We're not saying all music is a cynical, focus group cash grab. It's just that once a genre shows itself to be profitable, well, it's inevitable that the suits will come swooping in asking, "How can we use proactive synergies to maximize return on content investment?"
This is why by the time a genre becomes popular enough for you to actually hear it, yeah, it's probably already at the cash-grab stage. And no matter how cynical you are, it's still pretty surprising how cold and efficient this supposedly wild and rebellious industry is behind the scenes. For example ...
A Lot Of Punk Was As Contrived As Corporate Pop Music
We've told you before that the Sex Pistols were as carefully manufactured to be outrageous as the Spice Girls were to be sassy. But, who even cares about the Sex Pistols when you have The Clash? They took the Pistols' empty anarchism and replaced it with some legendarily ass-kicking and politically charged tracks. And it was all because some guy got them to stop writing dopey love songs and join the punk music gravy train.
The Clash had a controlling manager named Bernie Rhodes, which is about as much of an unpunk name as someone can have short of Sir Benedictine Fropmanshire III. Rhodes was friends with the Pistols' manager Malcolm McLaren and learned a valuable lesson from him about faking rebellion until you make it commercially. So, he put together a band and ordered them to write about the plight of the working class. He was already managing guitarist Mick Jones, who, at the time, looked like someone who would sell you oolong tea and then try to share his poetry about feelings:
Garry Baker"Forget London, the only thing burning around here is my love for you."
Then he found bassist Paul Simonon, who wasn't even a musician. Simonon had tried out for the job of vocalist, only to have Rhodes slap a bass guitar in his hands, and he was so out of his depth that they had to put stickers on the guitar to help him find the notes.
Rama/Wiki Commons"Shit, is it 'happy face bear' for A-sharp and 'great job Sun' for D-flat or the other way around?"
Finally, Rhodes found singer Joe Strummer, who was going by the name "Woody" Mellor. John Graham "Joe 'Woody' Strummer" Mellor was the front man of a hippie-ish pub rock band, The 101'ers, which featured a saxophone, a harmonica, a fiddle, a big pile of songs about heartbreak and partying, and a look that was less proto-punk icon and more "What do you mean I'm cut off? I'll cut you off. Aw, wait, I don't mean that. Gimmie a hug."
Julian Leonard YewdallIf not for his insistence on keeping all of his teeth, he could've been the next Shane MacGowan.