Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Because I'm such a big music fan, people occasionally ask me what I think about American Idol. It's fine. There's worse reasons to sign an artist to a recording contract than (a) they can sing and (b) people like them. It's pop, it isn't rock. I don't make it a point to watch it, but when it is on at my house, I watch for a bit. I don't find myself enjoying the music or the spectacle much, but I am interested in the criticism (even though Simon can be harsh, he's usually right) and why America chooses whoever they choose (and yes, the fairness/accuracy of the voting is always questioned).  Although on his SIRIUS XM show on The Loft this past Sunday, Dave Marsh made a pretty compelling case for AI being the cause of pretty much everything wrong with our culture. He has a book about it coming out soon. 

I used to really not care much about Elvis Presley - I'm still not a big fan, and don't like much of his post-Sun Records era. To me, he may have been the original rock star, but he was also the original sell-out. I was probably influenced by Public Enemy's song "Fight The Power" where they say "Elvis: was a hero to most/But he never meant shit to me/Racist, simple and plain/Motherfuck him and John Wayne!" But I realized that however much I was like "whatever," the guy changed the world. He influenced everything that came after, which is pretty much all rock and roll music. His bad movies, fat outfits, embarrassing Vegas era, lame albums, etc. would never change his influence. 

KISS is like that. If Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley got a nickel for every kid who got a guitar, a bass, or a drumkit because of KISS, they'd double their fortune tomorrow. Yes, a lot of those bands sucked. And if you listen to their early music, it is awesome. They eventually fell off and sold out and lost their air of danger, just like Elvis. 

Like, say, Jay-Z, they don't turn down money or a chance at publicity. Unlike Jay-Z, this opens them to ridicule. I don't buy into Gene's schtick, but one thing he is right about is: who cares what the media says. At the risk of sounding like Bill O'Reilly, KISS  is a victim to media bias big time. Who cares, the fans know the deal. 

I did watch their performance with Adam Lambert on American Idol (on youtube), and it was kind of embarrassing, but so what, they can do what they want. They can't do anything to make me like their old music less, and I'm beyond being embarrassed by their antics. 

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