Sunday, January 30, 2005

Is there any talent left out there?

I like the Smothers Brothers, even though they went off the air 5 years before I was born. I like Gordon Lightfoot and Simon and Garfunkel, and Bob Dylan. I appreciate the comedy of Drew Carey and Bernie Mac.
What I don't like is hearing a comedian telling the same sex joke I've heard over a thousand times by over a thousand other comedians who have never fared better than one gig at the improv. There's a reason that those comedians never made it. For as humorous as I find the Smothers Brothers, what I really appreciate about them how much work they put into their jokes and their songs.
And as far as singers go... Singers like Beyonce may have a good singing voice; I wouldn't really know. The songs I've heard her sing (Crazy in Love, Bootylicious) aren't exactly sung, as they are one or two lines cut and pasted ad infinitum. When you do that, you don't have to be able to sing in tune for more than the one or two lines you need to copy and paste. I don't consider that music. Beyonce's not the only one, just the one that comes most readily to mind, as I always hear about how talented she is.

Perhaps it's our fault. We're so anxious as a society for the next big thing, we encourage entertainers to take short cuts. That would explain why Friends was such a success. It wasn't terribly well written, after the third season, but we knew the people, and they were as shallow as we were.
I miss the days of well written shows, like Cheers, Newhart (the 80's one), M*A*S*H, and All in the Family. With all the television on now days, why can't anyone make shows like those anymore? Why do they have to stop at the easy joke, instead of working for one? And why don't we demand that from them?
For all that, I do admit there are a couple shows I do like. I think that Everybody Loves Raymond is quite well done. Doris Roberts plays her part as exquisitely as Larry Linville did with Frank Burns on M*A*S*H - that is to say, she never takes the easy way out, and that is commendable. I think Bernie Mac is a great exercise in promoting family values, and I really enjoy how well the cast in 2 1/2 men work together. So, perhaps all is not lost in the world of entertainment.


English Professor said...

Raymond is my husband's and my favorite show--perfectly cast, perfectly executed. We catch it in late-night reruns after children are in bed.

I can't think of any pop star who I would spend 10 minutes listening to. Of course, I'm well older than their target audience, but give me Warren Zevon, Guy Clark, Judy Collins, or Credence Clearwater Revival over pop stars any day, and I'll go away happy. I had such high hopes for Tracy Chapman--her debut album was simply stunning, but none of her later work grabbed me in the same way. Similar story with Michelle Shocked--*Short, Sharp, Shocked* was terrific, but then she floundered off in some other direction.

Thank God for ipods.

Steve said...

I think the world of pop music is an example of marketing gone haywire. Here, we have people who, rather than sell ability, try to sell a look, or an image. They claim that they are giving people what they want, and that they may be, but I wonder if that's what the people want because that is what their taste is or if that is what they want because they don't have many alternatives. Ashlee Simpson, Jessica Simpson, Britney Spears, Hillary Duff, Lindsay Lohan, they all look and sound very similar. Same with that boy band explosion in the late 90's through the beginning of this decade.
Vanessa Carlton, I believe, writes her own music for the most part, and that I respect, and I would be more apt to listen to that just on its merits than something else that a guy in a recording studio made up with his computer and some person's photo.