BACKUP SINGERS – THE CANARY IN THE MINE FOR POPULAR MUSIC

I have long asserted that music from the 70’s and 80’s was richer, more substantive, and frankly, demonstrated greater virtuosity than the music people are making today. With few exception – and there are always exceptions – today’s popular music is woefully wanting.
Case in point. Last night I watch the documentary “Twenty Feet From Stardom” about backup singers — if you haven’t seen it, take the time.
The film gave a great overview of the history of that craft as well as introduced me to many of the faces connected to the voices I’ve heard so many times. One point made several times through the film was the importance of Rock and Roll bands to the singers.
Several of the singers talked about the freedom rock bands gave to backup vocalists. Instead of hemming the singers in, artists like David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, George Harrison, Elton John, and Stevie Wonder gave them great freedom and as a result, we have songs like Gimme Shelter and Young Americans.
These songs – and so many others – have a color, timber, and depth I find lacking in modern popular music.
Toward the end of the film the backup singers lamented, the opportunities for their talent is has dropped off in recent decades as record producers cut budgets and backup singing is relegated to a “mice to have” role.
It all kind of makes me wonder. Rolling Stone reports that album sales have dropped precipitously in recent years and record industry execs blame it on competition with streaming services. I wonder though.
Backup singers could very well be the canary in the mine and their drop in use might indicate a drop in quality of the music and that is the reason for dwindling record sales.
Just a thought

Advertisements

One thought on “BACKUP SINGERS – THE CANARY IN THE MINE FOR POPULAR MUSIC

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s