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OfflineDigitalDuality
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Registered: 04/29/04
Posts: 354
Last seen: 10 years, 6 months
Underground vs. Mainstream (warning: Long )
    #2618064 - 04/29/04 08:40 PM (12 years, 7 months ago)

I see this arguement in just about every forum that discusses musicor a type of music or a particular artist/group. So i thought it'd be nice to have a definitive discussion about it.

[B]The Mainstream[/B]

Ya know, going platinum has nothing to do with skill anymore. It simply means a million people can be dumb as fuck. It's filled with marketing techniques, forced on the public through saturated airplay, and purchasing these cds, most of the time, results in giving your hard earned money to the RIAA, who is probably screwing over both the customer and the artist.

That being said, it doesn't mean the artist(s) are not talented. It doesn't mean powerful music cannot come from the mainstream platform. Britney Spears? Ya, she doesn't write, produce, choreograph, direct, etc.. But she can sing. Fine, she's a great entertainer, but i don't think she's a great musician. But look at the mainstream artists who are incredible: Billy Corgan, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Jane's Addiction, Deftones, SOAD, Tool, The Beatles, The Doors, APC, Eminem, Talib Kweli, etc..

Sure the majority of mainstream songs have a pattern, get to the hook quickly, be within 3:00 minutes of time, get a hot producer who's recycling beats, get a namedropping collaboration, etc.. But does every "pop" song really incorporate all of this? Even if the majority does? Or does falling into that pattern really make it a horrible song? I don't think so. Alot of underground songs follow this same pattern and have no want to ever go mainstream. Yet their hailed like under-rated rock gods.

Many artists, who are extremely talented, will go mainstream, not because of money, but because they have a message, and they want exposure. Rage Against the Machine, Manson, and System of a Down come to mind.

The Underground

What's the new mix-tape on the streets? What unknown punk or speed metal band is there that you love but no one else knows of? They're so so special because you feel like that artist is all yours. You don't have to share them with the ambercrombie wearin MTV generation who's going to place their cd right beside Justin Timberlake in their cd collection. Maybe it represents your home town, and that makes you feel like you can relate a little more than most. Maybe it's just cool to love them at first, then scream how much cooler a fan you are because you heard them "when they first came out.. and now i'm jaded by them since they've done two mainstream albums"

The underground has importance. There are wonderful musicians and innovation going on that occurs alot less in the mainstream. The effects of money and stardom, recording company pressure really isn't as prevalent. Alot of the time it seems more pure, more about the little man, more about their heart than their wallet. But again is that always the case? It's simply a generality. Just like the assumption that mainstream sucks is a generality. Rooting for either side of the music spectrum, is mindless cheerleading that's not actually judging the artist or the music. But there's innovation in mainstream, how about Andre's 3000 "The Love Below". That was the most daring project to come from a rapper ever. He played Russian roulette with his career, and people loved it. It did well on the pop charts, and underground music snobs liked it too.

How many local shows have you been to that were absolutely horrible? I know i've been to hundreds, literally. And i would've rather seen Limp Bizkit and Ja Rule in concert than some of the horrible local crap i've seen in clubs. Being underground doesn't mean you're cool, it just means you don't have exposure, maybe for a political message, maybe b/c you are fine with the exposure you have for the compensation that you get, maybe they hate the RIAA, or maybe they just haven't blown up yet, maybe you just suck.


What is a sellout?

It depends on the person i guess. Maybe you allow your song to appear in a movie. Maybe you went to a major label. Maybe you appeared on the radio or MTV/BET. Maybe you appeared in Rolling Stone or SPIN. Maybe you sacrificed your musical style purely for money. Maybe you evolved as an artist, and accidentally alienated your fan base and their just whiney bitches about it.

Lets stop and think. What seperates Britney from say.. Mudvayne. Both use imagery. Both are on major labels. Britney is a coporate construct. She endorses Pepsi in commercials, she uses sex to sell her product, she doesn't write most of her songs or produce. She lipsyncs.

