Piss off...

Sunday, February 10, 2008


I’m actually watching the Grammys in their entirety tonight for the first time in probably 19 years, since 1989, when Metallica played and was shut out of the first Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal album by Jethro Tull. (What? The? Fuck? Actually I’m more disgusted that Jane’s Addiction “Nothing Shocking” lost out. To Jethro Tull. But I digress.) But I have to admit that I’m mostly watching out of a sense of schadenfreude.

It’s great to watch the spectacle of the Major Label Machine, knowing that the Major Labels are now almost totally irrelevant. The times follow and are reflected by technology, and the technology is finally such that the ARTISTS are taking the music business back. I’m thrilled by this inverse of the template: the majors did it to themselves by neglecting A&R, allowing themselves to be subsumed by multinational corporations that saw nothing but bottom lines and embarking on pathetic crusades against technology while completely ignoring the technology themselves. Good riddance.

It’s especially sweet for those of us that were weaned on the teat of indie rock in the ‘80s, those of us that worshiped bands like Sonic Youth, Black Flag, Husker Du and the Minutemen not just for the music, but for the fact that they pioneered the DIY ethos and never relied on The Machine. Those bands did the whole thing themselves: formed their own labels, financed their own albums, toured relentlessly on the cheap and built their own fanbase. And it’s happening again, thanks to the internets. I could not be happier to see the Major Label Industrial Complex die.

That said, the output from the majors isn’t all that bad. Alicia Keye’s “duet” with Sinatra to open the show was terrific. I normally loathe this kind of thing (see Cole, Natalie), but this was great. Alicia "gets" the greatness of Sinatra, and a lot of the kids at the top of the charts today also get the pioneers. (See Jones, Nora.) And I must say, Morris Day still knows what Time it is. Beyonce was and is great. Tina Turner? Eternally fabulous. And Rihana is positively luscious.

When they’re all dropped from their Major Label contracts after the latest cost-cutting shuffle from Corporate, I hope they all find further success. I might suggest doing it themselves.


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