London Grammar “Hey Now”

Hey Now – Spotify

Hey Now – YouTube

The antidote to everything that’s been shoved down your throat this week, a three and a half minute reminder that music isn’t about girl power and a constant refrain of superiority but something that penetrates our souls, that sticks to us like velcro and makes us feel just a bit less alone in a universe of winners where they keep moving the goalposts and we’re not sure what the rules are.

Do you want to be rich, famous, happy?

Do you just want to put food on the table?

I’m not even sure what America’s values are anymore, and I’m flummoxed as to my goals. Everything’s broken down into dollars and cents and the winners keep telling us they’re the job creators and without them we’d be nothing and we’ve got an underclass of people who believe without any training they deserve our attention and I end up feeling a party of one, thrilled to watch the Super Bowl just so I can get in on the national conversation.

And what is that conversation?

Flea didn’t play his bass?

A friend of mine is one of the biggest production managers in the touring business. He lives for rock and roll. But he’d never let his acts play live at the Super Bowl, because there’s just too much that can go wrong. It’s the NFL’s venue, not yours, and you could hit the stage to a hundred million people and blow your career overnight.

And then we’ve got the inane trumpeting of a 164% increase in sales of Bruno Mars’s “Unorthodox Jukebox,” when the details reveal that sales only increased by 25k and that’s positively pitiful considering the audience that was watching.

But it’s still too early.

But it’s not too early to put a fork in the sales model, to admit that streaming has already triumphed.

But streaming promulgates a completely new model, one wherein what is listened to wins as opposed to what is sold. SoundScan is all about what’s new, they force the oldies on to the catalog chart when some people are still discovering them. Whereas Spotify’s chart is not manipulated, and the truth is Mr. Mars is winning there too, his album is number 3, right behind Lorde’s and “Frozen,” and that’s how it should be, right? Mr. Mars is an entertainer, Lorde is the voice of a generation, today anyway. And “Frozen” is a phenomenon.

And Bruno’s not doing badly on the Spotify singles chart either.

And that’s just the point. No one everybody knows the name of is doing poorly today. Whether it be the Eagles making triple digit millions on the road or Rihanna, Katy Perry, Bruno Mars or Lorde. The truth is there’s more money to be made in music than ever before. Sure, right now recorded music revenue is down, but there’s a plethora of sponsorship dollars and sync fees that never previously existed, never mind inflated touring revenue. We live in a winner take all world, and the household names are triumphing.

And where does this leave us?


And frustrated.

Yes, some of you practicing and recording at home will become tomorrow’s superstars. Just fewer than ever before. Or should I say, we’ll have stars and troubadours, literally, people who put their guitars in the trunk and drive from town to town to play clubs. The middle class of artists is being eviscerated as I write this, it’s a scary world, don’t shoot the messenger.

But I have hope. Because Al Kooper turned me on to London Grammar.

Now let’s be clear. They’re not completely unknown. They’ve got a label in the U.K., they’re signed to Columbia in the States, they’ve had significant success Down Under.

But I’d never heard of them.

And they’re good.

But Mr. Kooper is one of my filters. And every week he sends out an e-mail of ten tracks and every other week or so I hear something that tickles my fancy, like “Hey Now,” the final track in his latest column:

New Music for Old People – Al Kooper

Once upon a time I had a Sunday night show at a Triple-A station in Santa Fe. Didn’t last long, flying in every weekend, but one benefit is an album I discovered via a commercial on said station, Air’s “Moon Safari,” I only needed to hear “All I Need” once to get it.

And I only had to hear a few seconds of London Grammar’s “Hey Now” to get it.

And the point is they’ve got a similar feel, ethereal.

And isn’t it interesting this music never comes from America, where everybody is shooting for the stars and ignoring the earth at their feet. It’s when you look inside and reveal your inner truth, your humanity, that we can truly relate, that you gain success.

And what makes “Hey Now” so great is the feel. Like it’s two a.m. and you’re sitting in the dark trying to decide whether you’re dissatisfied or happy.

That’s the way you succeed in art. Not by imitation, but by going off in your own personal direction. Not that London Grammar are plowing totally new ground, it’s just that they’re not employing Max Martin and Dr. Luke to climb the Top Forty chart, the only one that means anything anymore when it comes to radio. If you can envision “Hey Now” on Top Forty, you live on MARS!

And “Hey Now” is not the only good track on London Grammar’s album “If You Wait,” but a quick sampling will let you know whether you want to dig deeper, whether you need more.

And I expect to be drawn and quartered by the punks, shrugged off by the hitmakers, but once upon a time it was all right to like multiple kinds of music.

So broaden your horizons.

Or don’t.

Either you need “Hey Now” or you don’t.

I do.

London Grammar “If You Wait”

Comments are closed