Friday, July 08, 2005

Let Pop be Pop!

This new entry should probably be part of the commentary under Dough's insightful"sellout" post, but I've been looking forward to getting these thoughts out all day, and I don't want to get buried in the comments. How's that for blogger's ego?

Anywho, I've also been thinking about "sellouts." Not about pop musicians making money from advertisers who use their tunes, but rather about public perception of the musician and/or band as a whole. U2 and REM come to mind.

I remember going to the U2 concert at the Boston Garden when they were on the "Joshua Tree" tour. A college buddy of mine - Shaun Darragh (Shaun was from Malden and used to work summers at Lady Grace, of all places.) had been a hardcore fan from the beginning. He thought the "Joshua Tree" album was U2's best since "Boy," and I agreed with him. Anyway, we're at the concert and Shaun looks around at the crowd and his face starts to fall. "What are all of these jocks and jar-heads doing here?" he said. As the night went on - and it was a fantastic concert - Shaun got more and more agitated as the realization hit that U2's popularity had reached so far into the mainstream that Joe-Jock college was also a fan. Shaun felt so betrayed. In some ways, I could understand his frustration. I'd also been following U2 closely since "Boy," but at the same time, I wondered what the big deal was. After all, it's just popular music.

Shaun also felt betrayed by REM when they came out with their "Green" album. He thought it was too "poppy" and they had sold out.

To this day, I don't have much patience for people who carry that sense of betrayal that their beloved personal treasure of a band has gone mainstream. U2 and REM especially, have been widely criticized in this way by "purists" who remember the good old early days. Former fans gripe about how far their favorite bands have strayed from their core material. The question I have for that sentiment: How can you stay the same as a creative artist for more than twenty years?

At this point, you can gather that I'm still a fan of U2 and REM. I'd like to say to all of those ex-fans out there that despite the missteps and some bad albums now and then - a likelihood for any artist's career that spans two decades - both bands have still produced some great songs and some good albums.

Don't take it so seriously, my man. It's not religion. It's not politics.

Let pop be pop!


At 8:27 AM, Blogger The Optimist said...

It is not U2s fault that they became popular. I am with Tom 100 percent. Heck, the Clash made lots of pop songs. Just because me in my button down shirt can be listening to a Clash CD next to a mohawked punk angry dork, doesn't mean the Clash are any less cool.

Remember, the Doors were a pop band in many ways. A lot of there songs were danceable and fun.


Post a Comment

<< Home