Thursday, October 29, 2009

Just A Little Bit About Radiohead and the "Product Cycle"

Originally posted on January 8, 2008, with subsequent paragraphs written just now, thank you.

Another day. I’ve been catching up on some alt rock classics I missed when tethered to my desk at a publishing company. Radiohead’s The Bends (1995) (Parlaphone) would certainly qualify as a classic. It is a near perfect rock CD, with hooks, effective vocals and solid rock instrumentation.
I could be wrong but it seems in today's disposable culture that a musical release like The Bends could be some sort of a classic and basically still get swept away for the next "big thing." Then that next, next thing comes along and the previous next thing gets swept away in turn. I'm reminded of the old Warner Brothers cartoon where there's a talent contest with "Jack Bunny" and the cute little owl waits his turn as act after act does its bit, Jack rings the bell and the trap door opens to remove the would-be creator of a "classic." Then it's on to the next "talent." Maybe the music scene can be like that.

I had the misfortune of first entering the music business for the two seconds when disco prevailed in the music world. "Do you like disco?" my soon-to-be-boss asked me in the first interview. "Sure," I replied, thinking to myself "what the hell is disco?" Well I quickly found out. Then in two years I watched it disappear from the face of the earth, except as nostalgia. Are any of the styles popular today destined to share that fate? No answer.

Or there's the "Beaver Cleaver" effect. That's the opposite. It's when something just won't go away even though the jig is up. Anybody who watched that show (Leave It To Beaver) all the way through to the last season may remember that there was a point where Beaver was getting much too old to be the precociously prescient lad he was at the beginning. He still wore the hat, dragged his lunchbox with him out the front door at the beginning of the show, but he looked like he was 19 then, which he may have been. It just didn't work any more. Somebody like Miley Cyrus may be getting to that point shortly, who knows? Ultimately does anybody but Miley and her manager and her parents particularly care? That's a little sad.

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