Monday, March 21, 2005

Popification

Because of the aforementioned Itunes-Pepsi free song giveaway, I've been able to add to my music collection a lot lately and it's been great. One CD I downloaded last week is the first album by the Corrs, Forgiven Not Forgotten. It's great. I like it a lot and, in fact, it may be my favorite Corrs album - always a dangerous thing to say when you've only had it for four days but still, it's really good. (Full disclosure - I have not yet heard Talk on Corners.) One of the things I like about it is it is more rockin' and more Irish than their later stuff. This seems to fit a pattern that I've seen in a number of bands, especially in CCM, and that is what I think of as "popification." Bands put out a cool, quirky, interesting first album and then producers and record companies get a hold of them and steer them decidedly toward the middle of the road. I blame the record companies but I really have no evidence of this. However, I feel pretty confident that it comes as a result of trying to sell more albums.

Now I have nothing against selling more albums. Musicians and business people need to make a living just like I do. But why is there is pull towards homogeneity that seems so prevalent?

This doesn't always happen at the second album - it can happen at various points in an artist's career. Other examples of this phenomenon are Considering Lily, whose strange but interesting first album was followed up by an incredibly forgettable second (and last!) album. Margaret Becker put out a fabulous album late in her career (Falling Forward) which had some success so it was followed up by a popified lousy album. Phil Keaggy's company got a hold of him and made him put out True Believer, my all-time least favorite PK album. My daughter Bethany thought that Jars of Clay had done this on their second album but I'm not so sure I agree. Besides, they have made up for it.

I'd love to hear examples of this from others.

1 comment:

Kristin said...

I would disagree with Bethany as well. I think that Jars' second album is still pretty true to the sound of the first one...the third one does depart, though I'm not sure that it is the fault of the record company. Another artist that I think this happened to was Jennifer Knapp - I really like her first album, which is a lot of just her and her guitar, but her second album takes on a completely different flavor, and I didn't like that one as much. However, she reverts back in the third album to a much more cut-down sound and better lyrics. Her concerts also followed this pattern - I really liked the first one, thought the second was okay, and then really enjoyed the third one.