Musicians/Bands, Amazing to WTF (aka, <somebody> gotta to eat ...)

DT

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It comes up with us all the time, Musicians/Bands whose earlier work was amazing, groundbreaking, <other_superlative>, who had a "sell out" moment, many in the 80s, and I get it, musical styles change, <somebody> gotta eat, you're not doing a 17 minute prog rock, concept piece to be played on MTV/radio.

Here's a few of our primary offenders:

Artist
Amazing / Shitacular


Elton John
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road / I'm still Standing

Billy Joel
Piano Man / Uptown Girl

Jefferson Airplane (Jefferson Starship)
White Rabbit / We Built this City


I mean, FFS ...

It's nine o'clock on a saturday
Regular crowd shuffles in
There's an old man sittin' next to me
Makin' love to his tonic and gin
He says: "Son can you play me a memory?"
I'm not really sure how it goes
But it's sad and it's sweet and I knew it complete
When I wore a younger man's clothes

vs.

Uptown girl
She's been living in her uptown world
I bet she's never had a backstreet guy
I bet her momma never told her why
I'm gonna try for an uptown girl
She's been living in her white-bred world
As long as anyone with hot blood can
And now she's looking for a downtown man
That's what I am


A few artists made a pretty terrific pivot to 80s pop-ish type material, Bowie's 1983 Let's Dance is pop music genius.
 

Scepticalscribe

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Perhaps it is the distance conferred by dawning maturity, the wisdom awarded by age, or the perspective bestowed by some sort of venerable detachment, but, increasingly, elevating the trope of starving artist in the gutter grasping the shredded remains of what is considered to be their artistic integrity (in defiance of fashion, food, or commercial success at the expense of critical acclaim) is something I find distasteful.

Is artistic integrity always incompatible with commercial success? Is commercial success necessarily incompatible with critical success? Or, is artistic development, the evolution of the artist's work, incompatible with artistic integrity?

In any case, I don't think that it is necessarily "selling out" to adapt one's talents to the musical tastes of a different (later) age in order to achieve commercial success and public (as well as critical) acclaim. And nor is it necessarily a case of "selling one's soul".

Now, I would not have made such an argument when I was an adolescent, for I was adamant about the need for artistic (and political, and economic, and social) integrity (and purity), passionate about such things, idealistic, and yes, probably pretty priggish, too.

"Compromise" was not a life skill to be lauded, and mastered, and mulled over, (how do you craft a "win win" in negotiations?) but an insult spat out (at duplicitous adults) between clenched teeth.

However, while I still remember the passionate (and often informed) integrity of that teenager, I also remember with appalled horror how Mozart - one of my favourite composers - was buried in a pauper's grave, which was something that had horrified my mother, when describing it to me, all of nearly two centuries later.

So, these days, I prefer to see my artists amply fed, (and possibly and preferably recognised and lauded) and composing, (writing, painting, sculpting), their material needs met and more than satisfied by public demand (or state grants).

And, if that means tweaking rigid parameters of what is considered to be artistic integrity, well, sometimes, so be it.
 
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Huntn

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It comes up with us all the time, Musicians/Bands whose earlier work was amazing, groundbreaking, <other_superlative>, who had a "sell out" moment, many in the 80s, and I get it, musical styles change, <somebody> gotta eat, you're not doing a 17 minute prog rock, concept piece to be played on MTV/radio.

Here's a few of our primary offenders:

Artist
Amazing / Shitacular


Elton John
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road / I'm still Standing

Billy Joel
Piano Man / Uptown Girl

Jefferson Airplane (Jefferson Starship)
White Rabbit / We Built this City


I mean, FFS ...

It's nine o'clock on a saturday
Regular crowd shuffles in
There's an old man sittin' next to me
Makin' love to his tonic and gin
He says: "Son can you play me a memory?"
I'm not really sure how it goes
But it's sad and it's sweet and I knew it complete
When I wore a younger man's clothes

vs.

Uptown girl
She's been living in her uptown world
I bet she's never had a backstreet guy
I bet her momma never told her why
I'm gonna try for an uptown girl
She's been living in her white-bred world
As long as anyone with hot blood can
And now she's looking for a downtown man
That's what I am


A few artists made a pretty terrific pivot to 80s pop-ish type material, Bowie's 1983 Let's Dance is pop music genius.
Hey I liked uptown Girl as a pop song. :)
 

Huntn

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You May Be Right"

Friday night I crashed your party
Saturday I said I'm sorry
Sunday came and trashed me out again
I was only having fun
Wasn't hurting anyone
And we all enjoyed the weekend for a change

I've been stranded in the combat zone
I walked through Bedford Stuy alone
Even rode my motorcycle in the rain
And you told me not to drive
But I made it home alive
So you said that only proves that I'm insane

You may be right
I may be crazy
But it just may be a lunatic you're looking for
Turn out the light
Don't try to save me
You may be wrong for all I know
But you may be right

Remember how I found you there
Alone in your electric chair
I told you dirty jokes until you smiled
You were lonely for a man
I said "Take me as I am"
'Cause you might enjoy some madness for awhile



Now think of all the years you tried to
Find someone to satisfy you
I might be as crazy as you say
If I'm crazy then it's true
That it's all because of you
And you wouldn't want me any other way

You may be right
I may be crazy
But it just may be a lunatic you're looking for
It's too late to fight
It's too late to change me
You may be wrong for all I know
But you may be right

You may be right
I may be crazy
But it just may be a lunatic you're looking for
Turn out the light
Don't try to save me
You may be wrong for all I know
But you may be right
You may be wrong but you may be right
You may be wrong but you may be right
 
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