The 40th American Music Awards were held last night in Los Angeles and Justin Bieber won three times. Bieber won for Favorite Pop/Rock Album for Believe, for Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist, and for Artist of the Year. Yes, Justin Bieber is the number one musical artist in America, at least as this award show geographically defines itself.
How did this happen? How did this type of music become the "most popular" in the country and how did this performer become "Artist of the Year?" The answers escape me because as far I'm concerned, his music is awful.
(The Guardian) The Biebs
Have you ever tried to listen to a Justin Bieber song on the radio or a clip on iTunes? I have. His music is unlistenable. It is torture. Not the "Safe House" CIA waterboarding kind of torture, but the torture you are subjected to when your off-key grandmother sings 1940's show tunes.
For his pop album victory, Bieber beat out Maroon 5, Nicki Minaj and One Direction; for pop/rock male artist he beat Usher (his mentor), Flo Rida and Pitbull. I do give Bieber credit that he was the only artist in that category with a real name. Lastly, for Artist of the Year, he bested Drake, Maroon 5, Rihanna and Katy Perry. These are the best we can do musically? Pitbull can rock some songs, I used to like Maroon 5 and Rihanna's club mixes get people up and on the dance floor, but as a culture, you'd think we could do better.
Who listens to this crap? In order to get to the bottom of this quandry, I contacted an expert. My 18-year old son Jesse, a college freshman and self-professed master of social media and pop culture. "Dad, what is your problem?" he asked me at first. "I just got home for Thanksgiving and this is what you want to know?" Yes, work with me, I answered.
Jesse relented, "Haven't you seen how popular the X Factor and all those other garbage shows are? Tweens love that crap." Tweens, huh? I understand that they are becoming a highly sought after market, and the parents certainly do have purchasing power. Jesse continued, "You're just old. I don't listen to his music, but I would if I had to." Ouch.
I know I'm old in most modern or pop music circles, but I do have B-96 on my presets in the car and I know the difference between Ne-Yo and Trey Songz. And, I do know when a Bieber song comes on the radio and that's when I switch channels.
The best that I can tell, here's the root of my problem: As the American Music Awards came on last night and the tweens were settling in to watch Justin Bieber and his ilk rack up the awards, I was watching the Rolling Stones documentary "Crossfire Hurricane" on HBO. As this film depicted and history shows, the Rolling Stones wrote and preformed rock music that people cared about for reasons other than being cute and having a high voice. I will never let go of what I truly like and the reasons for it.
Moreover, I will always feel that while musical tastes are personal, like ice cream, in order for an artist and his/her/its music to be award-worthy or praiseworthy, should require an elevated level of quality. The Stones had it. Bieber doesn't. Jay-Z has it. Bieber doesn't.
(The Guardian) These guys are not cute.
If Bieber is the most popular and "best" artist in America today, it has to say something about our society. I'm not a sociologist so I won't try to guess what that is. Suffice to say, I'm disgusted and can't ever to seem to run far enough away from the internet or social media to escape the reach of shows like "X Factor" or "American Idol" or songs like Bieber's "As Long as You Love Me."
So, as old age starts its inevitable creep and I try to evade Bieber, Katy Perry, and Ke$ha, I'll keep playing "Let it Bleed" and "Exile on Main St" and watch the HBO documentary a couple more times. And hats off to Justin Bieber I guess. May he one day be considered classic rock.
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