If you think there is no relationship between a love for the music of Josh Groban and Eva Cassidy, and a prediliction for reading and passing along Internet glurge about angels and the wisdom of children, think again: there is a shitheaded, lowbrow aesthetic that unites the two vices. Let’s dissect.
I’m the most eclectic music lover in the world: I will listen to Perry Como and Jo Stafford. I will listen to Robert Johnson and Blind Willy McTell. I will listen to Beethoven and Webern. I like country. I like rap. I will listen to boy bands if the tune is catchy and the production values are high. Whether highbrow or crassly commercial, music that is good is OK by me.
But there is a certain taste in music that makes we want to screech with pain cum derision. It is a mutant species of the “vocal” genre (not really a true genre) that combines ooey-gooey sentimentality, easy-listening cravings, and soft-serve celebrity worship into a confection so fauxly sweet and packaged it makes cotton candy seem like a 16 oz. New York strip by comparison.
The music of Josh Groban is a slow-killing prion. Eschewing real opera and the training required of both singer and singee to perform and be performed by it (frankly, I am not much of a fan myself, though I like Wozzeck by Berg), brow-impaired America has embraced Josh’s “romantic” baridrone in divers abused languages. The main problem with these songs is that they are boring suckage. No tunes! Just ah-hahh-oh-ooh-ruh-roo–oo-oo. They’re probably about love and desire.
These songs make me feel as an adult as I did as a kid in the car after church “going for a drive.” Oh, man, was that torture! Oh, man, are they.
Then you have Eva Cassidy. Not to jump the gun and get into glurge, but her bio is, in effect, living glurge created by the masses:
Once there was a beautiful woman. Some said she sang even better than Gabriel, God’s favorite angel. She poured her heart into beautiful songs like “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” but as far as the World knew, this nightengale was silent.
One day God, the only one to hear her voice, said, "I want the whole world to hear the beauty of her voice and feel the beauty of her heart. But to get them to know this, I must bring her to My bosom.
Then just as Vadar struck down Obi-Wan and made him more powerful than ever, Cancer struck down Eva but made her voice more powerful and famous than ever before."
My disdain is directed not at the person herself, who I’m sure was the epitomy of nice, but at the sentimental lowbrow mythologizing that surrounds her. Not to be speak ill of the resting in peace, but the talent quotient of the music hasn’t impressed me, although the hype certainly has. I have a second cousin (or third, or whatever) who, in one phase of her career as trophy wife, put out an album of similar quality (I saw it in the bargain bin at the mall–zero degrees of separation!). There is just this feel to it of lukewarm, middleclass whitegirlness with concomitant production values that just doesn’t–what does Dr. Phil say? That dog won’t fetch. Eva brings the same kind of hand-cranked, perfunctory “flair” to her version of “Fever” that my cousin brought to “Dancing in the Streets.”
Eva’s and Josh’s music have many things in common. They are both nice, safe, places to be. They offer a kind of Epcot Center eclecticism to those who really don’t want to go out and find their own music. Just like everything else these days, they, as enjoyed by Dr. Phil-istines across the Fruited Plain, are celebrations, not of talent or excellence, but of unchallenging, “talented” celebrities. Their kind of “quality” getting into the brain is analogous to strontium replacing calcium in the body.
I don’t just laugh at glurge: I also think it makes a sad statement about the human race. With writings so effing stupid, debased, and lowbrow being enjoyed by millions, is it possible that we will ever advance as a species?
I find the relationship between the glurge organism and the aforementioned “bad music” lifeform quite striking. Like fake-o songs, glurge pieces are faux, broken memes. They are so low and pathetic that they don’t even bother to hide their reproductive organs behind a simple loincloth: Address this mail to 12 of your friends and press send now.
America celebrates glurge in the same way that it celebrates its treacle tunes: Sweet words and cornball reassurances. Something familiar and soft. My Mom listens to Groban and Cassidy. She reads glurge with enthusiasm. She also voted for George W. Bush, the Lord of Simplicity. This is a trend.