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Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
  • Can one song signal our demise? Absolutely

  • Giant, dead and bloated frogs are floating down crimson-red rivers.


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  •     I fear for the children. I fear for our very existence as creatures who roam this planet and claim to be by far the most advanced intellectually.
        Why??Because we’re sheep. When something is considered to be too far out of the mainstream, we disregard it, even reject it, sometimes with tremendous hostility. And, as much as we hate to admit it, we also have a terrible habit of outwardly praising things that dare venture out of the box, while at the same time plotting our strategy to make whatever’s outside one in the same once again with all things enclosed in cardboard.
        Of course, there’s nothing new about casting off people or things that don’t or won’t march in lockstep with us and/or the masses, safe and secure in our flock of mostly nothingness. But it seems that these days, even when we embrace something that’s supposedly different than everything else, and even if we’re impressed enough to hail that uniqueness from the rooftops, we eventually find a way to take that new, different and unique thing and absorb it into the giant gray blob that’s so commonly called the maintstream.
        For proof, I give you the singer/songwriter Gotye, a creative lad who originally hailed from Belgium, found his way to Australia, and now sits at or near the top of the American music charts.
         Our youngest son, who's a music aficionado just like his dad claims to be, was head over heels in love with the Gotye song, "Somebody that I used to Know" as soon as he heard it for the first time earlier this spring. The unique, memorable and creative music video featuring Gotye's singing partner, New Zealander Kimbra, sealed the deal. You didn’t even have to like the song to at least acknowledge that some genuine thought, effort and time went into creating that music video. They were naked and covered in paint! What else do you need to put a smile on your face?
        Sure, everyone in our family couldn't help but get slightly sick of the tune after it basically took the world by storm. That’s how it works with some of the best and yet obscure music these days. Songs and artists start out being promoted and played on the fringe stations and talk shows that start so late at night they’re more like early morning wake-up shows. There are a trio of stations on satellite-fed SiriusXM Radio, stations you’d never find on your typical radio dial, that play some of the best new, cool and diamond-in-the-rough musical artists working today.
        That’s how it worked with “Somebody that I?used to Know” as well. For many weeks, it was in the outer rotation, if you will, and gaining critical acclaim. Then, schools of dead fish started floating in the crimson sea when all of the so-called top 40 radio stations put Gotye’s tune into heavy, heavy rotation.
    Page 2 of 2 -      Very soon, sadly and inevitably, the hooves of the Seven Horses started shaking the earth under our feet and their rumble could soon be heard thundering on the horizon when Gotye’s unpolished gem was copied. Suddenly, a bunch of so-called musical artists felt compelled to weigh in with their own versions of the tune. My gag reflex hadn’t kicked in with such gusto since I was a child refusing to swallow a mouthful of cooked peas at the dining room table.
        Then, giant mutant frogs started hopping out of the blood red sea and vomiting out their guts, and bowling ball-sized hail started crashing down from the sky when the dreaded "remix" of "Somebody that I used to Know" was unleashed on society, featuring digitized hand-claps, drum machines and other computer beeps and blips. You know, just like every other song these days features. Double-click a computer software application icon, press a couple of buttons, and you can start claiming you’re a musician.
        Gotye’s original tune was short and sweet, almost Beatle-esque with a chorus repeated only twice in the song. Two verses were sung before he sang the first chorus. The remix, in addition to all the noise that requires no displays of talent with an actual musical instrument but simply a few keystrokes on a computer, predictably adds a third chorus. You know, to make sure the listeners’ minds don’t dare wander.
        For his part, Gotye, even though the remix is shooting to the top of the charts on the heels of the original tune, is a bit down and out about the torture inflicted upon his creation. In a recent interview in Rolling Stone magazine, choking in an air of inevitability and sounding almost defeated before the opening bell is even sounded, Gotye said that everyone told him early on that they loved his song because it was so brilliantly different than everything else. “Then they went and made it sound like everything else,”?he said.
        Worst of all, our youngest son calls the remix "catchy." If he ever happens to mention Pit “Mr.?Worldwide” Bull is talented, our relationship is in jeopardy.
       

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