Why does pop radio music bore me?


I'm mostly bored with the predictable pop radio music. Despite a few periodic creative standouts like Beck, much of the pop music sounds derivitive, like variations on past successful hits. Who is responsible for the shortage of interesting music available to joe normal? Why does the crap on the radio sound just like we expect it to sound? For the same reason that TV sitcoms regurgitate the same lame double entendres and stale plots nightly: so-called Creative People that got lazy and lost interest in their own craft. They believe that you can't handle change. This insult is repeated in many fields. The thinking goes: why fight it? Why not just surrender and contribute to the dumbing down? It's the Easy Road. The spouse will enjoy the steady pay.

Don't make the mistake of blaming networks or big record companies or government for bland entertainment or fewer choices. Those entities are (and always have been) clueless. WE did this to ourselves, our "rock generation". We settled for the cliche. We didn't demand more from our radio stations. We joined the idiocy every time we lit a lighter to coax an encore out of the band, every time we cheered for the bombastic drum solo, when we purchased the record "everybody's talking about". Rewarding the trite contributed to the spiral downward. Now we have a society that regards its musicians and artists with the same disdain in regards its politicians and lawyers, who we also created. And we brought it on ourselves. SHAME ON US.

It's hard to find music these days that's not predictable. I put extra effort into the search, so the music I get to hear is full of excitement, skill and energy. Some I hear on college radio (thank god for non-commercial radio), some I hear at clubs or through recommendations from other musicians. There is truly great and interesting stuff out there, it's just marginalized by the pop machinery.

When word got out that I was starting a record label, I got deluged with cassettes and CDs from hopefull bands and artists. Well, I thought, this should be interesting. After listening to piles of unsolicited music, you may not be surprised to learn that it WASN'T INTERESTING. Nothing different, nothing to say and nothing to add. What IS THIS? All the artists were second-guessing the label and the public, creating miniscule variations on the accepted notion of the Newest Thing.

It got so that I would listen only to the first 40 seconds of a tape, and it was already painfully apparent that their hearts were not in it. Sorry. I hate to admit it, but when artists are going through the motions, they send out a discernable vibe like a pheremone, it stinks like sellout boredom. And some of this material was amazingly well produced and far along. These days, a band has to take it all the way, spending all their uncle's money on studio time and even pressing CDs, to attract the attentions of The Record People. But, just like a TV show that dilutes its original vision in order to get funded, the music suffers under the heavy weight of commercial expectation. The blandness that results is a product of our collective shame, music for Indoor Dogs by Indoor Dogs.

The only way for Hermosa Records to find music that sounded heart-felt and immediate was to go to musicians who have a project on the side that commands their REAL attention. The project that really captures their own point of view. Surprisingly, only one in twenty musicians has such a secret project, and only some fraction of that music is any good. As I began uncovering some of this great stuff, I realized that Hermosa Records could truly open some ears.

It's amazing what intelligent musicians come up with when they're not grasping for a hit. With any luck, we can sway some listeners to include this outside music in their taste and get a surprise hit out of left field. At the least we can try to get some brave souls in college radio to spin a few cuts. We got nothing to lose.

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