Money Ruins Things

Cash Me Outside girl gets record deal. "Howbow Dat?" Uh-huh. Thirty years ago it would've got this 14-year old grounded. Meanwhile, real intelligence and class and talent struggle to get by. But this is what Atlantic Records is willing to pay big money for.

This isn't an isolated incident, just a spotlight on a glaring problem. Where is the line between adding value to a musician and their performance, and detracting from it? Maybe even DIStracting from it. Some of the most viewed musical performances on Youtube are saturated in distractions. Big money buys that. Elaborate costumes, some better suited for a Victoria Secret runway. Does that enhance one's appreciation of the music? Then there are the streamers, and flashing video screens. Now, there's nothing wrong with a great show, per se. In some cases it contributes to the overall entertainment value. But a zillion choreographed dancers? In fact, so much dancing that the only way the vocals remain intact is by lip-synching the recorded track? What if all that was taken away, would you still have a musical performance?

The point is proven by what we see in the absence of money. The local music club, where a band, hoping to have their expenses covered, puts on a show where all they've got is themselves and their music. Either that alone is going to cut it, or it won't. No stage and light crew to keep the audience mesmerized. Please don't misunderstand. There's nothing wrong with some great lights and stage props. But hopefully they're pointing TO the art, and not pointing "Squirrel!" to mislead the audience into overrating the show. Great artists can even be theatrical, to the point of appearing egotistical. But that just reinforces that there is actually something there to be seen and heard.

I'm glad when talent gets recognized and compensated for it. There's nothing wrong with reaping the fruit of excellence, so that what started out as a dream finally pays the bills and more. But should the money ever mask the artistry or reward the banal? I don't think so.

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