Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Problem with the Music Industry

I'm going to show you two videos and we will see which one involves talent and which one involves something manufactured for the sake of making money. Don't worry, neither will be Bieber (because I am not so evil as to subject you to that horror)

OK here's the first one, it's of Emily Bear:

(If the embed doesn't work or you would like to comment on her sheer awesomeness click on this link)

(Wow, that was made way more impressive by the fact that her hands are freaking TINY! Did you see how frantic her hands were when playing? I doubt she can even reach an octave with one hand she's so small... in fact I'm certain of it! I can only stretch to 9 or 10 tones and I'm an adult.)

OK here's the next one, it's of the daughter of Will Smith, Willow Smith (The official music video had embedding disabled so if you insist on seeing the actually well directed and edited music video click here):

(If the embed doesn't work or you would like to comment... click on this link)

Emily is 6, Willow is 10.

Let's discuss.

Emily is obviously an incredibly brilliant musician and composer who has been composing pieces since she was 3 years old, most of are probably harder than I can play. Willow Smith is a little girl with a song that goes "I whip my hair back and forth" again and again and again.

Now I think Will Smith is a pretty cool guy, and he actually gets his own children to star in his films which is a pretty awesome way to be a father in my opinion. Just think about it, he's a big movie star who is often incredibly busy and is away from home for long periods of time on set of a film he's making... must suck not seeing his family especially his kids... oh wait. He brings them with him! See? BRILLIANT! And they get paid in the process. Best father ever?

But I can't help but feel that his hollywood stature had a role to play in Willow's musical 'career'. She's 10, how else did she really convince a bunch of music producers that "I whip my hair back and forth I whip my hair back and forth I whip my hair back and forth" was a good idea? Perhaps he personally didn't play a part in it any other way than simply being her father. Think about it, Willow doesn't need to get "discovered" like other children, we already know she's there and producers realise that she is connected to one of the most famous and profitable movie stars of the past 20 years, she instantly becomes marketable to a mass audience simply because she has a famous father.

I find this song incredibly (lyrically) simplistic and childishly pretentious which isn't help by it's obviously grandiose music video with a big budget. Sure, it's meant to be about self-love and assurance, to be motivational and uplifting but...

...I whip my hair back and forth, I whip my hair back and forth...

That really doesn't have any really deep sounding meaning to it and it comes off as self centred. It's almost constant repetition detracts from the song, it fails to be an inspiring anthem as it's just quickly spouting a nonsensical phrase. I get that she's a kid and thus can't really write very elegant or deep lyrics but then again... why should I care? (Wait a second... she DIDN'T actually write this song, an adult did. That just makes all my points about her lack of creative ability moot... but makes the person who wrote this really sad as a writer. At least it musically is interesting.)

Gifted children either are prodigies that are unbelievably brilliant or have potential that needs to be nurtured so they can grow into something better and more refined. Emily Brown is a prodigy and I am glad that she has produced 4 albums in 3 years by the age of 8 (and has won huge amounts of awards) but I am not glad that Willow has been put into the musical spotlight.

Let me explain.

Willow is a kid, who is being signed up with these record companies and pushing out some random track to make money. (SHE DIDN'T EVEN WRITE IT). I'm sure she enjoys it and that's good, but I fear that she is getting more attention than she deserves because of her relations and that this will lead to her getting screwed over. She's so young she doesn't really get how the industry works (hell, a lot of bands with adults don't get it either and they probably don't know how much THEY get screwed over until they're halfway through their contracts). She is going to become/is already a product like Bieber. A promotional tool, a play thing for producers. She's 10, she should go out and play with her friends... Michael Jackson never got a childhood and look how he ended up.

I just really don't like children in the music industry.

BUT! Oh I don't hate Willow, oh no! Like I said, she should be nurtured into something better and refined and so I hope that if she truly enjoys writing music then when she is a lot older can think of better lyrics with more substance (and actually write them herself) and she's mature enough to make sure she knows what she is doing, then she will start producing whatever hits she likes. I'm sure when she's older her music will have far more depth, be far more interesting, creative, catchy and have more emotion behind it (and perhaps she'll ACTUALLY write it... Instead of Ronald M Jackson).

Emily Bear on the other hand, although incredibly young, does not appear to be signed with a major record label. She seems cute and humble in her TV appearances, and not arrogant like she feels like she can just barge into the music world. If you also look at her appearances for performances you'll see that her schedule does not involve large touring. It's here and there, it's pretty simple. She's not heavily promoted and marketed to a bunch of children. She gets news coverage for her talent, not because she's wearing something silly on the red carpet. She isn't a media sensation with pointless Dolly and MSN articles with speculation about her private life, but still gets recognition for her talent through awards. She just writes her own music and plays it, sometimes recording it to share with people. She has great talent and I hope that when she is older she can choose to show off more and sign a label or just do whatever.

So my point: The music industry today is starting to find children to become products to sell to newer markets... this is wrong. Children should prove their worth, not be advertised as something worthy of idolisation. This blog would've worked better with Bieber as an example but I refuse to listen to his music and I was just momentarily offended by how much I disliked Willow Smith's music.

Edit: I just realised that I tried to rationalise not liking Willow while liking Emily with having to do with record labels when I didn't need to... because I also have a problem with artists not writing their own songs. So even if Emily were to be signed to a record label, she'd still be the talented and creative young miss that she is (thus her career being admirable and worthwhile) and Willow would still be the random daughter of Will Smith who sings a song she didn't write. BAM! I just ignored my own argument to come up with a better one!

/End Scene.

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