Yung's Blog

Yung's Music Industry Blog

Eurovision Song Contest 2010

This year’s Eurovision Song Contest had a few surprising turns. Ending today, the winner of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest was a singer from Germany by the name of Lena Landrut with her song, “Satellite”.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esTVVjpTzIY

The Eurovision song contest has been a very popular creative competition which takes place in Europe. Countries get to battle it out by getting their famous song writers from all over Europe to write specially-written songs for the chosen artist to compete.

Last year, the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest was a Norwegian classically trained violinist, Alexander Rybak. Because of the victory, Norway got to host this year’s contest. Since Germany won this year, the next Eurovision song contest will be held in Germany.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uiH4BFTELME

The Eurovision Song Contest originally began in Lugano, Switzerland in 1956. The voting for the contest was determined by telephone votes from viewers as well as judges from each nation. It was reported that this year, Norway had spent a total of 32 million (USD) and claimed that they could not afford to host another one again due to financial struggles. The unstable economy has contributed to the participation of certain countries. For example this year, countries like Hungary, Andorra, The Czech Republic and Montenegro had to pull out this year because their budgets were cut severely. However, Hungary stated that the cost was not the issue but would be interested to participate in the contest again in the future.

Alot of bias is also present in the election of the winner of the Eurovision song contest. Countries that had a grudge against each other would give each other 0 points, majorly effecting the genuine outcome of the winner, whereas countries that were allies give each other full points.

Placement for Eurovision Song Contest 2010:

1. Germany
2. Turkey
3. Romania
4. Denmark
5. Azerbaijan

Journal Entry #6: The Industry

The music industry as a business have really grown to be a more complicated than before, especially now a days with all the copyright battles and lawsuits. Donald S. Passman’s book “All you need to know about the music business” was very helpful for me because it really broken down all the numbers for this business. I never knew much about it but now I definitely have a good understanding for it. But one problem that all these things run into is the fact that alot of people leak songs on youtube and also leak digital album copies online for download. From the numbers of the artist royalties I see, it can definitely hurt them. It is already hard as it is to be a songwriter, especially if you are constantly finding inspiration to write songs that will appeal to the public. Which brings up my next topic of composition. When I took my composition classes in the Aaron Copland school of music, alot of things were actually very theoretical and had some skill and meaning behind every note we write down on staff paper. Other than that, we also had to make the music appealing, not in a sense of beat or rhythm but by the way the notes relate to each other melodically and harmonically. However, composition with modern pop songs seem to be quite different. It’s not that it doesn’t take any “skill” but the fact that there is only so much you can do with the same 3 or 4 chords that after a while, you start to realize that all music sound the same – but not. The only varying element is/are the rhythm of notes and its repetition.  Some do it well, in that the rhythm and repetition creates a strong composition, some don’t do so well and rely solely on repetition to drill the music into our brains.

Another issue I see is the budget and funding problem. The artists are given a set amount of funding, and new artists are usually given less. After seeing the possible numbers for creating an album I can see why most people use programs like Pro Tools and make it digitally themselves. Although technology does greatly benefit our society, I feel at the same time that most people have gotten more lazier and forget of their musical history and origins. I feel as a musician that we need to know what we want to use in a song, but how will we know what to use if we don’t even know whats the difference between how a bassoon or a clarinet sounds like? But I guess that is why we have Pro tools to thank, most of the sounds don’t even exist as a physical instrument yet we use it in our music. At the same time, musical instruments such as the ones I’ve mentioned seem to be out-of-date in today’s society. It is good to have cool sounds created by technology, however I feel that organic sounds are just as important in composition. Technology is not only replacing old media but also all of our instruments.

The Illuminati Craze

“Illuminati want my mind, soul and body
Secret society, tryin’ to keep they eye on me” – Illuminati Prodigy

“Make me King, as we move forward to a,
new world order” – Lose Yourself Eminem

The subject of the Illuminati is so dense that the presentation I’ve made on friday was barely just a gloss over this controversial issue, therefore, I will mention some of the things that wasn’t mentioned in this blog for those of you who were really interested in my presentation.
All of these conspiracy theories really started with Robert Johnson, a blues musician back in the 30s who believed to have sold his soul to the Devil in order to become a famous star. Since then some people started believeing that there was some kind of evil deity involved in the music industry.