But Mudvayne? Their imagery is designed by them, not some fucken make up artist. They don't endorse products. They are on a major label. Their second cd was more toned down and melodic compared to their first. Yet their musical arrangments are original as hell. Did they sellout? Did Manson ever selllout? What about his image or message did he ever change for a major label?

Metallica for instance though..totally change up their style of music.. not as a matter of artistic growth, but to jump on the latest bandwagon. Load and Re-load reminded me of the Rolling Stones pumping out a disco album. Simuntaneously, they sue the shit out of Napster. Then once controversy calms down they decide to pump out the most underproduced raw album ever and offer life performances free on the web, as "look at us we're not sellouts" marketing move.

Now lets take a band that sucks.. but sold out anyways. Limp Bizkit. Their first album was pretty cool. No one admits it.. techinically it sucks, but most people liked it at one point for some odd reason. Then came the sophomore effort. Heavily produced, more focused on the chorus/hook. The lyrics worse, less screaming, less gritty guitar work, more Dj additions, and famous rap guest appearances. Fred boasted about how he loved being a rich partying rock star. He was trying to get more and more attention, and he sold his soul in order to do it. He watered down what was already mediocre music but showed some promise at the time.

This is such a subjective topic really, and i don't think it holds much validity. If you totally revamped your music, censored yourself, endorsed a product, jumped on a bandwagon after already being famous or in order to get famous, then yeah you're a sellout. It is still not the ultimate and final determination of producing bad music.

Ja Rule.. sold out and produced worthless music. But say Eminem? He went pop, he got more money, he does the interviews and is all over TRL. Yeah, he lost his creativity and playfulness in his substance, but his flow has gotten better, his rhyme combinations have gotten better, his playful diction with words has gotten better. He has become more intense, and the more someone pushes him, he pushes right back ten times harder. He even has his own clothing line, but i don't consider him a sellout. I think he changed, but i don't think he sold out. Just like I don't think Manson never sold out. They'll say what they want, when they want, how they want, and no record label is ever going to stop them.

I'm talking myself in circles here, excuse that.

The difference between an Entertainer and a Musician

Now i'm going to get flamed. There are "artists" out there who aren't really as much as musicians, but who merely produce music for mass entertainment. Justin, Brintey, Madonna, Insane Clown Posse

There are musicians who have no need to entertain but have a message for you to hear: Tool, Immortal Technique, Johnny Cash, Pink Floyd, Sonic Youth

There are musicians who incorporate both: Marilyn Manson, Genitorturers, Mudvayne, Slipknot, Alice Cooper, David Bowie, Cradle of Filth, Prince

Someone can be an entertainer, that's ok. And you can even enjoy it, and shouldn't be made to feel fucking guilty about it. Entertainment to me is an art, it maybe a lesser aesthetic but art nonetheless. I don't think it is as powerful--more Warhol less Michaelangelo. Does that mean they need to be hailed as great musicians? No. If they incorporate both, its a case by case issue.

I think for the artists who incorporate both, and do it well, then more power to them. Maybe they are sacrificing something in the music to complete aspects of the entertainment (outfits, makeup, masks,) but its not a necessity that the entertainment detracts from the music. The Beatles did a photo shoot covered in baby doll parts covered in fake blood all over them. Ooh shock value.. oooh entertainment. Oh wait, they're still one of the greatest bands to ever exist.

Fusion Music

I?m really sick of people who sit there and whine over titles of music. Nu-metal especially. There?s no such unifiend genre such as nu-metal. Its basically fusion music. Some bands incorporate industrial and goth aspects, some incorporate funk and hip hop. Some acts (non ?nu-metal) mix up reggae, jazz, rock, and dance. Sometimes its metal, punk, and grunge. Or any plethora of combinations. This doesn?t mean a band blows either. I don?t see how people can be so turned off by fusion music. Every genre in existence today..from death metal, to dance music, to even hip hop, was founded on the fusion and influences of other genres.

In the case of nu-metal I think it just royally pisses of the traditional metal crowd. That the word ?metal? even exists in something that incorporates new wave, hip hop, or grunge. Then fine, quit calling it nu-metal. Mindless self indulgence, Dog Fashion Disco, Otep, Manson, Tool, Deftones, RATM, SOAD, Hatebreed, Soulfly, Static-X, Orgy, Slipknot, Mudvayne.. I think are all great bands that fall into that category in one way shape or form. Yet none of them sound remotely alike.

