pretty_talented_macbook Arts & Culture

Pretty, Talented

How do you feel when you see a model in a magazine? Their perfectly flat stomach, skin so smooth and clear, not a strand of hair out of place. Even as you gaze at them knowing that this picture has been digitally altered to make them look flawless, there is that little niggle of jealousy, that voice in your head that whispers, “I want to look like that, why don’t I look like that?” So much of what we are fed in the media is a half-truth. The models are not that perfect, and that singer we hear on the radio, can hit that high note as much as we can as we sing along, alone in our cars.

So much of what we listen to on the radio is no different from those perfectly airbrushed models that we find on the billboards on every city horizon, every television commercial and on the cover of every magazine – a collection of impeccably, vocally airbrushed singers who are considered by the industry as pretty enough, edgy enough or just plain weird enough to make them money. There is such a contrast between what is considered good enough to score air time to what you can hear at a bar offering live music any given night of the week. These musicians happily dedicate every spare minute playing gigs, at times for no one but the bartender. They steel themselves against discouragement, against the creeping feeling of resignation that this is all it might ever amount to; that all the writing, recording, and band practices will not ever be for nothing because this is what they are passionate about, but the 9-5 is how they will always manage to pay their bills.

When did an artist’s music stop being the main feature at their own show?

Concerts are no longer about the music; it is all about the show, include enough pyrotechnics, and a barely there dress and no one will notice that the singer is a little off key or that they are lip synching along to the studio versions of their songs. Those that do notice come away feeling empty, disappointed to realize the lack of talent hidden behind a façade of glitz and glamour. Yet, the next day, the same singer pops up on their iPod and the song is not changed, not swept aside in favour of something better, it is sung along to, the perfectly in tune voice obliterating the feelings of betrayal experienced only a few hours before.

It is time we begin to speak out against this, to throw more support towards the independent musicians. Gillian Nicola and the Radio Interference is a folk/rock band based out of Toronto and headed by singer/song writer Gillian Alexander. You only have to listen to a few opening notes to know that she possesses this raw, pure, undeniably powerful voice. It only takes one listen to convince you that up until this moment, your idea of what consists of good music was never fully informed, never fully realized, until now. They possess a magic that cannot be found inside many a radio across North America. They’ve got the talent, they’ve got the powerful, beautiful female vocalist and they work harder and are more talented than so many who have been fortunate enough to stumble upon their fame. Yet, they frequently play to a room full of family and friends. They deserve more recognition.

 Music that can speak on its own merits

Why is this the reality? Why do we allow ourselves to be told that the bands on the radio are more talented, deserve more than bands such as Gillian Nicola and the Radio Interference? We permit these producers, these radio stations, these people who are just in the business for the money and the ratings to empty our pockets, fill our ears, our cars, and our iPods with these bands that fit a certain superficial standard, but aren’t necessarily talented.

There has recently been a rise of people lashing out against ad campaigns and how beauty is being sold to our sons and daughters. We have seen the articles pointing out the outrageous airbrushing and big companies are starting to change the way they are selling their products. Aerie, the American Eagle offshoot that sells a line of lingerie has stopped airbrushing their models, promising to include only ‘real women’ in their ad campaigns. Where is this movement in the music industry? Where are the people saying they no longer want to be sold music that has been altered, blurred, shaped by a team of technicians to perfect the imperfections? We are so quick to judge the clothing companies, and the magazines for providing us with images about ourselves that are unattainable and unhealthy, but why are we then willing to accept the same treatment from the music industry? Why are we supporting many artists who have been marketed based on their look instead of their talent? It is time that we not only take a stand for what we can see, but also what we can hear. Let us give our support to musicians such as Gillian Alexander and her band, people that have talent and who are willing to work hard to provide us with a music that is pure and real. We have begun to stand up for our bodies, and now its time to take a stand for our voices.

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