Taken from Wikipedia

According to a legend known to modern blues fans, Robert Johnson was a young black man living on a plantation in rural Mississippi. Branded with a burning desire to become a great blues musician, he was instructed to take his guitar to a crossroad near Dockery Plantation at midnight. There he was met by a large black man (the Devil) who took the guitar and tuned it. After tuning the guitar, the Devil played a few songs and then returned it to Johnson, giving him mastery of the guitar. This was, in effect, a deal with the Devil mirroring the legend of Faust; in exchange Robert Johnson was able to create the blues for which he became famous.

For those of you who don’t know who “rainman” is according to theorists, you can watch the following YouTube Clip:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_1JGuLK8MM

Basically put, whenever artists sing about letting it “rain” or the “rainman” they say that they are singing about the devil. They believe that the devil gives fame and glory to the artists as long as they subject to him and sing about things that the whole cult (music industry figures) want them to. They also analyze the messages of lyrics, but alot of artists have sang about the illuminati and the new world order. You can watch the following youtube clip to hear some of these songs:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DikoLMfnEgE&feature=related

And of course, there are also incidents where artists publicly admit that they’ve sold their soul to the devil:

Katy Perry, Kanye West, Eminem, Snoop Dogg – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8MTaltXEuQ

Jay-Z’s public address on the radio to people accusing him of being apart of the illuminati – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uFDVW2xhWco (Start at 25 seconds)

Alot of people these days (especially those who are concerned about theories of an upcoming apocalypse such as 2012, etc.) are really concerned with the “evil” or immoral matters that are brought to our attention today. There was always a great problem with parents and music that was exposed to their children. In a way, some artists do cater to that concern and do write more “clean” and acceptable music (example: The Jonas Brothers). But it is only a matter of time before kids turn on the radio and listen to a song like “Rude Boy” by Rihanna – a song which is obviously talking about a girl’s sexual agression towards a boy.

Due to alot of “tasteless” songs that are being put on the radio, people turn to the fact that everyone in the music industry are the devil’s minions, trying to take control of people by sending subliminal messages of immorality (such as sex, violence and lyrics that absolutely makes no sense and has no value in them). In all, I do believe that this is only a way for people to understand why our society has “dumbed-down” and almost like a critique on our musical culture today.

The conspiracy theory of the illuminati has sparked a very interesting thing, which is that alot of believers address this issue and they search for answers or clues in the lyrics and music videos. In a way I feel that alot of people DO pay attention to the lyrics of a song or the music video now a days, so why is it that the producers are still feeding us alot of “garbage” songs with lyrics that absolutely makes no sense?

The way we listen to music now is alot different from the way people listen to music before. Back in the time periods before the invention of instruments, the only type of music that was available were Gregorian Chants (vocal chanting) where monks would chant everyday -and literally all day long- in the church.  If you wanted to hear music back then, it was in the form of vocal music such as a mass with sacred text that belongs to the church, or if you wanted to hear Bach’s works you had to literally walk miles and miles to a church to hear him perform on the organ. Music back then was heavily associated with the church and even back then the church banned the use of diminished chords, tritones and ending a piece in a minor chord because they believed that it was the chord of the devil. Major chords was associated with the chord of God, representing good and triumph (hence why many people associate major chords today as “happy” or “good” and minor chords as “sad” or “evil”).

Today, we listen to music for alot of reasons other than for church. We listen to it because it is a form of entertainment (like a song with a good beat that makes us want to dance), we listen to it for pleasure (it makes us feel happy), we listen to it for inspiration (because it gets us through the day or it’s “relaxing”; so we can inspire ourselves to write our own). Therefore, I feel that the whole illuminati craze is overly exaggerated. Yes, I agree there are a bunch of music out there that’s not even worth my time listening to, however, they forget that there are also alot of music out there that really helps people by the ways I’ve mentioned above. Like Anda has said, these theorists are so quick to judge music and claim that they are the work of the devil, but how about the songs that sing about love and unity? Shouldn’t they say that songs such as those are really inspired by God (or Goodness)?

I also agree with a good point that Roland has made in class, that the answer to why such “distasteful” music is made today is because alot of people aren’t educated enough about music. We listen to a song and we are attracted to it and if we were given the proper understanding of why it is so appealing to us (musically) we can learn to appreciate the music more. At the same time, the music that is being produced is made because producers or song writers believe that this is the type of music people will like to listen to, but I think they are underestiminating some of us in that we DO know what’s bad and those that have some sort of value in them.

