What About Bob?
October 30, 2014
This week's sign the apocalypse is upon us: Bob Lefsetz and I have something in common.
That's right, the industry analyst, critic and super-blogger (that'd be Bob) and I, your humble, All Access Nashville Editor, both feel manipulated.
Bob blames Taylor Swift for the media frenzy attached to her "1989" release. In fact, all this press for the biggest pop star in the world releasing a new album "saddens" Bob, because he considers Taylor and her new project a "non-story."
I blame Bob for going back to the "be-mean-to Taylor" well once again. His vitriol for her sucked me right in. So here I am, reacting to his latest missive that, to his credit, is uncharacteristic in its practice of word economy -- 461 compared to his usual thousands.
Bob compares promotion of "1989" to the U2 album launch, where unwanted things are jammed down people's throats. And while he admits Swifts's album didn't magically and forcefully land on anybody's smartphones (No, because everybody wanted to BUY it ASAP), he claims, "We are exposed to constant faux advertising while Ms. Swift bitches about our criticism."
You mean your criticism. Well, boo-fucking-hoo, Bob. Apparently, none of us are immune.
But he loses me when lending credibility to -- of all people -- Kim Kardashian!? Taylor should be more like Kim because, kudos to her, says Bob, Kim never complains when criticized; she sees it as part of the territory when famous.
Um, no Bob, Kim can't complain. Because, obtuse as she is, she knows the critics have a point.
But back to Swift. Bob wonders if she is, "In the fame game or the music game?"
It's the latter, Bob, and by a huge margin. Huge! See, when you make record-breaking records that are universally well reviewed (Five of them now, for those of you keeping score at home) and in the process, build a massive coalition of fans eager to get their hands on your next project, giant, unrelenting fame follows, whether you want it or like it or not.
And by the way, while we're talking about "The fame game," isn't that exactly- and exclusively - what Kim K is all about? Famous for being famous? For a sex tape, a stupid TV show and whack-a-mole relationships that ultimately produce children with equally puzzling, whack-a-mole names?
Dude, for every ounce of cred you assign Kim K, you shed pounds of it yourself. "Used to be music lasted," Bob waxes sentimentally, then wonders if anything on "1989" will "infect society as much as 'Royals'?"
Bob goes on to say in, "In music we're all about the albums." Well, so is Taylor Swift, as she wrote earlier this year in The Wall Street Journal, believing that people still buy albums -- with a caveat: "They are buying only the ones that hit them like an arrow through the heart or have made them feel strong or allowed them to feel like they really aren't alone in feeling so alone."
I'll spare you another review, but so far, the consensus appears to be that "1989" is a brilliant, fantastic pop ALBUM that accomplishes most or all of the above criteria Swift mentions. It's too early to tell if it has a "Royals" on it but Swift's "1989" is designed to be deeper than a one-off, infectious mega-hit. It's a layered, body of work built to last. Meanwhile, and all due respect to one of Swift's current BFFs, we don't know yet if Lorde will.
We do know this: in the 56 weeks since its release, Lorde's "Pure Heroin" album has sold 1,459,912 copies as of Wednesday, (10/29). Swift's "1989" is predicted to sell two-thirds of that total in its debut week. As my colleague here at All Access Nashville, Monta Vaden, reminded me today: "That would make the first Platinum album of 2014. Of any genre. From any artist. Period. So there is that."
And all the marketing for "1989?" Brilliant. Viral. Interactive. Empowering. The app allowing people to post their own pics from '89 was genius. One, huge, week-long, throwback Thursday. for the people who participated -- and there were many - it wasn't manipulation. It was participation. They CHOSE to, out of excitement and enthusiasm. For the concept, the artist and the MUSIC.
Wrong, Bob, when an artist as big as Taylor releases an album, it's a story, whether you like it -- or her -- or not. It's not unwanted by anybody but you, because you still have some selfish, petty axe to grind with her. Her music will amplify itself. The Internet followed on this one. That's not faux, Bob. That's genuine.
So, get over it, bone up a little more on Kim Kardashian and deconstruct that ongoing dumpster fire. It has much more actual, mean-spirited copy potential than Taylor Swift.