Let me ask you faithful readers of the internet a simple question.
Do you know this guy?
No? What if I told you that he was a rather big name in the music industry - so big, in fact, that it is practically impossible for you not to have heard at least one of his songs, if you, or anyone that you have ever met even for a brief period of time, has owned a radio or television within the last two decades. Still doesn't look familiar?
That guy up there is Martin Sandberg, aka Max Martin, aka Lucifer the Unholy Eater of Souls. He is the songwriter responsible for a whole slew of immensely successful hits, ranging from the atrociously bad (most of what the Backstreet Boys made, including Quit Playing Games With My Heart, Long As You Love Me, Backstreet's Back), to the... well, equally bad hits from people like Britney Spears, Katy Perry (pretty much every single hit she's ever had) and etc. Basically, if you've ever had any annoying song in your head, chances are good that Max Martin was the son of a bitch behind it.
Max Martin, seen here in his original form.
If there was ever one thing Max Martin was good for, it's that a quick look at his track-record within the world of songwriting actually leads to physical evidence for the claim that "all music sounds alike these days", since most of it was written by the same damn guy! But annoying as he may be, and as much hatred as you may have for him, at least you have to give the man credit where credit is due - he knows how to write hits. Granted, most of them seem to be recycling the same corny subjects, lazy rhyme-pattern and basic melodic structure, but at least he writes songs that try to have some sort of meaning in them. That's more than you can say for certain other people in the industry.
It seems that within the last few years, a trend has started rising in the world of music, and it's actually quite simple. Apparently, some time ago, presumably in the lab of some evil Bond-villain's underground volcanic lair, it was discovered that the best way to gain attention in this world was not to be smart, funny, relatable, or even posses any hint whatsoever of having any sort of talent; no, the best way to get noticed was to make no goddamned sense at all!
A tradition practiced for many years.
Admittedly, it would seem that this has been a trend for countless years by now. A quick look at any music-video from the 80s tends to suggest this, but the important thing is to remember that in the 80s, everyone was crazy, so therefore it kind of made sense in some weird way for everyone to behave like malfunctioning androgynous robots. In modern times, however, while we do still have epic amounts of horrible fashion trends (a few years ago, it was pointy shoes, now it's skintight jeans), at least there's a certain standard for how crazy one can get away with looking before someone calls the cops. Except if you're Lady Gaga, apparently.
See, if Lady Gaga wasn't a world-famous singer, but just some random woman walking down the street, looking like she does, she'd be in the loony hospital before she reached the nearest supermarket. But because she's famous, it's "special", "trendsetting", and not "completely fucking idiotic" which is what I would've preferred to call it. The worst of it is, that I could've lived with it if dressing like the worst Batman-villain ever conceived was just her calling in life. But it's not. This whole unholy-offspring-of-a-fashion-designer-and-an-escaped-mental-patient-look, is nothing more than an act, a persona that she and a handful of other people created for her shortly before her career took off, after years in the music industry without being able to break through. It's not that she was a terrible singer beforehand, she was just remarkably unremarkable. But add a little bit of insanity to the mix, and suddenly she's a superstar.
Notice the difference?
But getting to the point of this article, I'm not even too upset about the fact that personas, even transparently fake ones, are more important to most people than the music behind it. After all, the world is full of suckers, and since we're all suckers for something (like all other guys, I'm gonna' go ahead and say "sex" here), I can let this one slide and vent my frustration whenever I hear some poor schmuck talking about how "original" and "daring" Lady Gaga is for expressing her "true self", rather than talk about how "greedy" and "faker than a two-dollar Gucci bag" she is for expressing her "corporately designed money-grubbing phony self", as I would've preferred to call it. Strangely enough though, no one ever checks with me first in regards to what I prefer to call things...
But here is where the cookie so insidiously crumbles. You see, after a while, Lady Gaga decided that you can't just look crazy, and not play the same part in your music. And that's where things got really bad.
Eschewing any notion of lyricism and common sense, she started naming songs after unknown people she may or may not have banged (poor Alejandro), inserting random non sequitur references to Lebanese people (which, alongside with the Alejandro thing, had me worried for a while that she might be stalking me), and finally, she just gave up using words altogether. This amazing revelation, that songs don't even need real words to become popular, was an astounding breakthrough, that led her to write such captivating lyrics as "Rah, rah, ah, ah, ah / Roma, roma, ma / Gaga, ooh, la, la /".
The world of music instantly stood up and took notice, and not long after, this tradition was taken to new levels when Aura Dione came out with the song Geronimo, which featured this gem of a chorus:
Ge-ge-e jo jo uh lala, hmm, let's go, Geronimo!
Ge-ge-e jo jo uh lala, hmm, let's go, Geronimo!"
Aside from killing me a little bit on the inside every time I hear it, this song has also made me realize something. We humans, as a whole, are either plain stupid, or we are all too careless to give a shit about anything, making words like "quality" and "making sense" seem like esoteric beings that drift in and out of existence whenever we need to use them in an argument about how it makes no sense that The Situation's abs are of such high quality when he doesn't work out half as much as Pauly D.
Pictured: The future of art.
At this point, I'm not even here to fight the good fight and try to reclaim the world of art for all of us who can't count our IQ on our fingers and toes, because it's pretty much a hopeless cause. Really, I'm just happy that I'm so closed off to the outside world, that I had to Google Jersey Shore to find the name of a cast-member that wasn't Snooki.