The Kids Are Alright

Crusty old farts that we are, we’ll routinely bitch about how music was better way back when. Generally speaking, we’re right most of the time. (heh heh) But we’ve been thinking about one area where we might not be: tween/teen/teenybopper tunes. (Yes, the alliteration was on purpose.) We're not gonna get deep into it at this point—that’s what discussions are for—but we will readily choose any of the current crop: The Jonas Brothers, Taylor Swift, Teddy Geiger, Drake Bell, etc. over the biggest names of the '80s: New Kids on the Block, Menudo, Debbie Gibson, Tiffany etc. without reservation and, in fact, with extreme prejudice. Seriously.

As a matter of fact, even while not liking a particular newbie's music, we've found redeeming aspects to their music and firmly believe they are, for the most part, artists catering to a particular age group whereas the latter were simply pop product put out there to simply bilk teenage girls and not much more. Not that the new jacks aren't viewed as human cash registers, as well; we just feel there's a little more going on. After all, in their respective catalogs, none of these current kids has anything as ludicrously awful as NKOTB's "Funky, Funky Xmas".

We rest our case. What say you?


Mr. Jones' Favorite TV Theme Songs

In October 1989, TVT Records released Pretty Hate Machine, the debut album by Nine Inch Nails, who at the time, were the only artist signed to their label. But TVT stood for Tee Vee Tunes, and they'd made their money by taking full advantage of Gen-X's childhood nostalgia jones during late '80s/early '90s, releasing CD comps full of theme songs from back in the day. In the spirit of that blast from the past, here's our list, in alphabetical order by TV show:

1. All in the Family
The lyrical content is full of losers (Herbert Hoover, the LaSalle car) and right-wing dogma (“welfare state”) but it’s still a fun tune.

2. Batman
One of the most universally recognized tunes and, in the right hands, pretty rockin’.

3. The Greatest American Hero
Cheesy as all get out and the textbook definition of a guilty pleasure but we're suckers for the chord changes in the “Who could it be?” section.

4. Green Acres
Pure, silly fun.

5. The Andy Griffith Show
A nice tune that just won’t go away.

6. Hung
“I’ll Be Your Man”: The Black Keys in the house!

7. I Dream of Jeannie
8. I Love Lucy
These two shows elevated the theme song to an art form. Each tune still as awesome half a century later. Props to both for having a sweet groove, as well.

9. M*A*S*H*
Liked the original but really got into this one (“Suicide is Painless”) when we heard it covered by the late, great pianist/composer Bill Evans and his trio on a 1980 posthumous release.

10. Mr. Ed
(See number 4.)

11. The Odd Couple
12. Sanford and Son
In the same class as #s 7 and 8 and very near and dear to our heart, the theme to Oscar and Felix’s adventures (written by Neil Hefti, who also wrote the Batman theme) captures that late ‘60s/early ‘70s vibe. Meanwhile, if Quincy Jones were to be remembered only for “The Streetbeater” aka the Sanford and Son theme song, he should be mighty proud.

13. Sesame Street
From its original bubblegum incarnation to covers ranging from salsa to metal, this one is still awesome.

14. The Simpsons
During the ‘80s and ‘90s shows mostly went for the jingle approach (if you changed the lyrics to, say, to the Cheers, Family Ties, or Who’s The Boss? themes to plug furniture or Campbell’s soup back then, no one would’ve noticed). The Simpsons went for the old school approach and for better or for worse adopted the tune that will immortalize Danny Elfman.

15. Welcome Back, Kotter
Brooklyn! The hijinks of Kaplan, Travolta and co. have long faded from our interest, but this tune by The Lovin’ Spoonful’s John Sebastian still makes us smile.


So, if you wanna be a rock and roll star…or The Gospel According to Bob

Blogger, piracy apologist, former major label executive, and all-around curmudgeon Bob Lefsetz, is at it again. This time, he's got the formula for rock 'n' roll stardom. Oh, yeah. Lefsetz is high on the mountain top. (You have to scroll down a bit past his ususal rant to reach the promised land.) But, is he right? What say you?

1. Know that people are looking for music. They’re inured to listening online and on the go. More people are listening to more music than ever before.

2. Know that the money is not in music. The money is in tech, on Wall Street. It’s not about theft of recordings, it’s a change in society. Music doesn’t drive it. There’s more money in sports. You’ve got to play because you love it.

3. It takes longer than ever to truly make it. The old wave insta-stardom the major labels specialize in… Those acts never survived the hype in the eighties and nineties, why should they now? Overexposed, they’re thrown on the scrapheap in just a few years.

4. Practice makes perfect. Just because you can make music, put it up on iTunes and YouTube and…doesn’t mean anybody should listen to it, that anybody should care. Marketing means less than ever before. Hell, if you truly want to make it as a musician, you’re better off cutting the Internet cord and practicing and gigging for five years before you put your music online, where people will find it. But traction will be slow. And you might not get rich. Are you willing to sign up for this route?

5. Don’t listen to anybody with a toehold in today’s music firmament unless they’re in the live business. Everybody else is caught up in the tsunami of change and just wants you to keep the old paradigm going. They’re clueless. They’re royalty still living in the castle trying to fend off a public that’s been maligned and is joyous in tearing down old institutions by ignoring them. Yes, that’s how the impact of Top Forty wonders has declined. The public is ignoring them.

6. If you’re a fan, don’t believe anything you read in the mainstream media. Trust your friends. If you find something good, continue to tell your friends. Protest high prices. Support your favorite acts. What the old guard doesn’t understand is this is instinct, to only buy what you can afford and only promote what you like. They’ve been living beyond their means selling crap so long the whites of their eyes are brown and they’ll say anything to maintain their lifestyles. That’s not about music, but money. But now you only get money if you make it about the music.