On Pretending To Play An Instrument


Fake Bass.

I gave in and watched that Super Bowl Half-Time Pepsi Commercial with Bruno Mars and Red Hot Chili Peppers. 

First thing to notice: the performers on stage were doing nothing world-class. None of them displayed mastery in their abilities (many people on this planet could replicate it). Not surprising, since it was all highly derivative. And mediocre. Not sure why they were given the gig, but I’m guessing it’s because everyone having anything to do with the event was drunk and / or uneducated. I’m being honest when I tell you: you can see more talented street performers in Santa Monica. 

Next: An absurd amount of time and money was invested into the visual aspects (lights, video, pyrotechnics). Yet the excuse for “not plugging the bass player in” was that it would be too hard to mix? That’s funny. 

Nothing against “pre-recorded music.” I listen to it often. 
Nothing against entertainment. Nothing against dance. 

But this Pepsi Commercial is what people commonly call “Music.” Not a “musician” “playing” an “instrument” that makes a “sound.” It’s come to mean: a pseudo-event in which the physical act of making of music is the least important element. The one thing they leave out, and no one minds!

In the ’90s, Milli Vanilli were shamed out of their careers. Flea is applauded for not giving a shit. Were Milli Vanilla just ahead of their time? Or is music getting to be so non-musical that no one cares, and the word “music” has taken on a new meaning?

Somehow, even my music nerd friends don’t care that the word “music” is misused all the time. But I say: respect musicianship. Leave the bass at home if you’re not really going to play it. 

If you’re interested in researching this topic further, I recommend a book called The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America (Vintage) by Daniel J. Boorstin.

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