Why Freddie Mercury will always be adored

Freddie Mercury would have been 73 years old today had he not succumbed to his illness almost 27 years ago. And even though it’s been more than a quarter century since his passing, he is still loved and adored by billions of people around the world. I mean seriously, there’s a video of a Green Day crowd singing Bohemian Rhapsody which the band saw fitting to post on their YouTube channel (you can watch it here).

So what is it that makes Freddie so beloved after all these years? Well, my theory is that he stuck to what he is good at, all the time. I am talking of course about music.

There seems to be a stupid need for musicians these days to try and appear as more wholesome and more interested in world events than they should be. Freddie wasn’t really like that, at least from what I’ve seen over the years and read about him. To him, everything was about the music. He even said so himself, “I won’t be a rock star, I’ll be a legend”. And he became one. When a sold out stadium for a band that is not Queen sings along to a song from Queen with the band not actually being there, you know he was on about something.

And that something, as I’ve said, is that Freddie always concentrated on what he and his bandmates were good at: making music capable of allowing total strangers to sing along and feel good without feeling the need to shove an agenda down their throats. Just look at Live Aid 1985 or Wembley 1986.

Freddie and the guys are all about having fun and making sure everyone in the crowd has a good time. I think the vocal exercises that Freddie does with the crowd before the live performance of Under Pressure in the Saturday edition of Wembely 1986 is quite possibly one of the best singer-crowd interactions you could ever possibly see.

People say that Freddie will never be matched. Scientists even proved that his voice was unique. Queen and David Bowie was voted the best duet in music ever. To say he became a legend is an understatement. And yeah, I get why some people might get bored of hearing him or talking about him. Not releasing any new songs after your singer’s death can do that to a band. And though I will NEVER outgrow Queen, I too sometimes get bored of them. But then I rediscover them and listen to their songs on end.

There are many great bands out there. MANY. But some of them need to remember something. It’s fine to have a political undertone if that’s the genre you’re aiming for. Rise Against is my favorite band and they are as political as a band can get, even though I don’t really care that much for their stance since I don’t reside in the USA.

In the end it all depends on the genre you’re aiming for but singers should remember this. If your fans are not having a good time, then you’re doing it wrong. It’s impossible to please everyone of course, but you kinda have to make sure you’re not alienating the vast majority of your listeners. This applies to any form of art.

Advertisements

“Grower” albums in the age of instant gratification…and when opinions change

Back in 2016 when Avenged Sevenfold released The Stage, M. Shadows described it in a Facebook post as a “grower album”. In other words, it is an album that grows on you the more you listen to it and subsequently becomes better in your eyes…or ears, in this case.

At that time I was a bit surprised about the post, given that I was not a big fan of the album…at that time. However, after listening to some interviews about the creation of the album, I decided to give it another shot. And then another, and then another, to the point where I realised it’s insanely good, once I got passed my peeves about the lyrics and singing choices the band and Matt took. I mean I still find some of the lyrics from The Stage song and Sunny Disposition annoying, but the songs as wholes are really really good.

Grower album are a trick. I remember back when Rise Against released Endgame in 2011, the album didn’t tick at first. And while I don’t know if the band’s intention was to make it a grower album experience. But to me it was. I didn’t like the album at the first listen. But I gave it another shot. And then another, and then another until I realised that the songs, while different than previous albums such as Sufferer are actually very good and some of them helped me through some tough times in college, so there is that.

We live in an age of instant gratification. It is not as bad as people make it seem to be, but not really good either, as people don’t tend to have as much patience with certain things anymore, things that end up being very good in the end.

Grower albums are just an example, because the same can be said about people dismissing various gadgets as useless because they can’t spare 5 mintues to understand how they work. I almost returned a perfectly good GPS device because of this. But I really needed it and after spending, guess what, 5 minutes to figure out its quirks, I realized how great it actually is.

In the end it’s all down to each individual, but what I’m trying to say is that mastering something takes time. It could as little as 5 minutes to figure out a solution to a small problem or years of practice in order to gain a new skill. Grower albums function in the same way. It takes some time to get the beauty of them, but once you do, you realize the beauty of them. In the words of Axl Rose, “all we need is just a little patience”.

Music fan elitism

Let’s pick a not random song, say “Lived a Lie” by You Me At Six. I would never have heard of this song had it not been for, you might have guessed it, FIFA 14. Try reading the comments section of this song on Youtube and you’ll be reading a lot of comments from pretentious people saying things like “Am I the only one who’s here because of the fact that I like YMA6?” or “My good taste brought me here, not FIFA” or “true music fans know this song not because of FIFA, but because they’re fans” and so on.

Listen up, pretentious ones. Aren’t you the same people who are always going ON AND ON about how the music YOU like should be more popular? Well, what do you think putting a song on the soundtrack of one of the most popular franchises in history does? You guessed it, it makes it MORE POPULAR!!! Seriously, I don’t get this and at this point all I can do is laugh…well, more likely snort, but you get the idea.

My two favorite bands are Rise Against and Avenged Sevenfold and I would never have heard of them had it not been for Need For Speed Underground 2 and Need For Speed Most Wanted (the good one from 2005…we don’t talk about the other one). Or, I would have heard of them, but much much later down the road.

Knowing of a band not because of a video game but because of some other scenario where someone mentioned it or showed it to you does not make you a truer music fan, if that is even a valid expression. Nor are you a truer music fan by blindly supporting a band even though their latest album sucks. And yeah, opinions change, my opinion of Avenged Sevenfold’s The Stage album (not single, that one I still don’t like) has changed drastically in the last few weeks, but we’ll talk about it in another post.

