Ashlee Simpson exposure begins and ends with the video clip of her lip sync slip up, so those statements are purely theoretical.
posted by jennyb at 7:22 AM on November 17, 2004


That said, I agree that a lot of people probably swallow pop pap because they don't care to look deeper or haven't thought about it, and I agree that limiting one's music (or book or film or TV) exposure is kind of a drag. If I feel compelled to preach, I usually offer to trade mixes. That way I get an excellent pop song sing-along comp and the joy of possibly turning someone on to something they might not otherwise have been interested in.

Hmmm... I'll trade someone a copy of the Ashlee Simpson disc for a copy of Phoenix Alphabetical. That seems like a more even trade than Ashlee for Elvis, and I'll get to hear what all the fuss is about.
posted by jennyb at 7:32 AM on November 17, 2004


... but I applaud the examination of his own preferences.

I must have missed that. All I saw was a bunch of blanket pronouncements about the relative quality or decline in quality of various artists, without any real analysis of anything -- oh, except for the virtues of "We Built This City." Though I do think this was a pretty representative Faze thread: He sweeps in, makes a series of pronouncements that are designed to impress with the breadth of their application (he's heard so much! he must know so much, too!), and then when brass tacks are required, he dwells on some piece of minutia that he can be virtually certain no one else on the thread has ever expended that much effort on (e.g., Starship's one and only hit song).

Mayor_Curley: It's really about a group of people being condescending to another group.... It's just a group of people who are too cool for school making fun of an artist that they don't like

Oh, really? Maybe you didn't notice that this is actually part of a larger critique of pop culture that also snipes at Brittney and Paris? Well, maybe you're right -- maybe it's all about a bunch of too-cool kids sniping at popular culture in general; but I'm willing to at least give them the benefit of the doubt on why they do it. And I hope you'll admit that more people will actually think about it since they've put plastic where their mouths are.

And, finally, Zachsmind: Lodurr, you argue that their "field of choice" is "narrow and constrained", but that can't be further from the truth. We're not talking about children in third world countries with few prospects for schooling or luxuries or even survival. We're talking about mall rats sucking on mommy's financial teats.

Then educate them.

I'm fond of saying that if you don't know you have a choice, you don't actually have a choice. I would argue (and I expect you'll disagree) that the state of their "knowledge" --which includes experience, emotional maturity, book-larnin', and the hard-won understanding that most of us do actually live through it (to crib from last week's episode of "Cold Case") -- is such that they don't really have as much choice as you seem to think they have.

This kind of project is aimed at educating them about the fact that they have choice. Whcih is why, though I usually don't have much patience for lame critiques of other people's musical taste, I cut this one a break.
posted by lodurr at 8:34 AM on November 17, 2004


The Ramones are just as available to them as half the crap on this list and they choose to buy Ashlee Simpson.

No, the Ramones really aren't available. Have you forgotten how intimidating it is to walk into a record store as a kid and stare at those racks full of thousands upon thousands of CDs you can't identify from bands whose music you've never heard?

Imagine that you had never heard any of the Ramones' music before: you, as an adult, still know roughly where they fit into the musical universe. You know when they were active, so you can guess which albums might be likely to contain their best work; you know what general style of music they played, and you know what sort of people generally like that kind of music, so you can guess whether you might be one of them. So if for some reason something about the Ramones pricked your attention, you might be able to guess whether you'd like their music and pick a CD to try out.

A kid has none of that experience. The Ramones are just one among hundreds of completely unfamiliar bands lining the shelves. Some of those thousands of CDs are crap and some are great, but until you've been hanging around paying attention to music and its history for a decade or two, you really have no way of guessing which is which from context alone.

Also, when you're 14, you don't have that much money to spend; you want your CD-buying dollar to score a hit every time. So you stick to what you know: songs you've heard on TV or on the radio, songs your friends like, musicians whose face you see on posters and on TV. Sure, maybe it's not the best stuff ever, but it's catchy, you know what you're getting, and when you're 14 you really don't know what better music sounds like anyway.

Cut the kids some slack. This is a hard problem.
posted by Mars Saxman at 9:21 AM on November 17, 2004


lodurr: what's the difference between popularity pressure (marketing) and "education"?

The irony of the trade-in is that either way people are just taking what is given to them.
posted by wobh at 9:26 AM on November 17, 2004


Educate them??? You call it educating. They'd call it B.S.

They HAVE choice. It's staring at them in the face every time they go to a record store. They could choose not to just bolt straight for the top 40 rack at the front of the store. They could choose to explore. It's not like you can't find the music of the past sixty or seventy years. Hell, not too long ago you could download the best and worst of world music directly from the Internet and it didn't cost anything at all. Music of our age is practically throwing itself at these kids. You can go up and down the radio dial and hear "the best of the 60s, 70s and 80s." THEY HAVE CHOICE.

