Our newest columnist, singer Dot Allison wonders if the art can ever be put into pop again?
There has always been manufactured pop. As soon as the business-types worked out that they could market music at all, that art form became fair game for exploitation by those who cared little for art. But in the past a high president in songwriting was set by the likes of the creative collective at the ‘hit factory’ that was Berry Gordie’s label, Motown Records.
Similarly, there was the Brill Building in New York where partnerships in songwriting like Carole King and her then husband Gerry Goffin wrote classic pop songs like ‘Natural Woman’ and ‘Will You Love Me Tomorrow?’, while elsewhere in said building Bacharach and David charmed the world with the sublimely timeless words and melodies of songs like ‘Say A Little Prayer’, ‘Walk On By’ and ‘What The World Needs Now’.
Meanwhile, on the West coast of America, Metric Music in California, also understood the necessity for authentic art where content is to be considered alongside style. One of the great songwriters at Metric was Jackie DeShannon who, later writing for The Byrds, The Searchers, Annie Lennox and Kim Carnes, forged a way for female artists, being the first to be taken seriously as a solo writer in her day.
The emphasis being on the artistry of the song is, for me, the common theme that links all these songwriting communities where art had managed to link arms with the business of marketing music.
I just wonder if, where the current version of classic pop (my cursor slipped and wrote poop actually), is concerned, there has not been a little something lost along the way? The art within the pop song. One only needs to mention the names Ronan Keating, Keane, Nelly Furtado, Dido, Take That (or as Liam Gallagher calls them ‘What’s That?’) and Robbie Williams to kind of make the point without saying much else. When did capitalism begin to win the arm wrestle? And I wonder, can we, art lovers that is, win it back?
Dot Allison’s new EP Beneath the Ivy is available now on Universal Digital. An album will follow in 2007.