So what if Maroon 5 had the best-selling album of the year? They don’t pretend to be anything other than a pop band. But Alanis Morissette and Shania Twain, two of the best selling “artists” from about 10 years ago, fooled the masses into believing that they were the real deal. If I’d been Ani DiFranco in the mid-90s, I would’ve looked in the toilet every morning and greeted each of my turds: “Hello, Alanis. Good morning, Alanis II. Enjoy your trip to the sewer, Alanis #3.”
Despite the presence of the grossly overrated Kanye West, are you missing the fact that 50 Cent is nowhere to be seen? That, my friends, is reason for a celebration. I want to go to the bar on the corner and buy everyone a drink, because it appears the typical American consumer has finally figured out that talent is not directly proportional to bullet holes.
Say what you will about Akon and Gwen Stefani, but I remember working at a (shudder) Sam Goody during Christmas of 1990. Wanna know what was selling like hotcakes during that hellacious yule? MC Hammer. Vanilla Ice. Wilson Phillips. Warrant. Frankly, there is no one on this year’s list (assuming you remove Amy Winehouse) who is as bad as the class of 1990. So maybe, just maybe, we’re actually becoming a little bit smarter.
Yes, some of you are saying, “It wasn’t like this when we were rocking out to Zeppelin and The Who and Sabbath in 1970, man.” I have two words for you: What. Ever. Take a look at Billboard‘s top 5 songs from 1970:
1) Bridge Over Troubled Water — Simon & Garfunkel: Great song.
2) Close to You — The Carpenters: Oh, please someone stick a fireplace poker into my eardrums.
3) American Woman — Guess Who: Nothing wrong with the Guess Who, but they are to Zeppelin what Linkin Park is to White Stripes. (The former is conspicuously present on this year’s list, and the latter is conspicuously absent.)
4) Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head — B.J. Thomas: I would pray for sulfuric acid to fall on my head.
5) War — Edwin Starr: Kanye West only hopes he can kick this much ass someday.
So 1970’s top five was better than 2007’s, but it was hardly reflective of what was really happening in music. This was what the typical American consumer was buying, and the typical American consumer was — and is — limited in his (or her) knowledge of music.
I remember meeting a cute British doctor in Manhattan in 2000. We were walking around midtown when some bonehead drove by with Bush (the lameass British band, not the lameass American president) blaring out of their sweet minivan. She looked at me with a smirk, and said, “We (the British) find it funny that you (the Americans) think Bush is good.” She gave me a blank look when I mentioned Matchbox 20, Creed, and Limp Bizkit, because she had never encountered any of them in the record shops of Liverpool. Our relationship began and ended that night; she could never forgive the musical ignorance of my fellow countrymen.
So we may not be ready to pick up cute British doctors, but we’re no longer stuck with Bush or Alanis Morissette or The Carpenters or Vanilla Ice. All in all, 2007 isn’t such a rotten place to be.