Depending on what radio station you tune into, you will probably be bombarded throughout the day by a multitude of monotonous dance tracks with an equally repetitive and uninspired chorus. I haven’t named any songs in particular but just from that simple description I’m sure there are plenty that spring to mind. If I had a penny for every time I heard a song like that I could afford to stock up on compilation CDs of them and put them in the microwave one by one. Sadly it seems to form a large proportion of modern chart hits, and whilst it has launched the careers of some respectable singers, for the most part it raises a number of issues.
Most of these songs originate from producers who play at being musicians. They often cannot play any instruments, have little understanding of songwriting and simply throw together a simple electronic backing track. A prime example is David Guetta who lost his playlist for his set at Coachella and so improvised with tracks on a usb stick, which he described as doing things “old school”. Now don’t get me wrong, producers are important people are many do not receive the recognition they deserve, but some just take things too far. Doctors and Firemen are deserving of recognition but they don’t have stadium tours, and nor should people who are for some reason famous for clicking play on their most recent electronica mix tape.
Their rise in power has come from the guest vocalists that sing on their songs. Having a famous name singing over the backing track in some bizarre form of karaoke makes the song a big hit and makes everyone involved an awful lot of money. More recently they’ve started saving money by having unknowns and new artists singing instead. Sam Smith, Emeli Sande and Jess Glynne all started out this way, they are the success stories. In a way it’s like the X Factor, it’s contributed a few good respectable artists to the world but for the most part people just have 15 minutes of fame and then fade back into obscurity. Avicii’s ‘Wake Me Up’ has been one of the most played songs of the year and yet Aloe Blacc, who was the lead vocalist and primary songwriter, was uncredited.
The jumped up producers get a struggling singer to sing the same few lines over and over to their dull repetitive drone. Given enough airplay submitting us to these songs, and with a fair bit of luck, some of these singers will hopefully break free and have a long successful career and make proper music. They are the lucky few, and the rest of us have to suffer through a lot of rubbish before they succeed. This rant came about due to an artist I love and respect providing vocals for just such a song. I’m awfully conflicted, on the one hand I’m glad that their career will get a boost and they will hopefully get their time in the spotlight. On the other hand I wish they didn’t have to sell a sizable chunk of their integrity to a soulless money making machine for the opportunity.