It was just last week. I was in my room, minding my own business, trying to just become a better person by reading the news and being informed about the world around me. Instead, I had stories of Justin Bieber’s drunken escapades being forced down my throat. I understand some people love him, and some people love to hate him (and many turn around and listen to music that sounds just like his, but that discussion is for another day), but I try to just stay away from any dialogue concerning him.”Then why did you write a post about him?” is what you shrewd readers may ask, and to you all, I say “I can’t hear you, you are talking to a computer.” But seriously, I was able to take something positive from this recent flare of Bieber-mania, and you all may find a similar sort of consolation as well.
Now more than ever, the music scene is giving rise to young artists who become a dominant force in social culture. The music industry has realized if they pick up attractive teens with moderate talent, they can hastily spit out homogenous songs with catchy tunes and simplified lyrics and the public will gobble it up(and what does that say about us as a society? Once again, a discussion for another day). That is not to say these artists like Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, One Direction, are not working at all; I am sure they have hectic lives constantly being in the spotlight. However from a musical standpoint, these “musicians” have not really contributed anything at all. With the help of their record labels, they have unlocked a formula to make a smash-hit with the masses and are able to capitalize. Just straight forward self-indulgent pleasure for the ears, that’s all you need. To many of these young artists, artistic self-reflection and offering challenges for societal introspection through music are thrown out the window in place of building and sustaining an image that most Americans and other people of the modern world wish they had. Their fame far exceeds their fan base, and that is the direct product of their emphasis on commercialization over artistic advancement.
Like I mentioned earlier, I try to just not think of the bastardization of music that commercializing has done, and just focus on the things that I do like. However, because of my inability to have any other news presented to me other than Justin Bieber, I started to think about the things I mentioned above with respect to young musicians. It is almost sad that what could have been very interesting musicians are caught in a state of arrested development for the sake of fame and fortune. Well, what about the young artists who had us fooled from the start, and their youthful age had no reflection on their art? (Didn’t mean to rhyme I promise)
Beirut has been around for a while, but even if you have heard of them you may not be aware that the genius of Beirut’s Zach Condon is two-fold. Not only was Beirut’s first album Gulag Orkestar recorded when he was a teen, but Beirut started as a solo project. A truly gifted musician, in addition to letting loose his warm and serene voice on the album, Condon also played accordion, piano, flugelhorn, trumpet, ukelele, mandolin, saxophone, clarinet and even some percussion. The album was mostly his creation, but had some parts added on later by what would become Beirut. Gulag Orkestar was greatly influenced by a trip to Eastern Europe Condon took as a 16 year-old, which is evident in its Balkan flavors. Altogether, this has to be one of my all time favorite albums, and I was genuinely surprised to learn how young he was when he created this work of art. Along with Gulag Orkestar, Beirut has released an EP, Lon Gisland, and three albums, The Flying Club Cup, March of the Zapotec, and The Rip Tide.
Just like Beirut, Bombay Bicycle Club may be a band you have heard of, but not realize that most of the band was under 20 by the time their debut album, I Had the Blues but I Shook Them Loose came out. In fact, the group could have very easily released an album earlier but were all attending the British equivalent of high school across the pond. Innovative and artistic, these young men were able to weave beautiful melodic lines into their energetic rock style. Honestly, I try not to listen to this album in public too often because I find myself moving and bobbing to the music like a silly person. They have released three albums,in three distinct genres thus far, further proving their musicality. Their next album after I Had the Blues but I Shook Them Loose was Flaws and features a stripped down and acoustic set, whereas their third album, A Different Kind of Fix, is similar to the first but has a much more electronic twist. They are coming out with a fourth album on February 3rd, and it will be interesting to see what kind of turn they take.
Needless to say, these artists have displayed musicianship far beyond their years. It is truly impressive what they have accomplished and the innovation they have brought to the musical arena at such a young age. So once again, thank you Justice Beaver for helping me to have a more profound appreciation for the efforts of other young musicians.