Just to start, I'd like to say Merry Christmas to everyone and I hope the upcoming New Year is just as relaxing and successful for everyone, minus a couple of slobbery, drunken endings here and there (take care of yourselves now. Nobody likes being "that guy"). Also, next weeks blog is going to be submitted on the <strong>Tuesday</strong> as well given where Jan 1st falls. After that we'll be back on schedule for the regular Sunday submissions for everyone's joy and scrutiny. YAY!
I've started calling it "turkey driving". It's that time of year where everyone loses a bit of their ability to drive due to either an overwhelming confusion that leaves them completely inept when it comes to their vehicular ability to operate machinery. The majority of people on the road, instead of driving with great caution and left over amounts of courtesy and christmas spirit, instead start driving like they're distracted by the pretty lights as they walk through the casino floor. Running into each other, cutting others off and sometimes forcing someone driving around them to react horribly and end up as the bad guy on the road in that awkward mess between being in the middle of the road impeding traffic flow during a turn <em>OR</em> just simply being the key to the accident that will end us all. Either way, I don't care. Boxing day week is not that exciting people. <!--more-->You can leave your house and line up with everyone else if you wish. Feel free. I'd rather you wait until you have the opportunity to shop after the New Years weekend and still find that all the boxing week sales are continuing to your utter disbelief. Thus, less traffic would be on the roads rushing to get from place to place with disorganization that hasn't been seen since the riots in Vancouver during last years Stanley Cup Final. I might also suggest that you plan out your route ahead of time so you're not driving and making the inevitable decision to simply turn on a dime without signaling and getting the horn and possibly a carton of eggs on your car as I drive by waving a solitary finger in the air. All of this could be avoided with a wee bit of decision-making before turning the key to the ignition. I highly recommend it and I graciously ask for your cooperation and support in this endeavor.
But I digress.....
Obviously, that rant is not intended for you specifically. No no. You, the readers enjoying the minor rage blackout I had while writing that previous paragraph, are far too intelligent and coordinated to give in to the excitement of post-holiday shopping. So, I'm going to continue this blog .. about pop music.
Have a look at the graphic I've attached here. Let's analyze it shall we? In the first section we find the ever vigilant guitarist who has been practicing his whole life in an endeavor to play some of the most challenging and impressive music ever created at speeds only comparable to that of Speedy Gonzales or the road runner on Looney Tunes. After managing to put in hours upon hours of work, blood and sweat in his mothers basement he emerges to perform his abilities for the public (right of section #1) who no doubt are impressed by his abilities and swarms of women are about to throw themselves at him for his accomplishments. For this man, this brilliantly talented man, will obviously bring in mountains of money and power from the work he has so clearly put into his craft. And so, like many talented people and business people before him, he shall reap the fruits of his labour!!! He opens his eyes to find?!??! (again, right side of section #1) a solitary dude, also an aspiring guitarist, recognizing his efforts and congratulating him on it. Everyone else is either at the bar or simply ignoring this audacious music. *woot!*
In walks the handsome, sorta talented, more so fell into it and can kinda sing a Foo Fighters song acoustic guy (see section #2). He approaches the mic, his hair swaying in the slight breeze that developed from the exhale of the swarms of women noticing this handsome man stepping into the light. They await his voice with anticipation and are immediately swooned by his first note and airy tone as it enters their ears, which have been slightly dulled by their sheer attraction to charming smile on stage. He lets out a stream of "la la la" or "oooo" to the satisfaction of the average teenage girl in the audience and immediately their need is fulfilled and attention captured not noticing the banjo sounding out of tune guitar he plays or his slightly pitchy voice. No, they have been won. The battle is over. The guitarist from his mother's basements retreats from his glorious debut back into his mothers basement and back to a place where his talent can truly be appreciated. .... .. YouTube.
Now I make this all sound really sarcastic, and I am, and I don't mean to devalue anyone trying to make music. I really don't. Everyone, and I mean everyone, starts somewhere with a small unappreciative audience and everyone when they first start playing.... sucks (sorry to all you praising mothers out there). But, that is the harsh truth. I sucked. That guy over there sucked *points accusingly!* .... the swooning handsome acoustic John Mayer look-a-like sucked. It's a reality of playing an instrument. But this simplicity is what we expect of pop music now a days. In behind every great performer is a series of fantastically talented musicians, engineers, producers and writers who all contribute to the success of an artist, big or small. And every single one of those talented people were like the guy in square #1. They were all unappreciated at a young age, they all worked their asses off to hone their craft to the point of it being an art rather than a hobby, they were all ridiculed and criticized to the point of shattering their egos and sense of self-worth and they are all successful because of it.
I hear a lot of criticism from people about bands and acts like Simple Plan, Marianas Trench, Nickelback *boo!*, Britney Spears, Avril Lavigne and Lady Ga Ga to name a simple few. Even I in my younger years was heard spewing out on more than a few occasions that these people couldn't write music if I locked them in a room with a Saw movie inspired nightmare scene for motivation to come up with a tune. Alas, I have grown older and wiser and realized the error of my ways and am hoping to spread that on to you.
These people, these pop stars and starlets, despite any public/paparazzi exploited character flaws, are all extremely talented and have paid their dues. Michael Jackson is the perfect example of this. He is one of the greatest examples of "the weirdo" as some people would say. ,But, for all the public nay-sayers who would call him everything from eccentric to pedophile, they can never take away from the fact that he was the "King of Pop". His performance from the music, to the dancing, to his innovative and industry defining songwriting and arranging was phenomenally stunning from the beginning to the end of his life. Every pop artist out there pays a price to be where they are. Chad Kroeger worked his ass off to get Nickelback to the hated status among popular social standards and I'm sure he wouldn't want it any other way. They are, without argument, the most successful act in the world currently whether you love or hate their music and are all great musicians with that same love and adoration for music they had while growing up learning to play their favorite song by Lynyrd Skynyrd in their mothers basement. Success doesn't come to anyone lightly and while many musicians who strive for years to perfect their art never become successful that doesn't mean that those who have been so "lucky" are by any means less talented or simply got there because of who they know (there are exceptions believe me, but these statements are, as always, a general a rule of thumb). These people all have personal lives that, with more success and time, becomes more difficult to manage and maintain. That in itself is a massive sacrifice that artists, not just musicians, and their families, among other careers (professional athletes, cruise ship operators, anyone that travels regularly), make for the opportunity to make someone else's life more enjoyable through their skill and craft. Don't take it lightly.
While I agree that the business is .. .. .. well, on occasion, dodgy to say the least I also recognize that it's just business and, like all businesses, people are all out to make money and succeed in their ventures. I give them that leeway. But, to anyone out there who questions the talent it takes to be a successful musician/performer/entertainer, I challenge you to write a song. And not just any song, a stereotypical, big hook, lyrically radio friendly song that can compete with the likes of what's on the radio now. It's a lot harder than you think. Always keep in mind the golden rule: If something looks easy it's not because it is. It's because the people performing that song, making that art, writing that story, building that structure or conceiving that idea etc. are fantastically talented, creative, experienced and worthy professionals. Remember kids, real life is never like Guitar Hero.