Charles Davis




Turn on the radio... Nah, turn it off


            I read the news today, oh boy.  According to MTV, hotel heiress, part-time reality show star, and full-time celebrity skank Paris Hilton is coming out with a pop-rock album.  ThatÕs right -- fresh off an acting career that consists of a couple B-movies and some faked orgasms, Hilton is proving that when it comes to talentless hacks, thereÕs always room for more in the music industry.  ItÕs enough to make one want to channel their inner-Pat Buchanan, rail against popular culture, and just say to hell with it all.  The most depressing part of it all isnÕt that sheÕs making an album -- a mentally-handicapped chimpanzee could record an album with all of todayÕs technology and a team of producers -- but that inevitably there will be people out there willing to shell out $15.99 for the musical equivalent of beer-bonging a gallon of ranch dressing.

            Of course, lousy pop music is nothing new, just check out your momÕs old record collection for confirmation.  ThatÕs not to say all pop music is a wasteland -- thereÕll always be some groups that manage to become hits while still maintaining their artistic integrity.  But a look back at the 20th century reveals a bleak picture dominated by wars, famines, and utterly horrendous bubble gum pop with occasional exceptions like the Beatles -- but even they were eventually torn apart by their success (or Yoko Ono, depending on who you ask).  Throughout the past century the charts have been chop-full of such musical crimes against humanity as Ace of Base,  Jennifer Lopez and ŌJoJo,Ķ and on particularly bad days it can seem as if the apocalypse has to be right around the corner  -- and that it just might come in the form of Good Charlotte.

            So what is the concerned music-lover to do?  Should we simply resign ourselves to a life of lousy music and MTV (the two tend to go together like designer purses and USD), or is there something that can be done to amend the deplorable state of pop culture?  Pop music, by its very definition, has always catered to the lowest common denominator.  But do not fret -- in contrast to the blandness and banality of mainstream pop, there are plenty of creative bands and artists out there, you just have to look a little bit harder.  So youÕre lookinÕ for some good indie-rock?  Ok, then throw out that Hoobstank CD and go out and get yourself the newest releases from Elvis Costello, Piebald, or check out any of the recently reunited PixiesÕ classic albums.  Like something with a little more adrenaline?  Do yourself a favor and get some Queens of the Stone Age, the Mars Volta,  Muze (whose blistering set at the recent Independence Jam could make a believer out of the harshest cynic), or the Austin-based rockers Trail of Dead.  Like emo?  Go ahead and kill yourself  (just kidding -- but seriously, get over the ex-girlfriend already).  And, despite what you hear on the radio and at clubs, there is such a thing as good hip-hop.  You could do a lot worse than adding some of the Roots, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, and a little Nas to your record collection -- but save all those Jay-Z and P. Diddy CDÕs and you can have yourself a unique, eclectic set of coasters for parties and other social gatherings.

            Foks, good music is out there, itÕs just hidden behind a whole lot of mediocrity.  Turn off the bland, corporate radio.  Turn off the MTV.  In fact, just go ahead and throw your TV out the window.  Support artists who actually care about the music they put out and that put something into their music that most pop stars and Dick Cheney lack -- a heart.  Follow these suggestions and who knows, maybe a world without crass commercialism, lousy music, and Girls Gone Wild infomercials might just improve your whole outlook on this thing called life.  And anyway, you can get that Paris Hilton video online.