Blurry Lines

A couple years ago, I discovered that Kirk Cameron’s father in “Growing Pains” had a kid who had a hit song.  I’ve never heard the song, but I read an article about the fact that he was pre-emptively suing Marvin Gaye’s estate so that the courts would certify that he had not stolen one of Marvin Gaye’s songs.  This seemed like a really strange thing to do if it was an original song.  And the courts came back this week and announced that Robin Thicke did, in fact, steal one of Marvin Gaye’s songs and ordered more than $7 million paid to Marvin Gaye’s estate.  This got me thinking about something I have thought about off and on for years.

I don’t usually talk about this because there is no way to talk about it without sounding incredibly snobby.  That is not my intention, and I’m hoping Robin Thicke will help me.  Since he stole the biggest hit of his career and his defense basically boiled down to, “It’s not my fault, I was really high and didn’t contribute much of anything to the song,” I think it’s safe to say he isn’t exactly overflowing with musical talent.  The music industry discovered a long time ago that musical talent isn’t really important for making a singer popular.  Marketing is important.  Exposure is important, that’s what the whole payola scandal was about.  Image is important.  But, musicality isn’t that important.  Sure, the record has to be competent, but anyone can sound competent in a professional studio with professional musicians.  This is where I get confused.  What value does Robin Thicke, or others of his ilk, bring?

The first thing that comes to mind is he is attractive.  Although, most of any celebrity’s attractiveness comes from the fact that they are celebrities.  And, I’m doubtful that he is attractive enough to make that the deciding factor.  Next would be charm, personality and charisma.  But he seems to lack all of those.  He comes off as a douchebag.  So, I’m left with the thought that someone at a record company knows and likes Alan Thicke and decided to make Robin Thicke a star.

But what does the record company get out of this?  Wouldn’t it be more cost effective to make the actual musicians the stars?  Why hire a vaguely pretty, no talent front man?  That’s just an extra person to pay.  Are they afraid that making the real musicians popular would give the musicians too much power?  Maybe Robin Thicke was made a star because he would be compliant.  I don’t know, it’s as good a theory as any.

I wonder what would happen if the real musicians were the stars.  Would there be different and interesting music on the radio?  Would we discover another Marvin Gaye?  It’s a nice thought.

I am sorry, I know this sounds snobby.  I’m not trying to say that all music stars are no talent hacks.  But, it’s undeniable that a noticeable percentage of them are.  I’d love a good explanation.  If anyone knows, please leave a comment.

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