Sunday, November 30, 2008

Being Thankful for the "Mute" Button.

This Thanksgiving, having labored hard in the Honeybaked Ham line to get dinner, and making my Eagle Brand Pie, and licking the bowl (good stuff. :) ), I resorted to what the traditional Thanksgiving activities are for most people who have no propensity for excercising... watching TV. Namely, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and the myriads of football games that are on following (for I'd rather watch other people get hurt, than to do so myself.) And since I was doubled up on Prozac (for staying at home is such a wonderfully uplifting thing to do), and sleep kept bobbing in and out (for that's what too much turkey will do), I became witness to the total breakdown of media and entertainment. It all bugged me, and I became immensely thankful for the "Mute" button on my TV remote (or at least, thankful for the House Marathon on USA so I could get away from the cacophony of sounds on the other channels.)

But first things first...the parade. Much better this year than last, mainly because NBC decided it wasn't necessary to feature every Broadway play currently on and off, but of course that didn't matter, because I watched CBS, which would rather have showed interviews with this CBS show and that, with the cameras on the floats, which is what is most important anyway. Thanksgiving just ins't Thanksgiving without seeing Tom the Turkey wheeling down the middle of NYC. The main thing that made me switch to CBS was the pre-written drivel made for Katie Couric and Matt Lauer, who seemingly couldn't narrate the parade without cute sayings and cheesy segways. It reduced the broadcasters to clowns, and insulted the intelligence of the audience by assuming we needed to be pandered to.

Afterwards, I watched while warming up dinner, what would pass for football games at some Pop Warner league. The games were pathetic, hardly worth watching, except in March I'm sure any game would be preferable. And on top of the attempts at playing football, I had to listen to people attempting to sing. First off, both games featured singers (whose names I don't recall) mangling as best they could the Star Spangled Banner. There was no semblance of melody, of chord progression, of breath control. They were shouting into the microphones. It was amazing that they ended on the right note, or that they even sung the right words. The patriotism was lost on these supposedly Grammy award winning singers belting out the Anthem in a way that makes you grab for the remote to find something else on, and insults those that the song is sung for.

Next up, the brilliance of the campaign surrounding half-time. The United Way and the NFL Play 60 programs, each brought the biggest of youth pop stars out to sing away in hopes that ratings would improve and people might donate time and money to the worthwhile projects (which they are, by the way.) So the first game had Jesse McCartney singing from his latest album, which was nothing but cheesy ballads and dance tunes that are so far from what he is capable of. His days with Dream Street being long gone, and his singing career in decline, he really needs to focus on the acting career, since he might have decent longevity with, as long as the CW network can stay afloat.

Finally, the second game brought on the Jonas Brothers. A pop sensation much more than what Hanson ever was, and fueled by the machine that is Disney, they got up on stage and rasped out what passed for songs. Cuteness means nothing when actually using talent (which they have little of.) But tell that to the screaming teenage girls around the stage. Awful...simply awful...

I wonder what has made music these days seem so bad. Probably the same thing that created "Music Appreciation" classes in College. As if people don't know how to appreciate music. Well, it might be that they can't. I was listening to a Christmas album, Sufjan Stevens' Songs for Christmas in the car on the way to work today, and the song that came on was a classic hymn, "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing," and what made me really like it was that it was played in a slow 6/8 time signature. Counting the beats to six was cool, since most songs nowadays are in 4/4. And it's obvious that diaphragm control, tonality, chord progression...etc... are all foreign when it comes to singing and dancing and simulating sex on stage. Art has been swept away, leaving only lust in its place.

So for this Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for my Mute Button, and for all the music teachers out there that really try to make a difference in reducing noise pollution that radiates from every speaker and headphone that exists. I don't know if Don McClean could pinpoint the day the music died, but I'm sure it's already happened.

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