Yeah staind, linkin park, and crazy town sucks. Papa roach is horrible too. So what? Why are they an example to landblast an entire genre? People that bitch about this shit seem like my parents when I was 12 who despised hip hop b/c ?All cRap is, is talking about murder, sex, and drugs?. It?s a generalization that?s not true and its fucken fallible. Have an open mind about shit you listen to and quit having knee jerk responses to the little litmus test you set for the name of a genre.

Hip-hop. Ever rapper who experiments with something is criticized like crazy. No wonder the mainstream hip hop is the same old bullshit over and over and over again (generality..i?m hypocritically sorry for that). Hip hop as a whole seems to most resistant to change, to openness and acceptance. And basically, metal is following in itself footsteps with the same mentality.. mainstream and underground.

Growth of an Artist

Understand you?re artists will grow. Sometimes you?re rock cd will be ?softer? than the last. Maybe a jam band gave up acoustic for an album and picked up an electric. I?m not saying anyone has to like the change an artist makes at any given point. But I hear this ?sellout? scream everytime a musician doesn?t pump out an improved recycled copy of their previous effort. Its bullshit and most people know it. Artists grow, artists change, sometimes you?re not going to like it, but it doesn?t automatically mean they sold out, or ?suck?. It means they?re new direction isn?t appealing to you anymore. Maybe the musicianship and lyrical talent declined. That?s a righteous complaint. But even then, sometimes an artist will want to go from complexity in their songs.. to simplicity. I?d just like it if people would truly analyze something rather than just going ?this sucks.. it?s not like the last album?. Well no shit. Grow up, that?s reality how about a more intelligent commentary on it please.


Conclusion

I think a multitude of reasonings should be taken into consideration if their pop status really has detracted from their music. What have they given up, what have they gained. I think judging is completely unfair based solely on the sales, or if they?re local, or if they?re on an indie label. That?s not judging talent, that?s not judge the soul and emotion portrayed in a piece. There?s a plethora of underground bands that are just fucken horrible. There?s a shit-ton mainstream groups who suck ass as well.

I?ve commented recently on Dialated Peoples recently for going more mainstream. So what? They haven?t really changed too much about their music, they?re still upping the bar a bit on their skill level. They?re still a great rap group. Same goes for Talib Kweli. I saw this happen with Eminem, Marilyn Manson, Slipknot and quite a few others.

People who seem to follow around local shows seem to feel like they are the musical critic elites. I call bullshit.


If anyone has comments or criticisms.. i'd love to discuss this further..


Edited by DigitalDuality (05/07/04 12:33 AM)


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Offlineaje
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Re: Underground vs. Mainstream (warning: Long ) [Re: DigitalDuality]
    #2618186 - 04/29/04 09:12 PM (12 years, 7 months ago)

Quote:

They're so so special because you feel like that artist is all yours.




So true.

Quote:

Maybe it's just cool to love them at first, then scream how much cooler a fan you are because you heard them "when they first came out.. and now i'm jaded by them since they've done two mainstream albums"




:lol:

Quote:

Alot of the time it seems more pure, more about the little man, more about their heart than their wallet.




As bands become more known, you lose that more personal connection you had with them before, as their production and overall sound slightly changes. (but to your ears these are drastic changes that are so different from before)

Quote:

Being underground doesn't mean you're cool, it just means you don't have exposure,




This is why you can't be an "underground snob" (although I sound like one sometimes)

Quote:


It depends on the person i guess. Maybe you allow your song to appear in a movie. Maybe you went to a major label. Maybe you appeared on the radio or MTV/BET. Maybe you appeared in Rolling Stone or SPIN. Maybe you sacrificed your musical style purely for money. Maybe you evolved as an artist, and accidentally alienated your fan base and their just whiney bitches about it.




People are too obsessed with calling people sellouts.  If you were in a band and MTV asked you to play on one of their shows, you'd most likely take it.  The exposure will only increase fan base, and It's another show, and if you really love what you are doing, it should be at least somewhat fun.  It is hard to create an actual spectrum (if you will) of sellout-ness. 

