Skip to content

Ke$ha & T-Pain

I haven’t listened to the radio in 16 years. I was turned off then, and after briefly dipping my toe (ear?) back into those waters these last few days, I can’t say that my decision was a poor one.

Hot on the charts are Ke$sha and T-Pain, otherwise known as “two acts who think that autotune is the new hot shit and use it to disguise the fact that they are only marginally talented, if at all.” I’ve taken in no fewer than five songs by each of these ‘artists.’ Every song was driven by the most basic of beats and structure, following the beaten-to-death formula of 16 bar verse – 4 bar hook – another 16 bar verse – another 4 bar hook – bridge – verse – hook – outro. Music has progressed FAR beyond this formula, but musicians like these (and the rest of the 90% of the billboard top 50) choose to rely upon it despite that fact. Is this such a terrible thing? No. The Beatles first album was rooted in that formula. You can pull it off if you have something to say. These acts do not.

The lyrical content of their songs consist of recollections of nights partying, complete with wholly embarrassing behavior, general cataloging of their belongings and star-friends, and braggadocio. Nothing is being said at all. And the only time the content strayed from that arena was when the songs were about a lover, an ex-lover, or someone with whom they wanted to be lovers. These songs lacked the sincerity that makes love songs work. No vulnerability, no yearning. It’s all very plastic. And as if this trite, assembly-line shit isn’t bad enough, they include (always lately, it seems) autotune. What was once the recording industry’s dark secret – one that helped convince hoards of idiots that Britney Spears could sing – is now brandished and embraced. Autotuning was neat when it was sprinkled in to albums here and there. As a crutch, though, it reeks of laziness and mediocrity.

So my brief visit with the radio is over and probably will be my last. What comes out of the radio is embarrassing, even from the ‘casual listening’ perspective. My exploration of legitimately interesting music created by talented and brave musicians will continue via the method that has proven itself for these last 16 years. I guess I just needed to vent.

(Note: I understand that these musicians may actually be talented and am speaking more about what they choose to put out there.)