They choose NOT to explore. We consider this a crime but they consider it temporal efficency. They simply choose to spend their time not educating themselves. Or rather, they educate themselves on what's new and hip and whatever it is that speaks to them. I can understand that. I like to embrace music that comes from artists in or near my own community when I can. I like knowing what's going on in my own neck of the woods. I mourn for the end of groups like Blackwood Avenue, The Touch and Evamore, even though the rest of the world has no clue who those bands were, and probably wouldn't like them if they did know. I used to want to educate the world about North Texas Music, but the world scoffed, so now it's a secret I keep to myself.

It's like when I was a kid, my parents were trying to tell me that Guy Lombardo, Benny Goodman, and Glenn Miller were gods and what I listened to was crap. I have since learned to appreciate Glenn Miller. The man was a talented conductor and composer, but back when I was a kid I just scoffed at my parent's old outdated sensibilities. Even now, I'll take Oye Como Va over Moonlight Serenade any day.

Now, if I tried to push Oye Como Va down the throat of a teenager today? They'd counter by saying I don't grok the intricate artistic particulars of Slim Shady and therefore my opinions have no validity. Well, actually they probably don't use the word "grok" come to think of it. I truly am a Stranger In A Strange Land.

Make no mistake: They HAVE choice. That their choice happens to be, in YOUR opinion, WRONG, doesn't make it any less of a choice.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:35 AM on November 17, 2004


Something about this exchange bugged me but I couldn't put my finger on it until later -- it seems to suggest that you can't like both Ashlee Simpson (whom I'm now using as a metaphor for pop music in general) and Joni Mitchell, and that to "better" your musical taste, you have to relinquish the music you already know and enjoy to some higher authority who knows better than you. If it's really important to someone that people put more thought into their music decisions, wouldn't a better approach bet to share new sounds and hope something sticks instead of demanding that people's musical taste be broken down and built back up in what's considered a more acceptable fashion? What are people more likely to respond to: "Hey, if you like Ashlee Simpson, you might also like A, B, and C" or "Give up Ashlee Simpson completely and listen to something that I tell you to like"? The goal should be to make people more musically open-minded, not to make them just as musically insular, just in a different and less mainstream way.
posted by jennyb at 9:42 AM on November 17, 2004


what's the difference between popularity pressure (marketing) and "education"?

Nothing much, really. Make of it what you will. Zach appeared to me to be condemning them for what could only be really construed as ignorance; I was merely saying that if that's what he thought, he should educate them, not complain about it.

And if anyone's talking about whether I think the choice is wrong, then they haven't really been reading what I have to say. I don't care what anybody listens to, as long as the walls are thick enough that I don't go around humming "Lucky Star."

BTW, ZachsMind, Goodman rocks so much harder than Miller that it's not even funny. Hell, Goodman rocks harder than most of what passes for dance music today.
posted by lodurr at 11:39 AM on November 17, 2004


I jennyb is right. You can like the Ramones AND Ashlee Simpson, AND "We Built This City" AND Kurt Weil AND Schubert AND the Soviet Army Chorus and Band AND Abba AND Gilbert & Sullivan AND the New York Dolls AND Bowling for Soup AND Elvis AND Paul Whiteman AND Brahms AND... Well,you get the idea. Not the Greatful Dead, though. We have to draw the line somewhere.
posted by Faze at 12:56 PM on November 17, 2004


(quietly) I like The Juliet Letters.

This is not to say that EC hasn't put out some crap in his time. But I forgive the guy.
posted by litlnemo at 5:52 PM on November 17, 2004


I know I'm coming in way late here, but I couldn't let the flagrant plagiarism that derailed this thread slide by without notice.

Ahem. This bit of Faze's critique here?

Slick's "City" really is of a higher order than those other tunes. I ask you to listen to the masterful way they handle the early part of the song, keeping you involved through a wonderfully labyrinthine verse, building the pressure, piling on the suspense, holding you prisoner for an astonishingly long time before unloading that monster chorus. Then, once they've dropped the hammer, they show near tantric restraint before they drop it again.

This bit? I'm pretty sure it's been lifted, possibly verbatim, from Bret Easton Ellis' American Psycho. The scary part, in both a truth-is-stranger-than-fiction sense and in a Faze-might-actually-be-homocidal sense, is that I can detect none of Ellis' irony in Faze's recycling. And, regardless, where I come from they lock you away and throw away the key for even pretending to argue the musicological merits of Starship.
posted by gompa at 12:35 AM on November 18, 2004


Lodurr, I never said Lombardo or Goodman were bad. I've just appreciated Miller on my own since my youth when my parents first tried to introduce me to their music. Lombardo and Goodman are okay I guess. I don't have an opinion one way or the other about them actually, but I like Miller now. There's nothing wrong with their music per se, but it doesn't usually speak to me the way music of my own youth speaks.

