The disingenuous nature of what is considered today’s popular music business came home to roost recently on the waning NBC show, Saturday Night Live. The two amateurish performances by rapper/producer Kanye West were thrown into dysfunctional bas relief by the show’s previous two musical guests, Coldplay and Beyoncé. No matter your views on these particular artists, they rocked the house in their own ways. Musical, accurate, and most importantly, in tune. Kanye did not have as much luck.
Unfortunately, the teacher/musician in me cannot give the poor man the excuse of having a ‘bad day’. No, here is a non musician, probably adept at hiring good people, good at the rap non style and very good at producing these sounds in the studio. As such, his voice is untrained – music got the better of him. Just as it always does when making money trumps art. I was sad for him. And sadder for the pure sweetness of music. Music matters. To do well, professional musical performance (no matter what genre) takes a very delicate combination of talent, hard work and luck. Maybe the latter ran out for Mr. West.
To be completely fair, I grabbed a copy of the recording ($10.00 at Walmart) to compare when time and technology are added. The CD is well produced. The pitch not as ‘pitchy’! But, the CD is still musical fodder for a midday run down the highway with the roof open. No more. Musical Pablum. Easily digested, and passed quickly.
As for the ‘performances’, judge for yourself.