musicians

A Long Way to the Top: Rethinking How AC/DC Changed Rock’n’Roll

Sandra Canosa

It’s a well-known conundrum in the rules and regulations of the rock’n’roll canon: If it is popular, it must not be good. While AC/DC has millions of fans the world over and can continue to sell out arena tours (even with a completely different and controversial lead singer), they have very few critical accolades to show for it. They’ve won only one Grammy – for a song released in 2010, no less – and even the likes of Billy Joel managed to beat them into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame.

Using Illusions - The Rise and Fall of Guns N’ Roses on MTV

Sandra Canosa

Axl’s high-pitched caterwauls and Slash’s furious guitar licks may contain all the classic trappings of hair metal, but it was the way GnR crafted their image through MTV music videos that launched the group out of the niche-market bins and into the mainstream. But in the end, MTV also proved to be the band’s downfall. With no limits to their financial resources or artistic egos, Guns N’ Roses were free to push the medium to its extremes: sometimes the risks paid off, demonstrating both what the band and the music video form itself was capable of. Other times, the very limitations of MTV became all too clear.

How the War Over Streaming Services Changed the Music Industry

Angelo Franco

When Taylor Swift’s 1989 album became the only record of the year to reach platinum level, that was the second biggest news in music of 2014.  The most important news of the year in the industry came when Swift pulled her entire catalogue from the popular streaming service Spotify one week after the release of her album.  The move, more so than spark a heated though admittedly civil battle between Swift and Spotify, has opened the gates to a debate about the future of the music industry. 

Can Music Survive Without the Teenybopper Fangirl?

Sandra Canosa

To an outsider, the gathering of Beliebers in such large proportions can be dizzying, if not downright menacing: strange words to ascribe mostly prepubescent girls in the awkward middle stages of growth spurts, hormonal changes, and corrective braces and eyewear. But the apparent strength of their allegiance to Justin – whose music and lyrics are mostly innocuous, if not downright dumb, to most grown adults or “serious” music fans – is what is most disorienting. The communal desires, the vast groupthink, and the worship of a (false?) idol smells of blind consumerism at best and fascism at worst. 

Eternal Summer of Love: The Evolution of the Music Festival

Sandra Canosa

This summer, chances are you’ll never be too far away from a music festival. For every dog day weekend of the high summer months, there’s an outdoor festival to match in every stretch of the country, of every genre, and of every shape and size. From the behemoth veteran multi-day festivals like Coachella, Bonnaroo, and Lollapalooza to backyard one-offs, inner-city park stages, and burgeoning neo-Woodstock imitators popping up around every corner, the dawn of the 21st century has breathed a vigorous new life into the music festival concept.

The Road to Nostalgia Is Paved With Vinyl

Mary Kinney

Recent figures from Nielsen SoundScan suggest that vinyl sales were up 33.5 percent in the first half of 2013. To some, this is jarring because we live in the digital age. One might suggest this rise is similar to the ebook trend Neil Irwin dicussed in the Washington Post this summer: old technologies don't go away, but rather, hone in on a more niche market. But perhaps there is something more to this trend: an indication of our culture of nostalgia, and that nostalgia extends far beyond what we initially thought.

Only the Good Die Young: Remembering Ill-Fated Icons

Mike Mariani

There has always been something highly conspicuous about our obsession with the macabre deaths of famous people. There is the aforementioned Sylvia Plath bowing into the oven, playing Gretel to the wicked witches in her head; Kurt Cobain and all the conspiracy theories casting a gaseous haze around that sinister shotgun; even Anna Nicole Smith, who has been immortalized, paradoxically, because the narrative of her life seemed so destined to end in sordid, premature death. 

The Future of the Music Industry: Consumers in the Clouds

Sandra Canosa

Downloading was sticking it to The Man, even if we knew we were hurting the musicians in the long run that we’d rather support. When streaming services came along, they seemed like a godsend for music aficionados with a heavy conscience. They’re free – or based on tiers of what you can afford. They’re legal. They offer instant gratification. And they actively cater to the pleasures of discovering new music without having to make an initial financial investment. They seemed like a way to circumvent The Man and simply get to the music.

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