Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Not one album has gone platinum in 2014

Forbes - not one artist's album has gone platinum in 2014. Except for a soundtrack.

Bob Lefsetz - let me weigh in on this.

Lefsetz has a lot of the general "it's a new era, baby" thinking right, but is also full of bullshit when it comes to his own recollection of the glorious 60s and 70s.

There were very few albums in the 1960s and 1970s that were worth buying as albums. Very few deserved their multi-platinum status. Let's see if we can list them: Aqualung, Dark Side of the Moon, Led Zeppelin IV, um... The Lamb Lies Down on Braodway, Animals, Wish You Were Here... um...

Half of those were Pink Floyd, incidentally.

Yes, there were other albums that were nice to buy, they had a few good songs on them. But Sgt. Pepper wasn't an album, just a collection of very good songs. Even in the Quietest Moments wasn't an album, just a collection of really good songs. Most albums that went platinum were just collections of 10-14 good songs.

Or rather, they were a collection of songs, some number of which between 0 and 14 were good.

Which is all that the albums of today are, to the extent that albums still exist.

And I don't buy albums anymore, I go on Youtube and stream everything, yes. I was half-interested in buying a hardcopy of Lana Del Rey's Born to Die, which is as close as you get to a modern-day equivalent of the whole-album experience like Aqualung. But that would mean reassembling my stereo, which I took apart and put into the closet when its shelf broke.

Oh and by the way, Bob? Born to Die has apparently sold 4 million copies. Compare that, please, to your little buddy Miley Cyrus, the manufactured pop-star of the old 60s-70s system, who only sold 1.7 million copies of Bangerz.

Remember how you dumped the hate on Lana Del Rey and called her career over after that SNL performance?

Well, Miley Cyrus swung naked on a wrecking ball, rubbed her bum against Robin Thicke's crotch on TV, and spent six months sticking her tongue out, and all that did was give her less than half of Lana's sales. All that work and no payoff! Didn't she do everything that you tell acts to do?

What did Lana Del Rey do? Apparently she wrote better songs. She certainly didn't get more media exposure!

And you said Miley was a better singer? You did. You said that her version of "Summertime Sadness" was way better than Lana's.

Does that mean that the public are stupid idiots who don't have any musical taste? Now that the people have been freed from the payola system, now that music distribution is pull and not push, now that the pipe has been widened and narrowcasting has usurped broadcasting, are we now seeing the utter lack of taste of the people?

Or is it instead that the record industry hacks like you are the ones who never had any musical taste? Was Seymour Stein really the only person in the US recording industry who had any taste whatsoever? Maybe the people have all the taste?

Tell me, Bob: why is electronic music suddenly ruling the charts? The Swedes who are pumping out nearly all the good songs of today were making this exact same music 20 years ago: I saw it all on mp3.com. There is literally no difference between Avicii and a 90s European basement studio act like... I dunno, Karoly & Monica, or Nina Goddess of Dance. In fact I'd even say the 90s-00s basement stuff was often better than today's.

So why is it that Eurodance has finally made it into the US top 10? Is it because you record industry hacks have finally lost control of the charts and the masses have taken over?

I used to hate top 40, with a passion. It was garbage. I knew it was garbage. I spent nearly 30 years hating top-40, starting in adolescence. The only time top-40 was slightly passable for a while was in the early 90s, after the mafia had quit running payola and before the record companies set up the new payola system with the regional promoters.

But recently I've even been going to Youtube and watching the weekly Billboard Top 50 summaries, because I'm finding so much amazing music in the charts.

Would you have let Tove Lo's "Habits" be a single 20 years ago? Or 10? Or 5 years ago? Even after Lady Gaga, your buddies would never have allowed lyrics like those on the air.

And you wouldn't have gone to Sweden to find your female singer/songwriters. You would have picked up the first pretty Jewish girl you saw at an Upper West Side open mic night.

Shit, 30 years ago you didn't even let women on the air if they dared to write their own songs.

Or what about "Hey Brother"? Dammit, it's a bluegrass song, it's not even electronic! How did it get to #16 in the Hot 100? When's the last time a bluegrass song got into the top 20? How did it sell well over 2 million copies?

And how about Icona Pop's "I Love It"? Would you let 2 girls' distorted voices over a chiptune sound get onto the charts? No, you would have laughed them out of your office and told them to maybe send a tape to K Records or some other basement operation.

And Sam Smith? Would you have let a gay dude sing a sad gay love song? "Stay With Me" hit #2. The dude's gay. You gatekeepers of 70s and 80s and 90s culture wouldn't have even let him on the air.

Shit, just a few years ago, you gatekeepers of American culture threatened to dump Katy Perry's contract if she insisted in using "I Kissed a Girl" for her debut single. And look how that worked out.

And why aren't we buying albums?

Well, we bought Born to Die. That was an album. Maybe none of the new stars have put out enough consistently different and interesting music this year?

Or maybe 99% of the albums that you hacks forced down our throats in the old days were crap that didn't deserve to go platinum. Maybe the people want good songs, not good albums. Maybe you've got to be someone special like Lana Del Rey to get people to buy a whole catalogue instead of 1 or 2 tracks.

Can you hum a few bars of Genesis' "The Chamber of 32 Doors", or Jethro Tull's "Up to Me"?

The 60s and 70s were garbage. The music was garbage. There were a few musical greats, but even most of what they did was garbage. Todd Rundgren and Joe Walsh and Ray Davies and Frank Zappa and Neil Young were towering geniuses who I've got nothing but respect for, but even most of what they put out was garbage, and I bet they all admit it in private, even Todd.

But today the people are in direct contact with the music. There are no more intermediaries and gatekeepers. The parasites have been expelled from the system. It's no longer a "selling vinyl" system, it's gone back to a "people listening to music they like" system.

And you guys from the industry slit your own throats by force-feeding garbage to several generations of listeners. You force-fed us garbage, and you taught all your recording artists to put out nothing but garbage.

If not one album goes platinum this year, it's not the loss of the people. It's the loss of the parasites who have seen their free lunch walk out into the street and start talking to the fans directly with no intermediary taking his 105% cut.


  1. Incidentally it was A Collection of Great Dance Songs that got me into the Floyd.

  2. "...most of what they put out was garbage, and I bet they all admit it in private..."
    That's my only small gripe from your large rant. There were always some weak points in the best musicos' output but not most, that's too heavy. There are a decent number of songs that maybe haven't stood the test of time so well, but that's different.

    And no point asking Zappa anyway (unless ouija board and i wouldn't put it past him).

    The rest, nice rant.

  3. And yes, LedZep4 stands out as an album from among all the LedZep's other albums. That's spot on.