Why we're all so shallow when it comes to music
There was a time when I never cared about what musicians really thought about things. It wasn't that I didn't care about the musicians, but I just didn't think they had anything interesting to say outside of their music. When someone writes songs about getting laid, being in love, having 32 pennies and feeling good, do you really need to know what they think about the world or society in general? In this way these musicians could be placed above the common people (like ourselves) because they were above thinking about the mundane and regular. The musicians were ROCK STARS and in being these demagogue-like amazo-men, they were not to be treated like regular people. They didn't understand anything other than screams, flying panties and lots of drugs. Everything was hyper-reality for them. And we believed it all.
It all came crashing down around the time when these huge bands signed huge contracts for insane amounts of money. This is before actors got tens of millions of dollars for one movie. This is before sports players were pushed into the stratosphere (except Michael Jordan, who was always above the rest of us). This is before Friends. Mötley Crüe, Poison, Anthrax and Metallica signed huge contracts (most of them, interestingly enough, with Elektra Records) before older bands like Aerosmith or the Rolling Stones rubbed butts with cash cow Sony. Vince Neil was voted out of Mötley Crüe. C.C. DeVille left Poison. Anthrax fired Joey Belladonna, and Metallica learned the joys of three chord dance music. Did money spoil the video star? I think the proper answer here is: Duh!
With greater money comes greater responsibility. These rockers realized they couldn't just put out an album consisting of a couple singles and a dozen mid-sized clunkers. The album needed at least five singles (two of them ballads) and they had to be huge. Suddenly they realized that what worked before wouldn't work again, and the boys recognized they were different people then they had been a few years before. With the exception of Metallica (who pulled off one of the most amazing about faces in music since Sammy Hagar joined Van Halen in 1985), none of these groups filled the cavern of promise their contracts were signed for.
To put the last nail in the coffin, music quickly diversified in the early 90s and exposed those groups for what they really were: cheese. Personally, I like cheese. But I can only eat so much without a regular meal underneath. Raw cheese begins to taste weird after a couple of slices. Now what does all this bullshit about cheese and money have to do with an identity crisis? Glad you asked.
The one thing those groups were able to pull off (we can go ahead and throw in Warrant, Skid Row, Kix, all the White bands and many other groups that adorn a dusty section of my CD shelf) was the stage me/personal me difference. When you write about cheese, it's easier to separate your stardom from your personal life. If you don't give a shit about your music (which is not as harsh an indictment as you may think) and just want to get laid and get paid, life is much easier when people treat you like a human totem pole. While there were some problems (usually it involved drugs, which tend to melt everything into one tasty meal basket), it wasn't the Eddie Vedder Problem.
I call it the Eddie Vedder Problem because he is the poster boy for unhappiness these days. In fact, his name is so synonymous with this new musical phenomenon, other bands are writing songs about it. "Eddie Vedder" by Local H is about not being appreciated as much as the singer feels he should be ("Would you like me better if I was Eddie Vedder?"). "Better Than Eddie Vedder" by SNFU is about the fickle music listener ("He seemed shy and so confused/Now that he's older, he's last year's news/She's looking for somebody better/Much better than Eddie Vedder"). It's as if, to many people‹just read the reviews to Pearl Jam's new album‹that Eddie isn't appreciating his good fortune (before the 90s, musicians wanted to be treated like 24 hour blow jobs).
Eddie's not unhappy (if you were wondering), he just doesn't want to be treated like he's more important than anyone else. It's this depression over super-stardom that people got tired of‹even more than the music itself. We don't want our heroes to be sullen and depressed because we like them. It's like worshipping a god who keeps saying, "C'mon, anyone can make the trees, oceans and earth‹I'm not that important!" So maybe we learned our lesson (doubtful, but what the hey) about what we want from music. We need human gods because all the ones we can't see don't seem to be helping us out. We want Gwen from No Doubt, Gawin from Bush, Lauren from the Fugees, Hootie from the Blowfish and Alanis from Morissette: Bigger than life and eminently fuckable.
Of course, we knew this already. Why do you think Sammy is out and Diamond Dave is back? It's the chaps over the g-string combo coming around again because we really do want to see how far out he'll stick his ass.
return to the LIES #11 page page.
return to the LIES home page.
return to the A&A home page.