Monday, February 27, 2012

Bieber vs. Sinatra (Rant)

I hate these memes.  First off, it implies that Justin Bieber is today’s equivalent of Frank Sinatra.  Second off it pretty much says that the world has lost all sense and good taste because Justin Bieber is so popular.  “What has the world come to?!”  You know what, it’s not the world, you’re just old.  You have become old and rigid… that is what the world has come to.

Let’s break this down.  The Sinatra song lyrics here are from “The Way You Look Tonight.”  It won the best original song in 1936 as performed by Fred Astaire.  It was written by song writers Dorothy Fields and Jerome Kern.  Mr. Sinatra covered this song in 1964, nearly three decades later.  Sinatra was 49 years old when he recorded this ballad.

The Justin Bieber song lyrics are from a song titled “Baby” (clever, yea).  Bieber wrote this song with four other song writers and I imagine with the simple nature of the track it’s not out of line to imagine he actually had some input in it. Bieber was 16 when the song was released. Baby debuted at #5 on the Billboard 100.

We should be comparing Justin Bieber to 1964 teenagers… one of whom was Millie (age 18) with her big hit; My Boy Lollipop
(Bieber fairs pretty well against her)

Big downgrade for the Beebs however if you count in the fact that Sir Paul McCartney was doing rather well with his little band by age 18,  however if you look at the songs the Beatles were releasing at the beginning of their career (when they were Justin’s age they were still calling themselves “The Quarrymen” but let’s fast forward a bit to the early Beatles proper)

 “Please Please Me” Lyrics include
Last night I said these words to my girl
I know you never even try girl
Come on
Come on
Come on…
Please, please me, whoa yeah
Like I please you

You don’t need me to show the way, love
Why do I always have to say ‘love
Come on
Come on
Come on…

So it’s not terrible, but it’s not terribly clever just yet.

 “Please, Please Me” is a much better song than “Baby” but it’s not as far off as the old person telling ‘those damned kids to turn down that noise’ would have us believe.

Sinatra on the other hand was fairly well established in 1964, was in the middle of reviving his singing career in the midst of his successful movie career.  So we should be comparing him to someone like that in 2012… The music industry is drastically different, there aren’t more than a handful of actors who are taken seriously as singers or vice versa, so as far modern singers with amazing acting chops to boot, I would like to nominate (although currently 62 years old) Tom Waits as the modern Frank Sinatra.
Pick a Tom Waits song  (oh except that he actually writes his own songs and Sinatra did not)  any song and it will probably blow Sinatra out of the water.  That’s right I choose Tom Waits for my dodgeball team while Frank can wait for the next round.
"All the world is green" lyrics;

I fell into the ocean
When you became my wife
I risked it all against the sea
To have a better life
Marie you're the wild blue sky
And men do foolish things
You turn kings into beggars
And beggars into kings

Basically the memes that like to point out that the world is going down the drain don’t take into consideration the filter of time or context.  1964 had some amazing music that we still love today but it also had crap that we’ve collectively let settle into the dust of oblivion.   Also I am curious as to how many pre-teen girls in 1964 were into Frank Sinatra (that is Bieber's main audience.)  Someday Justin Bieber will either improve or be forgotten and everyone who thinks it’s cool to rag on a 16 year old teen heart throb needs to take a long hard look at the celebrity they had a crush on at age 12 and chill out.  Really, who was it?  David Cassidy?  New Kids on the Block?  Wesley Crusher (yea that was mine)... 

This guy;?


sarah said...

Wil Wheaton? Me, too.
I loved this post. So well-researched for a rant.

Anonymous said...

What can I say? I still love the Lime Lighters. You look for great talent try Jackie Gleason and Johny Cash. I find that the shallow popular simi-tallent flash and are soon forgotten. Only the filter of time can revile those who will last. DOD

Anonymous said...

To be fair, none of these people except Frank Sanatra are really that good...pretty much anyone will listen to Sanatra without complaining, but as for the others, only certain people will listen to them.

Anonymous said...

There is a difference between a singer and a swongwriter. If we were looking for best songwriter than Sinatra, I will admit, Probably wont be very high on the list. yet you failed to at all look at and discuss their actual singing talent. and in that meme people are not saying that jb is the modern frank sinatra but they are making the point that the modern pop music has gone down hill from the music preformed by frank sinatra and bing crosby and fred astair and even buble, though he is newer. And it is not old people who are to stiff and rigid to accept modern music that listens to sinatra. I am seventeen and I started listining to sinatra at age ten. further nearly everyone in my highschool listens primarily to sinatra, or some other singer of his time frame and genre, or buble.

al'xae said...

Why hello anonymous 17year old... I suppose my larger point here is that categorizing any one generation by their least or greatest factor is unfair and doesn't take into account the fact that the world is full of nuance and variety... it is bizarre to me that this one rant that I did back in February would get so many views. Thanks for reading!