Sunday, April 23, 2017

"After 70 years of this thing we call pop, are the chances of writing something brand new mathematically fewer?"

I've just finished reading Jaron Lanier's book, "You Are Not a Gadget."

Funding a civilization through advertising is like trying to get nutrition by connecting a tube from one’s anus to one’s mouth. The body starts consuming itself. That is what we are doing online.

Lanier is a musician (among other skills), and he has fascinating things to say about the absence of innovation in popular music; he believes rap and hip hop represent the most recent "new" trends, and while they're tired, too, at least their practitioners continue to punch against the constraints of the cage.

I feel this way myself.

By the way, this blogger wouldn't know an Ed Sheeran song if it sauntered up and bit him in the butt, but there'll be a new Paramore album in a couple of weeks, and that's genuinely exciting.

Has pop finally run out of tunes? by Peter Robinson (The Guardian)

Ed Sheeran has reached a £16m settlement over his song Photograph in the latest claim over pop plagiarism. So are songwriters out of ideas? Time to call in the musicologists

This week, Ed Sheeran, a pop star whose stranglehold on the UK Top 40 is so extreme that his Star Wars name would be Chart Maul, avoided a lengthy legal trial by settling a $20m (£16m) copyright infringement claim out of court, for an unspecified sum. Two writers behind Amazing, a song by X Factor hat-botherer Matt Cardle, had spotted something familiar in Sheeran’s song Photograph and, represented by the legal team who annihilated Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams in the controversial Blurred Lines case, filed a lawsuit.

This settlement comes two weeks after the writers of TLC’s No Scrubs were suddenly added to the credits of Sheeran’s Shape of You (the precise circumstances of that addition are unknown, but it is fair to speculate that Sheeran didn’t just do it for a laugh) and it follows a claim last year – apparently ongoing – that Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud copied Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On.

It is not just about Sheeran. Whether it is Mark Ronson adding Oops Upside Your Head’s writers to Uptown Funk or a shift in the law allowing for a case against Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven (which the band won), alleged musical kleptomania seems more heavily patrolled than ever. There are many questions here. Are songwriters increasingly lazy, or arrogant, or simply incompetent – or are they being unfairly chastised for a warm homage to the music they, and we, grew up with? Is plagiarism itself on the increase or are ambulance-chasing legal teams becoming more aware that many artists will quietly settle out of court to avoid public legal proceedings? And after 70 years of this thing we call pop, are the chances of writing something brand new mathematically fewer?

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