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  1. Too much contemporary music IS harmless. I don’t hear any pop artists shaking things up these days -- musically or culturally or politically.

  2. Hank, I've voiced the same complaint on occasion, but I also recognize the counter argument: there are factors beyond the control of an artist or band.

    In the sexually-repressed 50s the table was set for Little Richard, Elvis Presley, et al to completely disrupt the somnolent pop music scene—and create a new art form in the process. In the 60s the moment was right for Dylan, Beatles, Stones, etc. to ignite a cultural revolt. As talented as these artists were, the times were propitious for their contributions. Later in the 70s we had punk rock (Sex Pistols) as a reaction to the mellow pop of the times and a decade later we had grunge (Nirvana) as a reaction (in part) to the theatrical hair bands of the era. But in the 21st century it seems like we’ve seen it all. Even Lady Gaga doesn’t shake us up. So contemporary musical acts have a higher bar to get over to be culturally disruptive. Not that they shouldn’t try tho.

    But musical acts (and business teams of all stripes) can always find ways to be innovative and break new ground—even if they don’t bring down a government in the process. Taking risks is a good thing in risky times.

  3. Mark, "soft music" can mean a lot of things of course: elevator music, "soft rock" radio, etc., some of which MIGHT contain some surprisingly innovative stuff if you listen closely. I made a throw-away comment about Muzak on another blog, and the blogger reminded me that a lot of what's out there now isn't your father's elevator music. I started listening and was surprised to hear some kick-ass funk playing quietly in the background of my dentist's office.

    But you gave me an idea... Soft Business.

    1. It's one of those quotes that's so ambiguous you don't know whether it's profound or daft.

      Stupidity - well, my innocent error is your stupidity.

      Oppression - my right to free speech is your prevention of hate crimes.

      Crime - over here in the UK we have so many daft laws...

      Cruelty - my dislike of you shooting foxes is your protecting the chicken coop.

      Soft music... sounds like Nabokov foresaw Ambient. Brian Eno: he's neither stupid, nor oppressed nor a crime but some of the things he's done to a synthesiser probably border on cruelty. BTW: check out his new piece, "Lux." I think it's marvelous but I am a bit of an Eno fan.

  4. I've tried to grok Eno's stuff but I can't get myself sedated enough. I just listened to Lux on iTunes and kept waiting for a song to start. Different strokes I guess. But, hey, not everybody is as excited about Walk Off The Earth as I am....

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