Do you feel manipulated?

Excuse me for writing about Taylor Swift’s “1989,” but it’s all the press is talking about this week, and that saddens me. The way both traditional and so called new media outlets are reporting this nonstory as if it matters. Then again, we live in the land of Ebolamania, but at least the virus has some news value, there’s some actual reporting going on, the “1989” hype smells just like that, hype, as for infecting those who do not care, I doubt it.

The two biggest music stories of the last twelve months were the launches of Beyonce and Weird Al’s new albums. The former sprung upon us with no warning, the latter nearly the same, with a viral component of daily videos to excite us. Of course I’m leaving out the U2 story, because of the instant backlash. And what was that backlash based upon? Jamming unwanted things down people’s throats. This “1989” hype is not much different. We are not forced to listen to the music but we are exposed to constant faux advertising while Ms. Swift bitches about our criticism. Credit Kim Kardashian, she doesn’t complain when we do, she knows blowback goes with the territory, it’s the business she’s in. But that begs the question, is Ms. Swift in the fame game or the music game? Is the media in the action game, tied in with musicians the same way the players are tied in with corporations, or are they in the reaction game, responding to real news?

Used to be music lasted. That was its defining feature, the way everybody knew it and remembered it. Today most albums come and go in a week. And I do expect “1989” to last longer, come on, Taylor Swift is the biggest act in the land, but will anything on this record infect society as much as “Royals”?

So what we’ve learned here is the Internet has a way of amplifying the story but not the music. And when the story trumps the music we’re lost. We’re kind of like Hollywood, where they hype movies that we don’t care about, to the point where we know what they are and stop going and then do our best to tune out the din.

But that’s the society we live in. One of yelling louder and louder. One in which the biggest act is a corporation, Apple, which drops its products to eager anticipation with no warning and they are then embraced over time. Apple makes hits. And isn’t it interesting there are so few of them. Apple is all about the singles, in music we’re all about the albums, we overload our audience and then complain that no one is paying attention.

Is anybody paying attention?

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