Journal Entry #5: MTV and Technology

In order to understand Music Television, we must understand the uses of the Television as a medium at home. Television, unlike going to a theatre and watching a movie, was about glancing compared to where movies were about gazing into a big screen in a dark room. Music Television, back when I remembered it, was a way for me to be able to listen to music at home with the TV on while I was doing something else. The idea of glancing is that MTV provided a way of background music around the house while people were doing chores or whatever it is. And because music videos don’t require a massive amount of focus like watching a movie, we are able to glance over and catch bits of images while the song was playing. It was also a way for artists to create visual elements to accompany their music and it was always part of social culture where people would ask me “Hey did you see so-and-so’s music video?”

Through music television, people were able to identify artists through their musical creations and also visual creations. An example of this would be some of Evanescence’s videos, where some of it regarded more “dark/gothic” subject matters. Sometimes the music video would show a visual story while the music took over as a type of narration – but that was how Amy Lee was able to project the image she wanted people to associate with her. She was not the typical pop singer but rather a more dark and more rock-like female singer that touched on subject matters such as depression and loneliness. For most artists, MTV provided a way for artists to create visual art that was based on their music. The idea of incorporating music and visual narratives were all made possible by the creation of music television and it also made artist promotions possible.

Millard touched upon many new technologies that significantly changed our culture and way of watching and listening. An example would be how Television has changed since the 50s where television was a way of uniting a nuclear family in the living room to TV stoves for stay-at-home housewives, to plasma, hi-definition and now using the itouch or iphone as a portable handheld TV. New technologies would surpass older ones and old mediums needed to re-invent themselves. And now, digital technology has made it possible for people to download or stream songs and videos via the internet. This, however, has brought different types of media that isolated to the individual in my opinion. Music, back in the earliest days of western art music, was heard in a community setting where individuals came together for it in order to hear a performance. Now, music has come to the individual where we are able to simply turn on our ipods, plug in our earphones and we are already in our own world. I believe this type of technological advancement has caused people to isolate themselves where music and movies is about an individual experience rather than a group experience. In my opinion, I appreciate live performances more because we are able to experience it with a group of people where we can offer feedback and have some kind of interaction. Recorded music on the other hand becomes less authentic as we are able to play it back the same way, over and over, through a new technology / medium. However, there are also most positive aspects of new technology in that we are able to take it anywhere with us because it is convenient and portable. Therefore, new technologies make it easily available (to some extent) to more people and music becomes more intimate and involved in our daily lives.

Journal Entry #4: Hip Hop

In Rose’s article she brings up a very elaborate background about the Hip hop culture for us. She associates hip hop with its local identity. Hip hop came about during economical shifts. Artists faced problems getting a job in their field of study and some of them leaned towards entertainment. breakdancers, rappers and graffiti artists were all part of the hip hop entertainment events. It had become a very competitive genre in that people want to prove their success and prestige. Artists are able to use their creativity to make their own styles and were known for them. Hip hop fashion depicted the “power of consumption” where they use alot of jewelry to show their royalty, designer brands, and “baggy” clothing.

Rose also explains the importance of one’s identity in the hip hop culture. For one’s status to elevate, he/she needs to be innovative and creative in making their own distinctive style that can make a big impact.  There is an emphasis on flow and layering in break dancing, graffiti art and rap. Especially in rap music, flow and rhyme plays a significant role in creating a musical message. It also needs to have abrupt distractions in music that have a certain rhythm to it.  What is interesting about rap is that it isn’t a continuous melodic pattern, instead it emphasizes the artists’ spoken language, almost like speaking a poem, in a certain rhythm. Unlike a lot of other genres, rap is one genre that stands out because of this element – it digresses away from typical melodic form of a song and brings in the spoken aspect of it and emphasizing the beats or rhythm.

Hip hop culture was very concerned with one’s identity. Graffiti artists create their art on public walls, break dancers had their signature moves that were distinctive from the rest and rappers create their own beats and tend to communicate to its audiences about their own experiences and reflections of the world around them. Therefore, I believe, the hip hop era brought about a lot of innovation, art and creativity for the African American community, especially since one’s “status” was in direct correlation to his or her own ability to bring out “style”.

