Too many fans have been swindled by this bait-and-switch tactic, and we've definitely caught on to the grift. Album sales continue to plummet while digital track sales are climbing. Consumers are sending the message that if you can only crank out one or two good songs, we're only going to buy one or two songs from you. When rappers start looking for someone to blame when they're popping Korbel instead of Cristal, they'll have to look no further than the reflection in the chrome wheels on their Chevy Cavaliers.
T-Pain, Akon, Li'l Jon
How it Caught On:
So how is a new act supposed to get noticed in a music scene that's more crowded than Tokyo? Why, by piggy-backing on an established artist by being "featured" on one of his tracks.
Or, what if you're stuck being a producer, forever in the shadows? You can get yourself "featured" in a track by popping in with an occasional "uh huh" or "yayuh!" If not for this, the world may never have learned the names of producers like Li'l Jon, Timbaland, or Sean John (we're told that's what we're supposed to call him this week).
Why it Must be Stopped:
It has come to a point where songs feature so many artists that the consumer can't figure out whose album to buy. Faced with a stack of CDs that could possibly contain the song in question, often the consumer will opt instead to just steal the song on the internet. This could result in heavy fines, jail time, and the feds looking through all that embarrassing shit on your hard drive, all thanks to the Recording Industry Association of America. So whether you steal 'em or buy 'em, you end up broke. See? Evil.
Established, respected artists have found that lending their name to someone else's song can indeed damage their reputations. Redman's appearance in Christina Aguilera's "Dirty" stripped him of the credibility that even those deodorant commercials couldn't tarnish.
KISS, The Rolling Stones, Cher, The Who
How it Caught On:
These days, concert ticket sales are only slightly less abysmal than album sales. It's hardly surprising when you consider that many artists need computers to sound good, other artists to give them credibility, and a team of producers to write their music. If an act is good enough to garner interest from their fans after all of that, there's still the risk that your tickets will become worthless when the lead singer checks into rehab. What's the point of going through all that hassle when you only know two or three of their songs?
There are still some surviving acts that have a universal appeal, but those artists have reached such a level of success that their concert tickets cost an arm, a leg, and whichever reproductive organs you posses (for nosebleed seats). The only way for an artist to guarantee themselves a packed house this time around is to assure their fans that this will be the last time around.
Why it Must be Stopped:
As soon as a band sees the paycheck from their first farewell tour, they apparently rethink that whole retiring business. The Who did a farewell tour in 1983. KISS did theirs in 2000, and it lasted two years. The Rolling Stones' farewell tour started in 2005, lasted two years, and raked in $437,000,000. All three bands are planning tour dates for 2008, and many fans have already refinanced their homes to pay for the tickets (plus service charges).
Nothing rocks less than a farewell tour. When bands break up for real, it's because their pilot was still drunk from the night before and flew their plane into the side of a mountain. Or maybe the band members hate each other so much that they go their separate ways after an attempted murder/suicide and record unlistenable solo albums. Or how about just a near-fatal drug overdose where a band member finds Jesus and starts an Armageddon cult?
Literally anything rocks more than a farewell tour, where they might as well open things up with a little honesty:
"Are you ready to rock? Actually, we got burnt playing the markets in the last recession, so instead of rocking, why don't you give us all of your money for our 401k plans and kindly go home. And please leave quietly, all your shouting is scaring the bassist."
Miles Hlivko attempts to fool you with Auto-Tune in his song "Bedtime Pants (featuring Dick Knuckle)". You can hear it here.
Learn about some singers who have managed to trick themselves into thinking they're sexually desirable in our article on The 6 Singers Who Are Mistaken About Their Raw Sexuality then, find out about how Maxim manages to review albums before they've ever heard them (hint: it's either guessing or magic).