At the end of every year, the Internet sensation DJ Earworm creates a mashup of the top 25 songs of that year. This previous year, for instance, featured such songs as:
- Carly Rae Jepsen – “Call Me Maybe”
- One Direction – “You Don’t Know You’re Beautiful”
- Taylor Swift – “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”
A real list of winners, eh? While I commend Earworm on his video and audio editing capabilities, there is something wrong with this picture: you shouldn’t be able to take every top song of any given year, put them together, and have the finished product sound like an actual song. Can you imagine a mash-up at the end of 1969 with the Rolling Stones “Honky Tonk Women,” the Beatles “Come Together,” and the Temptations “I Can’t Get Next to You” sounding like a song that was intended to be that way?
Think of it this way: if you took a five-course meal by famed-chef Mario Batali and mixed everything together in a blender, you more than likely wouldn’t want to take a bite. And that’s how it should be. Variety: Who’da thunkit?
So please excuse my jubilation with the recent release of two singles: David Bowie’s “Where Are We Now?” and Justin Timberlake’s “Suit and Tie.” Bowie, never being one to conform to social norms, hits a homerun with his soft, melodic tone. And while JT’s new single is nothing groundbreaking, it’s good piece of music. There’s an authenticity to each of these tracks—both in lyrics and musicality—that has been absent from the airwaves in recent years.
It’s refreshing. We’ve had to deal with Justin Bieber sing about fondue for far too long. And if you are mentioning fondue in your music, it’s not music (Unless you’re Weird Al. I’d gladly let Weird Al fondue the hell out of us).
Music has been in the dumps for a while now. A couple months ago, I watched a PBS special on David Geffen, and I wanted to cry. He spoke of how when he received a demo from Jackson Browne, which was accompanied by his head shot, Geffen said, “This guy should be a model, not a musician.” Can you imagine those words even crossing the mind of a music manager these days? Do we even still have music managers these days? Sex appeal is almost the only qualification to be a recording artist now.
If these two songs were from some unknown artists, they would still be good songs. But instead of getting radio play and mentioned on Huffington Post, they would only get a few plays on a MySpace channel. So today, let us be grateful for a dying breed: musicians with integrity. Because without these two, there’d be fondue all over the place.