Quote:


But Mudvayne? Their imagery is designed by them, not some fucken make up artist. They don't endorse products. They are on a major label. Their second cd was more toned down and melodic compared to their first. Yet their musical arrangments are original as hell. Did they sellout? Did Manson ever selllout? What about his image or message did he ever change for a major label?





another mudvayne fan? :cool: :thumbup:

Quote:

Now lets take a band that sucks.. but sold out anyways. Limp Bizkit. Their first album was pretty cool. No one admits it.. techinically it sucks, but most people liked it at one point for some odd reason.




Yep, we all loved this album for some period of time

Quote:

This is such a subjective topic really, and i don't think it holds much validity.




Couldn't get truer than this^^

Quote:

Now i'm going to get flamed. There are "artists" out there who aren't really as much as musicians, but who merely produce music for mass entertainment. Justin, Brintey, Madonna, Insane Clown Posse




:lol:

Quote:

Someone can be an entertainer, that's ok. And you can even enjoy it, and shouldn't be made to feel fucking guilty about it.




True, although I usually condone this, I am beginning to realize that I shouldn't put such a big emphasis on the artist/performer analysis.  I also need to not necessarily dislike certain "music", but should just not care about it... (rap)

Quote:

I?m really sick of people who sit there and whine over titles of music.




I really hate all those genre's and sub-genre's that are found in "modern punk" style music....

Quote:

Understand you?re artists will grow.




Something I need to learn to put up with :rolleyes:

--------------------------------------


Thank you for this lovely thread.  I will bookmark it and keep it for reading purposes in the future. 



P[+]P


--------------------



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InvisibleClean
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Re: Underground vs. Mainstream (warning: Long ) [Re: DigitalDuality]
    #2618297 - 04/29/04 09:45 PM (12 years, 7 months ago)

it's the money, folks.
how can you put a monetary value on music?
it's like saying "I'll sell you my soul for... oh ..say.... $11.99"

yes it took time to create a song but that doesn t mean that a musician deserves automatic compensation for that time. if music is created mainly to make money then it loses all soul. if money is offered by the happy listener but not demanded by the musician then i think the integrity of the art remains intact.

if it weren't for the financially motivated system that surrounds the art ("the industry" ie record companies, managers, agents, distributers etc..) then this dichotomy between underground and mainstream wouldn't really exist as it does now. i think money ruins the purity of the art of sound.

with the internet you alone can distribute what you've made all over the world. no record label, no manager, no lackeys thirsting for a cut of what people are willing to pay for your creation, just you.
if people want to pay to have air bounced off their eardrums in a specific way, that's up to them, and i will take your money if you hand it to me (but i won't demand it). i think music would be better off without the intrinsic connection to money that seems to hold down the artists who don't fit within the very rigid mold of mass market sound.


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OfflineDigitalDuality
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Registered: 04/29/04
Posts: 354
Last seen: 10 years, 6 months
Re: Underground vs. Mainstream (warning: Long ) [Re: Clean]
    #2618749 - 04/29/04 11:02 PM (12 years, 7 months ago)

I personally value the music that is made for the sake of music. But you can't label what is and is not good music, or what is or is not the broader term "art" merely b/c it doesn't match your moral system.

"Business is the best art of all"- Andy Warhol

Also i'd like to add, that judging music based off one or two litmus tests, such as "they are on a major label" or "their nu-metal" or "they're dancy", is the same mentality that parents use on 10year olds to tell them "all rap talks about bitches, drugs, and violence". Doing so makes you close minded. Give something a chance, then decide if you like it or not, just don't do a litmus test.


Edited by DigitalDuality (04/29/04 11:05 PM)


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InvisibleKackleDude
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Registered: 06/11/02
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Re: Underground vs. Mainstream (warning: Long ) [Re: DigitalDuality]
    #2622228 - 04/30/04 05:15 PM (12 years, 7 months ago)

Well said, my friend.


--------------------
yeeeahh, it's gonna be well wicked


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