Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Good and Bad of Pop

I saw this performance on The Voice last night. I found the song and performance surprisingly strong and effective. That is Nate Reuss, singer for the currently quiescent group Fun, out on his own. I don’t know him beyond that but you probably do.

He shows confident command from the start. Kicking the voice out like that, naked. He’s not over-reaching, which many singers do. He has trained the gift. The usual implement describes gifted as loud, or dramatic. Reuss led with his voice, which a singer had ought, in all good conscience.

When the band explodes into notice, a palpable excitement occurs. Reuss demarcates the power chords with full body arabesque. It’s an obvious technique but it visually captures a leaning possibility toward full capacity. Except for that jacket he’s got. The jacket looks like a 50s housecoat, flower-printed even. It fits oddly, especially as Reuss jumps about. The jacket must be his clumsy cousin. The nobody guitarist leaning back in Jimmy Page 1969 is just testament to the picture. However it may sound.

No restraining order has been issued to the show’s claquery, so there is potent waving of arms for the instigation of pop revival. Do we really need to be told to listen? The song is strong, Reuss is confident: that chicanery just collects at the bottom of the tub into which we gaze. POP MUSIC. It is okay to be pop music.

See, I have been reading a bio of James Laughlin, publisher of New Directions books. In that vague day of refined glory, poetry books rose up to public consciousness. People bought books, and poets could expect a soothing smackerel, as if writing poetry were a viable occupation. Poetry was pop, then.

Today, poetry is leaden detritus, whereas music lasts until it’s over. I do not descry a competition, just observe how well the music can be choired into impact while poetry has lost the audience.