The Friday Morning Listen: Justin Bieber – My World 2.0 (2010)

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Photo by Sandrine Lee

by Mark Saleski

HA! Made ya look!!

Wait, you’re thinking…that’s not Justin Bieber…it’s Esperanza Spalding! Yeah, I just couldn’t resist a little GrammySmugness2011™ … except that I’m really listening to Pizzicato Five!

I’ve been thinking about this year’s Grammy awards. Specifically, the “shock” of jazz bass player/singer Esperanza Spalding receiving the award for Best New Artist. I was certainly shocked, especially when thinking back to some of the incredibly odd people who have taken home the award: Milli Vanilli, Starland Vocal Band (Confession: I used to have that record. Loved me that “Afternoon Delight”), Christopher Cross, Maroon 5. Apparently, Bieber’s rabid fan base was shocked more than I was. There were reports of Spalding’s wiki page being hacked by annoyed Bieber fans. My favorite update (quoted from salon.com): “JUSTIN BIEBER DESERVED IT GO DIE IN A HOLE. WHO ARE YOU ANYWAY?”

Yeah, mighty entertaining.

But I’m not here to rehash the history of Grammy “mistakes,” or even gloat over Spalding’s win. What I’ve been thinking about is the incredible amount of energy expended on either kvetching about the undeserving winner or on the endless variations of smug “I’m ignoring the Grammy’s” announcements. Sure, the Internet was made for this stuff. That doesn’t make it interesting.

A fact about pop music: at any point in time in popular music’s (relatively short) history, there have always been people in the top 10 or so who aren’t exactly what we’d call talented. They might look great, or maybe they were in the right place at the right time. That doesn’t really matter because their featureless and plastic music is stuck in a lot of heads at the moment and there’s nothing you can do about it. Your incessant bitching will get you nowhere. Guess what? People thought Madonna was vapid and boring. They think the same thing about Lady Gaga…and Justin Bieber. Your anti-pop whine makes no difference!

I have to admit that until about 30 minutes ago, I’d never heard anything by Justin Bieber. A quick trip to YouTube confirmed my suspicion — he sounded pretty much exactly like I had expected he would. The girls love him to death. Imagine that. They’re kids. You’re not.

A few years ago, I went on a J-Pop jag. Funny how I got there. Somebody introduced me to the group Cibo Matto on the John Zorn mailing list. Pretty soon I was off listening to Puffy AmiYumi and Pizzicato Five. Is any of this music more “substantial” than Bieber or Gaga? Part of me thinks so, but mostly I just don’t think it matters. Sometimes, your ears just want to have fun.

Oh, one last Esperanza Spalding wiki hack: they changed her middle name to “Quesadilla”!

Heh! Kids these days.


Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to Jazz.com, Blogcritics.org and Salon, he originated several of our weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Mark Saleski
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