What kind of crazy fucked-up world do we live in where a septuagenarian rock star is hipper than musicians decades, even half a century younger?
One in which the single is everything and you drop it unannounced and then you do it all over again. Lather, rinse, repeat. That’s right, you want to be in the marketplace, satiating the core, who come to your show, hoping you gain traction so newcomers will come on board, but if not, you go back to the drawing board over and over again.
The album is a failed construct. It doesn’t satiate the audience. Which buys it, devours it and wants more or ignores it completely in a world where you lead with the hit and then people decide to go deeper.
No one has any time. Rock stars aren’t gods, they’re barely even stars, don’t get caught up in your own myth, you’ve got to participate, the internet has turned the concept of artistry on its head, where is it written that a musician should record ten or twelve tracks and release them all at once and go on tour in between? And many of those in the hip-hop world know it’s not about the road anyway, but recordings. There’s little creativity on the road, just the same tracks over and over again, satiating the audience and making money, but it doesn’t move your enterprise FORWARD!
So Mick Jagger puts out two tracks without any advance notice. The press buildup does not work in an on demand world. People want it all and they want it now. So, if you’re a fan, and I am, even though those two Jagger solo albums suffered from the lack of the Stones, the songs were okay but the sound was generic, I’m gonna give his new stuff a chance.
And the cuts are very good but they’re not hits. They’re album tracks. You listen once, or twice, and then you discard.
We’re at the beginning of the news cycle.
I was listening on Spotify, doing online research, going to the videos on Vevo.
The videos… This is where Jagger missed the mark. Videos are worthless unless they go viral. And the “England Lost” clip is worth one view. Well-produced, exquisite in black and white, retro yet present, it’s boring but you eventually get to the punch line and once you’ve heard it you never want to watch it again. The one for “Gotta Get A Grip” is just a mess. You can barely make it through. It’s like Jagger’s still living in the eighties, when people were forced to watch to listen on MTV, they couldn’t fast-forward. If you can’t create something people want to watch again and again, just put out a lyric video so people still getting their music on YouTube can play, but in the U.K. YouTube for music is declining in favor of Spotify.
But I’m watching the clips, on the inane Vevo site, with one of the worst search functions online, how come I can’t see all the clips? And then the video segues into a remix…AND IT’S BETTER THAN THE ORIGINAL TRACK!
And then I frantically start to search Spotify to see if this remix is included. And it turns out there are FOUR! And the one with the most famous, Seeb, is the most disappointing, but then you listen to the Alok and you’re stunned, THIS IS A HIT! You want to hear it again, it’s modern without selling out, with the emphasized groove and bass. It is as if you’ve ventured in a time machine from the seventies to today.
And the “England Lost” iteration with Skepta isn’t quite as satisfying, it seems too de rigueur, just another guest rapper to try to put the track over the top, but it is interesting.
And suddenly Mick Jagger, who’s been out of the new music discussion for years, has gotten an hour of my time. And is gonna get more. Because of the remixes. Maybe Kanye was right when he kept changing that album after release. The charts couldn’t handle it, the industry couldn’t handle it, but the audience certainly could. Music is a living, breathing thing, And the oldsters have not been able to cope with this since the advent of sampling.
Then again, technology has always mutated the music.
And the publicity cycle.
It’s still evolving. I won’t say Mick Jagger is at the bleeding edge, but he is running with the pack, showing you can teach an old dog new tricks. Now I’m waiting for the rest of the ancient to get off their butts and wake up. Sure, you want a hit, and don’t tell me radio won’t play it, terrestrial is losing power every single day and Beats One is moribund, but if you are an artist, if you are a creator, you want to get in the sandbox and play, and your legacy is such that your fans, keeping you alive on the road, a paradigm the Stones employed even better than the Dead, the dirty little secret is their beloved LPs barely sold, want to get dirty with you!