Politics, religion, racism, sexism, terrorism and every other ic, ion or ism you can think of are very heady topics. Music, or shall I say the discussion or presentation of music can often intersect with the aforementioned aspects of society and in some cases embody them both positively and negatively. But no matter what the issue is or the artform if we examine the core of what makes it into the popular consciousness we would also have to examine the merits of the entertainment value.

Cult Of Personality

Cue Living Colour

Every leader of note has not only had a message but also(for the successful ones) a mastery of the medium that was popular at the time of their ascendancy. So whether it was having a voice that could be heard throughout the town square, a great quill pen game for the print world, a look of authority for pictures and the silent movie reel, a radio-friendly voice, the voice and look for the sound movie reel, small screen friendly and of course now the Internet well(maybe the agenda is still out on that one). However, none of these mediums matter if the content is not entertaining. Your argument can be compelling, you may even have a plan to save the world but if you’re presentation isn’t entertaining the masses won’t care. How do I know?

We Want The Show

Spectacle. Community. Participation. We need a release an escape from the mechanization of work and sometimes even the mechanization of home life. There are examples that we can point to of pure escapism – Soap Operas and their nouveau cousin Reality Shows. Drugs and alcohol. Pop music. Professional sports. A certain brand of popular movie. A large percentage of The Internet. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the majority of messages that we receive daily on a variety of subjects we probably wouldn’t receive if they did not have a modicum of entertainment. Now that statement is based on passive reception, I know that we have a lot of searchers out there myself included but for the masses, what shows up on your Facebook or Twitter feeds as news and other information if it doesn’t have a catchphrase, a music soundtrack and some moment to provoke a visceral reaction it probably won’t be widely promoted, I mean shared.

Must Be The Money

No news flash here it’s always been about the money because it’s capitalism people. Now has the “market” held as much sway over our lives as it does in 2017? No. But you must remember the times we are living in… we have been primed(shout out to Deion)to place value on what’s popular, usually what’s popular is held up by some corporate interest. For clarity’s sake what I mean by popular is true mass and wide appeal, you know the stuff you hear about three months after it actually happened on shows like Inside Edition or maybe even the near real-time antics of a faux like TMZ. You get the point. Money and the notion of being entertained allow for all manner of commodification(see the above video). Am I suggesting that money not be in the production chain? Absolutely not. Money is necessary for survival in the world we live. However, I am suggesting that money can often obscure the difference between mass-produced commodities and art. Art and artists are often singular. Mass-produced commodities you can get at any repository like Walmart that deals with that type of product. There are repositories just like Walmart for music like The Billboard Pop Charts for example.

Giant Steps Backwards

So look I had to end this post with some entertainment so that Google or you, or someone will say hey this guy kinda knows what he’s talking about. Then there will be others who will engage in the same behavior. Then the next thing you know they’re retweeting and posting on their respective feeds like wildfire because this guy knows what he’s talking about because he said funny things and used a couple of curse words and heck why not pull out all of the stops and use a racial epithet because I can do that right? Isn’t that entertaining? I mean that’s how you can be assured of the veracity of the information I’ve written here save for one thing I left out – a list, I didn’t make a list in this post that said the

25 Blankety, Blank, Things, That You Blankety Blank While Blanking

My bad.

But let me ask you a question as I proceed to take my seat… after all this are you not entertained?

Ivan Orr is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, performer, and writer. A native of Charlottesville, Virginia Ivan was involved with the forming and nascent days of The Music Resource Center as its first Program Director. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Music, Ivan currently resides in Richmond, VA where he maintains an active performance and production schedule while serving as the Music Editor for Grown Folks Music, a position he has held since 2010.