Sunday, October 28, 2012

Music: Art Form or Consumer Product?

I just read this article in the New York Times about the changes Billboard has made in how they put together their charts. You should read the whole thing, but this will give you an idea:
Three weeks ago, the editors at Billboard, who for decades have defined what makes an American hit, shook up the song charts for various genres. The magazine started counting digital sales and online streams along with radio airplay in its tallies for most major formats. It also created two new charts using the same criteria, breaking out rap songs in one and R&B songs in a second. The results have given stars with a pop-oriented sound and broad crossover appeal an advantage over other artists, upsetting and puzzling some music fans. Take Psy, the pudgy South Korean pop star with the infectious dance moves whose video “Gangnam Style” went viral on the Internet. Since the new rules took effect, “Gangnam Style” has been the No. 1 song on the new Rap Songs chart for the last three weeks, even though Psy does not rap on the track and most American hip-hop radio stations have yet to embrace him as a bona fide rapper.
Of course we here at The Music Salon had a post up on Gangnam style way back on Sept. 23. Another artist who has benefitted from the changes is Rihanna whose song "Diamonds" went from No. 66 to No. 1 on the R&B and Hip-Hop chart. Let's have a listen, shall we?


Pretty much every music video by Rihanna I have seen has seemed like a brassiere commercial with an annoying soundtrack and this one is the same. There seem to be a few different videos out there, I hope I have chosen the correct one! Anyway, I'm sure Billboard has worked out a way of tracking more accurately what people are consuming. I was smiling to myself all the way through the article because what the New York Times calls "purists" of the  hip-hop, country and R&B genres were upset. Now they know what classical listeners have been suffering for quite a while now: what we view as music is pushed to the side in favor of, again, what the New York Times calls "pop-oriented sound and broad crossover appeal ."

There's consumer product music and art form music and they have rather different goals, purposes and methods. The whole idea of genres in popular music is so pulverized these days that Billboard might as well throw everything in the same pot, don't you think?

2 comments:

Joel Lo Observador said...

Yes! Haha

Bryan Townsend said...

I was particularly pleased with the "every music video by Rihanna I have seen has seemed like a brassiere commercial with an annoying soundtrack" phrase!