There”s nothing less refreshing than waking up in the morning and feeling like a whore realizing that people consider you a sub-human marketing ploy.

Paul Wong
Engineering junior and Launch Boards employee Eric Hardin (left) shows LSA senior Greg Larkin (right) some merchandise.<br><br>ALYSSA WOOD/Daily

Richard Meltzer”s latest book is a collection of his musical musings, musings some consider misanthropic, misguided or a mistake. However, it may be the title “A Whore Just Like the Rest,” that is the most telling piece of writing Meltzer”s penned.

Art is a term that teeters near the realm of the indeterminate definition. Labeling Art is unfortunately not as simple as choosing a CD off the rack to drop $17.99 on. Instead, when you look down that teeming rack of music, realize that it is all in some form Art. Regardless of its place in slick-mainstream culture, or its enshrinement by cardigan wearing emo-kids or its place in the sweaty armpit of an ex-high school offensive tackle (yeah, the one that still wears his high school varsity lettermen”s jacket in a crude proclamation that he used to “rock”) it is all Art.

It is all Art.

From top to bottom everything is progressing in the world of music, film and pop culture as it should. It is the natural order of music and life alike to have a top and bottom and everything in between. Music especially is no different. There will always be someone at the bottoms feed, flipping burgers at the local BK. However, corporate god McDonald”s couldn”t survive without that man, standing begrudgingly over a vat of grease, dropping a tray of french fries in at one minute intervals. It is all essential on some level.

The top to bottom processing extends further to include the manner in which music is created. A band like Boston would spend years in the studio perfecting their sound, making each note ring crystal clear to create the overproduced, oily slick sound that came to be their trademark, but the waterline changes on an artist by artist basis. Minimalist approaches in music can be called “regressions,” however those regressions often have held and set standards. Rock critic extraordinaire Lester Bangs called Lou Reed”s 1975 Metal Machine Music, “The greatest album ever made.” Bangs cited the album”s pre-punk sonic digression and dissected its importance to music as a whole, as one of the first truly “punk” albums. Lou Reed”s rape of minimalism turned what conventional thoughts on “pop” taught about the verse-chorus-verse-bridge style of music into an ambling corpse in its final twitches of post-mortem. Instead of unadventurous “music” on Metal Machine Music, Reed replaced instruments with layers upon layers of feedback and 64 minutes of screaming electronics. However, the fact that no conventional music exists on Metal Machine Music, is an interesting one. Does Lou Reed”s sonic meltdown merit itself as artistic or simply a ploy to fulfill a record contract?

Where does a “reviewer” fit into this seemingly cantankerous equation of the artist and the marketing of Art as a commercialized product? Are reviewers to serve as little more than mass-produced walking, talking buyer”s guides for readers? In one part, yes they are. People will read a CD review and say to themselves, “that sounds good, maybe I”ll buy that.” On a simple whim, the consumers put their faith in someone they don”t know to aid, and in some drastic cases, make the decision to buy, for them. For the one part that a CD review may serve as a buyer”s guide there are ten parts in which it does not.

Tuesday of each week is my favorite day, hands down. It”s CD Tuesday everything new hits the shelves, and each CD that comes out has some form of artistic merit. Someone considers that record to a piece of Art. Whether it”s Britney herself, Britney”s breasts or Britney”s mother, someone considers Britney to be an artistic work. And it is the express job of a CD review to challenge the artist merit of any given CD in the context that the record came out.

I”m not reviewing Creed”s new record Weathered as an excuse to stand on my proverbial soapbox with my megaphone and deter the masses from making what I consider a financial faux pas. That reeks of futility I may as well waste my time handing out religious flyers in the Diag.

Instead, albums are taken for their artist merit and analyzed as a place in the greater context, not to serve as a buyer”s guide for the Lemmings of Commercial Commerce. The new Michael Jackson CD isn”t supposed to be reviewed in terms of how many units it will ship, or how “well” the first single is doing on the Billboard Hot 100. Jacko”s Invincible is to be looked at in the wake of his back catalog and his state in music”s strata. He is not the exception, looking at his work contextually isn”t the exception it is the rule.

When consumers read reviews of anything (films, television shows, video games, music) and go out and purchase a copy of said item on the merit of someone”s word who they don”t even know, they relegate the role of the reviewer to little more than an unpaid marketing whore. And in that commercialized look at music, Art ceases to be Art, and becomes a commercial product geared at consumption.

I woke up this morning and realized I was just a whore, a whore just like the rest of them. But, since I”m getting the CDs for free, and you”re dropping the money, who”s really the whore?

Luke Smith can be reached at lukems@umich.edu

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