American Music Awards

I watched the American Music Awards last night.  It was the first time in my very long life I have seen this show.  I have lived long enough to see many, many kinds of music come upon the scene, and a number of styles exit the scene.  I have seen fads, “flash in the pan” personalities, and some enduring music.  Last night’s show made me wonder “what is music” anyway?  A couple of stars talked about “pushing the envelope”, and I wondered what they can push.  Do they want to redefine music the way some people want to redefine marriage?  It seems to me, music has to have rhythm, harmony, a melody and if its a song, then it has to have meaningful lyrics.  I wondered how much more you can push the boundaries of music until it becomes something that is not music.  Do we equate cacophony, noise and the like with music because we like the artist?  I have heard some of the hoopla about the Jonas brothers.  I will agree they are handsome young men, clean cut, probably very nice, and I have heard from some young people that they are very talented.  Well, from the performance I listened to on the American Music Awards, I had to assume they aren’t very talented.  Even to my amateur ear, these young men can’t sing.  I suppose they might play guitar fairly well, but the singing, frankly, was on the low end of a high school variety show.  What makes them popular?  I think its personality, pure and simple.  Young girls like them.  They are heartthrobs, and it wouldn’t matter if they are musicians, actors, skateboard stars or ball players.  The girls like THEM.  All else is forgiven.

I saw what seemed like endless performances of what passed for music, including other stars who sang off key, had raspy voices, etc, and “music” that sounded like so much noise.  The visuals obviously were dramatic, and in some cases just sexually sleazy.  However, the music probably wouldn’t have gone anywhere in another era because, by itself, without the visuals, there’s nothing to please the ear.

Whatever happened to beauty?  The last two performances of the evening were real music, and arguably beautiful.  Alicia Keys has talent.  As for most of the rest of the performances, I am reminded of “modern art” where the beautiful is sacrificed to “pushing the envelope”.  The arts are a mirror of the culture.  The culture has also sacrificed beauty for many other things of lesser value.  The culture itself reminds me of a beautifully decorated “cake” I saw once at a show, and was amazed to learn it was iced hatboxes–nothing but cardboard and air underneath.  I long for beauty and substance once again.

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One Response to “American Music Awards”

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