The record biz and other cancers of the modern age - part 1 - Sept 2003

I’ve just seen the new “goth metal sensation” Evanescence playing their number one single Haunted on Top of the Pops, to hoards of clueless suburbanite muppets. I began to wonder how a band like that can get to number one in place of established chart acts like Christina Aguilera who only managed number 3.

The most obvious reason for this is their marketability. Unlike Lacuna Coil whom they have been compared to Evanescence are signed to big money label Epic who have released albums by Audioslave, Macy Gray, and Jennifer Lopez. The comparison with Lacuna coil is just as superficial as their faux goth appearance. Lacuna Coil are a hard rock band, have a vague classical influence and a pretty female singer, all things Evanescence have. But Lacuna Coil are signed to Century Media, who while being the most well know of the alt metal/rock labels is still tiny in comparison to Epic. Evanescence have a second singer like L.Coil, a male vocal to bounce the operatic sounding female voice off. L.Coil’s male voice however at times move into the realm of rasping, growling while Evanescence’s are very much in the sub James Hetfield nu-metal angst style.

This I believe is the crux of the matter. Evanescence are nothing but a feminised Linkin park set up to compete with Epics rival Warner, who manufactured Linkin park. Thus they are given the whole brave new sound, true alternative crap treatment, Kerrrang are given their now obligatory fat brown envelope and Evanescence appear on the front of the magazine and receive blanket coverage, propelling the single to the top on a wave of gremlin brainwashing. It’s quite frightening how the majors have now got their grubby hands firmly around the semi-alternative music press to such an extent that kids are convinced they are living authentically alternative lives following their favourite pin up “metal” bands when they, just like the Top-Shop attired counterparts they are pitted against are in fact conned into following the next big thing like cattle. Unfortunately I believe this sort of this is only going to become more and more common place as labels produce rivals to each other “products” and the market becomes more and more dilute with short lived identikit bands and pop groups.

Another act I saw tonight was the all black, all young B2K, which I believe stands for Black 2000. This is another thing irritating trend. Big record company executives (usually white middle class males) engineering music, specifically designed to take advantage of a cultural stereotype that has gained popular attention. The said B2K throw every tragic clichéd hip hop pose, stereotype bad boy from the ghetto moves and hollow ‘lovin the ladies’ lyrics you could imagine. They wore matching outfits and were frankly dire. But that not my point. My point is that this gruesome creation is just the latest in what is a blatant attempt by the record companies to neatly package black culture for young white kids who don’t know better. It pedals a stereotype that is as damaging to the black community as to the views of the impressionable white kids who buy the stuff. It’s has come to the point where it’s almost as if were entering the second reign of blacksploitation. Just as the film industry in the 70s discovered the benefits of the black dollar creating ever more ludicrous concepts, we now are matching every identikit boy band with an identikit hip hop collective. Could B2K be the noughties answer to 1972s Count Blacula? It’s all going to hell in a hand basket, and in the case of cultural stereotypes being marketed and sold to kids it does no one any good.