Risk Takers: A Music Observation
A few years ago I wasn't watching SNL that much, not sure of why exactly but I wasn't. Maybe it was one of their "lean" years. Anyway, I read a story about a new singer named Lana Del Rey who was so terrible when she performed on the show. Every pop culture media outlet was buzzing about it. I was curious, so I went and listened to a clip. I thought she sounded stoned, she had that sleepy sound, but I don't recall being repulsed by it as much as I just didn't know what to think of her sound. It puzzled me.
Lana Del Rey - Video Games (Live on SNL) from Lanaism on Vimeo.
In 1956 Elvis Presley made his first real TV appearance on the Milton Berle show. He sang Hound Dog. To quote a retrospective on the event..
About that same time I heard Blondie's song, Rapture. "Why does she talk in the middle of the song?" I thought. It sounded weird to me, but I didn't hate it. But even with a white punk band rapping in a song, the art form itself was still not considered a real element of change in music.
Obviously Elvis, Nirvana, Lana Del Rey had fans prior to these historic performances on TV or they wouldn't have been given such a big showcase for their music, Rap music had a fan base in the inner cities, but I find it interesting that the initial mass response to these artist's "Coming out" performances, and/or initial mass offering of the genre, did not receive a positive reception.
And yet, who can dispute that each changed music and left their mark?
Lana's sound is now being touted as having an effect on Taylor Swifts new album, her and Lorde are mentioned again and again by reviewers as they describe who Taylor is working to sound more like. Lana's influence is just now in it's full stride. Some people still hate her dark cinematic sound, but so what? She's changing music.
All music benefits from risk takers who aren't for sale, those are the artist, producers, managers, who change the direction of music and expand our pleasure palate.
The cookie cutter music only dumbs us down and makes music that is an accessory not a necessity. I don't want that. I require music, it is absolutely necessary. Bring on the risk takers offending me, confusing me, bothering my notions and sensitivities. I don't want reality TV music I want edgy, challenging, interesting, creative art that leaves me wondering if I like it, keeps me awake at night hearing it and considering it, leaves me without words to describe it.
The kind of music that changes music, the kind of music risk takers produce.