This is my response to a little discussion i’ve embroiled myself in.
1. Have you ever seen Aretha Franklin play an instrument?
No, and i don’t like to listen to her (though i respect her muchly). Additionally, you have to admit that her voice (as an instrument, if you care to take that point of view) is much more impressive than any current female pop star’s (*possibly* excepting Mariah and Whitney).
2. Have you seen the Temptations of Four Tops play an instrument?
The Temptations and the Four Tops were a product of the music industry at a time where a pop group doing harmony was in no way expected to write their own songs. Although many early rockers such as Buddy Holly and Little Richard wrote their own music, the advent of the the “singer-songwriter” didn’t come until the Dylan/Joni school. The Mamas and the Papas managed to write excellent vocal material and play guitar as well. I listen to Temps and Tops songs because they are classics and i grew up listening to them. However, i often can’t tell the difference between two groups doing the same song (“Build me up Buttercup,” for example), and if it is a favourite (as that one is) i don’t really care who the artist is as long as they can sing. Which means they are interchangeable in my mind, which is sort of my point.
3. If you don’t like pop why are you on a pop page?
Actually, this is a music for teens page, and being a teenager i am entitled to my opinion, as are others who dislike the so-called Pop Phenomenon. As a teenager i buy many more classic rock and modern rock albums than pop albums.
4. How many lead singers in these bands actually play an instrument?
“These bands” referring to what? Every act that i listen to (with the exception the ubiquitous Madonna) plays an instrument and/or is the main writer in the group. Examples being Garbage, Ani DiFranco, David Bowie, Tori Amos, Peter Mulvey, Alanis Morissette, Billy Joel, Elastica, Weezer, Tracy Bonham, ect…
5. How many rappers play an instrument? (Eminem)
None. Or, at least they do not publicize it, though i assume most of them are at least fluent with synthesizers and drum machines. Rappers who i respect the most are ones whose rhymes go beyond the obvious, and who are excellent arrangers and producers.
>sigh … You’re right, not all legendary people play instruments. However, i think it’s fair to say that the advent of “rock” music (which all of these things are) was with [Elvis / Little Richard / Jerry Lee Lewis], and that it took a long while for expectations from popular music to solidify. Up through as late as 1970 many songs i personally consider “legendary” were handed to their performers in the studio. However, as popular music diversified to include such bands as Queen and Jimi Hendrix Experience, expectations changed.
I don’t think my decision to slightly discount pop performers who were quite obviously picked for their image as much as their talent and who have been around for a mere two or three years is unfair at all. I sincerely hope that all of these acts find their own niches and do what they want. In a recent TV Guide, Aguilera said “If it were up to me i would have gone in a more soul and R&B direction. Also, N’Sync will soon “start work on a new record, with all five members taking a more active part in songwriting and producing.” Alanis Morissette released three trite dance records before she broke through. Obviously if the two pop powers just mentioned started out in their garages and got signed three years later, they would have wound up in a much different place. I am waiting to see where that place is.
We all have a right to like what we like. Some of our opinions are more well reasoned than others. Yours are certainly so. I’m sure you look forward to the next N’Sync record, and in a way i do too.