Saturday, April 08, 2006

Rich Kids Love Death Cab, Paula Abdul

Suedo Apmuza
The O.C. is one of my guilty pleasures. No, not just because watching privileged teenagers struggle to be happy is an astute commentary on pervasive American depression in the face of vast material wealth and insignificant problems...

...No, I also enjoy it because watching Summer and Seth get-together and break-up ad infinitum captivates me. It is sugar candy TV, like bubble-gum Britney Spears pop and Colt-45 Lil' Jon: it may not be good for me but it is fun.

One thing decidedly less 'sugary' about The O.C. is the accompanying music. It's good stuff. Stuff I'd call authentic. A lot of bands I like have songs on the show. Heck, I even hear about "new" bands from the show. (Side note: how can I even consider myself a music aficionado when I learn about bands from concerts at the Bait Shop?)

Good music on The O.C. opens a big can of worms. Mainstream 'indie' music? Is all pay-to-play distribution inherently bad? When does a bandwagon fan become a real fan? Different topics, different posts.

What I really want to discuss here are the parallels between Paula Abdul and Death Cab for Cutie.

You see, The O.C. is not the first privileged-teenagers-in-high-school show with a hip soundtrack. You haven't already forgotten Dawson's Creek or Beverly Hills 90210? Not only is the basic premise the same, those edgy shows also had edgy sound tracks attenuated to their trend-setting audience. Heck, The O.C.'s Bait Shop is a clear homage to 90210's Peach Pit.

Given the similarities between all these privileged-teenager shows and their hip soundtracks, I took a look back at what used to be hip. The first track on the 90210 Soundtrack is by Paula Abdul. The only artist to make both of the Dawson's Creek volumes is Jessica Simpson. In general, it is disconcerting to see how irrelevant most of yesterday's trend-setters are today.

It's expected, I guess. Liking a rebellious, trend-setting band is like starting a relationship by cheating on your current significant other: there is no foundation for a long-lasting marriage since it was built on infidelity of the previous musical style. When the next new sound struts by you move on and 'ska' is left alone on Saturday night crying its eyes out wondering what went wrong. Hip new music can't be hip and new forever.

I know it is personal, petty pride that I hope the music from The O.C. will not fade into obscurity. I like many of the bands and prefer not to consider myself crazy for doing so in ten years. Will Death Cab for Cutie become Paula Abdul and judge a Canadian Idol in 2016? Is Sufjan Stevens the next Color Me Badd?

In the end it doesn't matter much. The music itself isn't affected one note by its external popularity and there is always an 'I' in 'opinion'...but it's still a little scary, huh?

Indexed by tags The O.C., Dawson's Creek, 90210, Death Cab for Cutie, Paula Abdul, Sufjan Stevens, Color Me Badd, Suedo Apmuza.


Blogger The Good Reverend said...

Do you post these things knowing I'm going to a Death Cab / Franz Ferdinand concert in Camden tonight? I'll report my findings.

2:17 PM  
Blogger The Good Reverend said...

The reports of the death of Cutie have been greatly exaggerated. Actually I liked Franz Ferdinand better, but the women with me disagreed.

10:03 AM  

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