Clone Music

In general, I don’t comment much on the music scene — not a good way to gain wealth or lead society nowadays, since the pagans had their pleasures with it and has tossed the corpse aside to rot — but I do have an interest in pointing out obvious pitfalls for any artist out there.

And  God does like good music in worship: so as a Christian believer, I have an interest in promoting the Good Stuff.

So let’s avoid offering Him the Corporate Clone Canned trash that currently dominates the withering and disintegrating music scene, hmm?


Every song you love was written by the same two guys

Songwriting today is not the romantic notion of one kid with a guitar. As John Seabrook writes in his new book “The Song Machine,” it’s an impersonal, assembly-line-driven process that would make Henry Ford proud.

For Rihanna, “A-list producers and topliners [the term for vocal melody writers] were summoned to Los Angeles for two weeks and installed in studios around the city,” creating what Seabrook calls “a pop-up hit factory.”

[…]

Seabrook calls the modern method of song creation “track and hook,” indicating the split between the writing of the beat (track) and the hooks (melodies). He distinguishes this method from the more traditional “melody and lyrics”; often referred to on older albums as music and lyrics.

“The [track and hook] method was invented by reggae producers in Jamaica,” Seabrook writes, “who made one ‘riddim’ (rhythm) track and invited 10 or more aspiring singers to record a song over it. Today, track-and-hook has become the pillar and post of popular song…it is common practice for a producer to send the same track to multiple topliners — in extreme cases, as many as 50 — and choose the best melody from among the submissions.”

Stuck on Repeat

While this method has become a reliable source of hits, any artistic endeavor so mechanized is likely to have a downside.

“As a working method, track-and-hook tends to make songs sound the same,” Seabrook writes. “As dance beats have become the backing tracks to a growing number of pop songs, similar-sounding records have proliferated. The melodies themselves are still supposed to be unique, but because of the way producers work with multiple topliners, tracks and melodies tend to blur together.”

By way of example, Seabrook cites two 2009 hits — Beyoncé’s “Halo,” and Kelly Clarkson’s “Already Gone,” both produced by ”the super-producer Ryan Tedder.” (Both stars wrote their own toplines, Beyonce paired with Evan Bogart.)

“Halo” hit No. 5 first, and when Clarkson heard the song, “She thought it sounded too much like ‘Already Gone,’ and feared the public would think she copied Beyoncé’s song. But nobody cared or perhaps even noticed: Both songs were hits.”

And while track-and-hook can lead to similar sounding work, it can also be an exhausting, uncreative grind for the assembly-line writers.


A quick glance at the money shot, one more time:

“Halo” hit No. 5 first, and when Clarkson heard the song, “She thought it sounded too much like ‘Already Gone,’ and feared the public would think she copied Beyoncé’s song. But nobody cared or perhaps even noticed: Both songs were hits.”

The phrase for today is nobody cared.

If Christians want quality music, they had better demand more, and better, than what the pagans are willing to settle for.

Be the best… and offer the best.

First to God, then to the listener.

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