I cannot stand pop radio. Maybe its because of the endless commercials, maybe its because of the heavy rotation of maybe 20 songs, maybe its the bone-head craftsmanship of what passes for hits these days. (Man, do I hear my Dad or what!?) So I don’t listen and am completely un-with it.
Then my little student asks to learn the new Katy Perry song. I look at them, keeping my aghast reaction out of my face, and then say “Why, sure. Let’s listen to it right now.” Sometimes the song is as bad as I’d feared, sometimes it’s better than I’d hoped. And there’s always something I can teach my student about the most banal number. I can have the student to listen carefully and tell me how many different chords there are in the verse, or whether one of them is a minor chord. I can compare [insert banal bit of tripe A here] to [insert banal bit of tripe B here] and see how much they are alike. “You see,” I’ll say, pompously, to my young charge, “these two songs use the identical chord progression but the melody line [insert stock celebrity gal A here] sings is very different from melody line sung by [insert stock celebrity gal B here]. Sometimes we even talk about the lyrics of the song if we are driven to it.
But the pay off is this: When I’m out performing for my bread and butter, someone will often ask for the new [insert stock celebrity gal A here] song. And I, mindful of audience rapport, my professional reputation, and tips, now have the underpinnings to deliver the crib version of the song. With a minimum of stalling, I can usually reconstitute and perform verse 1 and chorus, which generally meets the case. So there I am, completely mindful of how I trashed this ditty in the morning, now crooning it this evening with passion and vim! Does this make me a hypocrite? No, I say pompously, it makes me a professional.