Journal Entry #3: Hijacked Hits

In Michael Coyle’s essay, he explains the difference between cover songs and hijacking songs. It had been a popular method for white artists during the 50s to gain sales and reputation by hijacking, or exploiting, the talents of black musicians. Covering songs, however, is different from the term hijacking because it refers to another artist who interprets the song and gives an homage to it. Covering songs takes the original artist’s work and they are able to atleast give credit back the original artist and make their own interpretation of it , however hijacking is a different story. Hijacking hits was a primary way for white artists to exploit the talents of the black artists, which at the time was a highly controversial subject because they weren’t given the same equality in social justice and therefore racism was carried over to many areas including the music industry.

What I feel after reading this article was that covering songs involve a much more deeper connection to the artist who’s covering it and the original song. A good example of this would be to think about the top orchestras in the world today – they perform classical music by composers that lived centuries ago. However, every orchestra’s playing of a Beethoven symphony is not exactly the same as the other orchestra. That’s because the conductors take their time to analyze the music but at the same time they give their own interpretation to the music – as if they are trying to convey their own “this-is-how-I-feel-when-I-listen-to-this” style. It doesn’t digress completely away from the original intention of it (like hijacking would do) but it takes the music and gives it a more thought-out approach. For example : “Why do I feel this way when I hear that piece? Well because I believe that’s how Beethoven intended to convey to the audience and I will show you why. To me this song is about ____.” Therefore artists who cover songs can give it a new twist – play it either fast or slow, pop-y or not, theres still atleast some acknowledgment and link to its original format.

A more modern example would be a band named Deadsy who did a cover of The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven” (and also Rush’s “Tom Sawyer”). What I’ve noticed (other than the fact that they do credit the original band for the song) is that even though the original was a more upbeat faster song, Deadsy had decided to give it a more slow, laid back and industrial twist to it (and also played around with some synthesizing).  Although the two styles are a bit different, the Deadsy cover doesn’t completely ignore the fact that the song has to stay true in its vocal, guitar and bass lines. But their more artistic and interpretive approach was that they are able to incorporate a synthesizer keyboard which does small improvs on top of the melody.

Authenticity is such a raised issue today that many people can regard “taking another person’s song” as distasteful (such as sampling also). But I feel that authenticity is important, but what also is important is that we, as listeners and musicians, are able to take what we hear and improve on it. Afterall, classic western music composers centuries ago did this in some of their famous works in order to pay homage to another artists’ work. (For example, Beethoven has dedicated many of his early piano sonatas to his famous predecessors, Mozart and Haydn. He incorporated their style, themes, melodies into his works.) But back then, it was considered an intellectual thing to do!

Journal Entry #2: Bebop

In Eric Porter’s writing he attempted to define the origins and influences of the bebop movement that developed during the 1940s. He describes bebop as “rapid tempos, dissonant chords and melodic lines, tritone and other chordal substitutions, extensive chromaticism, offbeat piano accompaniment, walking bass lines, polyrhythmic drumming … and a focus on extended, improvised soloing on the front-line instruments.” Coming from the end of World War II, African Americans felt that they needed equality especially since some of them have served for the country over the war period. Music, then, became a way to protest and also a way for one performer to speak to his audience about the changing times.

Porter viewed the era as “a product of collective orientation, if not a cohesive movement”” because bebop had defied the social trend of the blues and added intellectuality along with artistic approaches.  It became an aesthetic development, meaning it had beauty that was related to the high art category. It also reflected the black life, attitudes and politics that happened during the period. In Porter’s work, he brought in many names that had once tried to define and interpret Bebop, stating that it was an uprising from the African American community that opposed to the normal “jazz came from Africa” idea.

Bebop musicians did not want to fit into the stereotype they had created bebop that lets soloists freely improvise and play on the music. This creates a sense of individualism where the soloist stands out highlighting his or her musical talent and virtuosity. This idea reminded me of how bebop is heavily related to classical western music as well – music during an earlier time also had emphasized improvisation. During the Renaissance some singers actually improvised along with other vocalists, especially in secular music – that is, music that wasn’t related to the church or the liturgy. During the time musicians sang in groups and in certain cases some vocalists had to improvise on the spot as they performed in the public. From then on, Mozart had also done a lot of improvisations on older works and he was able to improvise on the spot while he performed at an early age displaying his genius which ultimately led to his father’s investment in his musical talent and put him on tour all around Europe. Concertos were created so that soloists of a particular instrument (i.e. Mozart’s Oboe Concerto in C, Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor, etc.)  are able to show off his or her virtuosic talent. Although parts where soloists performed in concertos were previously written by the composer, it also – in a sense – demonstrates the composer’s ability to take a musical idea and develop it – adding alot of technical difficulty for the soloist. The musical term cadenza is when a soloist is able to play on his or her own freely – and improvise – usually before the conclusion of a piece. Cadenzas are present in concertos and dates way back into the days of J.S. Bach and his famous Brandenburg Concertos. Not only were cadenzas only present in classical instrumental music but it was also present in some of the Arias that are part of opera pieces.

