The same old song and dance, my friend, is life according to Aerosmith.
But is that really the world people want to live in?
While reviewing some of my music purchases, I’ve noticed a certain trend in disgruntled listeners. These people are giving newly released CDs bad ratings because they are not like the musician’s older material. These reviewers do not critique the music itself, except to complain that it is different.
Here are a few examples of 1-star reviews for Battle Born by The Killers:
I don’t find any similarities between this newest album and Hot Fuss, which is troubling.
Troubling in what way, exactly? Hot Fuss came out in 2004. Did this reviewer expect a replica 9 years later?
If the band change it’s direction the should change his name too: The Borings, not The Killers.
This particular review speaks for itself. I will refrain from comment.
I’ve been a fan of the Killers for a Long time, from Hot Fuss to Day and Age-however I feel like each record is a decent into their own “creativity”.
A descent (I’m assuming the reviewer meant to use this word) into their own creativity? How blatantly selfish could this band be?
The following is a 1-star review from John Mayer’s brand new release Paradise Valley:
I don’t know what all the good review are about, but ‘Paradise Valley’ (and Born & Raised, for that matter) are not JM that I once loved.
And a 2-star review for the same CD:
I feel like John Mayer has changed his style drastically. He has a good sense in music but I really miss the old John Mayer and his old style of music. He has changed. I loved room for squares why cant their be another album like that. But in this album their is really no electric guitar and no good licks I love it when he does that. I just didn’t like the album that much.
** Please note that these are exact quotes. I have nothing to do with the spelling choices. Perhaps this is also a testament to the decline and dysfunction of our school systems. **
Room For Squares was Mayer’s first album, which came out in 2001. He is 12 years older now. Shouldn’t we expect his music to reflect that?
This truly baffles me. I admit my musical taste is eclectic, with a wide variety of sounds covering everything from pre-war blues to heavy metal, and old jazz to modern ‘new age’. The combined total of my CD and vinyl collection is about 2,500, with a few hundred more on my wish list. So, yes, you could call me musically obsessed. My mood dictates what I listen to more so than a taste for one genre, band, or type of music. Still, I have my favorites and I do understand how it is to fall in love with a specific sound. But do fans truly expect – or even want – each subsequent album to sound the same?
Musicians are people, and people grow and change over time. (One would hope!) It only stands to reason that their music would evolve, as well. I’m not talking about anything as extreme as Ozzy Osbourne doing a country album. (Though I think he’d have every right to explore that path if he wanted to.) The complaints I’m seeing are about more subtle changes in style and sound. Often it’s simply a matter of a band’s maturity and self-exploration. Sometimes a band’s success means they’re finally free to dictate their own style, rather than have their sound dictated by a manager and label executive.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not always happy with a band’s direction. For instance, I don’t like Bon Jovi’s newer music. To me, they’ve lost their edge. The music and the lyrics have gotten soft in a radio-friendly, pop culture kind of way.
On the other hand, I’m a huge fan of Robert Plant and love the route he’s taken since his Led Zeppelin days. His sound is softer in a way that reflects his maturity while staying true to his roots.
As an author whose success (or failure) relies heavily on people’s reviews, I ask that you give your favorite artists a bit more room for growth. And, if you dislike the direction they’ve taken, please try to articulate your reasons. Not sounding like the ‘old stuff’ isn’t much of a reason to hate the new stuff.
I suppose some people simply don’t like change. But, to me, that’s like living in a stagnant pond; you’ll spend your life growing mold while the world blossoms around you.
I will leave you with these songs that embrace change:
Tags: A Change Is Gonna Come, Battle Born, Changes by David Bowie, Evolution of Music, Favorite Music, Favorite Songs, Hot Fuss, John Mayer, music, Music Reviews, New CD Releases, New Music, Paradise Valley, Reviewing Music, Sam Cooke, The Killers, The Times They Are A-Changin