When good bands go bad
“Good or bad, reviews and news are publicity. Indifference is far worse.”
Have you ever listened to the radio, or walked through a music store and been amazed, or more likely saddened, to find out that a band you once liked was still making music? This seems to happen to me on a regular basis.
Anytime I walk into a music store, I see the shelves full of new albums by bands I didn’t even know were still together. Take Weezer, for example. There is no denying that their first few albums were awesome. The Blue Album and Pinkerton are considered essential 90s albums. I know that they’ve had a few other hit songs from other albums over the years; what I didn’t know is that they’ve put out four albums in the last three years. I haven’t heard anything about the albums or the band in years and, as I am constantly following new music news and announcements, that is not a good sign. Good or bad, reviews and news are publicity. Indifference is far worse.
Most bands have a best before date. It’s true. If they’re lucky, they will burn out or implode before they get stale. Sometimes it’s creative differences, sometimes it’s substance abuse or other personal problems, and sometimes it is death. Whatever the reason, many of the most popular bands ever ended their careers at the height of their creativity and success. Nirvana, The Beatles, The Doors, The White Stripes and countless others are all remembered as being awesome. Sure, they put out some terrible songs, but overall they were legendary.
Really smart bands just know when it’s time to quit. Last week REM announced that they were going their separate ways. It wasn’t because of fighting or band member problems; it was simply because they felt they had done all they could.
While that’s the classy way out, there are many bands that continue to record music that only makes their fans sad because it can’t compare to how they used to be. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with doing what you love; but sometimes I am left wondering why they continue on the same path. Music doesn’t need to be a monogamous endeavor. History is full of musicians that were in several bands at once or one after the other.
Really, who am I to judge? If they are doing something they love, then good for them. We should all be so lucky. If they are doing it for money then there must be people who are willing to buy their albums.
So what does it come down to? Artistic integrity? Popular music trends? The music scene may be complicated, but one thing that is never hard to tell is what is good music and what is not. As long as the bands and their fans are happy, that’s all that matters.