It is interesting to see how Bebop ties in with early classical music – the whole idea of improvisation and the display of high technical talent of the performer. This emphasis on the individual rather than just a bunch of musicians playing in an orchestra or band is significant as it represented social transformation for a group of people but can be viewed, much like in classical performances, as the emphasis and stress on the individual. The difference other than the eras was that during the classical age it was not to protest (like the bebop era during the 40s). But both are similar in that the soloist is able to send a message, musically, to its audiences through his or her own spotlight.

Final Research Paper Topic

What is known is that boy bands are usually three to six members in a group that are physically appealing to the public in terms of looks and dress. The demographic and target audience for boy bands usually tend to be teenage girls. The band members sing together in songs usually one by one or by creating vocal harmonies that resembles the arrange of a small choir – the only difference is you don’t have an SATB chorus, but most likely voices that make up the bass, a baritone, tenor or counter tenor since they are male. Although boy bands are sometimes disregarded as a significant or “innovative” subject when it comes to music, it is also important that we understand arranging vocals that give a certain “sound” when put together is extremely difficult – not to mention the fact that the singers in the boybands have to be able to sing ALONG with one another on different pitches. Usually when you have a vocalist he or she is just one voice carrying the melody against the musical accompaniment, but when you have more than one voice singing in harmony it is actually harder than singing solo. What comprises of a GOOD harmonic vocal arrangement is the ability for the singers to be able to listen to the other voices in his/her surroundings and be able to pick out specifically the note that he or she must sing in order to complete the harmony. It is not an easy thing to do especially coming from an experienced choral/group singer such as myself.

On my final research paper I would like to discuss the rise of boy bands and how it had influenced a whole generation of teenage culture and especially teenage girl culture during the 90s (and also some early on). I would also like to discuss what influenced or gave rise to these boy band trends and how did it change our teenage life, beliefs and social life.

Song Analysis: I Want It That Way – Backstreet Boys

I Want It That Way – Backstreet Boys

When people think of boy bands they tend to associate that kind of “teenybopper” music with teenage girl culture. The Backstreet Boys was originally a five member boy band that rise to fame becoming the highlights during the 90s and into the millennium. They have released a number of studio albums and was considered one of the biggest selling groups of all time. According to the US Billboard 200, they have sold over 130 million records worldwide and had each of their albums reach top 10 on the charts. Mostly what is important about this song in particular was that it was one of their many signature hits. It was also one of the ultimate songs that defined the pop genre in the 1990s that was broadcasted widely across radio stations. Besides the industry numbers there is also a reason why this song fits the category of popular music and it is remembered because of its distinctive tune.

Musical Analysis

The song starts off with a four bar guitar instrumental introduction that outlines three significant chords, arpeggiated, that the verse will be based upon: F# minor (The minor VI chord), D Major (IV chord) and A Major (I chord). The instruments used are simple: drums, bass, a guitar that mostly arpeggiates the intro.

What is interesting about this piece is that the tonic (the main key of the song) is not immediately established in the beginning of the song, which is not common with pop songs. When we think of pop songs we usually think of major tonality, equal phrasing and strophic in nature. The original key signature of this piece is in A major, however the very first chord is the minor VI chord which gives an odd progression followed by a plagal cadence from the IV chord to the I chord. The first words of the song is not on a down beat of the bar but acts more like a pickup on the 4th beat in the preceding bar. The verse section of this song utilizes primarily three chords: VI, IV, I with the substitution of the V chord instead of the IV chord towards the end of the phrase. The first phrase, with the lyrics “You are my fire The one desire Believe when I say I want it that way” is broken up into four bar phrases each of which contains four beats, making the pulse of this piece in common time. This outlines the typical symmetric meter of pop music, even the tempo of the piece is moderately paced – not too fast nor is it too slow.

