I’m trying to figure out if advertising works. Is advertising just awareness? I don’t drive so perhaps I can’t comment, but a slick Audi ad doesn’t make me want to buy an Audi even if it’s a nice car and even if I have the cash and by the way Olivia does drive. Is what I like what ‘they’ tell me is likeable? I’d rather have an old Citroen DS. Seems like people drive some ugly cars these days, so it’s price, efficiency and a brand you can trust. Haha. The toothpaste I usually buy is Colgate minty flavour but is it really because it’s the world’s most popular toothpaste and is it through advertising? Or is it because I was made aware of it and recognised it in a shop, then I bought it, tried it and it did the job. But like all the explorers I tried other toothpastes, especially the ones in the health food store and they were all horrible. I like the Colgate minty taste, not because of the advertising but because I haven’t been made aware of another one that I like the taste of. So perhaps they have sold me on the taste and now I’ve got used to the taste and can’t shake off that taste and nothing competes with it because it’s the first taste of toothpaste that I had (as an adult), I stuck with it despite other choices that I have not yet been made aware of because there’s no advertising. Haha. I remember my parents had SR toothpaste, does that still exist? I looked it up, there was a tube for £45.
I remember my Mum washed with Daz, the competitor was Omo, she would never use Omo, only Daz. Was she manipulated by the advertising or did Daz get to her first, it worked and she had no reason to change. It satisfied her. Fairy liquid, everyone had Fairy liquid, I can still sing the ad tune. Where am I going with this, well, I’m trying to figure something out about music and music’s advertising. Is successful music just better sold, is it a flavour that people are satisfied with and they have no need or interest to dig deeper? Over the top image, sex, youth, is that all it takes to be more successful than somebody who’s really good? It seems so shallow and obvious but I suppose there’s some who have everything, like Bowie. How come Coldplay are so big? Are they any of those things or is he just a good singer? It’s commercially appealing, of course it is, but what about successful artists that aren’t? How is Morrissey so big? How is Nick Cave so big? They are just super hip, hipper than hip. Why are there so many great bands that didn’t get there and yet others that did, is it just luck? How did Steven Wilson play three nights at the Royal Albert Hall, how did The Cure play three nights at Madison Square Garden? It seems to me that advertising helps sellable products but there’s a way that you can appeal by doing nothing at all. If Nick Cave did ads on the TV he’d probably turn people off him and be less successful. In the seventies there was nothing about Led Zeppelin, no radio, no TV, maybe there were new album ads? I don’t know, I don’t remember them. They were the biggest band in the world with no advertising. So what’s going on?
I find myself enjoying commercial and non-commercial music in most genres. I like hearing about things but I don’t have to be told about it to find it or to like it. I discover things from lots of different sources, word of mouth, big rich promo campaigns and searching on my own. I think the worst thing is what the critics say and the second worst thing is what other people say. None of it matters, it’s what you say. If I post some music, you may like it or you may not, whether it be my music or somebody else’s. What you think about what I think doesn’t really matter. But if I drew your attention to something that you really like that you would otherwise not have discovered then that is a great achievement and I don’t really need to know if you hated it. So, it’s true, it’s not about advertising, it’s about awareness.
Music today has taken me into the rich world of contemporary female singers. There seem to be so many of them, I touched on this the other day at least with Phoebe Bridgers who is 25 with two albums out, Stranger In The Alps (2017) and Punisher (2020). I’ve also been listening to some of her contemporaries, Lucy Dacus who is also 25 and Julien Baker who is 24. You may be aware that the three of them made a six-track EP together under the name boygenius which is really great. I have Julien Baker’s Sprained Ankle (2015), she released her second album Turn Out The Lights (2017) and I have ordered Lucy Dacus’ second album Historian (2018). Her first is No Burden (2016).
When Joni Mitchell was 25 (she’s 76 now) she had made Ladies Of The Canyon (1968) and a year later Clouds (1969). If you think what happened next with her amazing seventies albums you might wonder what these great American artists may become when they reach their thirties and forties and beyond. If you listen to Lucinda Williams, well, you get the picture. Incredibly Laura Marling is just 30 and she has released seven studio albums and one live album. Tonight’s not the night for her because you’d have to dedicate a lot of time to her work just on the output alone, plus she’s English (I have all of her records).
Another American I like is Margaret Glaspy who is 31, she has a new album, Devotion (2020), and has been releasing EPs since 2012. I have her first CD album Emotions And Math (2016), love it. I have four of the five albums by Sharon Van Etten (39). The newest one, Remind Me Tomorrow, is great. So you have some names, where do you start? Hopefully, you followed up the Phoebe Bridgers post last week as well as Rumer (41) and Lucinda Williams (67) and of course Anohni (48). What happened to Tanita Tikaram (50), who bought her last album Closer To The People (2016)? What about Katie Melua, who is she? In 2006 she was the UK and Europe’s biggest selling female artist…before I’d even heard a note, this year she will release her eighth album. Tasmin Archer (56) completely disappeared after Sleeping Satellite was a No. 1 single.
Why am I putting their ages? Well perhaps if you’d bought Ladies Of The Canyon and followed Joni from the start it would make the journey even better. Who followed Kate Bush (61) from the start when she was 19 and the release of her debut album, The Kick Inside (1978), I did (she’s 62 next week). She recorded The Man With The Child In His Eyes when she was 16, she wrote it when she was 13. My point here is to turn you on to a younger generation of talented (American) singer-songwriters by comparing them to older established singers who were once young unknowns. Bridgers, Dacus and Baker are related in their age and their boygenius collaboration. Glaspy is something else and the bits I’ve heard of her new record sound quite different to the first, slicker, smoother, so I need to listen properly but in the end, what I think doesn’t matter.
But don’t forget that Patti Smith is bigger than ever. Great albums are being made by PJ Harvey (50), Björk (54), Sinead O’Connor (53) and what happened to Siouxsie Sioux (63) and Lene Lovich (71)? Out of these newer artists who will become a commercial success, who will become a legend, who will be forgotten and ultimately who cares as long as you like it? But don’t ignore them because they are young and don’t forget them because they are old, they are all making great records all the time.
Here are some videos of the day, see if you like anything and if you don’t find something you do like by lifting up some stones.