Thursday, July 14, 2005

INXS Idol: Selling Out a Dead Man

Posted by AmishThrasher at 11:54 pm
Michael Hutchence:
Spinning in his grave tonight.
For those of you who have been reading the AmishThrasher for a while, you'll probably remember that this site began - over a year and a half ago - under the title "Truth of the Music Industry". For those of you who are newer to the site, it's definately worthwhile to click back through the first few months of the archives as there are some great posts articles about the music industry in there. Well, beyond a few sporadic reviews, I haven't posted too much about the music industry in quite a while. But given the travesty I've just seen on my TV mere moments ago, I felt compelled to write something.

There have been plenty of famous examples of selling out over the years. Like the time Metallica got short haircuts and released a shft-rock album called Load. Or the time Metallica sold out their own fans over Napster. Or the time Metallica cashed in on the nu-metal trend by releasing an album that James Hetfeld only bothered to work on 4 hours a day. But hell must have a very special place for those who internationally sell out a dead man. And, ladies and gentlemen, INXS have stooped to that new low; so low, in fact, that I'm pretty sure they've beat Metallica (well, at least for the time being anyway).

The show itself, for those of you unwilling to shill out to Rupe for Fox-8, is a travesty. Imagine Australian Idol (congratulations, you're almost there). Now imagine, instead of doing souless kareoke versions of pop songs, the Guy Sebastian wannabes are doing souless kareoke versions of Inxs songs. Oh, and the Guy Sebastian wannabes are now competing to be a 'rockstar', rather a flash in the pan pop fad who will be forgotten in 5 minutes like that Guy... well, you get the picture. And all of the would-be manfuactured rockstars - none of whom seem to want to pick up and play a guitar - even sing in the same Idol-esque faux-kareoke style.

The thing that these kids don't seem to get is that they will never be the next Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, or Jimi Hendrix; and they will never be a legend on that scale - or have any credibility whatsoever - by winning a TV kareoke show. Hell, it can take years for even seasoned musicians to be accepted as members of established bands - Jason Newstead was only ever a stand-in for Cliff Burton, and many people are still debating Hammett Vs. Mustaine over twenty years after the fact. In soem cases, fans don't buy whole band line ups; a recurring theme in the mosh at Megadeth's concert is how much more awesome it would have been for Ellefson / Menza / Freidman to be taking the stage. What chance do these kareoke stars have?

Well, there is a way to rock credibility for these wannabes. First, pick up a guitar (or a drum kit, or a bass guitar). Then learn to play it - and by learn to play it, I mean until your fingers bleed; I mean play it everywhere; I mean to the point where you can be a complete jackass and people still say "Well, he is talented". Then, find yourself a band and jam in a garage until you get some awesome songs. Then play small, smokey pubs and get screwed over by promoters. Keep playing those crappy pubs until you can get into the bigger clubs. Sacrifice everything for studio time for an independent record and pray like hell that either a more popular band decides you're talented enough to open for 'em, or that some A&R wanker picks up your album. Then tour everywhere while simultaneously getting screwed over by your record company and hope like hell your album sells. Then come back to me and ask about credibility.

Oh, and unless you're willing to die well before your own time, preferably at the peak of your career as a result of your own self - destructive behavior, don't even think about knocking 'credible' up to 'legend'.

Here's the problem : the kids on INXS Idol (whoops, I meant 'Rockstar' - how silly of me) are utterly unwilling to put in the hard work and sacrifice to make it. Because, like anything worthwhile in our culture today, these kids expect to be handed fame, fortune, credibility and legend status on a silver platter, with no work or sacrifice. Unfortunately for them, in spite of the marketing hype, there is more to rock than just a particular set of clothes in your wardrobe. Where the hype machine may be enough to make you a popstar, in the world of rock (any flavor of it) the instant success is a clear path to derision; at bsest these kids will end up the subjects of snickers and nasty jokes.

Because, at the end of the day, this whole Simon Fuller-esque production is just that: a giant joke. A stinker of one, in fact - allbeit one lined with gold. Hopefully one which doesn't lead to reality TV travesties where Idol-wannabes compete to be "the next" Dimebag Darrell or Freddy Mercury. But, then again, it takes a very special kind of sell-out to sell-out a dead man.