It is also interesting to note that the cadences of the verses are not fulfilled until the name of the song, in the lyrics, is sung: “I want it that way” (progression: vi – V – I) This stresses the importance on the name of the song (which is a contributing factor for the song’s originality and uniqueness) by finally having a perfect cadence instead of a plagal cadence which doesn’t really give a strong solid tone. The only instance in the entire song that actually uses the perfect cadence is whenever the title is sung giving emphasis. The chorus uses three chord progression, IV-V-vi where it is repeated and ultimately goes to its tonic (A major) replacing the vi chord at the end of the phrase. After the first encounter with the chorus the next verse has only two phrases instead of four and it jumps again back to the chorus. Note the second time around, the chorus does something a bit more interesting: “I want it that way” is now using a suspended chord that resolves to the dominant chord of the bridge section: F# minor (making the progression V of the relative minor key). The reason for the suspended chord and not another dominant chord is to suspend the growing tensions which lead to the bridge.

The bridge section of this piece is in the relative minor (A major – F# minor) which gives a contrasting tone to the first half of the piece. It’s interesting to note that the bridge utilizes a different chord progression – it is no longer three chord progression but it uses a descending progression: i-vii-vi-IV-V which basically outlines the minor scale going downwards. After the bridge there is a repetition of the first verse however what is interesting about the verse this time is that the individual male voices outline the F#m7 with an added 9th to give it a more grand feeling before it modulates to the supertonic – B major. Although not a wide key modulation, the transition from the key of A major to B major was made very smooth by using the added 9th and linking it with the overlap of the last key in A major to the very first key in B major.

The overall tone of this piece has a sensitive quality by using a submediant (vi) chord right at the beginning and a progression that’s not as strong.

Melody and lyrics

Why is it that people are able to recall the chorus of the song “Tell me why Ain’t nothing but a heartache Tell me why Ain’t nothing but a mistake Tell me why I never wanna hear you say I want it that way” even if they have no clue on the rest of the lyrics? The chorus is made the most prominent of the song. It actually follows good counterpoint rules, which date back to the baroque era and Bach’s music: what goes up must come down in the melody line and skips of a third or more needs to be resolved step-wise downward. The “Tell me why” sections are exactly a third with a step up to the climax going up and once its reached the top it falls down in a step-wise motion outlining the major scale (Sol-Fa-Mi-Re-Do-Ti-Do) This is really simple but very effective paired with the three chord progression in the bass line. The end of the melody does a small “dip” using the lyrics “…heartache…” and “…mistake…” but it is dramatized by associating these words with the V chord and then instead of going to the tonic it gives us a deceptive cadence (from a V chord to a vi chord instead of the I chord in this case) emphasizing heartache and mistake to be a bit melodramatic. The other interesting thing is that the chorus is in ways a counterpoint by using two interacting melodic lines: One states a question (Tell me why?) and the other follows up (Ain’t nothing but a heartache).

The lyrics of this song are sensitive and the target audience is typically teenage girls. It opens up with a strong using the words “fire”, which gives an image of passion, paired up with “desire”. But it is more interesting to note that not only does the singer want that person to be their fire and desire but he also states that he wants it to be that way.

“You are my fire
The one desire
Believe when I say
I want it that way”

This nature of this song revolves around a failing relationship or one that doesn’t have the usual happy ending.

“But we are two worlds apart
Can’t reach to your heart
When you say
I want it that way”

It’s interesting to note how the two characters use the phrase “I want it that way”. Our singer uses it to state that he wants to be in love with the person where as the other person wants it to end and stay that way.

“Tell me why
Ain’t nothin’ but a heartache
Tell me why
Ain’t nothin’ but a mistake
Tell me why
I never wanna hear you say
I want it that way”

The chorus states the singer questioning the other person’s motive on the break-up where the other person counteracts with the fact that it’s a “heartache” and that it was a “mistake”. However the singer states that he doesn’t want to hear the words to end the relationship.

“Now I can see that we’re falling apart
From the way that it used to be, yeah
No matter the distance
I want you to know
That deep down inside of me…
You are my fire
The one desire
You are, you are, you are, you are…”

The main idea is so that the singer is able to convey to the person that he does not regret being in love nor does he want the his target to have the regret either. The four “You are”s are interesting because it is technically an incomplete phrase and as I mentioned earlier uses a special F#minor7 chord with an added 9th. In a way it kind of accentuates the other person, the added 9th into the chord really makes the tone a bit more heavenly. This is an example of word painting without having the lyrics to finish the phrase, instead it is intended in just the music alone.

