From karaoke bars to record companies: Why indie musicians won’t ever get above ground.

12 Feb

On Friday night I was casually speaking to a friend via text, when the subject shifted to the karaoke bar he was at.

After a little while, he mentioned that someone was singing “Don’t Stop Believin’,” to which I responded that it was a choice boring people make when they karaoke. Sure, it’s a classic for a reason, but when he said “Who are we to judge?” The only answer that I felt adequately expressed my annoyance of karaoke joints was that most people don’t notice how many songs are those binders. In all of those hundreds of pages, and thousands of song choices, how do people overlook classics from Ramones or Velvet Underground?

Unless of course, they’re not there.

It suddenly occurred to me that perhaps the reason why indie and punk fans stray from karaoke bars is the inability to choose songs that they like. We can choose to live in alternative cities where recycling is a choice, bikes get their own lanes and Wal-Marts don’t exist, but we can’t find a decent karaoke bar that allows the Regular (Alt) Joes to become rock stars for a song?

But what’s even worse is that women are usually getting the shit end of the stick. While I love Fiona Apple, she is one of the only women in the book that provide an alternative to Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. Did people not get the memo that (shocker!) women who don’t listen to Britney Spears can sing too?

Instead, “alternative chicks” are forced to listen to people who don’t know a thing about us chime in on who they think our new “Queen” should be. (Yes, I am talking about Lana Del Rey.) While I understand that not every artist is going to fit into a specific genre or category, I find it humorous that us opinionated women suddenly shock the nation when we don’t like an artist that has been shoved down our throats.

To anyone that’s reading this, here’s my take on this: some people might get their rocks off to Del Rey’s “style” and how she’s so “artistic,” but the truth is that it shouldtake a lot more than homemade videos capturing your own self-indulgence to land you a recording contract. Instead, the pretty girl wins again, pouting her way to the title of “Indie Queen” – a title that was never earned. In fact, the only thing Del Rey has taught us is that record companies still think they can force us into liking this singers that are less talented than the ones we choose to listen to ourselves.

Del Rey might have a great bod, but more than anything, she’s a one-trick pony whose video for “Born To Die” made much more sense when paired with the song “Video Games.” I can’t be the only person who noticed, and I’ll be damned if she makes it into karaoke books before Jenny Lewis. Then again, the Lana Del Rey’s are a dime a dozen while Lewis is a diamond in the rough.

Maybe if these executives and high-paid critics spent less time trying to find the next big thing and actually gave struggling musicians a chance, piracy and DIY-methods wouldn’t be the most talked-about subjects on music blogs. And I know you might cringe from the thought, but if more musicians were “making it”, maybe blogs could stray away from the go-to format of lists. Besides, do we really need another journalism major stuck in a cubicle writing lists that do nothing more than help us win trivia night at the bar? I didn’t think so.

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