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New Music: Time to Change Our Tune

More and more classic rock/pop artists and bands are retiring or slowing down from recording albums with new material. The latest causality being Elton John. He announced that his 2016 album, Wonderful Crazy Night, will be his last with new material, stating that: “I love playing,”. “My records don’t sell anymore because people have enough Elton John records in their collection. I love making them, but it’s someone else’s turn now.” Although you have to take his statement with a grain of salt, Elton John did announce his complete retirement from the music business a couple of years ago, then claiming he was joking. So, it is possible that he may change his mind about walking away from making new music, now?

Whether people have enough Elton John albums in their collection or not, the fact of the matter is, it’s a scary thing to have a musical icon calling it quit and giving up something he loves doing. Is it the quality of his music? Is it fans’ resistance in giving his new material a chance? What does this say about the music scene when it appears have drained the life/passion of numerous artists.

Think about it. There was a time when an artist/group would release an album every 2-3 years? Now, we’re lucky if we see one every 5 or so years. The Rolling Stones’ last studio album: A Bigger Bang, came out eleven years ago and Billy Joel hasn’t released a new album since 1993. Let’s not forget it took 15 years for us to get a new album from Don Henley.

We could start pointing fingers at what caused the demise of classic rock; take your pick Napster, Apple, illegal downloading, sub-par material or radio’s reluctance to play new songs. I’m not sure who is to blame but it is a frightening time for music fans.

We also have to look at the artist/group themselves. They’re not helping the situation by any means. Here are but a few quotes that I believe have really hurt the delicate balance between the artist/group and the record buying public. Not that I have anything personal against Elton John, but here is something that he said recently, that really struck a chord and inspired my rantings.

“People like Billy Joel, who is a great songwriter and one of America’s finest, say there is no point because people don’t want to hear them. And I kind of get that as well, but it is very frustrating that you play new songs that people don’t want to hear, but I can’t not try and have a go,” said John. “Usually when you play a new song people hurtle towards to the toilets quickly, but you have to play new songs.

So, when a classic artist/group plays a new song, does that become a signal for the listeners to take a bathroom break? I would really like to know when this started. I never saw this at the concerts I’ve attended and it’s really upsetting for me to hear, if it is true. Come on, this is simply rude and unacceptable. Imagine if someone walked out on one of your friends’ or children’ recitals? How would that make you feel? It definitely won’t inspire you to create new music or to play it for that matter. Anyways, that comment is out there and Elton and Billy Joel are heavy hitters in the music business so when they say something like that, it makes an impression on both sides for fans and artists alike. Comments like these don’t do any favours for these artists.

There have been a lot more of these damaging comments and they really frustrate me because many will affect music for years to come. [Take a look at this statement from Jay Jay French, guitarist of Twisted Sister: “Let’s be honest,” he told Goldmine. “Any classic band that releases a new record is an idiot for playing it. I mean, they can justify it all they want but no one cares. Let me tell you, you’re a bunch of stupid fools if you think that anyone gives a s—. They don’t. They say they do but they don’t. Which is why most of these classic bands make a new album, go out on a tour, start out with five songs from the new record, after a few weeks there are two songs and then they just want to play that one new song and get it over with. Because no one knows it and no one gives a s— about it, and they’re delusional to think they do.”

And it’s not only new songs that aggravates him, but also when groups try to reinvent the tunes for which they’re known. “Another delusional thing is, let’s alter the arrangements and be hip,” he continued. “No one gives a s— about that, either. If you’re a great entertainer, you’ll give them exactly what they want to hear, exactly how they want to hear it. That’s what great entertainers do. Idiot entertainers don’t do that.”]

Again look at the source, Twisted Sister hasn’t released a new album in since 1987 and re-recorded their 1984 breakthrough album, Stay Hungry in 2004. Maybe Jay Jay French is speaking out of anger that the band isn’t a vibrant recording entity. But again, comments like these will really have an impact on musicians and music fans alike. Believe it or not, people listen to what you artists have to say!

I once read an article where Frontman Paul Stanley says: [“A new Kiss album would be all about creativity – as fans "tolerate" new music rather than anticipate it.” It went on to say: “Paul Stanley thinks Kiss should make another album – even though he admits fans are "not interested" in new material.”]

Well let’s see. I agree that a new album should be about creativity and I actually look forward to hear new music. In fact, I’ve always enjoyed seeing where an artist/group is creatively every few years and to see if they’ve improved or evolved. Well, I think comments like those earlier can and will have a serious effect on future releases by classic artists/groups. Who knows, maybe if they seemed more enthusiastic about making their new material then perhaps fans’ attitudes towards the new material would change. Both sides need to alter their attitudes in my opinion.

Maybe, just maybe, if this happened, the state of the music industry wouldn’t be so bland, like it is now. If new music was simply given more of a chance to be heard, it would resonate more with fans and in turn inspire these icons to want to continue creating more new music. Who knows, maybe even creating something timeless, again?

I say it’s time to change our “tune” and give new original music a chance. Hey, if we show a little more enthusiasm it may just trickle down to where it belongs and in turn inspire future musicians. I mean, who knows? That enthusiasm may inspire a new artist and we can help shape the second coming of The Beatles, Prince, Adele etc.….

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