And you're the one calling Simpson fans stupid and ignorant and in need of education. You're the one saying they have no choice. I'm not calling Simpson fans stupid. I think Simpson's music is stupid, but if someone chooses to listen and enjoys her stupidity, and they don't care that Simpson and Eminem can't perform live without lipsynching and faking their way through a performance as if they were cheap prostitutes, hey more power to them. Milli Vanilli was ahead of their time. They are entertained by the illusion of talent and not the real thing. They prefer something that's polished and faked to performances that are raw and real. People like Neil Young or Bob Dylan wouldn't make it big with today's audience. They want a human Ken doll dressed up as if the millions of dollars haven't been invested in him, lip mouthing the words to music written by talented unknowns and performed by anonymous studio musicians in the shadows.

That doesn't make them stupid. Maybe they have the right idea.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:31 AM on November 18, 2004


Whoa Gompa! You make big, big serious accusation there. I have never read "American Psycho" and I am the last person in America who needs to plagarize. I would suggest you produce your evidence, or an apology, toot sweet.
posted by Faze at 8:50 AM on November 18, 2004


And you're the one calling Simpson fans stupid and ignorant and in need of education.

Oh, jeebus, lighten up, Francis. You are taking all of this far, far too seriously; in any case, you do happen to be wrong about 'what I'm saying'. I know what I was saying. And you don't seem to.

But then, you don't even know what your own arguments are, so why should I expect you to take the time to understand mine?
posted by lodurr at 9:17 AM on November 18, 2004


Hey, Lod. You were the one trying to put words in my mouth. You're the one insinuating today's youth are incapable of making their own choices and just wallow along in the filth thrown at them like zombies in a Romero film. I agree that Simpson's trash. If today's youth chooses to wallow in filth, that doesn't necessarily make them stupid. I know what my argument is, and I also know you ain't grokkin me at all.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:49 AM on November 18, 2004


For future reference, Zach, in an argument I actually care about: Don't try to make me your straw man, and don't project your own behavior onto me. You'll regret it.
posted by lodurr at 9:54 AM on November 18, 2004


Are you threatening me??? I am the great Cornholio!
posted by ZachsMind at 11:02 AM on November 18, 2004


I can see that. But, sorry: No TP for your bunghole. Use the tablecloth, instead.
posted by lodurr at 12:34 PM on November 18, 2004


Whoa Gompa! You make big, big serious accusation there. I have never read "American Psycho" and I am the last person in America who needs to plagarize. I would suggest you produce your evidence, or an apology, toot sweet.

Faze, I am sorry - truly, truly sorry - that you somehow completely missed the molasses-thick irony that was dripping from my previous post.

So you know, the narrator of American Psycho is a young, rich, handsome stockbroker and serial killer named Patrick Bateman who intersperses his grotesquely detailed descriptions of the rape, murder and mutilation of his victims with equally meticulous critical appreciations of such paragons of '80s MOR pap as Phil Collins and Huey Lewis & the News. I can't recall for sure if Bateman actually praises Starship for its transformation from inventive countercultural psychedelia to glossy corporate synth-pop, but it'd be entirely in keeping with his character to do so.

The satirical implication of this literary device is that the kind of mind that would find serious artistic merit in '80s MOR pap would also get its rocks off on serial killing.

Keep in mind, please, that Ellis' book - and my previous post - were intended to be read as satire before you make any further demands for apologies.
posted by gompa at 4:55 PM on November 18, 2004


You can like the Ramones AND Ashlee Simpson, AND "We Built This City" AND Kurt Weil AND Schubert AND the Soviet Army Chorus and Band AND Abba AND Gilbert & Sullivan AND the New York Dolls AND ...

of course you can. but if you bought the Ashlee Simpson album b/c all your friends did, or because you liked one video, and then you realized you didn't like it, this swap is for you!

fwiw, i like pop music, and i'd listen to Top 40 radio if my city had a station devoted to it (kinda unbelievable it doesn't.)

although you might see H.O.P.E. as pretentious, do you think that major record labels and the mainstream media (radio and MTV) are pretentious by spamming young people with what *they* think is good music. i think efforts like these, while dangerously snobbish, are a well-designed counterbalance to the avalanche of marketing to which kids are exposed.

i *have* listened to Ashlee Simpson's music, and i'll say that i like it better than her sister's.

I am the last person in America who needs to plagarize.

good lord. get thee to a humility depot, Faze. have you counted the number of "built this city"s yet? ;)
posted by mrgrimm at 6:01 PM on November 18, 2004


i *have* listened to Ashlee Simpson's music, and i'll say that i like it better than her sister's.

I *have* smelled dog shit, and I'll say that I like it better than pig shit.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:45 PM on November 18, 2004


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