Although the lyrics is about love and a person’s undying passion for another, this hit song is significant because it shows the way the boy band is being marketed at the time: 5 handsome boys singing about love to teenage girls. This gave rise to an era of teenage culture where issues of love, heartbreak and even indirect underlying sexual tension are addressed. It acted as the trend in order to appeal and connect with the teenage audience, highlighting the era of pop music from the 90s on.

Journal Entry #1 : Folk Music

In both Filene and Kyriakoudes’ article, folk music had been a way of identifying the American heritage from the 1920s to the 1930s. They both touched upon the subject of “authenticity”, but in different ways.  Kyriakoudes’ article focused on minstrelsy and vaudeville entertainment whereas Filene focused on creating a conflicting image of the artist to attract people. John A. Lomax had devoted his life to collecting American folk songs with the help of his son Alan Lomax. In their attempt to document folk music, Lomax had not specified a political agenda however his music did show the diversity of the American people. He had gained positive feedback from the Communist party’s Popular Front policy, which tried to unite the world to fight against fascism by defining the American culture and diversity. Lomax had much more concern with the African American culture and praised them for creating distinctive folk songs. He also adopted a moderate political view so that he was able to appeal to a bigger audience with his collections and music.

They made many trips to different places recording music. One of the first was an African American singer and guitarist named Huddie Ledbetter, who is also known as “Leadbelly.” They’ve discovered his musical talent when they were searching for African American “work songs” in Louisiana’s Angola Prison. Leadbelly had incredible virtuosic qualities playing his 12 string guitar and his ability to sing a wide range of songs had impressed Lomax. The Lomaxes took Leadbelly with them on their travels and also brought him to New York City where they promoted him as an icon of America’s folk-song tradition. What is interesting about the Lomaxes was that they were not only collectors and preservers of folk music but also promoters and, in a way, re-creators of the artist’s image. Although the Lomaxes’ conception of American folk music was heavily limited and relied on their personal preference, they were considered the first American folk song collectors. The Lomaxes were determined to promote Leadbelly because they liked his music and by doing so they also created a false public image for him. They’ve made Leadbelly the voice of the people in folk music and created an image for him like that of a “savage, untamed animal”. However, Leadbelly is just the opposite. They depicted Leadbelly as a common man but also an outcast and although these two ideas a highly contradicting the public was attracted to it.

In Kyriakoudes’ article minstrelsy had raised the question of authenticity. George D. Hay had made a radio program which southerners could reflect and project about their urbanization of the south during the late 1920s. The Grand Ole Opry was a response to anxieties about modern life and new technology because it included blackface and other forms of minstrelsy that addressed the issues of modernization by praising and also rejecting the changes in technology and society. It turned to mostly “old-time music” which had become popular with the southern audiences during the 1920s. Musicians such as Uncle Dave Macon sang about his reaction towards change, especially that of new technology such as the automobile. He would mostly reject the automobile because it threatens to change the traditional community and would change their historical roots. Minstrelsy allowed for white southerners to address their fears of rural social change. Blackface had attracted big crowds in the south as country artists, blackface singers, dancers and comedians all were appealing and entertaining to those in the southern areas.

Hays used racialized humor, that is, humor which were re-creations of African American dialect, acts and ridicules on their misfortunes. Blackface duos Lee Roy “Lasses” White and Lee David “Honey” set up comical acts and parodies to popular songs. They’ve applied the southern anxiety of modernization and culture into these acts which had drawn many people. They were popular to both white southerners as well as black southerners. The issue of blackfacing, therefore, was sensitive to the issue of being “authentic” where they needed to be real enough to appeal to the audience but at the same time sympathetic also. The Opry’s musical programming had assured the true white southern identity would not be altered by the rapidly changing times and modernization and they’ve stressed the importance of African American tradition and figures in their music.

All the fabrications made in folk music based on these two articles have raised the question of what exactly is “authentic”. In our society today, many things tend to bend towards that same problem from photo manipulation to video editing and even music. Since the advancement of technology we are able to manipulate many of the “original” to produce an effect that we believe would be best, however, wouldn’t changing the ‘work of art’ take away from the original meaning and intention? In relation to folk music and the Lomaxes, if the goal was to preserve heritage, history and roots I feel that it’d be better to have left it the way it originally intended to be, even with all the “rough edges” because that is what defines that specific piece of work to be unique.


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