Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Music Genre = Pop Cliche

A quick note on pop culture, courtesy of Slate:

But marquee artists like Usher and Justin Timberlake seem small and niche next to Beyoncé or Shakira, whose huge voices and pretty faces dominate the mass-media dreamscape on the grandest scale. In the 21st century, the superstar pop singer—that heroic mantle once held by Sinatra and Elvis and Michael Jackson—has become almost exclusively women's work.

And for good reason. These days, the emotional range of a male performer is radically circumscribed: Rappers are slick trash-talkers and brutes, emo rockers are sensitive and aggrieved, R&B singers are lotharios. But pop's female superstars recognize no limits, playing all these roles and a dozen others, often in the course of a single torrid love song, all the while executing tricky dance steps with bared midriffs glistening beneath whirling strobe lights. (Now that's showbiz.) A hundred emo-rockers couldn't wring as much catharsis out of their self-pity as Mary J. Blige does, and the even the great Jay-Z, the biggest ego in a genre of egotists, sounds cowed in the presence of his indomitable girlfriend.

Quick! Name 5 rappers not totally obsessed with their guns, their former drug kingpin status, their money stack or their rap "skills". This will be tough:

1) The Streets
2) Outkast
3) Kanye West (maybe just his debut)
4) Dead Prez (but are they listenable?)
5) Jurassic 5

Not to riff to hard on rap, but it needs lyrical content like Meg Ryan needs her old face.

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