Monday, December 20, 2010

Daydream Believer by The Monkees

Hanging out with a couple friends last week the topic of Taylor Swift came up. One of my friends said that she didn’t like her because she was a corporate constructed pop singer. While this isn’t true at as Taylor is an independent artist from Big Machine Records a label that her family created before her because everyone else rejected her, the criticism of pop artists because they are created, molded and marketed is a common complaint.

I understand that some people are turned off from the business side of music. The idea of certain songs only being popular because of marketing can be frustrating and often the artists that certain companies construct are mediocre and can be quit annoying. I totally understand but that doesn’t mean all commercially created music lacks artistry, heart and soul.

Don’t forget The Beatles looked like a biker gang before Brian Epstein became their manager, made them get hair cuts to polish them into a more marketable look. Berry Gordy modeled Motown records after the assembly line that he used to work at to mold artists. Then there were the Monkees, a pop group created in response to the Beatles for a television show.

Inspired by The Beatles film, A Hard Day’s Night, The Monkees television show followed the life of a rock ‘n’ roll group (ala The Jonas Brothers). Originally only allowed to provide vocals the Monkees eventually gained creative control of their music and while never reached the creative heights of The Beatles or The Beach Boys, they  influenced musicians with their pop music style and cultural impact.

I love the Monkees. I watched this show when it used to be re-run on Nickelodeon. A Monkees greatest hits CDs was one of the first albums my family owned and one of my favorite songs continues to be “Daydream Believer.”

To this day, I have no clue what this song is really about. I mean the first verse is simply about waking up in the morning and then there’s a chorus about depressed homecoming queen. The second verse is doesn’t really connect with the rest of the song but it works all the same.

If you turn off your cynicism or skepticism and let yourself enjoy this song, you find that even though the creation of the Monkees doesn’t line up with any romanticized idea of the way music should be created, it’s still great. The song builds through the each chorus with glee and warmth. “Daydream Believer” sound like a reassuring smile and that’s a beautiful thing.

Music is great or mediocre, sometimes because and sometimes despite the circumstances of its creation. If you don’t like a song that’s fine, there’s no apologizing for taste. But turning off your ears to an artist because it’s an independent artists or a corporate created pop star is like stereotyping people by their race. And when you make assumptions about a song or person based on their circumstances as opposed to their content you are the one who is missing out.

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