Tuesday, August 21, 2007

"Beautiful Girls" and My Son's Questionable Taste In Music

Lately, my son has been running around our flat, shouting,

"♪Beaaaautifuuul Girrrrls~♪"

His sudden outburst of lust has puzzled me for some time but I have finally found out the source of it.

Here it goes. Y'all, give it up for Sean Kingston!

I mean... Sean who? And that baseline is a shameless copy of Ben E. King's immortal "Stand By Me" for crying out loud!

I must say it's a bit spooky to see my 5-year-old son running around the house singing

"suicidal, suicidal..."

And why does this sort of reggae-ish groove appeal to him? I might blame this on that Jamaican midwife who made it doubly sure that he had two testicles when he was only 5 minutes into this world.

Of course, a far easier answer to the conundrum is that he got it from one of the summer camps he has been attending.

I have ceased to have any strong feelings about these musical copycats. There are too many of them to be upset about, starting from Mozart recycling some of the melodies from his operatic arias in his piano concertos, Billy Joel using a theme from Beethoven's piano sonata and Strawberry Switchblade using Sibelius' symphony. Some do it well, with style. Some make pathetic excuses, like Vanilla Ice on sampling Queen/David Bowie's "Under Pressure".

Still, I cannot help feeling a little sad about those young "talents" wasting their 15-minute fame on cheap repackages like this, only to be forgotten by the next year and briefly resurfacing circa 2020 in Vh1's "I Love 2000's" (if MTV is still interested in music then, that is).

Those boys and girls have been reduced to be mere lubricant for the increasingly creaking music industry machine. The industry nowadays seems to be only interested in creating revenue on cheap replaceable commodities like Mr. Kingston, Ms. Spears, High School Musical and so on and so forth.

I think there are two interesting developments out of the present malaise in music industry.

One is the increased emphasis by the artists on and renewed appreciation by the fans of artists' ability to carry live performances.

Prince gave away free CDs of his latest album, turning his back of record companies and encouraging his fans to appreciate his phenomenal talents at live concerts. True music fans are also beginning to realise that nothing beats live performance for truly unique musical experience. (Can Christina Aguilera be included in this group, too, although my eyes would be as busy as, if not busier than, my ears at her concert?)

The other interesting development is the shifting moral hazard of copying.

It is somehow reminiscent of the current "sub-prime scandal".

Securitizaiton of mortgage loans has replaced the traditional direct relationship between borrowers and lenders with indirect relationship between borrowers and fund investors, who ultimately underwrite the risk.

The mass-production of music on the back of copycat-repackaging by the industry has replaced the hitherto direct relationship between the copying artist and the copied artist. It is now the record companies and their producers who are encouraging so-called "artists" to perform the copied materials for instant hits.

This seems to me that the music industry is by themselves undermining the value of intellectual property rights that they proclaim to protect against the encroaching Internet industry.

I have no idea how these trends will play out in the next, say, 10 years. In any event, it may be a good idea to take my son out to BB King Blues Club and Grill and expose him to some live music whilst we are in New York.

And finally... some examples of dubious sampling, Japanese style...

This is Billy Joel's "Uptown Girl".

This is 「愛は勝つ(Ai wa Katsu)」 by Kan.

What do you think?


Anonymous said...

I think it's a straight ripped. Pointed out to my japanese wife. She doesn't think so. It's so goddamn obvious to me. Oh well :)

Yute the Beaute said...

Probably because she listens to the lyrics, which is so corny beyond belief and takes your attention away from the music.

I agree with you. This is a rip.

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