It is perfectly fine for people to learn about a band from a video game and I’m pretty confident that bands love it when their songs are chosen for games because it helps them reach more fans who would otherwise not know they exist. And this serves your exact damn purpose of having “good music” become more popular, if that is actually what you want because at this point, I don’t even know anymore.

Just enjoy your damn music and let people be happy because they learned about it from FIFA, Need For Speed, Burnout or whatever…it’s really not that hard and it does help in you at least appearing as the mature music fan you desperately want to make people believe you are.

Good music was not more popular in the old days

I am not one of those people who go along and say “music is my life”, but I do love music a LOT, and I also love looking into the lyrics of the songs I listen to, mostly to see if I can identify with them or not.

And whenever I go on Youtube to watch a video of a band I enjoy (Avenged Sevenfold, Rise Against, Queen etc.) there is always that person who goes on and on about how music in the old days was better or more popular than it is today. And that radios or TV channels played better music then than they do now.

Here’s the sad/funny part of it…radio and music channels have ALWAYS played the same type of music as they do today. A while back I was on a bit of a childhood/teenage years music trip and I listened to a bunch of late 90s and early 2000s music and while there was the odd rock track in there, the most popular songs were always repetitive pop songs, such as Music by Madonna, Crazy in Love by Beyonce, Shakira with her 2005 album which was EVERYWHERE, Gwen Stefani with her 2004 album Love Angel Music Baby which again was EVERYWHERE!

You want to go evern further back because the 90s and the 2000s are too recent and that’s when music started its downward spiral? In the 70s and 80s, aside from maybe a few Queen songs and some Led Zeppelin, which were niche songs, the most popular songs were from Boney M and the whole host of disco artists who were extremely popular back then. And as I saw in another video on Youtube, in 1987, when good old Guns’N’Roses released Appetite for Destruction, the number one hit songs of that year was Never Gonna Give You Up by Rick Astley. So yeah, everyone was getting Rick Rolled, even back then.

And if you want to argue that the songs actually sounded better before than they do now, be it pop songs or whatever, simply because everything was better before…that I can actually agree with to some degree. Sure, the themes of cheating on your significant other, having sex with lots of women or men or whatever are still the same and the lyrics of pop songs have not and probably will not evolve beyond this, but some of the songs from the 90s and 2000s sound better. Maybe it’s nostalgia, maybe it’s because there were actual instruments involved and not a lot of computer generated music, but yeah, some of the songs from those years are much better than some of the ones that are put out today.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that radio and music TV channels have always played pop music way more than other niche genres. It’s the very definition of pop music (well, one of them anyway): pop stands for POPular…meaning a lot of people like it and want to listen to it.

Just enjoy the type of music you like, there is really no need for it to become more popular. You want to know why? Because then, people will be like: “ugh, why didn’t you guys listen to this band before they were popular, like I did”. Ring any bells, this one?

Rise Against – The Violence review

This is not Monday’s post. This is just a bonus one for this week, considering the release of this single :).

2016 was supposed to be a good year in music, for me anyway. With Avenged Sevenfold (my 3rd favorite band after Queen and Rise Against) and Metallica (my 5th one, after the first 3 and U2) releasing albums, one would think that I should have been excited. And I was, until I heard the two title tracks from both albums and I couldn’t help but cringe. But more on that in another post.

Enter 2017 and some 3 days ago, on Tuesday, Rise Against dropped a serious hint with regards to a new album release this year. While the album is set to be released in June, Thursday the band released a single from it called The Violence. Before this, they also left a teaser of the song on their Facebook page.

And…it’s good. Not “Give It All” good, but passable. The tl;dr version of this is: “it’s the same thing they’ve been releasing roughly since Revolutions Per Minute”. The same overused song structure of intro, verses, chorus, verses, chorus, bridge, slightly modified chorus they’ve used on basically every song on Appeal To Reason, Endgame and The Black Market and on several songs from Siren Song of the Counter Culture, The Sufferer and the Witness and Revolutions Per Minute. But it works. I don’t know how, but it works. I mean, let’s look a little bit into the past.

Angus Young of AC/DC once said this: “I’m sick and tired of people saying that we put out 11 albums that sound exactly the same. In fact, we’ve put out 12 albums that sound exactly the same”. Replace AC/DC with Rise Against, Angus Young with Zach Blair and 12 with 7 (or 6, if you feel like a generous God) and you get exactly what Rise Against has been putting out for the last decade and a half, with very few exceptions.

But it works. I liked the song. I was hooked to it right from the teaser. The lyrics, while not their best, are what you expect from them. They seem to be sort of a mix between “I Don’t Wanna Be Here Anymore” and “People Live Here”. There is no screaming on this song and I’ll be honest with you, I miss it a bit. I know Tim doesn’t have the same voice as 10 years ago, but still, it’s a bit too mellow and the song does seem to be a bit over polished. I kinda miss the sound of Siren Song and Sufferer.

Nevertheless, I am looking forward to this album. Why am I looking forward to it when I know it’s probably going to be the same? Because people like familiarity. And besides, one of the things I guide most of my decisions is “if it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it”. Sure, some innovation might work for Rise Against, but it very well may fail. I liked Sudden Life from their previous album, but I seem to be in the minority, and that song was a step away from their usual sound. And I’d much rather hear songs like this that I know will grow on me than hear songs which try all so much (you know what single I’m talking about).