Suddenly Juliette Lewis is an expert? Isn’t that like Brad Pitt believing he can really manage a major league baseball team, or Lester Bangs thinking he can be a rock star?
If you want to watch one skit from last night’s SNL, watch this one, "You Can Do Anything", which may not be hysterically funny, not even good until Daniel Radcliffe appears, but it gets the essence right, that today’s youngsters, based on their parents’ support, believe they can do anything. Wait, you bought a Strat at Guitar Center? Then you MUST be good!
And having never known an era prior to music on television, having grown up with the self-promoting tendencies of the Internet, these same youngsters believe if they just get their moment, the world will embrace them, they’ll become rich, they’ll become FAMOUS!
Well, Lana Del Rey is now famous, but not in the way of Joni Mitchell, not even Marianne Faithfull, but Ashlee Simpson, who went on SNL once, lip-synched, and crashed her career overnight.
But if you really want an illustration of the paradigm, look no further than Rebecca Black. Instantly famous for an inane video and song, created by elders, Ms. Black believed she truly was a star, that people cared, so she dropped out of school to continue her career, which is like you or me dropping out of the music business to become a professional baseball player.
Now if SNL had a history of mocking those on its show, this performance might have worked, like on the Oscars, when Billy Crystal quips about a celebrity faux pas. But Lorne Michaels likes the imprimatur of tastemaker, yet he’s been inside the bubble so long that he can’t see that Ms. Rey (not her real name, of course, but what’s strange is in the Internet era Wikipedia tells us your real name!) is a manufactured rocket of the old school type, put on the launch pad by her label hoping to cut through the clutter of the music world. Yup, Interscope believes if they make an expensive enough video, they can convince enough people to make someone a star.
But what is a star today? If you’re talking fame, they’re right. But Gary Clark, Jr. will have a longer career and right now most people have no idea who he is.
Because that’s the modern music game. Staying in it long enough to achieve critical mass, for the assembled multitude to embrace you based on your quality, as opposed to the hype.
SNL got caught with its pants down. The show doesn’t realize that today the public bites back. And as opposed to being fawning minions, they’re all critics, passing instant judgment, spreading the word on what’s both great and lousy.
And that’s the society we now live in. There’s great and everything else. Great survives, everything else does not.
But we’ve got clowns to the left of us, the wannabes parodied in the SNL clip above, and jokers to the right, the major labels shoving crap down our throats, and I’m stuck here in the middle with you, overwhelmed at the plethora of music and astounded that some no-talent like Lana Del Rey got a shot on SNL.
But a shot is not what it used to be. It’s not about watching the show, but the clips thereafter. Does anybody really watch SNL in real time anymore? Barely, but if something great is created, it lives on virally forever, just ask Andy Samberg and Justin Timberlake, Andy got famous as a result and JT’s been coasting on his appearances for years.
This is not a big story. No one really cares. It’s just further evidence of the decline of the old system. Which the old players are doing their best to prop up.
So will Lana Del Rey not sell?
I didn’t say that. She’s had exposure, some of the records are not bad, and just like Rebecca Black, she’ll have her moment in the sun.
But she won’t last. Because there’s nothing there.
Imagine a professional sport that allowed all comers. There’d be an endless line of people trying out. But only the best would survive, those who’d played the game every day for endless years. Sure, an occasional walk-on might break through, but that would be the rare exception. This same paradigm now exists in music. Just because you can pick up a guitar, just because you got a record deal that does not mean you’re good, that we care, that you’re gonna last.
Are you grist for the mill or in it for the long haul?
Publicity is easier to achieve than ever. But if you equate getting your name out there with love and affection you probably embrace those spammers filling up your inbox.
Just because you know how to reach me, that does not mean I care.
So you got on a network TV show. I’m writing about you. But anybody can see that Lana Del Rey had her lips inflated and is low on talent and has nonexistent charisma…
Who’s on next week?
P.S. Isn’t it funny that Juliette Lewis is now starring on an NBC show. Could it be that NBC publicists got her tweet out to reporters who famously do little of their own reporting and just feed on what they’re served by flacks? Same network, hmm…
P.P.S. What Juliette Lewis tweeted, which has been repeated in mainstream media endlessly: "Wow watching this ‘singer’ on SNL is like watching a 12 year old in their bedroom when they’re pretending to sing and perform. #signofourtimes"
P.P.P.S. Google for clips, but right now you can see Ms. Rey’s SNL "Video Games" clip (and Ms. Lewis’s quote) here: