Sunday, July 17, 2011

Ke$ha-What a Brilliant Mind!

 I think that when the record companies start to look at why record sales have been declining for the last decade, they might want to take a close look at a few things. Let’s start with Autotune. Autotune is the audio plug in that makes anyone or anything with a mouth sound like an opera singer.  You don’t have to actually be able to carry a tune.  Autotune will make sure that you have perfect pitch.  It is now a standard in contemporary music production.  Years ago you actually had to have a modicum of singing ability to make it as a star.  The marketplace would recognize soon enough if you were serious about your craft like the Beatles or just another one hit wonder like Whale’s smash hit “Hobo Humpin' Slobo Babe.” Remember that one?  I didn’t think so.  Autotune is also responsible for the robot like effects that make T-Pain sound, well, like T-Pain.  What up Bartender?

Listen to the Bobby Hatfield of the Righteous Brothers sing “Unchained Melody.”  What a set of pipes!  Clean, crisp, pure and, oh by the way, on key. Or how about Roberta Flack singing “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.”  Hauntingly beautiful.  Listen to any Roy  Orbison songs.  He could hit three octaves.  Same thing with Freddy Mercury of Queen.  These people had talent.  I realize these days that time is money and most, if not all, song production is done with Pro-Tools.  Producers and engineers don’t have time for take after take until the artist gets it right.  One or two takes, click the mouse, adjust a dial or two and voila, perfect song.  Did too many lines of cocaine last night?  No problem! Autotune will fix that.  Randy Jackson says, “You are too pitchy dawg!”  Autotune will fix that too.  It is unfortunate that electronics has displaced talent. 

The other reason is lyrics that border on the absurd. When I was growing up and listening to records, you know vinyl, we listened and tried to divine the meaning of the lyrics.  You couldn’t Google the lyrics and a lot of albums simply did not come with lyrics on the liner notes.  We would spend hours listening to the songs over and over again until we could not only sing them, but figure out what they meant.  Songs like; Simon and Garfunkle’s Bridge Over Troubled Waters, One Love by Bob Marley, or Whiter Shade of Pale by the Procul Harem.  I mean Charlie Manson thought the Beatles were talking to him through the White Album.  That’s hardcore stuff.     

Fast forward to today for a little...

Back door cracked
We don't need a key
We get in for free
No VIP sleaze
Drink that kool-aid
Follow my lead
Now you're one of us
You're coming with me
It's time to kill the lights and shut the DJ down
This place about to-
Tonight we're taking over, no one's getting out
This place about to blow (repeat several dozen times)

That little ditty was penned by serious songwriter Ke$ha who considers herself a songwriter before and above everything else.  She has writing credits on Britney Spears new song “Till The World Ends.”  Here is a sample...

This kicked in, got your tongue tied in knots I see
Spit it out cause I'm dying for company
I notice that you got it
You notice that I want it
You know that I can take it 
To the next level baby
If you want this good sh@#
Sicker than the remix
Baby let me blow your mind tonight

That’s pretty serious songwriting.  I’ve been trying to unlock the meaning of “If you want this good sh@# Sicker than the remix” for weeks.   I’m still stumped.

How does this creative mind come up with these powerful lyrics?  Here’s a quote from the Esquire Magazine interview. “I'll usually go out, have one f!@#ing insane night, come home half-drunk, stumbling, and write down a few words. The next morning I'll wake up and be like, Whoa, this story needs to be told.”  Whoa is right.  Who knew writing could be so easy?  I think I will now kill a bottle of Jack Daniel’s and write the next Pulitzer Prize. 

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