On the 'tube

Talyor Swift Tiny Desk Concert

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Link

I tell myself I should not be a fan because her target audience is teenage girls ... but holy cow she's good! Must give credit where credit is due.

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Nice to hear this kind of a mini concert. Hearing her as she wrote the songs without any accompaniment was very cool.

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So I have a 15 year old daughter. Whose tastes are a little more alternative, but nonetheless I end up listening to a little more of this ilk than the average dude pushing 50. And the thing that amazes me is how many of the teeny bopper Disney product starlets, when you finally get to hear them without the autotune have AMAZING voices! I think we often blame the artists for being talentless when we should blame the industry for being gutless.

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Thanks for posting this, Brian. My wife, Johnnie, and I have been fans since Taylor's first album. As we've said for years, there are only 2 kinds of music ... what you like and what you don't. Watching this tiny desk concert and seeing Taylor's explanation of her creative process was really enjoyable and reinforced that, while everything she does may not make our top ten, she'll probably be in the "like" category for quite a while. So, again, thank you.

BTW, just for grins I thought I'd share an odd thought I had with the class. Wouldn't it be interesting to hear how Barbra Streisand would interpret "Lover?"

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So I have a 15 year old daughter. Whose tastes are a little more alternative, but nonetheless I end up listening to a little more of this ilk than the average dude pushing 50. And the thing that amazes me is how many of the teeny bopper Disney product starlets, when you finally get to hear them without the autotune have AMAZING voices! I think we often blame the artists for being talentless when we should blame the industry for being gutless.

– Junior Q Man (Ryan M)

True...I think auto-tune is used more as a production technique now...liberally applied to everything.

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Although I don't follow their careers, I'm pretty impressed by both Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga.

At age 58 I feel pretty jaded having explored so much music over the decades. I've found what I love, what comforts me, what inspires me, and it's all pretty hard to top.
But I'm not closed off to something fresh, especially if it's left of center or below the radar, where my tastes have always wandered anyway. I don't have the time or patience to paw through the bins at my local record store, like I used to.

But I still love being surprised by someone new who brings something fresh. It's a reassurance that great music is still being made all the time. Lately I've been enjoying the bands Of Monsters & Men and Jade Bird.

About 5 years back I got into Courtney Barnett, who's songs were getting play on the FM dial here in Chicago. I ended up seeing her live when she came through town. Small theater, front and center. It was an amazing show. Now she's playing large venues and festivals.

Getting back to NPR's Tiny Desk Concerts, Barnett did one about 5 years ago, also a nice watch, especially as she plays some cool guitars. In this she's playing an old Harmony Rocket, voiced through a vintage Epiphone amp. Otherwise she typically likes Fender Jaguars and Jazzmasters, when playing with her band.

Cheezy pop music has always been with us. But overall, music is in pretty good hands.

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Yeah, I love the “Tiny Desk Concerts”, “Live at KEXP” and “Austin City Limits” video channels because the artist have little to hide behind. The focus is on their raw talent.

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We have access to more great songwriters and musicians than ever in history. It's a golden age in that respect. What's different is that there's no longer a central medium to which pretty much everyone listens, so it's much harder - maybe impossible - for an artist to become a cultural touchstone bringing virtually everyone together.

Now we have to go find what we like, and bring it home to our silo. I think that's OK too.

I notice Taylor Swift's songs are all about Taylor Swift. Small universe, where she's very very important. I have nothing against that, and as a singer and songwriter she's...OK. She sings and plays pleasantly, and production has been very very good to her.

Lady Gaga, on the other hand, is as close as we get now to the real true universal thing. Yes, Stefani Germanotta deployed lots of sensationalism to bring the performance art of the Lady Gaga character to our attention - predictably (and probably necessarily) annoying a lot of us get-of-my-lawners. But there was never any hiding that voice. Or, rather - since we're skeptical, having heard lesser voices artificially enhanced to the point where it's hard to tell what's nature, what's hard work, and what's technical magic - the more we (or at least I) have heard of Stefani's raw unprocessed voice, the more impressed I am. And it's rarely - if ever - reliant on diva-esque melody-demolishing ornamentation. It's a mile wide, calibrates seamlessly from a soft confession to a belted proclamation, drenched with emotion, somehow without melodrama. Stuff she sings in "A Star is Born" somehow massages what I have left of a heart - and it often has nothing to do with the lyrics. She's able to invest what she sings with a rich and complex emotional subtext that's far more meaningful than the songs themselves. That's where the soul of music resides.

I think she stands with the very greatest singers we've ever had.

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"We have access to more great songwriters and musicians than ever in history. It's a golden age in that respect. What's different is that there's no longer a central medium to which pretty much everyone listens, so it's much harder - maybe impossible - for an artist to become a cultural touchstone bringing virtually everyone together."

Yes to that.
The best time for music is now. Why? Because we have all the music preceding it, and nobody is denying one from exploring and enjoying it.

In general, I'm glad that our culture is less reliant on major record labels and corporate dispensation. While that business model did give us many mega-artists over the years, it also left countless talented unrecognized or unrepresented.

The advent of self-producing at an affordable cost has enabled more recorded music than ever before. The downside is that leveling the playing field opens the floodgates of mediocrity. Compounded with the fact that we don't have that 'American Bandstand' cultural lens any longer, it can leave one overwhelmed trying to find great new music. I'm grateful that Chicago still has a couple of progressive FM stations willing to champion new talent.

Otherwise it's much the same as it was 40 years ago. The explosion has been largely a lateral one. Mass distribution still leaves the artist with little to show for it, most of the profit going to the suits (be it iTunes or Warner Bros) And instead of pawing through the bins at the local record store, it's online scrawling through Pandora or Spotify or Bandcamp. Along with the convenience comes a tidal wave of options.

That may have raised the level of white noise out there but it is (IMHO) still way worth it. If you're an aspiring artist or band, it's much easier and cheaper to self-produce and get heard. You sell CDs online and at your live gigs. It doesn't matter as much that you're not signed to Sony or Capitol or Geffen. You don't need to reach millions to be successful. If you reach enough fans to keep working, pay the bills, and maintain your autonomy, you're still a success. If anything, you arguably have more control over your career as an artist and performer.

I see working artists and bands doing it everywhere now, and that, in itself, is pretty inspiring.

.. conversely; if you're still pursuing music for the riches and fame? You probably have more problems than you realize. heh


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